Navigating Natural & Organic: Julie Mathers, Flora and Fauna
The natural and organic industry is continuously growing and shifting, with new trends, regulations, products and practices being introduced into market everyday. How does one keep on top of it all? Naturally Good has you covered, as we speak to industry professionals and experts on the hottest topics and trends, business practices and solutions, and what’s happening in the natural and organic industry.
Julie Mathers is the CEO and Founder of Flora & Fauna, an ethical lifestyle and beauty retailer focused on driving change and empowering customers. With a strong personal desire to create change for the better, Julie frequently mentors and speaks about responsible retailing and small business. Here, we get Julie’s take on the development of natural and organic over the years, as well as her insight into what we can expect for the future.
How have you seen the natural, organic and vegan industry develop over recent years?
As consumers become more conscious about what they put in their bodies and on their skin it’s risen to new heights. A few years ago it was regarded as niche and that’s completely changed – customers now expect these products to be widely available and not just in niche retailers. We’ve definitely seen that shift.
Flora and Fauna caters to a number of different segments in the industry, from food and drink, through to home and living, what kinds of products have you seen rise to popularity in 2020?
Other than hand sanitiser and face masks? 2020 has been an odd year and it has really been driven by macro factors so in March everyone was buying skincare and face masks (the nourishing kind) and that shifted.
Things we at Flora and Fauna have seen become more popular are shampoo bars and period underwear. Three years ago both of these products were very niche with one or two brands – now they’re mainstream with many brands getting onboard and you’ll find them in supermarkets, so they are very accessible.
Recent times has seen online business skyrocket and become the new normal for consumers and businesses alike, what’s your take on how this shift of focus to online retail has affected businesses and the industry? Is this focus on online here to stay, or will we go back to normal?
From my perspective finally! Online is the new normal. In other countries online was already 20%+ of retail sales so we’ve just caught up, or catching up. Of course, Covid has accelerated this change but customers now see the convenience and ease of shopping online and enjoy it so it’s absolutely here to stay. We’ll find there’s a mix so customers will do some shopping online and some in store.
Flora and Fauna are B-Corp Certified, and have undertaken much work in reducing your environmental impact, including your work with Take it Back and Terra Cycle. Can you take us through the process of becoming B-Corp certified?
I would love lots of businesses to become BCorps. It is a rigorous process but that’s why it’s such a good certification. The best first step for any business is to do some research on https://www.bcorporation.com.au/ – find out more about B Corps and even connect with some.
Then take the B Impact Assessment. This scores you but also highlights to you where the gaps are in your business. You may need to do some work or identify the gaps to help you build out your strategy. It’s important to know B Corps aren’t perfect and you aren’t expected to be perfect. You need to score 80 points to get through to the next stage.
After that you’ll need to submit documents, have interviews and submit more documents. If you say you do something you’ll need to back it up. As an example, Flora and Fauna had to list all of our products, certifications, country of origin etc. We have over 10,000 so not a small task. It can take anywhere from 6 months+ to become a B Corp but it’s so worth it. You become part of a community all working together to drive better businesses forward and help change the way business operates.
Why do you think retailers should become certified, or be more involved in reducing their environmental impact in their business?
Businesses have a huge impact on the environment and we need to lead the way in absence of the government making enough changes. You don’t need to be a certified B Corp to do this. We must be responsible for our waste, carbon emissions and for how products are produced. If we aren’t we’ll continue to contribute to the demise of our environment. We really don’t have a choice and, thankfully, consumers are now starting to demand this of businesses.
What do you foresee for the future of the natural and organic industry moving forward? What kinds of trends and products can we expect to see hit the market?
It will keep growing and I would love to see certifications and regulations around more words, for example the term ‘natural’. It’s a word that’s used liberally which leads to too much greenwashing and we need to stamp that out. It undermines the industry and is very confusing for customers.
As for products watch this space…..
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