WEBA: A Brand of Plant Oils, Butters, Botanicals and Essential Oils Sourced From All Over The World
We sat down with Lydia Diaz who is the founder of WEBA (Whole Earth Body Actives). After losing her job in 2013 she began crafting products. After creating her first bar soaps, she went cold-calling at retail stores andended up in over 30 independent retailers. The story of Lydia's determination and resilience was fascinating so we had to learn more about her natural skincare brand, WEBA.
What are the ingredients for your products and where are they sourced?
We use plant oils, butters, botanicals and essential oils sourced from the U.S., France, Australia, Ghana, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, India and Mexico. We try to source as many ingredients as possible from local and U.S. based farms. The rest are obtained through reputable distributors who carry Fair Trade, non-GMO, Friends of the Sea and other certifications to ensure that producers harvest responsibly and are paid a living wage.
We noticed that you have unique packaging (i.e. the soaps) – tell us a bit about it.
When I was looking for a more sustainable wrap, I came across lokta paper. It is handmade in Nepal from the bark of the evergreen Daphne shrub which grows in the Himalayas. It is durable, mildew resistant and beautiful, and the shrub is not harmed by this process. I wouldn’t use any other wrap for our bar soaps. It also feels good to help the Nepali carry on a tradition that also provides them with a sustainable source of income.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty is inherently about being comfortable in one’s own skin. Outward beauty is too informed by cultural norms and by the media, which so often change. Beauty must begin on the inside, with self-confidence and a belief that anyone can be beautiful at any age.
How do you define sustainability?
I believe that in order for a product to be sustainable it must be comprised of raw materials that are sustainably sourced. This means that its raw materials should not be endangered or exploited. An ingredient’s origin, methods of harvesting and processing should be taken into account. Plants listed as endangered have included Frankincense, Sandalwood and Rosewood.
Do you see a shift in natural beauty brands? Do you see advancements in the conscious beauty industry as a whole?
Yes, to a degree. While natural beauty brands have avoided harmful chemicals and practices from the start, we’re seeing many more high-end and luxury natural beauty brands. While greenwashing does occur due to growing demand for natural and organic products, many Indie beauty brands are looking to remain true to their mission while utilizing emerging technology to create new and better natural products (e.g. naturally derived preservatives, ayurvedic herbs, etc.)
Does being a woman of color influence your brand? If so, how?
Yes. It’s hard for me to divorce my heritage from what I create, since WEBA began as an attempt to create products for my sensitive skin and chemical sensitivities. Increasingly, I’m noticing that many products do not consider the special needs of women of color. Hair care products are particularly problematic. Many skincare products include ingredients that lighten and brighten, but this can create uneven skin tone in darker skinned individuals. Ashy skin is a term more familiar to persons of color. And of course there’s the lack of adequate foundation shades. By sharing solutions to my own skincare and haircare issues, I hope to inspire other persons of color to not settle for less when it comes to natural beauty.
What has inspired you the most?
Reading stories about other female business owners who creating socially conscious brands and who began in much the same way that I did. I continue to read these stories because building a business is hard work; it helps me maintain perspective.
What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
I attended the Indie Beauty Expo in New York City in August, where I debuted two new products. One of them, the Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover, as well as my bar soaps, were nominated “Best in Show.”
What can we expect from you in the near future?
Products are always in development. The next ones are likely to be our body butter and deodorant cream.