When you purchase a beauty product, what is the first thing you see? Boxes, bottles, tubes, jars—they’re your entryway to the formulations that transform your hair, and Richard Chalmers, R+Co Executive Director of Packaging, is willing to bet you care about how that packaging not only looks, but also how it’s sourced, made and, eventually, recycled. Here, he talks about conceiving attention-grabbing packaging with necessary sustainability in mind for R+Co and R+Co BLEU.
Coming up with hair product packaging sounds fun. What do you consider when developing packaging?
Richard: It’s all about form, fit and function. I want to get something to the consumer that's safe and that inspires the consumer to grab it off the shelf. When creating packaging, you want to engage the senses—sense of touch, sense of feel, what it looks like—and then when you open the cap, the formula’s smell.
How do the senses play into packaging?
Richard: We look at each of the aspects of a package’s life cycle … How you squeeze it or when you close it, is there a click? Because a click may sound more luxurious, which we call an “audible click.” Obviously you're paying for a product, so you want to make sure you engage all these senses all the way to the end.
R+Co has pivoted to sustainable packaging—namely, post-consumer recycled packaging (PCR), and is looking to lead on this front in the beauty industry. How did this come about?
Richard: It's a long time coming. We were able to push and fight and make our way towards that goal. Now that we’re not a young brand anymore, we have more leverage and can reach out to our suppliers and push them to be more sustainable. R+Co Core started as 0% PCR and is now 55% PCR, while R+Co BLEU is 100% PCR. By getting that leverage, we can inspire and push our suppliers to reevaluate the things that they're doing, too.
Does sustainability impact usability?
Richard: No. For instance, with R+Co Concentrates, we have a different, more sustainable way to dispense it, which is in aluminum. Aluminum is one of the most recycled materials in the world. When you squeeze the aluminum tube, it collapses and you basically are able to evacuate all of the product. And so we gravitated toward aluminum because we felt like it offers the salon utility. Not only is it recyclable, but also it's easy to use.
What was one time that you were presented a sustainable packaging idea that took on new life?
Richard: Definitely R+Co BLEU’s seed cards. Think of a business card that you could plant and wildflowers would grow—that’s what they are, and they come with every R+Co BLEU product. That was born from an idea where it was presented to the group more as incorporating that seed material into cartons, the idea being, “I want to be able to plant the carton and something will grow from it.” We left the meeting and I was scratching my head just to figure it out. Because not only do you have to do it, but you have to do it in such a way that's safe and that you can ship it nationally and conforms to policies and regulations. So, from start to finish, it definitely took some segues—and I appreciate that. That's part of the fun of our business and certainly R+Co.
Do you have a garden in your backyard now teaming with wildflowers from seed card experiments?
Richard: Shortly after the seed card endeavor I planted some, and let's just say I'm not a green thumb with seed cards.
If you could just fantasize about a dream project that you could collaborate on, do you have any wish list items that you would love for R+Co to explore?
Richard: I think we've already embarked on that with BLEU. R+Co BLEU is so far ahead of everyone else from a sustainability standpoint. Our bottles and closures are 100% PCR. That means even the caps are made form recycled materials, which has been really exciting because, first of all, no one's done that to the extent that we have. But there's absolutely more to come in terms of R+Co packaging—a lot more excitement in the year to come and next year, so stay tuned.
Listen to the full conversation on R+Co Talk Radio or click below to learn more.