Launched this month, Vitamin Kitchen offered three plant-based vitamin gummies to cover a range of nutritional needs: a Hair, Skin & Nails product made with biotin, vitamin C and zinc; a Health & Vitality offering made with a blend of vitamins A, B6, C and zinc; and an Immunity, Muscle & Bone product containing a 1,000 IU dose of vitamin D3.
Packed in FSC-certified, full recyclable kraft paper with plastic-free, heat sealed pouches to protect the gummies, the range was available online via Beauty Kitchen’s own website and in British retailer Planet Organic’s stores and website. Vitamin Kitchen would launch into EU markets early next year.
Beyond beauty – sustainability, the circular economy and health & wellbeing
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen, said the Vitamin Kitchen concept had been a long time in the making.
“To give timelines, we registered the name Vitamin Kitchen at the same time we registered Beauty Kitchen. So, it has been in the pipeline,” Chidley said. [Beauty Kitchen was founded in 2014.]
“And the reason for that is, when we started Beauty Kitchen, we always knew that sustainability, the circular economy and health and wellbeing would be important. Beauty as an industry has been going through, in my opinion, an evolution in the past 5-10 years, maybe a little longer when we think about when natural and organic came to the fore. And when you look at the growth of the beauty side of things, the real growth is coming from health and wellbeing. Having that as a pillar within your organisation is clever commercially but it’s also the right thing to do because we know that your outside skin really has got to do with your inside,” she said.
Vitamin Kitchen had been designed to complement what Beauty Kitchen already offered, she said – an aspect that would become clearer once it gained approvals on some of vitamin R&D work.
Seahorse Plankton+ – microalgae gummies for inside-out health
“We’ll be launching [gummies] that will specifically complement our skin care lines – a Seahorse Plankton active microalgae under Vitamin Kitchen,” Chidley said.
Beauty Kitchen’s existing Seahorse Plankton+ topicals range - made using a blend of microalgae and marine plankton - was designed to ‘renew and protect’ the skin, offering an array of products including an active face mist, brightening eye serum, and hydrating facial oil. The microalgae gummies aimed to sit alongside these offerings, she said.
Use of microalgae in topical skin care products and ingestibles, she said, remained “so untouched” with plenty to do in terms of research, innovation and product development.
“…It’s been a challenge to get the microalgae in at the right percentage to work with a particular supplement – and going through the regulations – but it was always the dream. It’s easy: if you’re a Seahorse Plankton+ skin care person, here are the vitamins and supplements.”
But Chidley said it wasn’t just the skin health and wider wellbeing benefits offered by microalgae that had fuelled focus on this superstar active; its impressive sustainability credentials were key.
Microalgae to help Beauty Kitchen/Vitamin Kitchen achieve carbon zero status
“One of the reasons we’re so interested in microalgae is this carbon zero concept,” she said. “We want to be able to decarbonise what we produce, and the way to do that is producing an ingredient that absorbs CO2 when you’re making it.”
Beauty Kitchen, she said, was “working through the data behind the scenes” to try and establish the “tipping point” on the percentage of microalgae needed in a product to ensure CO2 absorption was higher than what was given off. Why? “So that we can have a carbon positive product,” she said.
Even if that meant adding in more active microalgae than necessary for desired effects, Chidley said Beauty Kitchen would do so if it resulted in a carbon positive product.
“It’s such an exciting way of formulating a product. You’re designing with that circular economy in mind, rather than designing saying it’s about the active ingredients. The efficacy is always important but if you can carry that up with the carbon positive aspect, my question is: why wouldn’t you?”
“…Both in vitamins and supplements and beauty products, particularly skin care, there is definitely a way for us to be carbon positive. That’s what excites me.”
Sustainability at scale – we want to compete with the big supplement brands
Asked if Beauty Kitchen was worried about entering such a sizeable and competitive ingestibles market, Chidley said not at all – Vitamin Kitchen was ready to compete in the space, alongside the “big vitamin and supplement makers”.
“If you look at Holland & Barrett as an example for a retail perspective – they are the biggest seller of vitamins and supplements in the UK and one of the things they don’t have is a sustainable option. And that’s where we knew the opportunity was many moons ago. It was just giving the time that was needed to make sure we did Vitamin Kitchen in the way we would do Beauty Kitchen,” she said.
Vitamin Kitchen’s B-Corp status and Cradle-to-Cradle modelling stood it out in the market, she said, offering easy access to products that aligned with a circular economy. And the brand would continue to evolve as knowledge in the space grew, she said.
“When you look at what we did with Beauty Kitchen, we wanted to demonstrate that something sustainable could get to scale. We’re still an indie brand in terms of turnover, however [the business] has got all of the staples that would be needed for a much bigger organisation to take those elements and know it would work commercially, profitably (…) With Vitamin Kitchen we want to do the same: we want to show the journey and evolution,” Chidley said.
“…With Beauty Kitchen and Vitamin Kitchen, we are trying to set the scene for other, much larger, brands to join us here. There is a more sustainable way of doing things.”
Interested in the circular business future? Chidley featured as an expert panellist on our recent Circular Beauty webinar, sharing much more on her vision for a circular future in the space. You can still register to watch this on-demand here.