We’re calling it. Thanks to Gen Z and the power of social media giving environmentalism a louder voice than ever before, sustainability isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s giving birth to disruptive brands that are making us question, if a small beauty company can do this – why can’t the big boys? The Haute Heel team meets the Sana Jardin founder Amy Christiansen who has created minimal, unisex and ethical perfume. Integral to the business model is the socio-economical welfare of flower harvesters in Morocco, where the ingredients are sourced. But Sana Jardin isn’t about quick handouts, they’re championing the way women are empowered through commerce. Find out how this luxe perfumer transcends social cause and goes Beyond Sustainability.
1. The name Sana Jardin combines two languages, what’s the meaning behind it?
I wanted to the brand name to be an amalgamation of the East and West. Sana means dazzling and radiant in Arabic whereas Jardin is garden in French.
2. Philanthropy is at the heart of the brand, which came first, the idea of creating a sustainable fragrance or wanting to help the flower harvesters in Morocco?
I always believed that business could be a vehicle for social change. I saw perfume as an opportunity to economically empower women hidden at the bottom of the supply chain, through commerce not charity. The traditional fragrance supply chain is wasteful. Women in the supply chain have low standards of living and employment is only seasonal. Meanwhile consumers were ready for a quality non-toxic product while wanting to their purchasing power to truly make a difference. I realised Sana Jardin could empower everyone from harvester to consumer, with a closed loop, zero waste supply chain. The opportunity was too powerful to ignore.
3. What is your background and how did you come to start this company?
Prior to founding Sana Jardin, I worked in the non-profit sector for over 25 years. I worked for philanthropic foundations in London, New York and the Middle East, including President Clinton’s Foundation, The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and The Robin Hood Foundation. As a result of this experience, I have long understood the need for financial opportunities for low-income women, and the benefits these can bring to local communities.
4. The term ‘Beyond Sustainable’ is very powerful, what are your thoughts on ‘sustainability’ in the beauty industry?
Over the last couple of years, we have seen a huge shift towards sustainable practices within the fragrance industry. Now there is much more of a focus on the sourcing of ingredients, a ‘sustainable’ supply chain and of course eco-friendly packaging.
People often talk about the provenance of the fragrance but we aim to take that conversation a bit further by economically empowering the floral harvesters at the base of the supply chain. Our Beyond Sustainability™ model empowers the floral harvesters with the skills and materials they need to increase their wages through commerce, not charity.
At Sana Jardin, we look at the source of perfume production rather than its end life. The orange blossom, jasmine and rose within our fragrances are harvested by indigenous Moroccan woman, three times a year. In this region, 900 tonnes of orange blossom byproduct alone is yielded annually and ends up in a landfill. The harvesters in our cooperatives up-cycle the waste from this and create their own products – candles and orange blossom water – receiving 100% of the profits.
5. How easily can a major fragrance manufacturer shift to sustainable practices?
With the planet at the forefront of our minds, we have to be mindful of the quantity of products we produce. Smaller independent brands don’t have the need or the budget to run huge production runs which naturally reduces our impact on the environment. I personally believe this is an area major fragrance manufacturers could make a significant difference to their sustainability journey. It’s all about quality, not quantity.
6. Sana Jardin co-created an initiative to help women become business owners. What’s next for the Beyond Sustainability programme?
Our mission is to expand the Movement internationally. We want to empower women across the world to build sustainable businesses for themselves in areas where social and economic opportunities are hard to come by. I want to inspire other businesses to engage in a language of Beyond Sustainability™ and look at ways they can be creative with their use of waste in the supply chain and give back to their low-income employees.
7. What is your favourite Sana Jardin fragrance?
That’s a tough one! I have to admit I love all of them but there’s no doubt that each scent is perfect for a different occasion. With this glorious sunny weather, I would have to choose Berber Blonde. I truly believe this fragrance captures the essence of sunshine thanks to the sparkling notes of bergamot and orange water. Orange blossom is prized for its mood boosting properties and I feel we could all do with a little pick-me-up during this time too!
We are thrilled to have just launched fragrance consultations online. Customers can now experience a one-on-one discovery session with one of our fragrance experts; each of these consultations are tailored to help consumers explore the entire Sana Jardin fragrance collection. I’m so excited that customers can now learn more about the brand and what we stand for, all in the surroundings on their own home.
8. How important of a role does social media play for Sana Jardin? Who is the Sana Jardin customer?
This has been essential for small businesses (like us!) with limited or marketing budgets. At Sana Jardin, we hear what our customer wants and what they value through our channels. This online resource allows us to be part of a community of conscious consumers.
Our customer base is quite varied; naturally we have conscious consumers who want to give back… ultimately, our consumers thinks for she/he acts. Our scents are for the sophisticated, responsible and culturally savvy consumer. One thing we are especially proud of is how passionately our consumers feel about our social impact model. We are lucky to have a loyal and very caring community.
9. Do you have any plans of expanding into other products?
We will be launching new Eau de Toilettes later this year, as well as new bottle sizes, plus deepening our social impact work in Morocco. We do have a couple of new products in the pipeline that are unprecedented in the social impact space which I am thrilled about! At Sana Jardin, we are always looking to evolve and improve as a business and we will always endeavour to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
We are currently looking to incorporate upcycled and biodegradable materials into our boxes that can be composted when discarded as well as refillable perfumes that come without the box and cap to minimise waste.
10. Do you have any words of wisdom for people looking to make more conscious purchases?
As consumers, we need to become aware of our spending habits and the social and ethical issues that can be affected by mass consumption. We have the power to make a difference and transform not only the environment, but people’s lives too.