Last week I got to meet Bo Tjellesen, the owner and CEO of Danish beauty brand GOSH Cosmetics. If you’re not familiar with the brand go check them out in selected Foschini and Edgars stores. I love that they’re great quality yet wallet-friendly and cruelty-free. Also, if you’re a vegan, you’ll be glad to know that so are 80% of their products. (They’re currently working on new ways to formulate to crack 100% percent as I type but have to do it carefully. Peeps loooove their creamy, dreamy lippies and this means beeswax and lanolin. If they mess with that it might mean a dip in quality so they’d rather take time to get it right and produce something you’re going to love. So watch this space.)
Now, let’s get back to my sit down with Bo. I really wanted to chat about the cruelty-free aspect of their brand as I feel the world needs more of them. Surely, in 2018 nobody needs to be harming animals in the quest to create a blerrie primer? And yes, I’m not stupid. I know that, at some point, pretty much every active ingredient, those that are all used in 100% cruelty-free brands has, at some point, been vetted on a bunny. But why is animal testing still a thing right now? I’ve often asked brands about it but have only had the local customer services peeps or a PR person to talk to and, while I’ve done enough research online to have an idea, I’ve never been given a simple answer straight from the horse’s mouth. Clearly, the bottom line is that there’s some ‘benefit’ to being a brand that tests on animals for it to still be happening. Because if the decision to do it vs not do it was as simple as ticking a box then everyone would choose not to, right?
Anyway, I was very happy to get to chat to someone who’s sitting at the head of a global business and knows exactly what that their reasoning is behind how they operate. Bo’s answer was wonderfully candid and here’s the short of it.
China is a huuuuge market. If you can sell your brand in China, you can make A LOT of money. However, if you want to import there, you have to test on animals. It’s a stipulation by the Chinese government. What’s interesting is that this rule is flexi. If you build a factory in China, then you don’t have to test on animals. In fact, several hoops that a would-be importer to China has to jump through literally fall away. Essentially, the Chinese want brands that aim to sell in their market to find it much more preferable to set up a factory there. Now, it makes sense for China to want to keep things in their country. I get it. It’s best for their economy. But using animal testing as a ‘hoop’ in a bid to sweeten their deal just makes me feel gross and icky.
Bo doesn’t want to test on animals. Ever. If he did, he could make a lot more money. But at the end of the day, he just wants to go to bed at night knowing he did the right thing. It means fewer profits for GOSH, but he doesn’t care. He says he’s made enough to live very comfortably. His brand is a family owned passion, not a corporate monstrosity that’s constantly being whipped by various overheads to improve their bottom line at a cost of the moral higher ground.
Naturally, the next question is, ‘why doesn’t Bo get around the animal testing thing by opening a factory in China?’ His reasons are quality control. European standards are incredibly strict in terms of what can and can’t go into a product and in China it’s a bit like the wild west. There’s also nothing stopping them from saying their product is free of a particular thing and then putting it in there regardless.
Anyway, if you ever needed yet more reasons to love GOSH Cosmetics there they are. I wasn’t going to create an individual post on our chat. I was going to simply pepper any GOSH info I gleamed throughout various posts in which their products feature. But learning about the company’s stance was super-duper interesting and I thought I’d share it.
Other GOSH-a-licious things I learned? The brand was named by Bo’s dad. He was big into crossword puzzles and one day found himself stuck with a particularly tricky one. The final word turned out to be ‘gosh’, the English word for ‘amazement and surprise’ and he was totally taken with it. ‘This would be a nice name for a company one day’, he thought and the rest is history.
GOSH is now sold in 91 countries and their product line is enormous. I love that their eye shadow feels like butter and their eye and lip pencils glide on like magic. (Their bestseller across the globe, however, is their transparent Prime + Set powder.)
I’ve been given a bunch of GOSH goodies to play with but I’ve been too busy to try them properly, hence the shots sans reviews. I will give all of them a bash, however, and write about the best of the bunch in later posts. It was either this or the alternative which was to pepper this post with pictures of my boyfriend, Erik Killmonger. (Hello boo!) And yes, I know he is very mooi. No, I am not keen on a threesome. Please step away now, you’re making me very uncomfortable.