ALL Ways: Tierra & Lava Proves That Authentic, Sustainable, Clean Beauty is NOT a Trend

by S. Creastam

Tierra & Lava

Skincare is slowly but surely turning more towards natural ingredients and formulations. Not just the kind that is labeled as “natural”, but actually taking time to create natural options in skincare. Okay, actually, many skincare brands are exploring natural and vegan formulas to give consumers undeniably soft, radiant, glowing skin. Understandably, this is a response to the changing trend of values within society as the current up-and-coming generations lean into clean and green products.

With all the experimenting, there are a few ancient techniques resurfacing into the mainstream light. A popular example is the use of tools like the medicinal alleviator turned beauty hack Gua Sha. Other examples are found in ingredients, like the use of charcoal. The techniques worked way back then, and are updated to work in the modern applications of beauty. Tierra & Lava is a skincare brand that shares the longtime ingredients of ancient people in the Southern Hemisphere.

In this series, called ALL Ways, we’ll grow to know social enterprises by their charming points. We say “charming” to refer to branding and approaches that help us see another way to manage social entrepreneurship. We’ll also suggest ways to interact or use these charming points in our own involvements with social enterprise (personally and professionally).

This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise interaction and engagement.

In today’s post, we look into the simmering Tierra & Lava paying homage to culture and ancient skincare techniques. Tierra & Lava is a sustainable skincare brand that uses techniques derived from Central America.

Knowing the company

Deep in Central America, Tierra & Lava is crafting “CONSCIOUS SKINCARE WITH MAYAN WISDOM”. Ancient skincare traditions are used by local producers to help bring this skincare brand to life. Originally,  Lucy Ashman, founder of Tierra & Lava, found inspiration during years of travel around Central America. When met with her love of skincare, she decided to launch a beauty brand in Antigua, Guatemala that reflected the natural traditions of the culture.

Tierra & Lava does handcrafted small-batch skincare and uses biodegradable or reusable packaging. Carefully, the initiative is guided by genuinely Green Principles to ensure a sustainable impact on the brand, the community, and the environment. With the name “Tierra (earth in Spanish) & Lava”, the initiative shares this explanation of their name’s purpose: “We want our name to honor the nurturing, dynamic and powerful sides of nature.”

Not only are the ingredients inspired from Central America and the community, but the initiative also invests in understanding the commitment that goes into working directly with the land. Tierra & Lava actual grows some ingredients in their own garden:

“80% of the botanicals in our products originate from our very own mountaintop garden, just steps outside our workshop.”

What Surprised Us

Green Principles is a page on the Tierra & Lava website that is dedicated to listing out the procedures and standards upheld at the initiative. The initiative includes a few additions to their sustainability to increase the amount of social impact from the brand. For both the support of their website and email, the business uses a solar-powered server. Any grey water goes through a natural filtration system before feeding the property, and they also have a ‘loveable loo’ compost bathroom to conserve on-site water usage. The initiative seems to care about the impact left on the community, even to the extent of mitigating any unintended harm.

Ingredients of the skincare brand, besides the ones grown in the initiative’s personal garden, are sourced from members of the community. Despite the fact that this may not be surprising, the scale may give a different impression. In the FAQ of the official website, the local impact is described as follows: “We buy ingredients from 25 communities and 68 partners. We have some ingredient partners where our orders are more than 50% of their business.” It’s incredible what kind of impact one initiative can make in a community. These numbers don’t mean that every business should operate in the same fashion, but it does provide light on ways to approach business. This approach appears to be a local business with more individualistic relationships rather than corporate management.

Since Tierra & Lava is not a larger corporate brand, and is located in a more remote area, gaining access to resources for their business could be a concern. They are refreshingly honest about not being perfect, and mention desired plans they have for the future. One of the concerns can be found on the Green Principles page, and relates to conscious packaging:

“Being located in Guatemala does, however, limit our options of sourcing materials and we are currently using plastic lids and pumps on a few of our products. We are actively searching for zero-waste alternatives that won’t require outsourcing that increases our carbon footprint.”

What is the benefit for good

Instead of focusing solely on more sales, Tierra & Lava is already building layers into alternative route for income. Those who are interested can contact the initiative about creating individualized scents. Hotels and Spas are some clients that took advantage of this additional Tierra & Lava offer. Adding layers to their business model, which opens up opportunities to gain more revenue. This ripples back into the community, increasing the impact local and Tierra & Lava can create in Antigua, Guatemala.

From investing back into the community to boosting the pride of local businesses, Tierra & Lava is serving up social impact through their skincare brand. The initiative even goes into detail for preserving the environment of the local community. Check out the extra mile they go for zero waste:

“We are a zero-waste company – any unrecyclable plastics (such as some food wrappers) are repurposed into eco-bricks that we use as borders for our garden. About one eco-brick is produced every two weeks. A local recycling company, Reciclemos.gt, picks up any materials and by-products that can be easily recycled.

We buy in bulk to reduce waste and source as many local raw materials as possible to reduce the carbon footprint of any unnecessary outsourcing from abroad.”

What’s Next

We like to encourage actively participating with positive initiatives. Each person making their own choice to participate adds up! Whether you engage for fun, inspiration, or expression, here are our suggestions for engaging this initiative:

(Personal)

– Visit the official Instagram page and show the brand some love (likes & comments).

– Consider adding  Tierra & Lava to your skincare routine.

(Professional)

– If your social enterprise works closely with a community, evaluate if your initiative is causing any unintended harm to the place or people connected.

People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community are a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check in for more conversation-starting content.

Suggested podcast episodes:

SocialVentures’ Allen Proctor is Connecting the Ecosystem of Social Impact

Suggested blog posts:

9 Practical Steps in Building a Successful Social Impact Business

What is Design Thinking, It’s Stages and Principles In a Social Entrepreneur’s Perspective

Trendsetter Ethical Fashion Brand Deux Mains Powers Social Enterprise with a Multi-Purpose Business Model

Taza Chocolate Embracing Transparency as Guidance

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