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August 18 Questions: Brook Harvey-Taylor

Each month we ask a new eco-maven 18 questions about his or her life, occupation, and advice for other like-minded people. This month we connected with Brook Harvey-Taylor, the President and Founder of an 100% vegan and cruelty free skin, body and makeup company!

1. What is your name?

Brook Harvey-Taylor

2. What is your occupation?

Pacifica, President and Founder

3. Do you have a “green” memory growing up?

I grew up on a little cattle ranch in Montana. It was pretty “green.” My mom was super into clean food and gardening and we had a lot of animals. I didn’t know it at the time, but our family lived a fairly sustainable lifestyle. We got our butter, milk and eggs from our neighbors, grew all the food we needed to feed our animals and ourselves, gardened all summer, and canned our food in the fall for the winter. It was hard and a lot of work but I really wish I could live that way now. My family homesteaded in Montana and my great grandma was born there the same year it became a state. And while not all pioneers were “green,” my family understood what it meant to live off and with the land. I appreciate those roots. I think that the more we are connected to the earth the more we understand how precious our resources are.

4. What’s your favorite meal?

Coffee with coconut milk.

Oh, you mean like a real meal? I love food. So this is hard. I like food that has lots of layers, texture and interesting spices. Indian and Lebanese food are at the top of my list. If I lived near Hampton Chutney in New York City, I think I would eat there every day.

5. Where on the “green scale” do you fall?

First of all, I have REALLY high standards. And I don’t meet them. My number varies. Sometimes I am good and sometimes I am less good. At times in my life I have been almost an 8. Right now though I would say I am about a 6, with the best intentions of my 8 self.

6. What are the most rewarding and most challenging parts of your job?

Rewarding: Being creative and working on packaging and products. And working with my husband, family and friends.

Challenging: Finding balance between working, being a good mom and taking care of myself. Something seems to always have to give a little. I will gag if I read another article about a woman who has it all- career, family, does yoga 10 times a day etc. (you know the stories I mean). The challenge for me lately is what gets sacrificed and when. There is no real balance; it is a constant swinging pendulum. And of course, working with my husband can be as challenging as it is rewarding.

7. Where do you turn for your news?

I like the read the Economist and the Business of Fashion. But generally I hate the news. It is depressing. I know that sounds shallow, but I feel that in order to carry out my mission, I have to stay focused. I am super sensitive and if I read something upsetting (like nearly everything in the news). I spend my whole day chewing on it. That said- I like to be informed so I don’t appear to be from another planet. Which happens.

8. What is one environmental change you vow to make in the next year?

I am concerned with all of the plastic garbage we create in the beauty industry. We are starting a new recycling program. This has been my challenge. And this upcoming year is our year to test it and see how we can improve on it and measure our success.

9. What’s your favorite book?

One of my favorite authors is Sarah Vowell. One of my all time favorite books is Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I am obsessed with books about fashion, lifestyle and travel right now and I love nearly anything that Assouline prints. One of my favorites is To India With Love. It’s eye candy.

10. What inspired you to launch a natural, vegan and cruelty free brand?

My biggest inspiration was my husband. He convinced me to stop waiting tables and to follow my dream. He has also been my biggest support and champion. And he’s really handsome. <3

We will celebrate our 20 year anniversary next year. I think back 20 years ago: there was not much that inspired me in this category. I wanted to create products that I wanted to buy. I wanted better-for-you-products because my mom was such a stickler about ingredients, the food we ate, etc. When my other friends were eating sugared cereal, my mom made us homemade granola. She was my earliest inspiration.

11. Do you lead a vegan lifestyle?

I wish I did a better job right now. I wish there were better vegan shoes and fashion. (Or that I could afford to dress exclusively in Stella McCartney). And I wish that cheese were a vegetable. (And apparently I am not the only one who thinks this!)

12. When creating the packaging for Pacifica’s products, how important was it to you for the packaging to be 100% recyclable?

In the cosmetics industry it is really hard to create 100% recyclable packaging. That is why we have partnered with Preserve 5 to create a really unique recycling program. It is launching this month and I can’t wait to start beta-testing it.

13. For readers who are looking to transition from generic skin and beauty products to more natural options, where do you recommend they start?

Start with the products you use daily. Toxins build up over time. Replace things like your cleanser, your moisturizer, your foundation and your mascara. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Small changes in daily routines are the most effective.

14. We love Pacifica’s roll on perfumes. What’s your favorite Pacifica perfume scent?

Our brand new Sparkling Star Passionfruit. It combines the most amazing things like fruit and woody notes. Younger women are looking for fragrances that smell like something real. This fragrance lets you smell down into each note and experience it as they sort of cascade into this bigger explosion of woody sweetness without being cloying. I like it when fragrances can be dissected like that. That is what creates or pulls up memories.

15. Deodorant wipes are such a convenient product to have, especially for those who are constantly on the go. How much does convenience play a roll in the creation of a new product?

I am all about simplicity and ease of use for ANY product. This is a product that I am super proud of and it started with seeing a need and filling it. I am a stinky beast and I hate most arm deodorants and I won’t wear antiperspirant. I decided I wanted something that I could use throughout the day to remove odor and help mask it at the same time. Wipes are so convenient, they travel well and these are like a shower in your purse.

16. Skin care products, nail polish, perfume…what’s next for Pacifica?

We have not found a category that our consumer hasn’t been willing to follow us into. When you use our brand, you understand that we don’t do anything unless we can do it really well, improve the ingredients and make you happy. So definitely look for more categories from us in the future.

17. If there were one industry/product that you could make more eco-friendly, other than body and beauty products, what would it be?

Cars. I live in California right now and cars seem so pervasive and polluting.

18. What do you want Pacifica’s and your personal legacy to be?

If I could have it my way, people would look back at me as an industry pioneer. I am not perfect: I am on a path to make things better, with my rusty machete, cutting out some of the heavy brush in front of us all so that we can see a better way.

I never want to be idle: I always want to pay for the air I breathe in some meaningful way. I want to make a real, measurable difference. I truly believe that it is EVERYONE’S job to work to make change- even if it is small. My grandma never retired. She worked until they basically made her stop and then she drove around delivering meals to seniors (most of which were younger than her). She wasn’t changing the world, but she was making people’s lives better. I have those genes.

Shauna Willetts