Wimberley-based Climb On Expands Company and Minds
"If you can't eat it, don't put it on your skin."
By Meghan Ruth Speakerman,
7:57PM, Tue. Mar. 20, 2012
The European Union has banned 1,342 cosmetic ingredients that are classified as unsafe for human use; the FDA has banned ten. According to the Environmental Working Group, 98% of cosmetic products in this country contain chemicals that have never been publicly tested for safety.
When people learn of the true nature of the ingredients in their everyday products, they are often shocked, horrified and eager to make a lifestyle change.
Climb On is a 12-year-old, locally owned company that is much more than the chemical-free, all natural cosmetics they produce. The company embodies a change in the way people are considering their health and well-being, and it is growing at an impressive rate.
They currently have a new Hungarian account in the works, and University of Texas has shown interest in Climb On sponsorships for resistance stretching and rock climbing in their athletic department.
“Our German distributor emailed in a frenzy because his stock was flying off the shelves and he was getting orders every five minutes,” creator and owner Polly Glasse said.
Glasse professes that she has always been out of the box and is “weird”, and she admits to getting inspired by the little things in life, like flowers on a bike ride.
“I love nature. It keeps me balanced. It keeps me humble,” Glasse said.
Bringing her honest, pure approach to life to the products she makes, Glasse insists that “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.”
Though the product line gets its name from rock climbing, the lotion bar and crème are versatile and valuable in a multitude of other ways. It is not solely for serious athletes. It’s also good for diaper rash and as a night cream. Many customers claim the products healed skin ailments, like eczema, when years of other treatments failed.
The company was incorporated in 2000 and released their spa line, Bast Apotheka, in 2006. Unlike its sister products, the spa line has yet to be distributed internationally, but “people are clamoring for it,” Glasse said.
Climb On is currently available in 29 countries and is vending in major stores all over Austin.
“Central Market, Whole Foods … they’ve been really good to us. Whole Foods really gets it,” Glasse said.
“We have the same standards with our body care as we do with our food, so absolutely no artificial ingredients ever. We get really excited when it’s pure, especially if it’s locally created,” Rebecca Scofield, Whole Foods public relations coordinator said.
“They sell really well. There’s a team of people that make sure all the ingredients are sustainable and are on our approved ingredient list. There’s a whole gauntlet of things people have to go through to get their product in here,” Meghann O’Hara, Whole Foods Body Department employee said.
Climb On products can be found at Wheatsville Coop, REI, Whole Earth Provisions, online and various retailers worldwide.
The company’s marketing technique (or lack of) speaks to the quality and fanfare the line has. Besides a couple of sponsorships and a select few magazine ads, Climb On has succeeded mostly through word of mouth and samples. A large part of their spiel is educational, making it more than just a shopping experience.
“The legal term for natural … there is no definition. These companies say they’re natural and they aren’t, they’re lying. It’s naturally derived but synthetically made in a lab and still can be called natural. To me that’s wrong,” Glasse said.
The average person puts over 100 chemicals on their body daily. Parabens are the most common ingredient in cosmetics second to water and have been found sitting in breast tumors. They are currently being pulled from the market. Propylene glycol, (a substitute for antifreeze), is found in hand sanitizers and soaps, and is a ‘penetration enhancer’, meaning it forces pores open, furthering the ingestion of synthetic chemicals and microbes into the body.
“It’s very difficult making lotion or sunblock without synthetics. It’s like mixing oil and vinegar salad dressing. How do you get it to blend without chemical emulsifiers? How do you give it a shelf life? It’s expensive; that’s another reason why people don’t use quality ingredients,” Glasse said.
There is a shift of consciousness in realizing that the fast, cheap solutions cause long-term problems, and that inexpensive, synthetic ingredients are harmful for our overall well-being.
“I think were lazy. I think we want a quick fix. Look at all the diet pills. Look at all the plastic surgery. Our values have changed- I think a lot of people are changing those values back,” Glasse said.
“It’s like the farmers’ markets- remember how sporadic they use to be? Now everyone has them. It’s the same concept. Is it a little more difficult to search and find things that are truly natural and organic? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. It just depends on how much value do you have in your life.”
For more information, please visit www.climbonproducts.com