How This Couple Built a Profitable and Socially Responsible Beauty Brand

Husband and wife founders of PLANT Apothecary, Bjarke Ballisager and Holly McWhorter, operated their social conscious beauty line of natural and organic skincare products as a side project for two years before giving up their 9-5 jobs. “The business grew pretty quickly to the point where we both needed to be full-time,” says McWhorter. “It was earning enough to support both of us so it stopped being sustainable for us to work outside of the business. From the start, we knew that people perceived the brand as something different because we started getting really good press and retailer inquiries almost from the very beginning.”


(Image:PLANT Apothecary ) (Image: PLANT Apothecary)


In a sea of beauty products on the market right now, a few things that make PLANT Apothecary stand out is its unisex and multiethnic target audience. “We were one of the first all-natural, contemporary-packaging brands to target more than women—and pointedly, more than white women,” says McWhorter. “The vast majority of skincare brands—especially natural and ‘green’ ones—seem to assume that only white women are interested in what they’re offering, but that has never been the case. I’m a black woman, and I’ve always been a green consumer—and I’ve always known plenty of other women of color who were as well. And men might do less of the skincare shopping for your typical household than women, but a huge number of men do buy products for themselves. So, we’ve tried to always make it clear that we’re a brand that is for, and recognizes, everyone. After all, skin is skin, right?”

On top of its market appeal, PLANT Apothecary produces environmentally friendly products while also giving back to the community. “We’re not only making skincare products that won’t harm the environment but helping spread awareness that environmentally friendly products can also be cool and fun,” says McWhorter. As more people understand that they don’t need toxic chemicals in their skin and bath products to get the results they want, more people will switch to green skincare—which is, of course, better for their own health, too.

“It’s also a part of our mission to contribute to our community so we give work to BKLYN UNLTD, a nonprofit workshop for adults with mental and physical disabilities here in Brooklyn, New York. We make a point of giving them as many simple and short-run manufacturing, assembly, and packing projects as we can.”