Birch Babe is on a mission to connect people back to nature through skincare.
Based in Bon Echo (Ontario), Birch Babe started from one woman’s dream to create all natural skincare products that are better for the health of our bodies and the environment.
It was six years ago that Debbie (Birch Babe’s founder) hiked solo from the southern tip of Patagonia to the Northern tip of Chile. While in Patagonia, she noticed that everyone was super conscious about their waste because they were remote – she even witnessed a hike leader put his cigarette butt in his shoelace until he found a garbage off trail.
It made Debbie realize that while she was a conscious consumer before the trip, there was so much more she could do to help make a positive impact in the world. Upon returning home, Debbie immediately retired and set out to pursue her newfound dream, by moving to the cottage and making all-natural soap and body products – with help from her two daughters, Kelsey and Lindsay.
Fast-forward to 2021, Birch Babe is now in over 80 stores across North America with a growing online community!
“At Birch Babe we believe in connecting people back to nature through skincare ,” says Debbie. “And we believe that little changes, minimal ingredients and less packaging make a BIG difference.”
In a nutshell, how did Birch Babe come to be?
Our mom Debbie has always been passionate about the environment and what she puts in and on her body.
We love telling the story about when our mom took a 6 month hike from Patagonia to Chile four years ago. On this trip she noticed that everyone was super conscientious about their waste because they were remote.
So, she came home and within 6 months had quit her job and moved to the cottage near Bon Echo Provincial Park. It’s there she started creating skin and body care. We watched her do it first for herself, then a few friends and eventually at festivals. She then went on to get a diploma in Organic Skin Care Formulations, as well as getting all products certified with CertClean. It was really amazing to watch.
You can see more in our Brand Video ‘Connected’.
When did you officially launch and what were your first products?
Well, there’s technically been two launches. The first was 4 years ago with our mom Debbie doing everything and going to festivals. We would help where we could however there’s only so much you can do as one human!
When she started Birch Babe the very first product was the Whipped Body Butter and what we love about it is the recipe is still exactly the same (and my favourite product).
Then we had a bit of a rebrand and sort of second launch you could call it.
It was during the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020, that my younger sister Lindsay and I decided to join forces with our mom and rebrand Birch Babe. So we came together with a lot of hard work and blind faith and launched a new logo, brand new website, a ‘Organics Collection’ and moved into a new bugger studio with our fingers crossed tight in October 2020 and haven’t looked back since!
What inspired the name ‘Birch Babe’?
Our family’s cottage is surrounded by incredible forests. There’s up to 60km of trails that are delicately hand carved into the land by a local and only a few people hike them, our mom included. One of her favourite trees is the birch tree and over dinner one night when we were trying to think of a name for her soaps, Birch Babe came up!
What’s your ultimate mission & vision?
So glad you asked! We actually just recently sat down together and re-wrote our Mission, Vision and Values. As we grow, we want to ensure we don’t lose sight of where we came from and what our purpose is.
On reflection we all agreed that: “We created Birch Babe not just to make another skincare brand but to help as many people as possible make easy lifestyle choices for the better health of their bodies and our planet.”
What’s it like working together as a family business?
Each of us have our own departments which I think helps us work together so well. Our mom takes care of quality control and formulations of existing and new products, Lindsay is our Studio Director overseeing all inventory, packaging, shipping and store logistics and I work as our Creative Director leading our branding, communications, social media and PR. We really feel like we’re the dream team and couldn’t do it without each other!
What’s the process behind sourcing ingredients and formulating your products?
We work very hard at ensuring our packaging and ingredients are sourced as ethically and sustainably as possible.
We also stand very strongly behind our commitment to be as plastic free as possible. For example last year in November we were sent plastic Lip & Cheek Tint lids (approx. 4 times!). We had a choice to sell our Lip & Cheek Tints with a plastic lid or stand behind our decision to be as plastic free as possible and keep our Lip & Cheek Tints out of stock until our metal lids came in, which we did, for 6 months! It was a very painful and hard decision, however extremely worth it because we knew we were standing behind what we believed in and that our community appreciated that.
We’re proud to say all of our products are handmade, sliced and packaged in our studio near Bon Echo, Ontario.
What’s some great feedback you’ve received from happy customers?
Overall, we’re just overwhelmed with the love we receive in emails, Facebook and Instagram messages and in our reviews online. We read everyone and try to respond to them all. They really give us the reassurance that we’re doing the right thing and the drive to keep going!
A few product reviews are below for our 3 Award-Winning Products in the 2021 CertClean Clean Beauty Awards:
Hydrating Face Cream (23nd Place):
Lauren H. “I’ve been using this twice a day for nearly five months and my skin has never looked better in my life. I have both acne and eczema on my face, and the improvement is really noticeable. I’ve just repurchased!”
100% Mineral Sunscreen (3rd Place):
Carley B. “BEST SUNSCREEN EVER! Obsessed! It goes on SO smooth and actually rubs in without leaving a white residue! Doesn’t feel heavy or greasy on your skin, especially on your face. 10/10 would HIGHLY recommend!”
Lip & Cheek Tint ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ (4th Place)
Nathalie C. “My 5yo daughter and I argue over who this little tub of happiness belongs to. Safe enough for her to use without hesitation. What a nice little touch this gives on days I don’t wanna do a full face of makeup. A little pop of colour on my lips and cheeks. And the peppermint is a lovely soothing little kick.”
Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you along this journey?
Yes, when it comes to living a more plastic free lifestyle we really love @plasticfreemermaid and she was also a wonderful supporter of our All Natural Mascara when we first launched our rebrand.
When it comes to how to communicate to consumers in the digital space we really looked at what Glossier was doing as we felt they did a wonderful job launching a brand that was solely e-commerce. We saw how much fun consumers were genuinely having getting involved with the brand and thought hey, let’s do the sustainable, plastic free version of that!
We also love Lauren Singer from @trashisfotossers and how she does a great job of providing everyday ways we can all live a bit more plastic free.
For other skincare brands we have a great appreciation for Sḵwálwen Botanicals and that incorporate cultural plant knowledge and Indigenous science and self-care. We also just recently saw a film about the founder Leigh called ‘Walking With Plants’ which is beautiful.
Future plans for Birch Babe?
There’s so many!!
To name a few, in the new year we are excited to be able to offer a 100% Plastic Free Collection of products (right now we are about 90% plastic free overall). Our products that have sprays (like our Leave-In Conditioner and our Restoring Face Toner) and droppers currently have a tiny bit of plastic in them (the straw in the spray bottle and a tiny ring of plastic in the dropper).
These products will now have an alternative packaging option so consumers can choose to order Birch Babe 100% plastic free.
We will also be launching a new line of Fragrance Free products.
In addition, we can’t say who right now however soon you may be able to find us in a few big retailers (fingers crossed!).