Vegan, sustainable, plastic-free - many products now bear these labels. But how do you assert yourself in the highly competitive market of natural cosmetics? How do customers know who they can trust and how do you create this trust as a company? We talked to founder Xandra von Seeherr of Plantbase about this. In the interview, she talks about starting up with her own partner, her beginnings with natural cosmetics and marketing with added value.
How did you come up with the idea for your startup?
Lorenz and I founded PlantBase in the summer of 2019. However, the idea of making sustainable zero-waste cosmetics had been on our minds for a while. The story of PlantBase started in a very small circle. I have always shared my enthusiasm for natural cosmetics with friends and family and given away my private home-made cosmetics to them. I also come from a small eco-family and therefore grew up with natural cosmetics.
And what was your very first product?
The starting point for PlantBase was homemade lip balm and natural deodorant in cardboard tubes. At the time, we were one of the first brands to offer sustainable zero waste cosmetics. At the time, the demand for the products was definitely huge! An incentive for me and Lorenz to continue and expand our range. In the meantime, our range includes vegan, animal-free and German-made natural cosmetics as well as soaps and utensils for the kitchen and bathroom.
What were the biggest hurdles for you during your start-up phase?
I think probably the biggest burden or hurdle was that so much came at once. We never expected zero waste products to become so popular so quickly. Our vision of ridding the world of plastic and giving people access to ethically sourced natural cosmetics rapidly became something very big. Since there were only two of us in the beginning, there were some questions, problems and hurdles that took a lot out of us.
What was the best tip someone gave you during your start-up phase?
Hang in there!
What is your USP? What do you do differently compared to other natural cosmetics brands?
The natural cosmetics market is booming! Within the last two years we also had to realize that the competition on this market is increasing enormously. Every company advertises with "vegan products made from natural ingredients". It is increasingly difficult to hold one's own in this market. However, we are very conscious of what sets us apart. All our products are produced according to our own recipe - first the ideas are discussed in the team, then tried out in the laboratory and then manufactured in the factory. We exclusively produce Zero Waste products and stand for quality "made in Germany". We are not only innovative when it comes to packaging materials and shapes and rely on sustainable raw materials such as grass paper or tinplate, but we are also constantly driven to develop innovative products in order to offer our customers something new.
What kind of advertising works best for you? Do you use influencers for this?
We were aware from the beginning that social media presence plays a very big role in terms of advertising and reaching target groups. Influencer collaborations are therefore a big part of our marketing measures. However, it is important to us that the influencers are authentic and support the vision of PlantBase. Our SEO work also pays off and ensures representative rankings in Google search. In addition to social media and SEO, email marketing has become indispensable.
How do you build trust in your brand, especially in terms of sustainability?
We are authentic, communicate 100% honestly and completely transparently, consciously seek exchange with customers and try to give a glimpse behind the scenes as often as possible. Especially in terms of sustainability, we inform our customers about our packaging materials and production. We share our history, our everyday life and show people the personalities behind PlantBase.
What is it like to start up as a couple? What difficulties or advantages does it bring?
I would argue that there are both benefits and difficulties. We have overcome stresses and challenges together and have grown from them - as entrepreneurs and as a couple. Another advantage is the mutual trust. Trust is the cornerstone of everything! To build a startup, you need partners and employees you can rely on and with whom you enjoy working. Of course, starting a business together can also be stressful. Finding a work-life balance is difficult when work and private life mix. However, I would argue that we've managed it quite well so far.
Thank you very much for the interview.
About the person: Founder Xandra is a trained hotel manageress and worked for many years in retail in the field of visual merchandising following her training. In 2019, she decided to turn her hobby of homemade cosmetics into a profession and founded PlantBase together with her husband Lorenz.
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