Our Let’s Get Sustainable series spotlights Klarna retailers who are setting an example for the industry through effective efforts to protect both people and the planet.
We sat down with Kirsten Kjaer Weis, Founder and Creative Director at Kjaer Weis, to learn more about her company’s approach to sustainability, new consumer preferences, and the power of small gestures to make a big impact.
What does being a sustainable brand mean to you?
Sustainability means being thoughtful and intentional in every choice that is made, from the quality of the certified organic ingredients we use to the wellbeing of the farmers and suppliers we work with. In parallel to that, being conscious in terms of the packaging we use and what impact that has on our planet is imperative. We consider it a holistic approach to sustainability, with the conviction it’s multilayered and therefore has to be a multilayered effort.
What drove the decision to make sustainability such a big part of your mission? Why is sustainability especially important in the beauty industry?
According to Euromonitor International, in 2018, in the U.S. alone, almost 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were created just for beauty and personal care products. With the launch of so many new brands on the market in the last few years, I dread to think of how many more units have been created since then.
Since our inception in 2010, Kjaer Weis has led the charge in sustainability. We are proud to be the first luxury beauty brand to introduce refillable packaging at our launch. Our commitment to the environment extends from refillable to recyclable and recycled packaging into our approach to formulation. Our certified organic ingredients are hand-selected for quality and sourced from partners we work with very closely. All of them share our commitment to Earth kindness.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced in becoming more sustainable, how did you overcome it?
Our sustainability commitment is sincere, so it is imperative to stay on top of continuous improvement which requires focus and bandwidth. The most important thing for me was to have an uncompromising approach. The prestige experience couldn’t get lost in the effort to make it sustainable, which is why we landed on a refillable system, allowing for a combination of luxury and sustainability.
How have sustainability efforts changed your business or manufacturing processes?
Sustainability has been part of Kjaer Weis from day one—we have been producing like this from the inception of the brand and it is “all we know.” As an example, we have been able to switch to compostable materials for some of our packaging, going one step further in minimizing our carbon footprint.
What are your customers demanding more of and how has this changed over the past year?
Our field team has shared that customers express interest in the level of purity in the products they use. They want to know what certified organic means, what it does, and why it works. Customers are also asking for more hybrid skincare and makeup products, and products that enhance their look rather than creating a mask. There has also been a high demand for lipsticks, which is attributed to the CDC guidelines about masks.
How did you approach sustainable packaging and product design? What was unexpected in the process?
The Kjaer Weis Intelligent Refill System empowers consumers to choose their shade and how it is packaged, minimizing what gets thrown into landfills. Shoppers can feel good about unboxing every product, limiting both the waste of excess materials and the unnecessary cost of new products with new packaging.
What’s one sustainability change you would like to see across the entire beauty industry?
Going from an unconscious to a front and center thoughtful approach; however, it wouldn’t just be a beauty industry issue, but an overall business strategy. That in and of itself would create so much less waste. Once one becomes aware of the deeper ramifications of a careless approach versus how even seemingly little things—like double bagging—make a huge impact, we will start to see change but it takes awareness and willingness.
What’s the next big challenge for your brand in sustainability?
One of our major focuses is to not just maintain, but to continually improve, our supply chain integrity. This is very important to me. It’s becoming more and more essential we also continue to improve our design processes because it’s not just about the design of the product, but also about the manufacturing process. I want to keep designing for the future: better, safer products; less waste; ethical processes throughout our company and those we work with; and excellent products created with good intentions.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to retailers big or small that are interested in tackling sustainability but don’t know where to start?
Educating and informing yourself is key. Watching documentaries such as The Blue Planet 2 by Sir David Attenborough is life-changing and has raised awareness about the detriments of single-use plastic bottles and bags. I also recommend the kisstheground website as a reference. They also have a documentary on Netflix.