Pangea Organics Founder Joshua Onysko Is Building A Syndicate Of Clean Beauty Brands And Alpine Provisions Is The Latest Addition
Joshua Scott Onysko is both a mountain and modern-day Renaissance man.
He moved to Vermont from Rhode Island when he was 17 and fell in love with nature, eventually landing in Boulder, Colo. He dabbles in poetry and abstract painting, taught himself perfumery and is well on his way to building a clean beauty empire. In the past few months, Onysko overhauled his 18-year-old skincare company, Pangea Organics, put the finishing touches on an upcoming fine fragrance brand and launched a new body care line called Alpine Provisions.
The line kicked off with Castile soap as a prelude to a broader range of essential personal care items supplying customers whiffs of the mountains. Its olive- and coconut-oil cleanser currently comes in three outdoorsy scents: fir and sage, lavender and juniper, and cedar and sandalwood. The Castile soap is made from biodegradable, sustainably-sourced ingredients, and priced at $12 for a 16-oz. bottle.
“The scents are all based around being in the woods, being in the wild, being with nature, camping, chopping wood, sitting by a campfire,” says Onysko. “I feel like this is a brand that the whole world can get behind. The scents are very, very unique, and you’re supporting a cause that is phenomenal.” Five percent of Alpine Provisions’ sales support a scholarship fund he partnered with the Colorado Outward Bound School on to send young adults to a three-week outdoor leadership program in the Rocky Mountains.
Pangea Organics is known for its packaging containing seeds that can be planted, and Onysko didn’t skimp on Alpine Provisions’ outsides. In fact, packaging design is a big part of why he decided to separate the brand from Pangea Organics rather than incorporate it into the preceding brand. “The branding would’ve been too much of a diversion,” says Onysko. Alpine Provisions’ bottles feature graphics produced by tattoo artist Marisa Aragon Ware of animals that inhabit Colorado mountains.
“I feel like this is a brand that the whole world can get behind. The scents are very, very unique, and you’re supporting a cause that is phenomenal.”
Plus, Onysko sought to place the give-back component at the heart of Alpine Provisions. While most brands arrive at a charitable tie-in after development, the opposite happened with Alpine Provisions. Onysko fashioned it with Colorado Outward Bound School in mind. “Millions of kids don’t live around nature, can’t afford nature, can’t afford to go out into the wild, can’t afford trips to get out of where they live, and this is a really easy way to help them do that,” he says. “For $3,200, a kid can go spend three weeks in an Outward Bound program and, not only experience nature in a completely different way, but experience it in a way where he or she is also building lifelong leadership skills and interacting with kids from around the world.”
If Alpine Provisions hits an aggressive $6 million sales goal in its initial year, the scholarship fund will be able to send about 90 kids through the program. Within three years, Onysko aims to send 5,000 kids, and he’s banking on an established network of 152 sales representatives, a benefit of Alpine Provisions having a sister brand, to help him reach that goal. Only a few weeks old, Alpine Provisions has already inked distribution deals to be carried by about 40 retail doors, including Pharmaca and Topo Designs.
“I’ve never seen anything sell so fast in my life,” says Onysko. “We went into our first store, Alfalfa’s in Boulder, and they sold 112 bottles in 10 days.” He adds Alpine Provisions’ combination of distinct fragrances, eye-catching aesthetics, accessible prices and worthy cause draws customers. Onysko says, “I watch people. They see the branding, and it sticks out. They’re like, ‘What the hell is this?’ They go and unscrew the cap, and they smell it. They look at the price and, then, they put it in their basket.”
“I’ve never seen anything sell so fast in my life. We went into our first store, Alfalfa’s in Boulder, and they sold 112 bottles in 10 days.”
Onysko argues the potential market for Alpine Provisions is huge. “Our target market is anyone with skin,” he quips. “You use it, and your skin feels amazing because it’s hydrating it with essential fatty acids. The lather is super-luxurious.” Onysko’s dream retailer for the brand is REI, where he’s been a member since he was a teenager. He shares, “I sent them a killer letter on how I found REI for the first time, and I sent them some products. So, hopefully, they get back to me soon.”
Not that Onysko has a lot of time to sit around and wait. Like any Renaissance mountain man, he has several irons in the (camp)fire. In addition to gearing up for Alpine Provision’s next product release, an essential oil rollerball coming out in February, he’s readying for the late January launch of fragrance brand Un Jeu d’Échecs with seven stockkeeping units.
“I’m really giddy about launching these fragrances because fragrance is something so different from skincare,” says Onysko. “Fragrance is something that can literally transport your mind to a different place. You could put it on instantly and get the scent of wellbeing, of happiness.”
Onysko’s distribution plan for the Un Jeu d’Échecs isn’t as mapped out as the distribution plan for Alpine Provisions. “People often say, ‘I’d love to be in Bloomingdale’s or Barneys.’ Those places are awesome, and they’re legacy stores where people go to find new, trending fragrances, but these fragrances are so unique and so different, I kind of have this vision of them being sold in places that don’t have other fragrances,” he says. “I’m really doing a lot of work on figuring out where that is and how that gets put out to the world, but it might just have to be their own stores.”