Sudsatorium, named one of Toronto's 'Top Ten Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Brands.' (BlogTO), is an indie beauty brand handcrafting ethically-sourced, organic, vegan fair trade cosmetics, with a portion of all proceeds proudly donated to grassroots charities around the world.
On a chilly Sunday afternoon, we sat down for an interview with Sudsatorium's founder, John Luther, to learn more about his amazing line of natural cruelty-free cosmetics and how it all started.
SW: How did Sudsatorium get started ?
JOHN: Sudsatorium is a dream that sprung up out of necessity, rooted in my own personal need for truly clean beauty product options. After struggling with extreme allergies and hormonal skin for much of my life, I began crafting natural, organic beauty products out of my own kitchen in my teen years because it was simply becoming impossible to find commercially available products that would not leave my skin reeling.
In 2014, I made the decision to begin pursuing my passion head on, and began studying aromatherapy to better understand the realm of essential oils and how they relate to both our physical and mental health. Together with what was already a strong understanding of chemistry from my years of schooling, this all came together to form the foundation of my skincare expertise, as I began avidly experimenting with organic, ethically-sourced, and of course vegan-friendly ingredients.
SW: What is green beauty and why is it important?
JOHN: Every individual's and every brand's definition of what 'green beauty' is, is different. There really is no industry oversight regulating what it means to say that a product is 'green'. For us, we define green beauty with four main criteria ensuring that the health and wellbeing of both the end user and Mother Nature are central:
A movement: a mindful effort of beauty and wellness brands to source the purest, most sustainable ingredients possible, in order to create effective and safe products.
An environmental standard: a commitment to the earth, guarding its resources and the medicinal properties of plants, herbs, flowers, etc.
A community: a group of like-minded people determined to share what they’ve learned and discovered, so as to inspire and educate others to make mindful choices
A lifestyle: a conscious choice to avoid products proven to be harmful to the health of our planet and its inhabitants
SW: How important is the quality of the ingredients that you use?
JOHN: Quality is the MOST important factor when formulating any product. Because we believe in formulating our products with minimal ingredients, our focus is on using only organically farmed and ethically-sourced plant based materials.
The other important aspect that relates to quality, and that really encapsulates our approach to skincare, is the importance we place on working with minimally processed ingredients, opting for whole foods like fresh bananas or hand picked rose petals instead of highly refined powdered banana extracts or commercial rose water that is laced with preservatives. Our lab really does not look that far off from a juice bar or kitchen, which is exactly the point – if you're not able to eat the ingredients going into your cosmetics, why would you want to put it them on your skin or hair?
SW: Who are Suds products for?
JOHN: Our aim has always been to craft quality products for people looking to greenify their beauty routine, but who don't want to spend a small fortune to do so, or who may feel a little intimidated or unenthused with the rather stuffy, highfalutin nature of most high end clean beauty brands. Sudsatorium is very much meant to be an approachable brand for the everyday women or gent that emphasizes simplicity.
Also, although we are proud vegans crafting PETA certified vegan-friendly and cruelty-free products, we never want people to think that they too need to be vegan in order to enjoy the plentiful benefits of opting for plant-based cosmetics.
SW: Your product names are super witty; where do you draw inspiration from?
JOHN: I've never met a pun I didn't like, so you can expect to see quite a bit of wordplay going on when it comes to our product names. There is also a heavy emphasis on pop culture references that's the result of a childhood spent engrossed in cable television and indie cinema.
At the end of the day, some of our product names might not be for everyone, but so long as we're able to make one person chuckle or feel nostalgic, I think we're doing our job. You're not likely to remember a conditioner named something mundane like 'clarifying conditioner' by company XYZ, but a midnight black bottle of charcoal-infused conditioner called 'Dark Side of the Mane' will be harder for you to forget.
SW: When you aren’t working what can we find you doing?
JOHN: What is this 'not working' thing that you speak of, because it sounds wonderful.
SW: What can we expect to see from Suds in 2018?
JOHN: Hopefully quite a bit! We have a few new product lines we're hoping to launch in 2018, including a range of fresh hair and face masks based around whole food ingredients like fresh berries and nut milks.
You can also expect to see us continue to expand upon many of our existing product lines, including more 'naked' products that do away with packaging in order to offer customers an even more environmentally responsible product. Solid conditioners are definitely on the docket for 2018, as are a few other secrets.
SW: I can't wait to try the fresh hair and face masks; I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for those!
SW: Name three things that we should all have in our bathroom:
Definitely one thing everyone needs is a good cleanser. Whether you pine for one of those foaming face washes like the ones we all remember from our teenage years, or are all on board the oil cleaning bandwagon, everyone needs to get into the routine of properly washing their face in the morning and at night to keep skin clean and clear, especially if you're choosing to wear makeup.
After that, everyone should have a bar of bomb-ass soap sitting in their shower. Besides being more environmentally friendly than liquid soaps and body washes (less packaging is always a good thing), the humble bar of soap is the ultimate in affordable skincare.
Lastly, and this is not even a product we make, but nothing sets off a bathroom like a brightly coloured (and fairly traded) hand towel crafted by hand from the finest organic Turkish cotton. If only this interview was being posted to a site where such a splendorous product existed....
SW: So glad to hear that you're loving your towels! Our bathroom is also well-stocked with a selection of Suds soaps at all times. My absolute favourites are Naughty and Pine in the Aspen.
SW: For those interested in green beauty, who may be a little afraid to take the jump, what baby steps do you recommend?
JOHN: The most important thing anyone can do before they take their maiden voyage to the land of green beauty is to ask themselves 'why'. Why are you interested in transitioning to a green beauty routine? Are you interested in having children one day and are worried about potential reproductive disrupters? Cut out PEG compounds and phthalates. Is your skin highly sensitive and causing serious discomfort? Get rid of sulfates. Do you love animals? Shop for products with the cruelty-free bunny seal. What turns more people away from making the switch to clean beauty products than anything else is how overwhelming it can feel to get started.
Start off with eliminating the things that matter the most to you, or swapping out the products you use the most, like your lippie, if you're someone that can't leave home without painting their pout, or your shampoo if those sebaceous cues of yours require your attention each and every day to keep them clean.
SW: How do you refuel or recharge?
JOHN: Sleep seems to work pretty well for me.
SW: What is one really good piece of advice you’ve received in business?
“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” This advice may have originally come from a fictional television character, but at its core is some real truth. Running your own small business can often feel like trying to juggle fifteen things at a time (all the time) but the reality is that believing that you can multi-task your way through the day is all wrong. Multitasking isn’t like tennis or sex; you don’t get better the more you do it. Your brain isn’t designed to focus on more than one thing at a time, and an attempt to do so results in splintered focus and a half-assed result. Do one thing at a time, do it well and with your whole ass, and move on to the next task once you're done. It's as simple as that.