Founder Spotlight – Kevin Brodwick of BRIXY
Raised by a biophysicist and an epidemiologist, Kevin Brodwick's dinner table discussions as a kid were usually centered around scientific mumbo jumbo that didn’t make much sense to him. What he did understand early on was that there were a lot of scary ingredients in everyday consumer products that could easily be absorbed by your skin and transported to your bloodstream, and THAT didn’t sit well with him. For the last 20 years of his career, he's been creating solutions to eradicate harmful chemicals in products we use all the time. Before launching BRIXY, he was involved in all aspects of business development for Thinkbaby and Thinksport, leaders in the mineral-based SPF market.
With BRIXY, Kevin and his team have created a safe and effective collection of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bars that are not only free of everything bad, they're also made without plastic packaging. BRIXY bars are mindfully made using the cleanest, naturally effective ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, argan oil and cacao seed butter. They are free of palm oil, sulfates, phthalates, and parabens and are certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and vegan. BRIXY bars are also planet-friendly: long-lasting and minimal use of packaging. In fact, one bar will last at least two times as long as a conventional 8oz bottle of shampoo, conditioner, or body wash. BRIXY's packaging is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and easily recycled. With so many sustainable pillars already achieved with this brand, we couldn’t wait to learn more about Kevin’s journey.
What does ethical beauty mean to you?
It might be easier to explain this in terms of what unethical beauty looks like. First, the claims that are made within the beauty industry remain largely unchecked and unregulated. This has led to a deep misunderstanding of exactly what beauty products can deliver and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that beauty companies target the insecurities of their consumers to sell products. All too often beauty companies are also filling their products with harmful ingredients, which are often hidden within terms like “fragrance”. The good news is that the movement towards cleaner and more transparent solutions is well underway. It is great seeing these brands make their way into the good graces of the media and store shelves. There is certainly a lot of good pressure to do better.
What inspired you to start your brand?
For the last 20 years, I’ve been focused on harmful chemicals in consumer products. It’s what led me from working in a lab funded by NIH to create a company focused on solving problems created by endocrine disrupting chemicals (such as BPA, phthalates, and VOCs). While solving issues around everything from BPA-free baby bottles to mineral reef-safe sunscreen, we became deeply embedded within the movement towards “better for you”. An issue that kept me up at night was knowing that across the globe, there were walls of plastic products that line store shelves and the troubling knowledge that very little would ever make their way to recycling. And even more troubling was the understanding that only a fraction of what made it to recycling was actually recycled. This raised the question of whether we could target plastic and single-use container products with solutions that were equally (if not more) effective and solve with sustainable packaging. The evolution here is that “better for you” is not enough if it causes downstream issues. It’s not enough to reduce. We want to change the conversation to an equation where people’s impact is a net positive for the planet. This is the mindset we bring forward in building BRIXY.
What is your favorite product from your brand?
We have been working on the bars for a couple of years. Getting both the performance and clean ingredients to make the best possible solutions has been an amazing journey. The process of selecting the scents was also quite involved and required quite a few noses. As the creator, my favorite thing is always going to be the next thing that we’re working on to add to the story. Unfortunately, that’s confidential….
Has transparency and sustainability always been a priority for you as a brand founder?
Within both my previous companies (Thinkbaby & Thinksport) and BRIXY, transparency and sustainability are critical. Consumers should 100% be armed with every piece of information that they desire to make informed decisions. In addition, we are strong believers that everything that we do should cause no harm to the environment, to the people building the products, and to the people that are using them. We also employ the Precautionary Principle which says that we don’t just land on an ingredient because it’s not receiving negative press. During the days of “BPA free”, companies were removing BPA, but substituting ingredients that had the same issues of endocrine disruption. With BRIXY, we source the best ingredients possible and place finished products into FSC certified paper boxes. We also created our own 501c3 non-profit called ECOEVO. Our non-profit will lead planting sessions and provide BRIXY and other partner companies various species of seeds to bring back the natural beauty and health of habitats.
How has your background influenced your work as a founder?
Prior to launching BRIXY, I founded a company called Thinkbaby & Thinksport. Those brands are focused on bringing safe solutions to market which ranged from the 1st BPA free baby bottles, 1st BPA free insulated sports bottles to the most award-winning sun care line. All these efforts really started though during my work with a lab funded by the National Institutes of Health on toxic chemicals leaching from consumer products. We are constantly asking the question of “how do we do better for the world”. We also endeavor to bring forward a very bright, positive brand focused on dispelling a lot of the noise within the beauty industry.
What is it about the beauty industry that inspires you?
Hopefully not being too redundant here, but it is largely the misinformation that occupies so much of the space that is the biggest inspiration. We regularly see products on the shelf that are held out as “premium” with a call out to a few ingredients. In fairness, a decent number of these originally lived in my wife’s 3/4ths…of the bathroom. The idea that a tin of eye moisturizer would be $50-70 for a product that cost $1.40 to make, just feels hugely unfair. So, part of our work in delivering solutions will be shining a bright light on some of these disparities.
What is your personal beauty credo?
Make better products for both people and the planet. We don’t just want to have minimal impact on the planet, we want to create positive impact. This is something we’ll do both directly and indirectly (via our non-profit) with our solutions. And if for some reason we can’t achieve that with a solution…then that product won’t come to market.
What are your hobbies?
This list seems to be getting longer and longer. From a sports perspective, I’ve been racing triathlons and bikes for 30 years. And while I played tennis for decades, I’ve now also fallen in love with pickleball. More recently, I’ve embraced acrylic painting and gardening. While I stink at both, they are great creative outlets and I seem to need to have lots of things in motion.
Who or what influenced your thoughts on beauty growing up?
My folks really were the biggest reason that I stepped into the science of consumer products. My father was a biophysicist and led cardiac and neuro learning for the University of Texas. My mother was an epidemiologist and focused on preventative medicine. As a child, I pretty much had no idea what was being discussed at the dinner table, which didn’t stop me from putting in my two cents. But it was clear early on that there was a lot of scary stuff happening within science discovery that wasn’t being translated to everyday consumers. And often I found that scientists were so focused on micro terms that they didn’t know how to put what they were seeing into language that could be easily consumed. So, it was really the understanding that things that you put on your skin could be quickly absorbed and that the vast majority of the chemicals created had not undergone rigorous testing for safety that influenced my thoughts about what I put “in me, on me and around me”.
How do you practice self-care?
Self-care has really taken on another level since my last company was acquired. After 15 years of working around the clock, traveling the globe and very high stress, I’ve been focused this time around on making sure that my health stays a top priority. This has meant looking closely at diet, increasing the amount of rest and being even more diligent in staying in motion through primarily outdoor activities. I’ve also expanded my intake of multi-vitamins, turmeric and NAD+. And of course, I use BRIXY products and Thinksport sunscreen.
What has been the biggest challenge in creating your brand so far?
One of the biggest challenges was coming up with the name. Naming a brand is always a crazy experience. Every word we tried and words we were making up, we’re taken. I happened to be driving by a condo complex called Brixton, which I started to say out loud when I accidentally said “BRIXY”. I literally pulled over the side of the road and put in the trademark. We came into this space with a lot of knowledge from the last 15 years, so we were pretty clear on what our goals were for the brand and our team.
What has been your biggest win as a brand founder so far?
It was really how fast we were able to assemble the team, investors and our crazy impressive Advisory team. We were able to bring our former head of sales into the CEO role to lead BRIXY. This is someone that I literally have spent more time with than any other non-family member over the last 15 years. Having him at the helm is a big comfort, as we know how to operate as a team. There is a lot of trust already built in, as he also knows how I approach problem-solving, plus his work ethic is enormous.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to ingredient sourcing?
It really comes down to the earlier question asked about transparency and sustainability. When sourcing ingredients, the more information that flows through the producing company out to the consumer, the better. Ingredient producers should be continually thinking about sustainability within their own matrix. The equation of water use, ingredient processing and potential for offsets from carbon to energy should be part of their approach. Again, the good news is that there are quite a few beauty companies that strive to offer the cleanest of products. So, the more information we can all obtain, the better the solutions we can provide for consumers and the planet.
How do you think the beauty industry could take better care of the ingredient producers and farmers responsible for many of the ingredients used in beauty products?
For BRIXY, we are indeed focused on restoring the health and beauty of natural habitats. But certainly, there is an opportunity for beauty brands to highlight their ingredients supplier’s efforts and reward them, not just through the purchase of products, but through the direct effort of ensuring the health of the farmlands. With the recent Supreme Court ruling which will hamstring the EPA, the use of natural resources (like water) may be threatened by big corporations. We need to work together to ensure that herbicides and pesticides don’t continually find their way into cosmetic products.