“We always knew we wanted our products to be all-natural, but we never defined what that meant,” says Abby-Lynn Knorr, marketing director. “So in 2008 we defined what natural meant when we used the word, and in 2010 we made a red list of ingredients we’d avoid using. At the time, our vanilla line was only 99 percent natural and even though it was our most popular, Karina and Cam made a call to discontinue it. The reaction was not what you would expect; it was really positive and people were impressed. They knew that although it cost us money, we took our mission seriously.”
Fortunately, Rocky Mountain did launch a vanilla-coconut line in March after years of searching for a natural vanilla, and testing different recipes. It had to wait for suppliers in the raw ingredients market to awaken to the growing and here-to-stay natural products industry. Knorr explains that its internal red list of outlawed ingredients has certainly put stringent standards on what Rocky Mountain can and cannot use, but its list of available ingredients continues to grow as suppliers begin to carry more all-natural ingredients.
“Our toolbox has grown because our ingredient suppliers are being asked not just by us anymore, but also by our competitors to produce certain ingredients,” Knorr explains. “It’s a trend that’s been growing steadily. We saw it first in food and people becoming more aware of what they put in their mouth, and the bath and body market tends to follow those food trends. People are reading labels and becoming more conscious of controversial ingredients such as parabens, sulfates and phthalates.”
As suppliers continue to catch up and customer loyalty strengthens, Rocky Mountain is delving even deeper into environmental consciousness. Instead of maintaining environmental responsibility simply as an important tenet of its overall operation, Rocky Mountain makes environmental responsibility the core of everything it does.
On the product side, this means making the transition to not only be 100 percent natural but also at least 70 percent organic, while making every effort to keep prices affordable. The company also is weeding out GMO ingredients and any ingredients that might be natural but are not sustainably farmed.
Rocky Mountain is applying the same healthy living concept it uses in its products to its stores. Three years ago, the company created another red list, this time outlining the toxins typically found in the built environment. The company set out to create a store concept where all materials are toxin-free. Rocky Mountain opened its first store using this new concept in 2012. That number has now grown to five. The rest of its stores will be transitioned over within the next couple of years. And all new stores going forward will be built in accordance with Rocky Mountain’s new building guidelines.
“We developed a toxin-free store build, and not only that, all of the materials used in the stores are reused, reclaimed, compostable, recycled or recyclable so they never end up in a landfill,” Knorr says. “We had to find new ways to do things. We’ve used ingredient containers for chandeliers, refinished antiques, reclaimed wood from an old barn, and we’ve rescued bathtubs from the landfill.”
In the next step of its greening process, Rocky Mountain wants to tackle its packaging to ensure every bottle and container is toxin-free and recyclable.
“We are in the early stages of researching how we can go toxin-free with our packaging,” Knorr says. “Plastic is recyclable but it’s not on brand for us. Going toxin-free with our packaging will be one of the most exciting and challenging projects we’ve tackled to date.”
A Consistent Brand
Rocky Mountain wants to make sure it is clearly communicating its present and its future to all current and potential customers. It will launch its revamped website in January, making it easier for customers to shop.
“The new website will provide a more efficient and positive customer experience,” Knorr says. “The system we are on now doesn’t meet the needs of our growing company and fan-base, and our brand has changed a lot. It’s much more contemporary and fresh.”
Online and offline, Rocky Mountain is making sure that its branding, products and store environments stay true to its overall mission to be 100 percent natural and toxin-free.
“There are no natural standards out there that would hold us as accountable as we hold ourselves,” Knorr says. “If you looked at our red list, you’d be amazed at how stringent we are, but that’s why we’re here. Our north star, the goal which we will never reach but always strive for, is to remove toxins from our world.”