22 January 2019

One Small Step for Womankind

Written by Published in Entrepreneurs
Jayn Sterland, Weleda's Managing Director
Weleda Reception
Jayn Sterland, Weleda's Managing Director

Continuing our series of articles featuring trailblazing eco entrepreneurs who are leading the way in sustainable business practice, we chat to Jayn Sterland, managing director for UK and Ireland for green beauty pioneer Weleda. Jayn recently retained her top spot in the latest ‘Top 25 Who’s Who in Natural Beauty’, published by Natural Beauty News.

The Top 25 Who’s Who In Natural Beauty provides an overview of the prominent figures and innovators who are shaping and leading the British natural beauty sector, all voted for by their industry peers. The list includes founders of beauty brands, manufacturers, bloggers and influencers, writers, distributors and make-up artists, who all champion natural and organic cosmetics on a daily basis.

WEtextproductJayn Sterland joined Weleda UK ten years ago and set about transforming it into a truly customer-focused business. Jayn speaks regularly at national and global events about ‘conscious beauty’, helping to drive the beauty industry towards social and environmental responsibility – a mission she continues as a public speaker and columnist. Jayn speaks passionately about greener, cleaner beauty – advocating a balanced and holistic lifestyle and promoting the idea that authentic beauty comes from within. Jayn has regularly appeared in the Top 25 since its launch in 2007, and has been voted into No.1 position for three consecutive years.

Weleda’s history began in 1921 with a hospital and a pharmaceutical laboratory founded by a Dutch doctor Ita Wegman, a pharmacist from Germany Oskar Schmiedel, and an Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Initially when Weleda was founded in 1921 the company was called ‘Futurum’, but was renamed ‘Weleda’ in the 1920s after the wise women and healers from the ancient Celtic tribes. These revered tribeswomen had great knowledge of plants and natural remedies rather like an early apothecary.

Jayn expresses, “It is very exciting to be leading Weleda at such a pivotal point in our history. In just two years time we will celebrate our 100th anniversary and we have been reflecting on how little about our company ethos has changed at Weleda over this time despite the radical changes in society – we have always farmed organically, putting the planet before profit, looking at the long-term sustainable benefits our business can deliver to help support people, wildlife and biodiversity. What has changed is that others are now catching up with Steiner’s insights. He clearly was a visionary, born well ahead of his time.”

Weleda is now very much a business of women, and was significantly influenced by one of its founders – the inspirational female gynaecologist Dr Ita Wegman. With a British customer base that is over 94% female it is perhaps not surprising that 76% of the staff at Weleda’s Derbyshire offices is also female. What is nevertheless remarkable is that Weleda’s team includes 70% female managers right across the business – from managing director to operations director, sales director, marketing director through to head gardener.

As a company, Weleda has always had a very clear sense of direction, working sustainably using only natural ingredients from day one. So does sustainability cost the business more? 

“At Weleda a conscious approach to sustainability underpins all our actions – I would say it goes beyond values, and aligns to our purpose in the world. We don’t have a set of instructions – just clearly defined goals to become a force for good in all aspects of our business. A simple way of saying this is ‘being sustainable’ is built into our DNA.”

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Weleda is one of two leading beauty brands worldwide to be the first to obtain the new UEBT certification for sourcing with respect. The Union for Ethical Bio Trade is a non-profit organisation that provides a globally recognised standard for sustainable sourcing and the use of raw materials. UEBT values such as conservation, the sustainable use of biodiversity and the fair compensation of all partners in the supply chain, correspond with Weleda’s own long-held principles.

UEBT certification will help consumers tell that they are buying products from a company that treats people and biodiversity with respect. In order for a brand to be certified, UEBT looks at a company’s entire sourcing system. The new certification label will start to appear on packs this year.

“Truly sustainable business practice is something which takes vision, dedication and daily commitment from everyone in the business and is only lived when it is delivered through every co-worker with each action we take becoming a conscious one.”


SUSTAINABILITY SNAPSHOT

* Weleda manages approximately 248 square km worldwide organically.

* Weleda has over 50 long-term organic farming partnerships around the world.

* Weleda has the largest medicinal plant gardens in Europe, home to over 1,000 different species of plant growing on 23 hectares, around 50 different types of bird and more than 30 species of wild bee.

* Around 81% of all the plant ingredients Weleda uses are organic (over 2,000 tonnes). 

* 97% of the company’s electricity used for manufacture of the Weleda range comes from renewable energy and continues to rise year on year.

* Approximately 98% of all waste produced during the manufacturing process is reused – either composted, repurposed, recycled or recovered (including thermal recovery).

* 85% of the glass in Weleda’s 100% recyclable glass bottles comes from recycled glass – the highest share of recycled glass possible.

(Taken from Weleda’s annual Sustainability Report which can be downloaded as a PDF here )

weleda.co.uk

 


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