Brands, Retailers And Influencers React To Alleged Labor Law Violations At An Organic Personal Care Factory

Despite increasing demand for transparency, there remains a veil of secrecy separating beauty consumers from the factories making the beauty products they purchase. When that veil is lifted, the picture can be unsettling as Inside Edition reporting last Friday exposing possible labor law violations at a facility in Cambridge, N.Y., manufacturing for Acure and Savannah Bee demonstrated.

Beauty Independent asked the brands involved, influencers and retailers for their reactions to the investigation that contends children as young as 9-years-old were working on the assembly line at personal care producer Greener Formulas. The scrutiny of Greener Formulas stemmed from a larger inquiry into the activities of religious sect Twelve Tribes.

An Acure spokesperson said the brand has parted ways with Greener Formulas and pulled production from its New York facility. “The serious allegations raised against the facility in Cambridge, N.Y. are abhorrent and go against our values as a company,” stated the spokesperson.

Savannah Bee shared it’s similarly terminated its relationship with Greener Formulas. “We take great pride in our products, from the ingredients we use to the way they are produced. Our company values and policies do not tolerate child labor,” said Ted Dennard, founder and owner of Savannah Bee. “Our contracts with all of our manufacturing vendors explicitly prohibit any child labor. Any manufacturing vendor found to be violating our contract in this manner is also violating our company values and standards.”

Still digesting the news, retailers and e-tailers carrying Acure, including Integrity Botanicals and Pharmaca, declined to comment on the Inside Edition investigation. Lydia Kandel, director of marketing at Credo, another Acure stockist, commented that allegations are “against everything Credo and Acure stand for.” She revealed the natural beauty retailer immediately contacted Acure after Inside Edition published the article looking into Greener Formulas, and received clarification from the brand on its connection to the manufacturer and Twelve Tribes.

Acure told Credo, “While we are no longer working with Greener Formulas, we have previously used them to produce a small amount of select certified organic products. This contract was based on our confidence in the facility’s USDA Organic Certification, which requires manufacturers to meet rigorous standards and undergo an annual review and inspection process. We never knowingly had a contract with the Twelve Tribes organization. As part of our commitment to supply chain transparency, we are currently working with a third-party auditor to review all of our manufacturing facilities and will be publishing the audits as soon as they become available.”

On social media, green beauty influencers are trying to make sense of the Greener Formulas accusations for their followers. The influencer known as Janny Organically put the controversy into a broader context. “It’s important to realize that while this story is horrendous, it’s not just limited to Acure or Savannah Bee. Slave labor and unfair working conditions and wages are worldwide and affect nearly everything we purchase,” she said. “This story should be a call to change. Brands who are outsourcing any part of their process need to do their due diligence in managing and auditing every aspect of development and production. Consumers need to demand this due diligence.”

Janny Organically continued, “Perhaps instead of getting excited about cheap clean beauty, we should be asking, ‘Why is this so cheap?’ I’m sure most of the brands started out by wanting to offer cleaner options to the masses at a more affordable price, but lost/gave up their oversight. When the labor comes cheap, the brands need to concern themselves more heavily on the working conditions of those handling their product.”

Amanda Jo, the influencer behind the The Organic Bunny social media channels, subscription box service and e-commerce site, shows up at suppliers in an attempt to ensure their ethical standards are unassailable. She said, “My advice for any business using a third party to ship out their orders or to source ingredients from is to choose a supplier you’re able to visit as often as needed. Choose someone that will answer your questions and not make you feel bad about it.”

She elaborated, “If you come across pricing that seems too good to be true, chances are it is. I learned that lesson the hard way after choosing a cheaper warehouse to ship my orders, all to have them lose things, neglect things, upset my customers and ignore me for weeks at a time. It wasn’t easy, but I quickly said this isn’t working and packed up thousands of items a day before Christmas to move locations. I now pay almost double my cost…I have seen countless situations in which brands were lied to about how their own products were being made, even by their very own chemists. This is a reminder to take back your control, and to take full responsibility for your brand and how you want it managed.”