Jennifer Norman, the founder Humanist Beauty has an incredibly inspiring backstory. Her life didn’t start out on a bed of roses. Actually, at the age of two, she was abandoned, then rescued, then brought to a local children’s orphanage in South Korea where she received compassion and care. Then, just months later, a kind-hearted family from New York saw her picture, adopted her and raised her as their own.
Growing up Asian in a predominantly white community did have its hardships. Jennifer was teased for her looks – it didn’t help that she had severe adolescent acne and a mouth full of braces. She became a shy, competitive introvert, throwing herself into school work, art, dance, piano, and as many after-school activities as she could squeeze into an overbooked schedule. Along the way, she developed a penchant for experimenting with clothes, makeup, and hair. On the outside, Jennifer wanted to stand out. But on the inside, she wanted to fit in. Jennifer wanted to look like the impossibly perfect models in all the magazines. She developed a bulimic eating disorder that lasted straight through her 20s. She felt like she was never good enough.
Her studious, competitive nature propelled her through college and then through business school. Jennifer’s obsession with beauty landed her a job at L’Oréal in New York City. She would go on to work for the likes of Victoria’s Secret and Neutrogena, and for two decades she would escalate in the beauty industry, building brands and selling products through the same type of image-based marketing she had fallen prey to as a teen. What was the meaning of it all?
Over time, Jennifer yearned to live a life of greater meaning, intention and purpose. As if the universe was listening, she was gifted that purpose through her son who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder at the age of two. She almost lost him. Many, many times. But somehow, some way, he pushed through with a supernatural will to survive. For over a decade, Jennifer dedicated herself to his care. She studied up on various aspects of health and wellness. She researched ancient herbal remedies, alternative therapies, energy healing and modern advancements.
Caring for her son cast light on things she had so easily taken for granted before. She came to appreciate the preciousness of health and wellness. She came to feel tremendous gratitude for the kindness and compassion of others. She came to realize that real beauty is not seen with the eyes but felt with the heart.
Beautyologie is honored to add Humanist Beauty to its marketplace of fair trade beauty products and recently had the opportunity to chat with Jennifer one on one.
Can you share your story about how you got started in the beauty industry to where you are now?
I’ve been in the beauty industry for over twenty years now, working with various brands based in NY and LA. Though I have great love for the beauty industry, I don’t have love for the way it has treated people and the planet overall. I established my company to be a pioneer in the conscious beauty space delivering a strong message about social and environmental impact.
What motivated you to create Humanist Beauty?
The three values closest to my heart are radical inclusivity, holistic wellness and sustainability. I created Humanist Beauty as a brand that embodies those values.
Let’s dive deeper into the formulation of Herban Wisdom Facial Oil. There are many incredible ingredients that make up this magical oil. Please break it down for us and share how you sourced these ingredients.
You are right! The Herban Wisdom Facial Oil is a packed with clean, potent, plant-based nutrients. There are eight distinct categories that the ingredients fall under to deliver multi-faceted benefits to the skin:
ADAPTOGENS – 500 mg organically cultivated full-spectrum whole hemp CBD addresses sensitive, stressed skin while Sacha Inchi is clinically proven to preserve skin’s lipid balance & improve skin texture
AYURVEDIC HERBS – Coriander & Black Cumin support clarity, toning & skin wellness
BIOIDENTICAL LIPIDS – Jojoba, Squalane & Meadowfoam mimic skin’s own natural sebum to keep skin supple
SKIN CONDITIONERS – Omega-rich Argan, Avocado, Coconut & Hemp Seed supply nourishing moisture while Cucumber, Apricot, Cherry, & Vitamin E recondition the skin
SUPER ANTIOXIDANTS – Rosehip, Camellia, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Cranberry, Tamanu, Kakadu Plum & Seabuckthorn defend skin from free radical damage that prematurely ages skin
K-BEAUTY – Proprietary Korean FermentOil™ is clinically proven to boost antioxidant activity
SEA ALGAE – Proprietary Juvenessence™ sea kelp is clinically proven to increase skin firmness & elasticity in 4 weeks
AROMATIC OILS-Frankincense, Blue Tansy, Vetiver & Petitgrain essential oils provide aromatherapeutic benefits at non-phototoxic levels
These ingredients went through a careful vetting process with criteria being organic cultivation or a fair-trade business model, vegan / plant-based origin, and cruelty-free verification. Environmental certifications such as EcoCert or Natrue were also noted.
Which ones are fair trade and where do they come from?
Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil (Organic) – Israel
Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil (Organic) – Chile
Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil (Organic) – Morocco
Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil (Organic) – Israel
Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil (Organic) – Spain
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil (Organic) – Ethiopia
Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil (Organic) – Canada
Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil (Organic) – Egypt
Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Seed Oil (Organic) – Vietnam
Plukenetia Volubilis (Sacha Inchi) Seed Oil (Organic) (and) Tocopherol – Peru
Tanacetum Annum (Tansy) Essential Oil – Morocco
Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Fruit Extract – France
Citrus Aurantium Amara Leaf/Twig (Petitgrain) Oil – France
What made you want to source fair trade ingredients?
I find it crucially important to abide by regenerative, not extractive, business principles. There are too many large companies that have gone into beautiful villages around the world and either taken advantage of local labor with unfair wages, or who have displaced local labor with their own. They do so, and they greedily deplete these communities of their livelihood and their natural resources. It isn’t right. Buying ingredients through fair trade practices offers assurance that the local people are being treated fairly, with respect. In many cases, education is provided as well as fair wages for work. It helps the local communities to thrive.
Talk a bit about why it was so important to make Humanist Beauty a B Corporation.
I knew I wanted my business to be a Certified B Corporation, because the certification recognizes businesses that have the highest standards of social and environmental impact. The qualifications to become certified are rigorous. It’s not easy to get certified, and it’s even harder to stay certified. A company’s policies and practices are assessed and rated across critical areas such as ethics, transparency, governance, employment, finances, health, wellness, safety, career development, community, diversity, equity, inclusion, economic impact, giving, supply chain management, environment, and customers. I was fortunate to have my company undergo the process and become B Corp Certified after one year of being in business. The B Corp insignia is a very strong assurance to all that the company is conducting itself as a force for good to people and the planet.
Please explain what The Human Beauty Movement is and how the two businesses work together.
Think of The Human Beauty Movement (The HBM) as the parent company of Humanist Beauty. The HBM was established first and is the overarching organization for championing radical inclusivity, wellness and sustainability in the beauty industry. It does this now through my own efforts in speaking engagements, interviews, articles and blog posts, as well as across social media. Humanist Beauty was launched as the first manifestation of The HBM. There will be others.
What’s next on your agenda?
I’m excited to be working on new products for the Humanist Beauty brand as well as key partnerships to expand the reach of The HBM’s message.