Ava Anderson: Cosmetic Industry Makeover

Ava Anderson:  Cosmetic Industry Makeover

Changing the landscape of the cosmetics and personal care industry–both in manufacturing processes and defining new decision-making factors for the consumer to consider—was an ambitious undertaking that only most seasoned professionals might have attempted. Yet Ava Anderson was just 15 years old when she envisioned and developed a personal care industry overhaul that has blossomed into something revolutionary: Ava Anderson Non-Toxic.

In the fall of 2008, Ava Anderson and her mother watched a TV news segment warning the public about toxic levels of chemicals in cosmetics.  Realizing that what is applied to the skin can be absorbed into the bloodstream, Ava began to wonder what was in the products she used.  She discovered the Cosmetics Database, a massive compilation of personal care product information developed by Environmental Working Group (EWG), where she learned that every single personal care product she used rated high on the 0-10 hazard scale.

Ava spent the next year learning everything she could about the cosmetic industry and researching chemicals used to produce personal care products. One of the most troubling loopholes Ava became aware of is that manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products can legally hide hundreds of toxic chemicals in the ingredient “fragrance” – an umbrella term that is considered “trade secret” and protects them from having to reveal their exact formulas.  This means a product listed as a 5 on the Cosmetic Database, in actuality may be much more hazardous, if it contains the ingredient “fragrance.”

After learning that many of the organic and natural products she found as replacements also had many toxic chemicals for humans and the environment, and tirelessly and unsuccessfully trying to locate non-toxic products to use, Ava decided to create her own. With support and help from her parents, on December 1, 2009, she launched Ava Anderson Non-Toxic, one of the first skin care and makeup lines in the world in which every ingredient in every product is a zero on the 0-10 Cosmetics Database toxicity scale.  The company’s line now includes more than 30 products for body, skin, face, hair and sun products, with more slated for rollout in 2012.

Ava originally thought she might be creating products in her kitchen, selling online or perhaps in local stores. Today, this Rhode Island-based family business uses a direct sales model, working with more than 1,300 consultants in 48 states.  A direct sales approach has proven successful because it provides consumers an opportunity to be educated and starts a dialogue about the dangers of toxins in personal care products.  It also creates many small businesses within the business, where consultants are provided with products, shipping services, marketing materials, and weekly compensation.

Their commitment to Rhode Island is real – Ava Anderson Non-Toxic’s Warren offices employ six staff members. Whenever possible, they work with local businesses such as label and cosmetic brush manufacturers, photographers and videographers, printers, convention venues, etc.  They are one of Warren’s largest postal customers, and they have no plans to leave Rhode Island.  As the company’s president, Kim Anderson says, “Born here, staying here!”

In just 24 months since Ava Anderson Non-Toxic launched, Ava has been featured in publications such as Glamour, Seventeen, People, AOL Stylist, WWD and Italian Vogue.  Locally, she’s been a guest on WPRO morning radio, NBC10 news, The Rhode Show and featured in the Best of Rhode Island 2010 issue.  In 2011, Entrepreneur Magazine named Ava Anderson Non-Toxic as one of the Final Five “Emerging Entrepreneurs” of the year. They have been recently named as “Champions” by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  Ava will be featured on a PBS segment later this month on “greenwashing.”

“It is very exciting to be able to provide quality, safe products, made in the US, and an important life changing message for families across America, while offering hundreds of our independent consultants the opportunity to earn excellent incomes. Truly green companies have a tremendous future in this country,” says Ava.

Ava Anderson’s vision was to create cosmetics and personal care products that are free of toxic chemicals and synthetic fragrance and dyes.  By age 17, she has accomplished exactly that.  The Rhode Island teen continues to generate enthusiasm, educate the public and launch new products, as she also balances her high school responsibilities.  With determination, intuition and the support of her parents, Ava’s goals are being reached and redefined every day.

 

 

Leave a comment

Avatar About the Author: