Natural beauty from Jokkmokk
Take two sibling, a Mum named Gerd, an interest for body care and cosmetology plus a genuine ecological thinking and swap mineral oils for organic oils (made from berry-seeds). What do you get? Care of Gerd of course. Ecological beauty products made in Jokkmokk.
It all started in 2008 when the siblings Anna-Lena Viklund Rippert and Johan Viklund decided to make their dream a reality by starting an ecological beauty business. Starting off with four empty hands, lots of ideas and even more clout they are now well on the way towards their goal, to be one of the leading ecological beauty brands on the global market.
- We’re working on it. Next year is our tenth jubilee, we’re sticking to our plan and have come a long way already, says Anna-Lena happily.
A longing for the honest truth
Let’s go back a few years to when the academic Anna-Lena ran her own beauty and health business at home in Jokkmokk. Johan had started his career path as a hairdresser in Jokkmokk and Luleå and later became a stylist in Stockholm, where he also had a production business launching products for the large beauty dragons on the market. Parallel to that he was also studying marketing and economy. Everything was pretty rosy, yet there was something that didn’t sit right. Not just the thought of mineral oils in the products.
- I love the land and I love the city, but felt that I required authenticity, Johan tells us.
He went back home and there, by the kitchen table he and Anna-Lena formulated their business plan, which they since have followed to the letter. Mum Gerd got to contribute her name when they were to communicate the core values of the business. She is a symbol of all they wanted to say – genuine, authentic, Swedish Lapland and cares about nature, animals and humans. The brand Care of Gerd was a reality.
- Our parents have always taken care of what nature gives, meat, fish, herbs and berries. We wanted to work with ingredients from Jokkmokk; berries, herbs and birch. We decided early that we wanted to know exactly what we mixed into our products, says Johan.
- Not many of our competitors work this way. Many buy already made profits and stick on their own label.
Cruise ship promotion
In a room in a basement in the middle of Jokkmokk is where their small production was born. They had complete knowledge of the chemistry and picked their own berries and birch leaves in the forest. Some financiers scratched their heads in confusion whilst others got the gist of it straight away.
Today the production is based in the sunny-yellow, Skönhetsfabriken, beauty factory at Hantverkargatan in Jokkmokk. Their market share is now all over Sweden with close to 300 outlets, but also in Europe and Japan. It’s at Spa’s to eco shops, hairdressers, chemists and therapists. They have hired more staff and are in the process or extending the factory again, just a year after the last one.
- We have invested in a machine that will raise the production tenfold, according to Anna-Lena.
They need it. New distributors and larger, editing customers are added all the time. They have, among other things, become total provider for Åre Holiday Club and Petter Stordalens hotel At six. The global sales are increasing due to three cruise ships in New York, Mediterranean and Bahamas, who travel around with Care of Gerds products, which generates new customers from all over the world.
- We have several large stakeholders on the go and Germany is also waiting, Anna-Lena reveals secretively and sounds happy.
Balance in life
Anna-Lena and Johan describe themselves as control freaks and calculation nerds. They want to have complete control, work the whole market themselves and ensure their retailers know the products. Swedish Lapland and Jokkmokk mean a lot to the brand. A business contact from London was almost chocked when she arrived in Jokkmokk. Is this what clean air smells like, he said in amazement.
- We want to know our retailers and because of that have travelled near and far, in Sweden and abroad, to educate them. We are dedicated to this and put an enormous amount of ourselves into this, Anna-Lena says.
To manage their high tempo they, as well as the staff at the factory, do yoga during working hours once a week.
- Johan and I have made a pact. That we must take time out to exercise, eat and sleep well to have the stamina to work. It is so much fun but we must have a strategy to manage long days and to find a good balance in life.
Environmental thinking start in the bathroom
Johan is hoping that more and more people eventually will come aware of how the relaxed way we use all our bathroom products is affecting the environment. It is not only hormone disturbing chemicals and mineral oils that is ending up in our water ways. Even very strong surfactants, the washing active substance that lather, as well as plastics and micro plastics in shampoos and, above all, in conditioners, glides through the most effective treatment plants.
- Many buy ecological bananas and coffee but haven’t got the same thoughts about what they are flushing out in the shower, says Johan.
- Some face and body scrubs that we unsuspectingly use have grain made of plastic that will end up in nature and in the groundwater! All environmental thinking starts in your bathroom and when you make active choices in the shop, Anna-Lena adds.
Read the text on the back
She encourages us to make active choices, to read the list of ingredients, and to discard. Three ”Big no no’s” are sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), mineral oils as well as all types of scrub’s with plastic.
- Look for organic material. We use jojoba grain and apricot kernels with our environmentally friendly scrub’s, says Anna-Lena, who is delighted over the fact that many young people are very knowledgeable and make good choices. Another group that is slowly, but surely, also want kinder products, are men, who ask for shower creams, shampoos and skin cleansers.
- Note, even rather macho men buy our products, says a proud Anna-Lena.
New products on the go. Right now at Care of Gerd we are testing, among other things, a body scrub and a sensitive series with fragrant-free products that will be launched in spring 2018.
- Many are quite sensitive as fragrances are concerned – and children should not be exposed to them at all.
Isn’t it fantastic what a bit of coffee and two driven siblings who’s Mum is called Gerd can achieve. And this is only the beginning …
Text: Iréne Lundström