The very concept behind Seed Phytonutrients sounds like it was dreamed up by some gentle hippy farmer. Every product is made with sustainably sourced natural ingredients, every bottle is recycled and recyclable and each one contains a packet of seeds for you to use however you see fit (planting would seem the most sensible option).
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It conjures images of beautiful people in crisp plaid shirts and spotless baseball caps toiling in picturesque fields to the strains of gently inspiring indie folk. What it doesn’t conjure an image of is a multinational giant like L’Oreal.
In reality, Seed is both a gentle hippy’s dream and the work of a giant corporation, a combination of uneasy bedfellows that intersects at Shane Wolf. Wolf, who was raised on a farm in Kansas, has been one of the leading lights at L’Oreal for many years as global manager for the likes of Redken, Pureology and Mizani. But in his spare time, he always retreated back to his roots, running an organic farm where he housed rescue animals.
That dichotomy meant that Wolf was not only in a position to dream up such a wonderfully ethical idea, he also had the considerable resources to make it a huge success. We caught up with Shane to discuss the evolution of his right-minded enterprise and how a country boy ended up at one of the world’s largest beauty brands.
Has sustainability always been important to you? Is there a moment you can point to where the issue gained enough significance for you to start Seed?
Sustainability has always been extremely important to me. I think a turning point for me was when I saw a documentary about ocean plastic and how much plastic gets into the ocean, it was devastating!
Have you always lived on a farm or is this a passion you’ve developed over time?
I grew up on a farm, unable to see another house from my own, but able to see nature in all its glory. When I moved back from the UK we decided to return to our roots and moved out to our rescue farm in Buck’s County, PA where we currently live.
Where did the inspiration for the company’s methods come from? Did you look into how other sustainable companies approached it or was it more a case of learning from the mistakes of less-conscious companies?
Seed Phytonutrients came to fruition due to a culmination of partners dedicated to creating a harmonious environment of beauty, agriculture and sustainable business. A disruptive and innovative brand, Seed aims to radically shift what is identified as and considered sustainable and natural, as well as begin an important conversation on the beauty industry’s impact on the environment, agriculture, and consumers’ well-being.
It’s an interesting dichotomy, heading up three huge beauty brands and running an organic farm and launching Seed. Does it get hard to align your sustainable ideologies with those of a huge international corporation like L’Oreal?
It certainly is a lot to juggle, but I love it and I feel lucky to work for a company like L’Oreal that is leading the way in sustainability through their “Sharing Beauty With All” program. On all my brands, I am focusing on how to become more sustainable, but Seed Phytonutrients is really our opportunity to take this to the next level.
We’ve had recent controversy over fashion brands destroying old stock. Do you think the beauty industry as a whole is evolving in its attitude towards sustainability?
I think that as an industry overall, we all have a responsibility to become increasingly aware of our impact on the planet. Additionally, we need to focus on actions that can make a positive impact on the future of our planet.
How about consumers? I notice in a lot of the interviews I do that people care a lot more about products being cruelty free, paraben and sulfate free, and using natural aluminium-free deodorants. Are we reaching a point where consumers are now willing to pay more for products that are kinder to them and to the world around them?
Today’s consumer has a heightened awareness around health and wellness and is looking for clean products that are safe for themselves and their families. However, most consumers don’t want to sacrifice performance for these products so we focused our efforts on having highly natural and clean products that really work! We believe that the future of beauty will go beyond clean beauty to clean AND sustainable beauty.
Do you have more of an emotional connection with Seed than your other brands, seeing as it’s your baby?
Just like the animals on my rescue farm, I love all the brands I work on equally, and respect the uniqueness that each one represents.
How do you go about finding farmers to work with?
Some of our farmers are referred to us through friends and business partners. We met Linda and Eric from Barefoot Botanicals locally here in Doylestown. Their farm is just a few minutes down the road from us and their farm has become a bit of a working lab for the Seed Phytonutrients team.
I loved reading about your work saving animals. How many rescue animals do you currently have on the farm? Are you always on the lookout for more?
Thank you! We are very passionate about saving animals at Shiloh Farm. At the moment we have about 15 rescue animals including, horses, donkeys, goats and more. Right now, we are at our maximum, but I have a vision to expand in the future as I want to help save as many animals as possible.
With four brands and a farm, is there any such thing as downtime for you? What do you do to unwind?
Yes, I am a pretty busy guy and travel a lot so when I do have downtime, I of course want to spend it on our farm. I LOVE to spend time in my garden getting my hands dirty and also with the animals on the farm.
Shane’s Top 5 Grooming Products
Our daily hair cleanser (shampoo) is by far my favorite! It leaves your hair feeling clean and looking healthy, plus our natural aroma will leave your shower smelling like a spa each morning.
Since I am out on working on the farm a lot, my skin can get a bit rough and needs some extra love. I use the callous balm on my hands, feet, and elbows, plus it also doubles as the perfect cuticle cream.
This is my everyday go-to product. I have one in my pocket at all times. I love the rich texture and how it keeps my lips feeling hydrated all day without a waxy feel. But mostly because it is 100 per cent natural.