Heliotrope San Francisco
We create all-natural skincare, made in small batches, with no synthetic perfumes or artificial colors. We offer many fragrance-free formulas, which can be customized on request, using pure essentials oils.
The Makers and Their Production Spaces
We have a combination of some formulas produced in-house by both my employees and me, and using some Bay Area sub-contractors for more complicated products. Our in-house production takes place at our studio in Oakland’s Jingletown neighborhood. We do all bottling, labeling, and distribution from our studio as well, no matter where we produce each formula.
The Making Process
One way we try to reduce waste is to reuse the same bottles and jars for as many of our products as we can, so we can buy in bulk. Ditto with labels – we often create just one label per product with no scent listed, and personalize when we add essential oils on demand.
We also accept (almost) all of our products back at our shop for refills – to eliminate excess packaging (and save clients money by giving them a discount). We try to source as many materials as we can locally – though with natural plant-based skincare ingredients, we often need to find items from other parts of the world. When we do, we strive to get them from smaller, non-factory farms.
The Production Model
For our liquid products: in order to strike a balance between large-scale more efficient production and complete customization, we make all our product in small batches with no fragrance added, and then allow customers to choose how we “finish” it for them on site. Small batches gives us some economy of scale, while allowing us to keep things local. In a few cases, when products have outgrown our capacity, we’ve outsourced to larger production, and then sell our excess bulk inventory to other retailers, who can then custom-label their own versions of our products.
For our other (solid, meltable, mold-able) products – such as candles, soaps, lip balms, etc – we make these in very small batches by hand, and can customize pretty easily – which serves us well when helping other retailers who want their own custom scents, etc.
We spoke to this a few questions back, but we do try to be as “small scale” and sustainable as possible – besides sourcing local materials as much as possible, and doing discounted refills, we’re also reducing environmental VOC’s by not using any synthetic perfumes. For excess product (a batch that makes more units than we need at that time), we send out as in-package samples for customers to try, or we give away to neighbors. In our studio building in Oakland, we put our own liquid soap into the public restrooms – because we always have extra made, and don’t want it to go to waste. Plus, everyone loves it 🙂