We loved talking with Cindy Barberes, the Founder & CEO of H. Honeycup about her journey and approach to Conscious Beauty. She is part of the Conscious Beauty Collective, our pop-up experience that started in San Francisco in April 2022 and is moving to Boston in September 2022. Watch more about her amazing brand here or read about it:
Lynn: How did you decide to launch H. Honeycup and what was the spark or the inspiration?
Cindy: Well, I was always into wellness and healthy eating and all that. And then, my husband has a contract manufacturing company that he started right around the time when I started my company. He had always worked in that field. That's a big, that's a big hurdle, you know, to get a small number of products formulated and manufactured and tweaked. So, as I was thinking about it just clicked. And I thought, how about if I try this? And he, of course was supporting me, but you know what's interesting is that he would say things like, are you sure you want it to be natural? And I was like, yes, I want it to be natural. The good news is that I stuck with it and today it was announced by Made Safe that four of my products have been certified by Made Safe.
Lynn: That’s gotta feel good!
Cindy: Well, it does cause it's a rigorous process to go through. But, you know, I found that it was a great exercise because everything is scrutinized. And so you scrutinize everything too. Are all of your suppliers transparent? Will they give you the documentation that you request? You know, if you have an ingredient that’s 95% something and then the other 5%, if they won't disclose it, then you just have to move on. Right? I mean it’s that black and white. And so it really was a good exercise to flesh out a few suppliers that we had to change and a few ingredients where we had to have substitutions, we eliminated a couple of in ingredients, so we had to retest the formula. But then when it's over, you feel really good about the product that you're offering to the consumer -- they can have clarity, they have trust. I like Made Safe because it's a very broad comprehensive certification. They care about human health, animals, aquatic, and ecosystems. People can feel comfortable giving these products and using them themselves and with their families at home because they do all kinds of products, not just beauty.
Lynn: I love that. Let’s actually talk about your products, because we've been talking about your brand, but we haven't really said what it is or what it does or what type of products you have.
Cindy: It's skincare and it's all body care. So body, the neck down. It’s ironic that the first three products that we have had were three of the four that have been certified by Made Safe. And so we have a body scrub, a sugar scrub. When you feel it, it’s a little gritty, but then when you rub it on your skin to exfoliate it just rinses off in the shower. Like there are no particles any longer. The sugar melts -- it's created with essential oils only. It’s our best seller.
Lynn: Oh that's amazing. Yeah. It's hard to find a good clean body scrub. I think it's a brilliant product, but then you also have body lotions, body oil, so let’s talk about those.
Cindy: Well, we have body oil that is also at the Conscious Beauty Collective and it smells like a spa. It’s got some carrier oils, like jojoba but it also has lavender oil and it's wonderful. After a shower, your skin will feel baby soft until the next day.
Lynn: Do you use it when you're still a little damp or do you dry off and then put it on?
Cindy: I use it when you're still a little damp. Because then it just soaks in. Our next product is very popular. We have a lotion stick.
Lynn: Why, why did you decide to make it solid? I think that's an interesting choice from a product formulation perspective.
Cindy: Well, I did that before we did a regular lotion for a couple of reasons, one it's spill proof, and it’s also portable. I mean, everybody spills their lotion in the purse. I wanted it for that reason and it also can be even cleaner because it doesn't have any water. The first three products that I talked about are waterless, so you don't have to have preservatives. And so it can be a cleaner formula.
Lynn: Yeah. We covered your scrub, your lotion, your oil. What else is in the hopper?
Cindy: We do have a CBD line and it’s one of the products that isn't in the store. This is the fourth one that was certified by Made Safe. But we have the sister product is in the store. It's the lotion.
It's 300 milligrams of CBD and people love it. It's really a matter of preference. Do you like an oil? Or do you prefer a lotion that soaks into your skin differently?
Lynn: CBD to me feels like it's like a whole different business in a lot of ways in terms of regulatory, in terms of education to customers, there are a lot of different channels. Is your focus more on what maybe you would call your main line versus your CBD line? Is CBD more of an experiment or is that where you're migrating to because you see the need, how are you thinking about that?
Cindy: I think of it as like a companion line because not everybody really wants or needs something to relieve pain. That’s why I like offering both because I can say, “if you don't want CBD, we have this. But if you do have the need for the CBD products, then we have, the bath salts, the lotion, the oil.” It is a challenge for a small business because it's unregulated, there are a lot of limitations to where you can sell it and how you can sell it and so on. So you do hit a lot of obstacles.
The best seller is the scrub. Once they have it, people buy two at a time. You don't want to run out because it's one of those things where if you use it in the shower you use it a few times a week because you don't want to over exfoliate with a physical exfoliator. But the way that it works is you can just do, say half your body, you can do your arms in your neck one day, do your legs another day. That way, you’re always exfoliated and then, you rinse and repeat a couple of days later. But if you are in a hurry, it leaves enough moisture that you wouldn't have to use lotion. I would always recommend using lotion regardless when you get out of the shower. But if you're in a hurry, you know, that's the feeling that it has on your skin, it leaves a little of the essential oil and it's not greasy. It's just soft.
Lynn: Oh, that sounds amazing. Do you have other products that you're working on or are you just really focused on these?
Cindy: Some of the ideas that we're we've thrown out are maybe a solid fragrance or even a liquid fragrance. We’re talking about maybe a lip scrub or lip balm, maybe some shower steamers.
Lynn: Yeah. That's a nice idea. And do, are your products seem like they're pretty gender neutral? Do you have many men who use them?
Cindy: We have a lot of men who like the scrub and they like the CBD products, the citrus usually. I would say that the whole CBD line and anything orange, they like the stick and the scrub too, because it smells really nice at the time and then it dissipates quickly. I think men prefer to not have a strong scent with them.
Lynn: Your products do look like they would appeal to everyone really which I think is smart. Ours is the same. We made ours gender neutral because everyone has hair. Everyone has skin, so why would we want to exclude half of the population? But let’s talk about your name. I'm curious. How did that come about?
Cindy: I worked on that name for months and months and every time I thought of something it was taken. I really love honeysuckles and butter cups. I like using the HH for the alliteration, so it's kind of fun, but it took a while. Then our mission fell into place and you can see on every label what our mission is and it says take care. By supporting us, you help us support a person who is in recovery from addiction. It was really important to us because we had a family member who struggled for a dozen years. And when this person went to recovery, I could observe it afterward. The way her friends were and the fact that they always wanted to be busy and doing stuff outdoors. It’s the continuing journey of wellness and clean living. So I was doing clean beauty. It was just a perfect match. I donate to the sober living centers because it's clean beauty and it makes people feel good. It's very small thing. You know, I'm not curing anything, but it makes them feel good.
Lynn. I love that because, well, first of all, I think it's so interesting that almost all the brands in the Conscious Beauty Collective have a cause, right? Like ours is about the ocean and today it's world ocean's day, which is awesome. We give back to ocean education and research. Olita is about the coral reefs. Every brand has their thing. That’s really good because I feel like the big brands in beauty (and I've worked on a lot of them in my career) don't care about that. They don't think about that. They're not about giving back. They're just about coming up with another confusing product to make consumers buy extra stuff. So I love that you're thinking about your customers and the connection and when you describe it just makes a lot of sense.
Cindy: Well, what's crazy to me is that the average consumer is not necessarily aware of that. I think they are becoming more aware and women do most of the shopping. So I think they're a little bit more in tune with that, what they want and, you know, moving toward more natural. But yeah, I mean, it is, it is shocking that nobody looks at the label.
Lynn: I agree with you. I'm going to give a plug for what we're doing, which is the Conscious Beauty Collective, because these are brands that are good for you. Good for the environment. Almost all the brands in the store are vegan, cruelty free. Non-toxic. You can go in there and not have to worry that you’re going to buy something that's not good for you. We've done that work for you and the products are all good. And they perform well. And that to me is, is the other side -- nobody wants to buy clean products that don't work just because they're clean. You want them to also do the things they’re supposed to do. That’s why your products are so interesting because you capture the trifecta: clean, high performing and sensorial.
Cindy: That’s why I love the, you know, the concept of the Conscious Beauty Collective. I feel like, here are my people, you know?
Lynn: It does feel like that. I know. And it's been really, really fun to have all the founders together and supporting each other and it's just been awesome. The Conscious Beauty Collectives is at Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco until the end of June and you can get H. Honeycup there -- you can smell it, see it, put a little on your skin, try it out. You’re gonna love it.
We’re moving to Boston and we'll be at the Natick mall from September one until the end of the year. And the thing I love about it is these are indie brands, not big corporate America brands. These are brands you can't find anywhere else. They're amazing brands, almost all female founders. We have, we have two guys in our collective out of 36 brands. It’s a really good place to start to explore how to detox your beauty routine and find alternative products. And I think you're going to love what you find.