When I started Skandinavisk 10 years ago, I didn’t do it with a focus on sustainability. I just wanted to inspire the rest of the world to live a little more Scandinavian because of the obvious benefits it offers to the individual, to society, and the nature that surrounds us all. Only halfway into our journey did it become obvious to me that if we are to represent a better version of the world, then we must live it as well. That we needed to lead by example.
What followed was the arduous task of becoming a Certified B Corporation, to reach a threshold that represents such better practise. But what the certification process taught me was even more powerful: that of the tremendous difference between how good you think you are and how good you truly act. The gap was uncomfortable, to say the least, and, ever since, I’ve been determined to reduce it.
It started with the radical decision to replace our entire product collection just six months later – the very collection that helped us certify – for the simple reason we had learned how much better it could be.
For the first time ever, the majority of our production is now inside Scandinavia. We use sustainably farmed Swedish rapeseed wax for our candles. Our Danish-produced cosmetic formulae all maximise the amount of certified organic ingredients to the point before they risk compromising its performance on the skin. Our packaging varies from partially recycled European glass to recyclable bioplastics made in Denmark, from post-consumer recycled metal tubes to FSC-certified paper and card from managed Swedish forests. It’s much better, but there’s still work to do.
The next lesson I learned is that it’s genuine efforts like these that can make broader change happen. Firstly via our people, who all got behind it and who keep raising the bar. Then, by our customers, who encourage us every day to live up to our own high standards. And, ultimately, by joining forces with fellow explorers and like-minded counterparts.
Shaping the B Corp Beauty Coalition
Thus, shortly after the relaunch, I was invited to become one of the founding members of the B Corp Beauty Coalition, a collective action initiative of B Corps committed to working together to change the beauty industry for good.
As we designed the governance framework, identified the initial focus areas for improvement, and started recruiting other B Corps, I was asked to draft our manifesto. It was a challenge I relished and it was obvious to me that, through our collective action, we should also aim to broaden the meaning of the word “beauty” itself, from one traditionally focused on improvement of the external self to one that represents a proper balance with the natural environment we all rely on but all too often neglect. In other words, for soil as much as skin, nature as much as natural, evidence as much as ego, and impact as much as performance.
Challenging the status quo
In shaping the concept of “B Beauty,” I was elected to the Supervisory Board of the growing coalition and, earlier this month, accepted the role of Chair, a responsibility I am immensely honoured to hold and one I am determined to fulfill for the benefit of all. Not because it will distract me from the purpose of Skandinavisk, but because 25 motivated individuals in Copenhagen can now work alongside, and benefit from, the combined experience and talent of more than 40 B Corps across five continents, representing thousands of people and millions of customers. It means we all finally have the scale to challenge the status quo and be confident of success.
Ten years in, it’s been quite a ride so far. Looking back, the first decade helped me find my way, the decade ahead looks more promising but no less challenging. When asked to describe it, that old African proverb keeps echoing in my head:
If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.