Earlier this year, the HSMG (Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild) filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA to allow the change of the current regulation that requires a street address on cosmetic products, to be changed to allow a PO Box as the place of business on a cosmetic label. Their argument focused on the personal risk associated with putting a home address on the label and the fact that a PO Box should be sufficient. I strongly urge all of you to comment with a clear, concise, short and professional note to the FDA why this change should be made. You can comment on this petition here.
The bulk of the text for blog post is from Professional Beauty Association
On July 27, 2012 the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) issued newly revised proposed regulations under its legislative mandate to provide for Safer Consumer Products through the use of “Green Chemistry” to replace chemicals of concern. The chemicals of concern (COC) will be based on and include lists prepared by numerous domestic and international bodies that identify both existing and possible chemicals of concern.
Bottom line from Anne-Marie: The financial ramifications of this law have not been determined (see official notice re: determination of financial impacts here). It is unknown what the impact to small business will be. We would urge caution adopting the legislation into law without a full financial overview so the true impact of the legislation is known. You can comment on this until Thursday, October 11 (address and email below). My official comment will be sweet and to the point:
Ms. Von Burg,
I am writing to express concern regarding the newly revised proposed Safer Consumer Product regulations. Specifically, I am concerned about the impact to small business. The fiscal considerations for the proposed changes have not yet been tabulated. For the sake of businesses of all size, but especially small business, please be cautious in adopting regulation where the financial ramification on business is unclear.
Wow, has it been a busy last 4 days. In the last 4 days, I’ve flown to Washington DC and back, made halvah from scratch and a from-scratch halvah cheesecake (yes, recipes will be posted! Until then, you can feast your eyes on this photo), spent a day with my family and participated in the annual Mastermind Business retreat. I am energized and tired, all at the same time!
Washington DC was an efficient, productive trip. Though there are no cosmetic-legislation bills that have made it out of committee this legislative session, it’s important to continue educating lawmakers and their staff on our handcrafted industry and urge small business exemptions for any future legislation. Lawmakers were receptive to the message that small business does not function like a large, mass-scale-production line and that it’s important to preserve over 200,000 jobs in the U.S. by including small business exemptions in any upcoming legislation. New to this issue? Lots of historical information at these blog posts here (going back over 4 years!). [Read more…]
Etsy recently updated their policy on a variety of products that many Soap Queen readers and Bramble Berry customers make: products to help with acne (usually containing Tea Tree Essential Oil), anti-wrinkle creams and serums (often containing luscious ingredients like Tamanu Oil or Seabuckthorn Extract), diaper rash creams (often containing zinc oxide) and anything making anti-itch statements (often with additives like calamine or calendula-infused oils). This move has caused some confusion and frustration in the Etsy marketplace. Bottom line: follow the current, existing FDA guidelines for labeling cosmetics and you will be in compliance with Etsy’s new policy.
For the long post details, including actual languaging from FDA Warning Letters, links to the FDA site, statements from Etsy on the issue, continue reading by clicking “more”. [Read more…]
You have home owners insurance. You have car insurance. Should you get business liability insurance? Having business liability insurance is not mandated by law. If you wish to run a craft business without insurance, there is no governing agency that will force you to buy insurance. Your bank, should you ever get a loan, will ask you for insurance (they’d like to ensure they get repaid on their loans no matter what happens with your business). Buying insurance is a prudent choice to protect your family’s assets should anything go wrong in your handcrafted soap and toiletry business.
We live in a litigious society. People can sue or claim damages for anything and everything. If someone slips in the shower using your salt scrub, they could claim it was the fault of your scrub. If someone uses your soap and decides that the rash they developed the next day was from your soap, they can claim damages. They might not win a possible lawsuit but dealing with the issue would take valuable time away from you and your business. Additionally, any legal fees could be costly and put you and your family assets at risk. Finally, if your house were to (knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder, turn around 3 times) burn or have fire damage, your business property might not be covered under your home owners insurance. [Read more…]
I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz about Starbucks serving up bugs in their beverages? I kid you not coffee drinkers. Because of the highly-publicized customer response, Starbucks changed their ingredients. Apparently it really “bugged” their customers (sorry about the bad pun, I couldn’t help that one). Not only is Starbucks a home-grown company (whoop whoop, Seattle!), I admire Howard Shultz (read why in this great Fortune magazine article about him) and his latest venture: Create Jobs for USA. In this case, I respect how Starbucks listened to customers and changed the way they were doing things in a quick and efficient manner, showing that they really do care about the ‘little guys’. Hemi, over at Fooducate Blog, shared Starbuck’s response to the controversy. They were kind enough to let us share the blog post with our readers. I’m especially paying close attention to how Starbucks put the customers first and how that can apply to my business (and hopefully yours!). Thanks, Hemi! See original blog post here. ~Anne-Marie
In one of the quickest turnarounds we’ve seen in the food industry, Starbucks has just announced that it will be removing the red bug coloring from its Strawberry Frappucino and other red foods. A few weeks ago, a vegan Starbucks barista shared his discovery of carmine with vegetarian blogs, and the news went viral. Heck, even our post about it (with a close up picture of the red bugs) went viral. [Read more…]
We were delighted to host Jay Inslee, former Washington State Representative, at Bramble Berry last week. Jay resigned his seat in March to run for Governor of Washington State. I was particularly excited to get a chance to talk to Representative Inslee about his work for the Energy and Commerce committee, the same committee that works on legislation relating to our industry. [Read more…]
A few months back, I went with a group of people (60 or so) to a wonderful ropes course in Victoria, BC (blog post here). We all took buses from the hotel to the ropes course. In our package deal, we were promised a box lunch when we got back on the bus.
After four hours in the ropes course, we were ALL hungry and ready for that lunch! We got back to where the bus was supposed to meet us and there was no bus. My spidey senses kicked in and I suggested that we call to see where the bus was. But the organizer of the group talked me out of calling. We waited 20 minutes until I could take it no more and I begged the organizer of the group to phone for the bus. There was no answer. We waited another 10 minutes. It was cold. We were hungry. And there was no bus.
We couldn’t get a hold of the bus company so I phoned the hotel, talked to the manager and asked him to look into the situation. He phoned back and said that the buses had quit for the day and had left us stranded. This is where it gets interesting. The owner of the bus company drove in his personal vehicle to tell us why they weren’t picking us up. It turns out that they were contracted for 3 round trips to bring our group to the ropes course and bring us back. And they did three round trips. They actually went above and beyond and did four round trips.
Only, the return trips were all empty. They ran empty buses. And when they had fulfilled their contractual obligation, they quit. Sure, they had 27 extra lunches left over and yeah, they hadn’t actually picked us all up but hey, their contractual obligation was filled. They were done. The contract didn’t specify that they had to pick up everyone – just that they had to do the trips. They went through the motions but didn’t succeed at their mission: to safely carry our group to and from the hotel to the ropes course and back.
We all eventually got back to the hotel in time to catch our ferry back home but the lesson learned for me is life changing. Measuring the right things changes the entire picture. The bus driver measured one thing (trips) when what really mattered was another thing (people).
Where in life are you measuring the wrong things? Where are you counting the trips when you should be counting the people?
Yesterday, the subcommittee on Health (Energy and Commerce Committee) held a hearing entitled “Examining the Current State of Cosmetics.” You can watch the archive here. Debbie May from Wholesale Supplies Plus testified on behalf of small business. She did an amazing job (photo of her in hearings is below). The written testimony she gave is here. Bramble Berry submitted written testimony that was included into the official record.
Here is a copy of our testimony:
Testimony before the Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health
For the Hearing Entitled “Examining the Current State of Cosmetics”
March 27, 2012
On behalf of Bramble Berry Inc, a small business serving 60,000 independent makers of soap and toiletry products across the United States, I submit the following testimony to the House Subcommittee on Health for their consideration as they hear “Examining the Current State of Cosmetics.”
Microbusinesses manufacturing handmade cosmetics produce exceptionally safe products. If legislation is considered in upcoming hearings, I strongly urge the Committee to include a small business exemption from crushing paperwork and fees.
Across America people launch small handcrafted beauty businesses in their home kitchens to help support their families and to create and sell a higher quality, more natural beauty product than you can buy at your drug store. Any member who has purchased a gift bar of soap at a holiday fair or bazaar has probably met one of our customers.
These small batch producers use familiar, typically food grade ingredients: sugar, sweet almond oil, olive oil, beeswax, etc. These are safe. These small producers are not in business to create new chemicals but to make safe, high quality products from tried and true ingredients for their friends, family and to sell usually in low volumes in their own communities. They work at very small (and often negative) margins. Many would have to close if faced with added regulatory and fee burdens. Some aspire to be the next Aveda (annual sales over $100 million) or Burt’s Bees (employing over 350 people) but will never have that opportunity if their enterprises are strangled in infancy by regulatory excess.
Yes, Aveda and Burt’s Bees started in their kitchens before growing. They are exactly the kind of innovative business we want to see in all our communities. They and others carry on a long American tradition of home based, or “cottage industries.”
Cosmetic safety is a core value of my business. As the CEO of Bramble Berry Inc., I devote a significant amount of time to ensuring our customers understand and follow current labeling laws, utilize GMP standards and use fully-tested ingredients in their small batch cosmetics.
Please ensure that the American Dream of bootstrapping a business from home remains alive. You never know where the next Mary Kay or Estee Lauder will come from. Keeping small business exemptions in any potential draft legislation is the vital to ensuring thousands of (mostly) women can continue to operate their small businesses.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this matter, so important to many of your constituents.
CEO, Bramble Berry Inc.
A bill associated with this series of hearings has been released. It is entitled: H.R. 4262, “The Cosmetics Safety Enhancement Act of 2012”. You can read a full version of the bill here.
The Subcommittee on Health has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The title of the hearing is “Examining the Current State of Cosmetics.” A full witness list has yet to be announced. This hearing has been referred to as a “pre-bill” hearing. You will be able to watch the hearing live here on Tuesday at 10:15 EST.
There will be a link that shows up in the ‘gray’ area that says “Watch Hearing Live” and you’ll be able to follow along and see what the expert witnesses and testimony says about our industry.
Bramble Berry is submitting written testimony for the hearing. Debbie May of WholesaleSuppliesPlus will be testifying, live, in front of the committee. Several other industry leaders and small businesses have also been invited to submit written testimony. It is our hope that the message of small business and our role in job creation and designing safe products is clearly communicated.
Greetings from Washington DC where it is warm, muggy and surprisingly easy going in climate. I brought my running shoes and am hoping to go on a run through the monuments tomorrow morning.
We had an extremely busy day meeting with Congresspeople and staffers who are working on the Safe Cosmetics Act potential legislation. Debbie May from WholesaleSuppliesPlus and I met ahead of time to go over the results of the industry survey. The results were extremely helpful. Some results from the survey 1998 small handcrafted soapmakers took: [Read more…]
Though the Safe Cosmetics Act at the Federal Level continues to work its way through its slow process and has no current update, at the individual State level, there continues to be movement as various States introduce and work on passing legislation that affects soaps and cosmetic manufacturing and labeling.
One of the these bills is MA H02361 had a live hearing today. You can read the full version of the bill here. Though Bramble Berry was not able to attend the hearings in person, we submitted testimony on the Bill. A copy of the letter is below.
Though Congress is in recess right now, there is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes around the Safe Cosmetics Act – both with its advocates and its detractors. It is Bramble Berry’s official position that the act is too overreaching, too broad and is not enforceable as currently written. Click here to read our initial take on it and here to read about our trip to Washington DC to meet with staffers working on the proposed legislation.