Plenty of beauty brands claim to be ethical. But here at Kester Black, sustainability and social justice aren’t just glossy marketing buzzwords. They’re the driving force behind our good-weird kind of beauty company: the kind that’s certified carbon neutral, that donates 2% of all revenue to social causes, and that makes vegan and cruelty-free products that are both all class, and all conscience. Ultimately, they’re what fires and fuels us with enthusiasm – the original renewable energy.
When it comes to making meaningful change, the past year has shown us the importance of tracking our progress in a marketplace that demands better. In the past, our business practices and KPIs have been rigorously recorded (and praised) for accreditation and certification purposes. This year, we’re bringing this data to the masses so the whole world can see what brilliant things we’ve achieved – and what we’re striving for.
These are the social, ethical and environmental goals we hope to achieve by 2025. Looking back at what we’ve already achieved - the future looks bright.
The climate crisis affects our social, economical and environmental futures, so it’s only natural that our decisions as individuals and as a business are made with consideration for the planet. Growing up on a farm in the lush hinterland of New Zealand has instilled our brand with strong environmental values from day dot. And while 2020 proved challenging for many, it clearly demonstrated the far-reaching impacts of the global supply chain – exposing clear opportunities for improvement.
As a brand within the beauty industry, we regularly disrupt the status quo in pursuit of better. We’ve demonstrated this by being the first beauty brand in the world to be B-Corporation certified, and by open-sourcing our innovative formulas for the world to share. Everything we create from products to packaging is developed with a circular mindset, and designed to disappear without causing any harm to our environment or any of the creatures that inhabit it. While our products perform just as good as our big brand competitors - they’re glossy, highly-pigmented, and long lasting – they work even harder behind the scenes upholding vegan, cruelty-free, and carbon neutral certifications.
We do this not simply for bragging rights or golden stars, but to prove that more sustainable methods of doing business are not only possible but the way of the future. You can have style and substance, without compromise. While sustainable, high-performance, natural beauty is our passion, initiating a new code of ethics for cosmetics is our purpose. Because without conscientious models of making, manufacturing, and innovating, we won’t have a home, let alone the cosmetics, to enjoy.
As a B Corp, we’re committed to regularly donating the equivalent of 2% of revenue (or more) to charitable partners each year (including in-kind product donations). Over the last 4 years these contributions have exceeded $134,218 and some of the charities include: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Water Aid, Bush Heritage and Safe Steps.
Last year dramatically affected us all, but dealt an unparalleled blow towards refugees and women seeking shelter. As a female-founded beauty brand, it is in our best interest to support and uplift women within our local and global community. While our products are designed to help our customers (who are predominantly women) look and feel great inside and out, we believe that more can be done to support our customers’ livelihoods, social security, and help fulfill their basic needs.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
In 2020, we pledged over $1,261 towards the ASRC’s efforts providing support services and empowering people seeking asylum. From food and material aid to training, education and employment, our contribution has helped house and reconnect local communities.
Women’s Community Shelters
As a brand, we’ve contributed $2,018 toward resources and social support for women seeking shelter.
Every Little Bit Helps
We’ve contributed $5,760 towards Every Little Bit Helps in their efforts to provide care packs and toiletries to people in need, including troubled youths, those experiencing homelessness, asylum seekers and victims of domestic violence.
Foodbank Bushfire Recovery
During the devastating 2020 bushfires, we contributed $594 towards food access and relief for displaced Australians.
Our contribution of $624 has helped CARE save lives and defeat poverty across 104 countries, globally. Championing equal rights the charity brings education and training, healthcare and clean water, to women and young girls.
Who we work with reflects how we do business. It’s simply good business to make sure our partners are value-aligned, holding them to the same high-standards that we maintain day to day. This means visiting our contractors in-person and developing processes to monitor manufacturing procedures. It also means working towards full traceability across every touchpoint; from raw materials all the way through to fulfilment.
We’ve identified our partners by their role within the supply chain:
STAGE 1 - CONTRACTORS
This includes subcontractors, manufacturers and agents we work with in a contractual manner. Kester Back has direct contact with the first stage of production and has visited many contractors in person.
STAGE 2 - FINISHED GOODS MANUFACTURERS
These suppliers have contractual tiers with Stage 1 manufacturing units, meaning that Kester Black has no direct legal ties to them. This stage of the supply chain isn’t always present as some manufactures do both the material making and production. Consider these our second-cousins within the supply chain.
STAGE 3 - RAW MATERIAL SUPPLIERS
These are our suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers, twice-removed. Full traceability means having full transparency through this stage of the supply chain– right down to the last grain.
How we treat our home speaks volumes about how we treat our bodies. As a business obsessed with maintaining the health and wellbeing of both, we set some pretty ambitious goals early on and have proudly surpassed many of them. We went completely and certifiably carbon neutral in 2017 (Carbon Reduction Institute), and are proudly vegan and cruelty-free certified by the Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International, respectively.
B Corporation Certified
Being B-Corp certified means that we meet the most rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. So while we love creating beautiful things, we also believe in being a fierce force for good; balancing profit and purpose.
All Kester Black products are 100% vegan. That means none of them have been tested on animals or contain animal derived ingredients. Just look for the green ‘V’ trademark tick! We’ve gained this accreditation through The Vegan Society; something we're very proud of.
Cruelty Free Certified
All of our products are certified cruelty-free, by Cruelty Free International, meeting the world’s most rigorous ethical standards. This means they have never, and will never, be tested on animals or contain any animal-derived ingredients. If our furry friends could, they’d be singing our praises.
Kester Black is 100% carbon neutral as accredited by The Carbon Reduction Institute (NoCo2). We’ve taken a good, mum-look at our business emissions. For any stubborn emissions that couldn’t be reduced, quashed, or politely asked to leave- there are carbon offsets. Because carbon footprints are so last millennium.
Leveraging wind and water (hydro), our business is proudly powered by local renewable energy supplier Powershop. Consider this goal achieved, naturally.
While 2020 really took the wind out of our sails, we are normally quite conscientious flyers; tracking our miles and offsetting them in every instance.
Waste is just another creative challenge. We design with the end-life of our products in mind, manufacturing in quantities we know we’ll use, with as much recyclable packaging as possible
We’re constantly approaching our 2021 goal by seeking opportunities to utilise our deadstock through collections, collaborations and donations. Cleaning up after ourselves comes as a second nature to us.
From July 2021, we’re reducing our collection of cosmetics to fan-favourite and limited edition products only. So customers will be able to shop the classics they know and love, plus enjoy exclusive limited-run colours for a limited time. While this helps curb exorbitant shipping costs and unpredictable shipping times - it will actively reduce overproduction of low turnover skus.
By 31 Dec 2022, Kester Black has a target to use either 100% recyclable plastic packaging or Post Consumer Recyclables (PCR), where plastic can’t be replaced or eliminated. Consider it our Renewable Year’s Eve Resolution.
Single-use is so problematic. As a brand we’re actively shifting towards reuse models, where applicable, by 2023.
Once upon a time we too used those plastic postage bags to ship products to far away places. But not anymore. We’ve made the decision to move away from plastic wherever possible.
So when it comes to delivering our considered cosmetics, our parcels are 100% uncoated, made with FSC-certified, recycled stock and vividly printed with soy inks. Even our tissue paper, tape and print out labels are recyclable. Of course, it was always going to look good, but we demand it does a world of good, too.
Being intimately aware of the hole in the ozone layer over Australia and New Zealand has insisted the importance of reducing greenhouse gases in our lifetime. Working with our supply chain and logistics partners, we’re aiming for a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions per kg of product by 2024.
In a time where our mail travels further than we do, lowering delivery-related emissions has never been more important. Based in New Zealand, we’ve partnered with NZ Post (a fellow carbon neutral brand) to reduce our domestic delivery-related emissions by 50% - with a majority of orders delivered by electric vehicles. Across the ditch in Australia, we’ve partnered with Australia Post to continue reducing emissions by a further 15% through to 2025 from the FY19 baseline.
While tracking this abroad has its complexities, we are working with logistic partners to quantify our shipping-related emissions to meet our 30% reduction goal by 2025.
Our products are our pride and glory. We’ve spent years perfecting our premium quality, high-performance formulas to deliver cosmetics that are as kind to the environment as they are to our customers.
All ingredients containing Palm Oil derivatives have been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and we’ve introduced a 70% bio-sourced nail polish formula in our product line. We’ve come so far since our first range and are constantly working on cleaner, better, more natural ways to formulate. Even our packaging has come leaps and bounds, with goals to be 100% plastic-free, recyclable, refillable wherever possible.
From our nail polishes and removers, right down to our liquid lipsticks, 100% of our products are proudly (and loudly) certified vegan by the Vegan Society.
Microplastics have got to go. Which means saying ‘goodbye’ to our glitter formulations. We made the executive decision to discontinue any products containing microplastics and are 90% of the way towards achieving our goal as these SKUs diminish for good. Our latest formulas are officially microplastic-free and forego glitter until a more ecologically viable and high-performance option exists.
We are well on our way to achieving our goal for all plastic packaging to be entirely recycled, reusable or recyclable by 2024. Our lipsticks are already bottled in post-consumer recycled packaging and all new products will be made in 100% eco packaging. Great news for conscious beauty lovers and for our waterways.
Tick this box because all of our printed material and shipping packaging can be recycled, is recyclable or printed on FSC-certified stock using soy inks.