2020 took a toll on Justine Lassoff, co-founder of vegan subscription beauty box brand, Love Goodly. Like many of us, she's been home a lot more since the pandemic started, helping her teenage son with schoolwork and spending more time cleaning and organizing the house than she usually would.
“While I am thankful that my family is safe and healthy, this has been a stressful time for everyone, with so many people suffering,” she told Organic Authority via email.
Lassoff has long worked from home; she feels more productive that way. But when it’s forced, as it has been for nearly a year, now, it becomes stressful. A schedule full of back-to-back Zoom calls doesn’t help. But Lassoff says she’s part of a few weekly Zooms just for friends and family, a departure from the work calls: a surprising silver lining that allows her to stay in touch, “in most cases, much more than before COVID,” she says.
She’s also talking more with her 81-year-old mom, who lives alone in Arizona. “I've organized a semiweekly Zoom since March that includes our immediate family and several of her close friends. We started with games like Skribbl, and now come up with weekly topics — our last one was share your favorite song, and I played them on Spotify using Share Screen.”
This isn't an unfamiliar pandemic tale. This strange time has invited reconnections or fostered more frequent connections with loved ones who are also stuck at home.
A Time for Reflection
Lassoff is also using this time for her own personal development.
“Our mental and spiritual wellbeing is of utmost importance during these challenging times,” she says, noting that she organized a small, weekly live meditation Zoom led by an instructor. Bolstered by the mostly agreeable Los Angeles weather, she has taken refuge in daily exercise, whether it’s tennis, hiking, or walking the dog – a chore she's now the first in her house to volunteer for.
As a beauty company founder, exploring the latest in beauty products has also helped her devote her mind to things other than isolation, exploring soothing beauty products ranging from calming bath products to maskne relief.
“With more time at home, and it being winter [LA winters can be cold-ish and very dry], I am really into using soothing and moisturizing skincare products,” Lassoff says, noting she's been supporting more female-founded companies than ever.
Lassoff's current favorite products include Delia Organics Dew Drops, “a natural serum featuring ingredients like apricot, jojoba and avocado serum.” She also loves OSEA's Undaria Algae Body Oil, a cult favorite Lassoff describes as a “luxurious body treatment based on seaweed.” She’ll do a quick swipe of Evio Beauty Beauty Lip Gloss, before her Zoom calls to keep her lips hydrated. And when it comes to hand sanitizing, she’s all about the LA-made Zatik Orange and Tea Tree Hand Sanitizer.
A New Partner
While the pandemic and politics have overshadowed much of 2020 for most everyone, for Lassoff and her business partner Katie Bogue-Miller, the year started out quite differently. The duo, who founded the Love Goodly brand in 2015, sold to Novica, the largest online collection of Fair Trade, ethical, and artisan-produced goods. The merger was finalized in February.
“I had known [Novica’s] CEO and co-founder Rob Milk for years as we both went to Stanford. After [Bogue-Miller] and I had raised a small seed round and participated in the Quake Capital accelerator, we were looking to form a partnership with a larger e-commerce brand to expand Love Goodly's audience,” Lassoff said. They reached out to Novica in late 2019, and from there, she says, “talks moved quickly.” The deal was finalized just before the COVID lockdown started in March.
For Lassoff and Bogue-Miller, the move was a no-brainer. “Both companies share a mission-based approach to e-commerce: Novica is focused on fair trade and improving conditions for artisans around the world, while Love Goodly is focused on introducing clean beauty as well as values that include vegan, cruelty-free, nontoxic, female founders, and sustainability.”
From the Organic Authority Files
Love Goodly launched in beta mode in 2015. At the time, it was the first vegan, clean beauty monthly subscription box on the market. The market exploded after that and now includes celebrity-backed beauty boxes like Kinder Beauty and high-end vegan box brand, Petit Vour, all vying for the attention of the ethical skincare lover.
Built on Principles
But Love Goodly continues to set itself apart. The expertly curated boxes feature a handful of products, often around a theme, and a percentage of each sale goes to support different featured charities, a model that the customers feel really good about supporting.
One of Love Goodly’s long-standing charity partners is Farm Sanctuary. It’s the longest-running farm animal sanctuary and advocacy group in the U.S., with locations in New York and California. Novica has a charitable component, too. It's long partnered with the nonprofit Kiva, says Lassoff, to help provide loans to small businesses and artisans in developing countries. And the charitable work on both Novica and Love Goodly's websites are prioritized focal points. Users can shop by their value, a unique offering you won’t find on sites like Amazon.
At a time when more people are home and looking to do good in the world, the partnership feels more relevant than ever. “We are lucky to have found a home with the Novica family,” says Lassoff. “In fact,” she says, “it is ‘love’ that connected us initially, since Novica's core value is that of love.”
Selling the Love
Love may be a hard value proposition to explain to investors, but it’s an easy sell to conscious consumers. Market demand for products labeled as Fair Trade grew 15 percent in 2018, according to Fairtrade International's annual report 2018-2019. Fair Trade sales topped more than $10 billion in 2018, supporting more than 1.7 million farmers around the world.
Fair Trade means farmers earn a premium for staples like cocoa and coffee, but it’s also a model being applied to artisan jewelry and clothing producers as well as skincare ingredients.
For beauty products like the ones featured in Love Goodly boxes, there’s also a commitment to brands prioritizing organic or wildcrafted ingredients and keeping as many man-made chemicals out of skincare as possible. Organic farming, for example, doesn’t just benefit the end-product user — it’s also safer for the producers and the environment.
Love Goodly’s prioritization of vegan skincare products also helps normalize the cruelty-free skincare model and a shift away from unnecessary animal testing. The leading multinational beauty giants have long relied on an array of animal testing for products, but safer ingredients and animal-free testing methods are proving there are other ways of verifying efficacy and safety.
Just like consumers are eager to diversify their protein and dairy choices to include vegan options, they’re also eager to support skincare and beauty brands that deliver results without animal testing. Leading beauty brands Dove and CoverGirl are just two recent examples of beauty product giants moving away from animal testing. Think of them as the Impossible and Beyond Burgers of skincare, proving the ethical version is just as good as its precursor.
Seizing the Moment
COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of companies are doing business, and some are seeing sales explode. The partnership has also helped Novica expand its marketplace offerings to include ethical skincare and beauty products. Lassoff and Bogue-Miller are helping the site build its own subscription model, expected to launch later this year.
“This is a challenging time but [it] can present new opportunities,” Lassoff says. She says the pandemic is forcing people and brands to make “major” decisions, many of which are life or business upgrades.
A breast cancer survivor, Lassoff says the pandemic is a good time to "look inwardly and see what is important to you," she says.
"[L]ife can be short, so you need to seize the moment.”
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