Aside from offering fresh and natural everyday fragrances, a large part of our mission is to make sure all of our products are eco-friendly and safe for people with sensitivities. That’s why we do a thorough vetting of each of our ingredients and vendors, so you don’t have to.
Our ingredient research has taken us to far-flung locations like Italy for the best bergamot, Guatemala for premium cardamom...and Ashland, Oregon for organic cane sugar alcohol. Since this last ingredient forms the base of all our perfumes, the company Organic Alcohol is a really important vendor to us, and we see them as the authority on the organic alcohol industry (with a name like that, they probably know a thing or two, right?). We also admire that they're dedicated to operating as sustainably as possible with plans to convert their facilities to solar power. They're a great example of how an age-old business can be improved with sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind.
We recently chatted with Vice President of Organic Alcohol, Bobby Townsend, to learn more about their business, their thoughts on the organic industry, and what the future holds for them.
How did Organic Alcohol get to where it is today?
Our Founder, Aaren Glover, had a healing clinic in Mount Shasta in the late 90s. As he was deepening his understanding of wild craft herbalism and trying to source high quality ingredients, he realized no one was making organic alcohol — it was all made out of GMO corn and not up to pharmaceutical grade standards. He’d been spending all his time tracking down herbs that are efficacious, but then having to settle for less than ideal alcohol for his tinctures. What he noticed was that most herbalists encountered the same problem.
So he went to Kentucky, learned how to distill, and returned to Ashland, Oregon, and started distilling using certified organic corn from Idaho. Everything was made in small batches, neutral spirits intended to be used by herbalists for aromatiques. Word of mouth spread and soon we had created the small batch market in premium alcohol—we were the only alternative to large-scale industrial flavor houses where you had to buy 190-proof alcohol by the tons.
In 2012, after we had a catastrophic fire that burned our distillery to the ground, we adjusted our operations to become suppliers of premium organic alcohols from around the world, including the cane sugar alcohol you use in Skylar products. We service 8-10 very specific business segments, from perfumers to body care, cannabis, cleaning products, room sprays, herbalists, and agricultural uses.
What’s your view on the industry as a whole, with larger corporations offering organic products alongside conventional alcohols?
One advantage of larger scale organic producers is their ability to generate consistency, since they can reap the benefits of economies of scale. And in general, having big companies put organic products out there helps bring more conversation and opportunity to the organic market, and the spreading of awareness of living organically is a good thing. But it’s not always clear which companies or products truly support the organic market, so that’s something still to be determined.
In that case, how can consumers make sure things are really organic?
Firstly, know who the organic certifiers are. They must be certified by local or regional organic agencies. It helps to continue to be educated about the organic industry, and to have a relationship with the company you’re buying from. Make sure they’re deeply engaged in sourcing their product, so you know their values are aligned.
There’s something about generating a relationship with the people you’re working with. Alcohol is a critical component in products it’s used in, so it’s an essential ingredient and we like to think we have a deep connection to producers and products using our alcohol. Organic Alcohol is working to make a difference and working with people who have similar beliefs and make a contribution to the community. So stay connected to one another.
What’s next for Organic Alcohol?
We’re always looking for unique and premium products to offer. We started with alcohol made from a super premium grape from France, and grains are a given. But now there are alcohols made from—not infused with—coconuts, lychees, pears. There are a lot of exciting things happening in the industry so we’re looking forward to growing our offerings in the coming years.
Image courtesy of Organic Alcohol.