Podcast 109: A beauty refill business where bigger is better

Podcast 109 GBC Bigger is better refillable scheme

Less is more so the saying goes, but one innovative beauty products’ company is turning this on its head and offering ‘more for less’ with its inspirational refillable beauty scheme. Meow Meow Tweet, a US-based vegan, low-waste, personal care company has come up with a refill scheme that makes it easy for its customers to buy skincare, haircare and bodycare products in bulk at a discount.

Can you imagine buying face cleanser in bulk? Meow Meow Tweet could and it decided its brand mission was to help customers reduce overall consumption by ditching lots of little pots and going for bulk buys. As the average woman beauty consumer uses about 16 product a day, you can get a feel for just how unsustainable beauty business is.

By buying more but less often and at a discount, its loyal refill customers have helped Meow Meow Tweet to embrace circular systems of reuse that can eliminate waste entirely. Founded in 2009, Meow Meow Tweet was certainly ahead of its time in acting on sustainability. It was the first brand to introduce 100 percent backyard compostable deodorant sticks and lip balms. Meow Meow Tweet is also a certified plastic negative and climate neutral company.

In this second podcast looking at beauty refill success stories, Formula Botanica CEO and podcast host Lorraine Dallmeier talks to Tara Pelletier, co-founder of Meow Meow Tweet about the company’s simple, sustainable slow beauty refill model. Listen in to hear about how one beauty products’ company is quietly doing big things for sustainability.

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Would you buy face cleanser in bulk? @FormulaBotanica podcast talks to US personal care company @meowmeowtweetNY whose customers buy big to boost sustainable beauty. #indiebeauty #sustainablebeauty #beautyrefill Click To Tweet

In this episode on refillable beauty, you will hear:

  • How Tara and her partner were first inspired by the popularity of the bulk sections in regular small-town stores and used this concept to launch Meow Meow Tweet’s products. They still offer refill via stores but innovated to get a bulk refill scheme going online too.
  • About just how much economic modeling went into working out the comparative footprints of offering single-use packaging versus refillables. It takes 3 refill returns for a container to be more sustainable.
  • Meow Meow Tweet works hard to encourage customers to return and buy bulk. The discounts on bulk refills and the ease of returning containers has proved a tipping point in getting the scheme up and running viably and successfully.
  • To encourage new customers to go down the bulk buy and refill route, Meow Meow Tweet does offer mini sizes, which last around four weeks. They find a high percentage of first-time customers then leap straight into buying bulk over their full-sized products (which Meow Meow Tweet still offers, but only to serve their retail stockists).

Key takeouts include:

  • Meow Meow Tweet continues to innovate to reduce its costs and those to the planet. Small details like the shape of cosmetic containers and their ease of cleaning once returned can make a big difference to waste, time, energy and costs. Operating reductions help reduce product costs to consumers.
  • The company rejects the industry norm of needing to produce more and more new products and prefers to focus on improving its current product range and business models to become more sustainable. It believes in staying small and making personal care products ‘with spirit’ and is showing how this pioneering route can make business sense.
  • Instead of seeing cosmetic containers as something the customer purchases with the product, Meow Meow Tweet thinks of the containers as being rented out. This gives them the storyline to explain their refill scheme to customers, who have zero costs, apart from time, in returning the containers.
  • Keeping their manufacturing inhouse allows Meow Meow Tweet to shift to bulk production or downscale runs easily without worrying about product cost outlay. This flexibility is paramount in helping them meet demand and to test out if bulk sizes work in some products.

Meet our guest: Tara Pelletier

Tara Pelletier. Founder Meow Meow TweetTara Pelletier is co-founder of Meow Meow Tweet, a vegan, low waste personal care company. Founded in 2009 by Jeff Kurosaki and Tara Pelletier, Meow Meow Tweet takes a slow food approach to skin care. All formulations are artfully blended by a certified aromatherapist and herbalist. Ingredients are certified organic, non-GMO, from strong or renewable plant populations and avoid materials that harm the ecosystems of animals and people.

As the first brand to introduce 100 percent backyard compostable deodorant sticks and lip balms, their skincare, body care, and deodorants are Leaping Bunny Certified, palm-oil free, designed to minimise plastic consumption and are offered at an accessible price point.

The company’s packaging focuses on two key ideas: firstly, the use of materials that break down naturally, and secondly, the creation of circular systems of reuse that eliminate waste entirely. Meow Meow Tweet is also a certified Plastic Negative and Climate Neutral company.

Its products are made in their California micro-factory. The company redistributes funds to causes in the categories of social justice, animal justice, and nature.

Discover Meow Meow Tweet:
Website: meowmeowtweet.com
Instagram: @meowmeowtweet

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Lorraine Dallmeier

Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.

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