It’s International Women’s Day, and we are celebrating with a Q and A interview with Green People founder, and inspirational organic beauty revolutionary, Charlotte Vohtz. I first met Charlotte over an unforgettable lunch at Terre a Terre in Brighton more than a decade ago. What stood out then, and is still true today, is that Charlotte saw no limitations on how far she could take her fledgling organic skincare company. She radiated boundless reserves of optimism and the X-factor all successful entrepreneurs have. It’s called winning. The best ideas are either wonderfully simple or they fulfil a need. In Charlotte’s case, she wanted to heal her daughter Sandra’s allergies. Not only did she exceed her expectations, and transform her daughter’s life, she has also enhanced the lives of thousands of people who have embraced organic skincare and experienced the difference, thanks to one great Dane who never stopped believing that the world was ready for certified, well priced, organic skincare, that really works. Bravo to Charlotte for helping to lead the organic skincare revolution.
How has setting up Green People from your kitchen table changed your life?
Life changed from working 9 till 5 to working around the clock –one moment I was wearing the accounts or marketing hat, next I was creative developing products, designing labels and brochures. Days were spent visiting stores, setting up meetings and creating PR material.
Do you have a mentor, or a person who utterly inspires you to be a change maker and organic pioneer?
I don’t have a mentor but it was my daughter, Sandra’s skin allergies as a baby that inspired me to set up Green People, ultimately to help her and others suffering from eczema and skin problems.
It’s the 20th anniversary of Green People this year. What achievement are you most proud of?
To be the first company to certify organic beauty products with the Soil Association. We were invited to sit on the committee to help the Soil Association set the standards, after two years of trying to tell them how important it was to have recognised certifications in the beauty industry, as there was for food.
How would you describe a typical day as CEO, wife and mother? Do you take your challenges home with you, or have you learnt to switch off?
I am always up early for a little ‘me’ time before my busy day begins. I love walking Saffie our family dog and use this time to plan my day. Back at home I make green smoothies for the family. Every day at the office brings new challenges which I love, and yes I do take them home with me and very rarely switch off.
What would you do differently, if you were starting an organic and sustainable beauty company now?
I don’t think I would do anything differently, a lot of research was done before setting up Green People and I always felt it was a mission and not a job so I am thrilled that we have been able to make a difference to so many people’s lives.
I still know a lot of intelligent, educated people who don’t know the first thing about what organic really means or stands for. Most of them are men! Do you think this situation is improving? Is there far greater awareness around the arguments for choosing organic food and skincare?
It is quite surprising as you say that there are so many educated people who don’t understand the benefits of going organic, some of my friends included! I do think the situation is improving and the last two years have seen growth in the organic market. In 2016 sales of organic beauty and wellbeing grew by 13% and a recent Soil Association report says that 43% of consumers say they look for a logo when choosing organic cosmetics – all promising signs for the future of certified cosmetics. It was always been my aim to educate and we still continue to do this through our website, catalogue, fact sheets and training.
Which Green People skincare product is your organic hero and why?
It is a difficult choice so can I have two? The combination of Age Defy+ Hydrate & Renew Face & Neck Serum followed by Age Defy+ Cell Enrich Facial Oil is a must have for all skin over 35!
Green People wouldn’t exist, if you hadn’t set out on a journey to heal your daughter Sandra’s childhood allergies. How is she today, and is she involved in Green People?
Her skin allergies are a thing of the past, in fact she has lovely skin. 20 years after Green People began my little girl now has BA in Fine Art so is not currently involved in Green People, she still comes up with ideas on the creative side though.
You have so much knowledge about the power of plants and flowers to heal – can you share a beauty tip we can all try at home?
Exfoliating is one of the most important parts of your skin routine (and often overlooked). Without regular exfoliation your moisturiser can’t penetrate and do its magic. Enzymes from Pineapple or Papaya will do the job. Pineapple contains a natural enzyme called Bromelain which helps to break down the keratin proteins that form dead skin cells, its natural exfoliating effect helps to improve skin texture. We use Bromelain in our exfoliators but as a home remedy a slice of Papaya or Pineapple will do, Use a thin slice and gently rub over your skin to help lift dead skin cells and exfoliate.
In most cases, buying organic costs more. Is it important to you to have an affordable organic range, which students and young families on a budget can buy?
I always wanted to make organic beauty affordable for everyone and believe that we have achieved this with our extensive range with from £5.00 to £36.00. The key to our products is how concentrated they are, something that initially seems expensive becomes value for money when consumers see how long it lasts.
Are you bringing out any new products this year to celebrate Green Peoples birthday?
We are delighted to be launching two beautiful new special edition ranges this year, to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Gorgeous new packaging and the stunning aromas of Rose and Neroli make up these ranges.
Do you have a philosophy that you live by as a private individual and as the founder of a company?
It was always my ambition to be able to give back, launching Green People with the mission to give 10% of net profit to charity, over the years we have worked with many charities donating close to £300,000 to date. To celebrate two decades of driving positive difference in the beauty world, we are launching a Change the World in 20 Ways campaign. We are looking for 20 people who want the chance to receive £1,000 each to make their dream a reality in 2017, and change the world for the better.
What is important to you when you are not working? What do you look forward to?
Walking my dog Saffie, spending time with my family including my lovely grandchildren and of course a glass of red wine!
You grew up beside the sea in Denmark. Do you miss your native country?
Yes, I miss the sea, as early as five years old my mother would take me down to the sea in early spring and rub my skin with fresh seaweed, installing in me its benefits. I frequently go back to Denmark to visit my grandchildren.
It is international Woman’s Day today – what is your experience of being a female ethical entrepreneur? It has been a good journey and maybe I have been lucky but I was very welcomed, even as a Dane and have always been encouraged throughout my journey.
What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur starting out now?
Believe in yourself and never, ever give up!
Your Shea butter comes from a fair-trade project in Ghana. Have you been out to the project and met the ladies who produce the butter? Is fair-trade important at Green People?
Yes I had the chance to visit Ghana with Sandra a few years ago. It was very humbling to meet all of the ladies from the co-op and amazing to see all of these women working and empowered and now self-funded due to the vision of one amazing lady called Georgina. Whilst we were there we were able to donate books for a new school that was opening during our visit.
Here at Green People we always try and use Fair trade ingredients where possible, however there is not a very extensive range of ingredients that are available for organic beauty.
Is the future organic?
Yes, I feel strongly that the organic movement worldwide will gain in popularity and support as awareness of the damage we are doing to our planet increases. The path that humankind has been following for the last hundred years or so is completely unsustainable and the impact we are having on our environment is causing irreversible changes – unless we start to wholeheartedly embrace the principles of sustainable, organic husbandry our planet will not be capable of supporting future generations.
Interview compiled and told to our editor, Alison Jane Reid. Copyright March 2017.
To Celebrate International Women’s Day and the 20th Anniversary of Green People, we are giving away three sets of Charlotte’s hero organic, anti-age sets, worth £68.00 each.
Hydrate & Renew Face & Neck Serum – £36.00 (30ml)
Age Defy+ Hydrate & Renew Face & Neck Serum is uniquely blended to deliver amazing rejuvenating, balancing and regenerating properties directly to your skin, re-awakening your complexion. This blend incorporates highly effective actives from “the everlasting youth tree” which have been shown to stimulate cellular metabolism. Tests have revealed impressive results with skin hydration increasing by 30%, plus a 10% wrinkle reduction was observed after only four weeks.
Cell Enrich Facial Oil – £32.00 (30ml)
This powerful blend of skin nutrients, antioxidants and organic actives not only restores elasticity, promotes cell regeneration and reduces wrinkles but also delivers on the touch test too, leaving skin beautifully soft! The unique blend of active ingredients work in synergy to deliver skin clarity and brilliance for a more youthful complexion.
Each gift is worth £68
Please answer the following question. Where does Green People source it organic, fair-trade shea butter from? We would also like you to tell us why you think you would benefit from an organic skincare routine. Please leave the answer in the comment box. The winner will be drawn at random from all correct entries. There is no cash alternative, and the editor’s decision is final.
Closing the date for the entry is – March 15th 217.