Rachel Brown, January 6, 2021
A good hair day shouldn’t be bad for the planet.
That’s the premise of Everist, a new zero-waste brand from the minds of beauty industry veterans Jessica Stevenson, former general manager at Nude by Nature and senior marketing director at Revlon, and Jayme Jenkins, former VP of marketing and corporate responsibility at The Body Shop and L’Oréal. It’s kicking off today with two products available for pre-sale priced at $24 each—Waterless Shampoo Concentrate and Waterless Conditioner Concentrate—and a determination to thrust sustainable haircare into the mainstream.
“Everybody wants to be more sustainable, but we also want our hair to look amazing. It was important for us to strike that right balance with Everist,” says Jenkins. “It really has the eco credentials and clean ingredients, but it’s also just a pleasure to use and gives you amazing hair. In this industry, it’s always going to come down to that.”
As they climbed the ladder at large beauty companies, Jenkins and Stevenson, who met during business school over a decade ago, talked frequently about their interest in pushing forward beauty’s environmental progress. In the fall of 2019, that interest turned into action as they ventured to create a shampoo and conditioner without the water that constitutes 70%-plus of typical formulas. The products weren’t easy to develop. In fact, they were so difficult that Jenkins and Stevenson report they met with through 10 manufacturers that didn’t believe the products were doable before securing one that did.
Everist’s shampoo and conditioner are patent-pending biodegradable pastes rather than liquidy products. “It’s a truly novel innovation and the patent-pending speaks to that. There hasn’t been anything in paste form. From an R&D perspective, it was very challenging,” says Stevenson. “We wanted it to sit in paste form and, then, get lathering and feel like it’s swelling in your hair. So, you need things to stay in the right state and have the right texture.” Everist’s waterless formulations allow its shampoo and conditioner to be preservative-free, but Jenkins says, “It would be easier to make with a small amount of water. Because it was waterless, a lot of the ingredients came in powder form, and had to be mixed with glycerin and aloe vera.”
In addition to vegetable glycerin and aloe vera, Everist’s haircare contains rapeseed, peppermint and rosemary oils, and coconut-derived cleansers. “We are a clean brand that doesn’t use sulfates, but we still wanted to have lathering that’s important to people and what they associate with clean,” says Stevenson. “The coconut-derived cleansers do a lot of the heavy lifting of taking out the oil and dirt, but they don’t leave the hair extra dry. Your hair feels different after, lightweight, soft and very healthy.” Instead of synthetic fragrance, Everist depends on an essential oil mix of bergamot, rosemary, sage, peppermint and orange peel for a scent Jenkins describes as sophisticated, universal and “pleasing, but not overpowering.”
Everist estimates the 100-ml. sizes of its shampoo and conditioner are the equivalent of 300-ml. sizes of traditional shampoo and conditioner. They’re expected to last around 12 weeks. The brand houses its shampoo and conditioner in recyclable aluminum tubes sold with a key enabling customers to squeeze out all the formula. The brand will run a program to collect the tubes’ caps, which are made from polyethylene terephthalate or PET, and upcycle them. Everist is a partner of the environmental organizations 1% for the Planet and Climate Neutral. Jenkins says, “We set out to hold ourselves accountable as a brand and make sure everything we do is net neutral on the environment.”
“Everybody wants to be more sustainable, but we also want our hair to look amazing. It was important for us to strike that right balance with Everist.”
At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, there was speculation consumers would become less concerned with sustainability as health issues ascended. However, the opposite has proven to be the case. “Eight in 10 consumers right now are saying they want to make more sustainable choices in their lives, but sometimes there is a gap between what they say and their purchases,” says Stevenson, citing an IBM Institute for Business study on consumer values. “We want to make it easier to bring those people in. It can be challenging to come into the eco space if you are not perfect and feel like you are going to be judged. So, we want to make sure we are having an open dialogue.”
Everist encourages consumers to opt into green beauty by its focus on product performance, design and accessibility as well as sustainability. The brand’s sleek packaging is gender-neutral, its prices are entry-level prestige, and its tone is friendly and funny. “The sense of humor is important. There is a lot of bad news in the world, and doom and gloom that we see every day, especially in the climate space, so we wanted a brand that made people feel good and was uplifting,” says Jenkins. “We are calling it a brand for eco optimists.” Discussing the brand’s name, Stevenson continues, “We wanted a company name that put the customer as the hero. They are the ones really making these changes in their lives, and we are there to support them.”
Everist has received financial support. The Toronto-based brand raised an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round of an undisclosed amount led by Wonderment Ventures with participation from Good&Well, Knix founder and CEO Joanna Griffiths, and Smythe co-founder Andrea Lenczner. Everist will start shipping merchandise in February and is sticking to a direct-to-consumer model initially, but Stevenson and Jenkins emphasize they’re pursuing an omnichannel distribution strategy. Beauty specialty chains such as Sephora and Ulta Beauty are on their retailer wish list.
Everist is working with a college on a diverse hair type study that will inform future products. Beyond haircare, Stevenson and Jenkins envision the brand expanding into skincare and body care. Rather than churn out the “long tail of SKUs that you may see with other brands,” Jenkins says Everist will aim to release “icon hero products that everybody needs in their routine.” She and Stevenson declined to share a first-year revenue projection for Everist. Stevenson says, “We have high expectations as far as what the business will do.” Jenkins chimes in, “We think there’s a lot of opportunity. We are really driven by making this change.”
Everist’s opportunity lies not only in sustainable beauty, but in the haircare segment that’s experienced a sales uptick amid the pandemic. “I think haircare is definitely set for growth. What we saw in skincare, haircare is next,” says Stevenson. “There is the skinification of haircare where people are thinking about their scalp as skin. We are going to see a lot more people care about those things. Just because it’s a wash-off product, it doesn’t mean those chemicals aren’t going in your body. There will be greater awareness of that—we’re already seeing it.”