A Best of the Bay 2010 Viewer?s Choice winner, Herbal Mineral?s four California locations couple a devotion to recapturing youth with a commitment to cruelty-free and environmentally friendly products and practices. An arsenal of vegan, earth-friendly beauty products speaks to their commitment to bettering the planet, and visitors sip fair-trade-certified tea that helps to fund landslide restoration and reforestation. The staff?s diverse palette of skills runs the gamut from waxing and organic facials to candling and herbal body contouring, the latter of which can help shape silhouettes into comely hourglasses or vertical representations of the New York skyline.
In 1976, two UC Davis graduate students bought 20 acres of land in the highly arable Capay Valley. One of the students, Kathleen Barsotti, was working toward her master's degree in ecology and was determined to grow vegetables and fruits in an eco-friendly way: organically. The organic-food movement hadn't yet entered the public consciousness, and Kathleen worked overtime to convince restaurants, stores, and consumers of the taste-able merits of her process. Over time, given the possible health and environmental benefits of certified organic food, she succeeded. The farm sprouted to 300 acres to accommodate the increased demand. Today, a second generation runs the farm as well as a shop inside San Francisco's Ferry Building. Dubbed Farm Fresh To You, the store furnishes customers' bags or portable cornucopia horns with all sorts of soil-sprouted goods, including heirloom tomatoes, sweet peas, and fresh asparagus. The farm also teams up with fellow Yolo County and Pacific Northwest farms to deliver boxes of seasonal produce to area homes.
As seen in press outlets including the San Mateo County Times, Peninsula Beauty stocks its stores with professional beauty supplies and salon products culled from a sprawling 36,000-square-foot warehouse. An eclectic array of more than 200 brands, from American Crew to OPI, helps men and women transform hair and nails into polished works of aesthetic art. Cosmetics and lotions stand ready to adorn epidermises, and an arsenal of flat- and curling irons allows for more believable quick-changes during impromptu performances of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
Max Muscle found its feet in 1990, when a group of athletes set out to build a brand of supplements that would effectively boost performance. From this concept grew a national sports-nutrition franchise, with a spectrum of supplements that helps to nurture weight loss, maintain overall health, bolster muscle mass, and build endurance for marathon games of Go Fish. At more than 100 locations across the United States and through an expansive online store, Max’s muscle mavens dispense multivitamins and protein shakes to both solo customers and affiliated personal trainers. Max Muscle locations also aid customers in beginning their wellness journey through nutrition consultations, where certified staff members draft nutrition plans tailored to clients’ specific bodily needs and lifestyle.
The brand American Apparel, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, conjures up images of stylish and well-fitting fashion basics. It also likely brings to mind sassy advertisements featuring long-haired beauties in natural makeup posing in skin-bearing bodysuits and loungewear.
But what many don't know about the brand?despite its name and the slice of apple pie that comes with every purchase?is that all of its clothes are made in America. Everything from sewing and cutting to accounting and marketing happens in one building in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest occurs within a 30-mile radius. Not only that, every slim-fitting pair of pants, spandex bodysuit, and v-neck T-shirt is made in a sweatshop-free environment.
Plus, keeping everything in house means the company eliminates unnecessary and wasteful factors, such as shipping fuel and packing materials, as well as provides jobs to Angelenos, instead of outsourcing them.