A pioneer in the clean beauty movement, Pacifica has been around for nearly 25 years. Cruelty-free and vegan, the brand has been carefully built through the decades by closely listening to its growing consumer base and staying true to its core values rooted in compassion.
Founder Brook Harvey-Taylor and her husband Billy Taylor launched the brand in 1996 — a time when ‘vegan’ wasn’t often associated with beauty. We caught up with her to learn more about her journey in clean beauty and what’s ahead for Pacifica in the next 25 years.
ForceBrands: What inspired you to launch Pacifica? What was your vision for the company?
Brook Harvey-Taylor: Our core value is compassion — for people, animals, and the planet. Having a company rooted in compassion has always been my dream. Everything we do at Pacifica drives from this place. When creating Pacifica, I made sure everything we did was vegan, even though in the beginning we didn’t include this in our messaging. I was vegan and it was important only to me at the time, and I didn’t know that our consumers would care. It is exciting to see what a trend it has become. Also, I knew our products had to be high performance without compromising on ingredient safety. We all deserve this as a non-negotiable in all of our beauty products. And, finally, accessibility was key for me. I grew up on a humble little ranch in Montana, where we really lived with nature. My sister and I were 4-H kids. My mom was an early adopter of natural products due to an autoimmune disease and believed that food could heal her. She was a member of our local food coop, and my sister and I worked there as teens to get our family discount. This was my first exposure to natural beauty. I would stock the shelves and think about what I would make if I had my own beauty company. Today, I also believe that food can heal, and that what we put on our skin is as important as what we put into our bodies.
FB: You founded Pacifica with your husband Billy Taylor. Did you have any reservations about making your life partner your business partner?
BHT: Working with my husband can be as challenging as it is rewarding. But I had zero reservations when we started. We wanted to be together and do something that we were both passionate about.
FB: How did you approach funding in the earliest stages?
BHT: Our first investors were two strong women: my mom and Billy’s mom. The rest we funded with credit cards, our own money, and put everything back into the business. It kind of blows my mind to see companies get funding today before they are even a meaningful brand. This was definitely not our reality.
FB: Pacifica is a pioneer in the clean beauty movement. What categories have proved most critical to the success of the brand?
BHT: Our three best-selling categories are skincare, cosmetics, and fragrance.
We don’t move into categories that we don’t have permission from our customers to move into. We do a lot of consumer studies and ask our customers what they think. We never lose sight of the fact that we are always in service of them.
FB: The beauty industry has largely been recession-proof. What beauty trends have you observed emerging during COVID-19 as it relates to consumer behavior?
BHT: We were watching trends at the beginning of COVID-19 and a lot of experts speculated that clean beauty was going to decline and people were going to have a preference toward chemicals in their beauty routine, but we have seen the opposite happening. We pulled back on our forecasting early on, but quickly ramped back up when it became clear that consumers and retailers were more interested in the clean beauty space than ever. Wellness has become key.
FB: Pacifica has been around for nearly 25 years. What are some secrets to its longevity?
BHT: I think our big secret is authenticity. I have held this brand pretty tightly since day one. I also think that making sure that we remain accessible to most people has been key. Many natural beauty brands on the market charge a premium for clean ingredients, which I think is BS. Similarly, many brands are cruelty-free but not 100 percent vegan, and to me, that just doesn’t make sense. If you want to remain 100 percent cruelty-free, then creating vegan products is the only way to go. We have been 100 percent cruelty-free and vegan since day one and were early to use the PETA Certification logo on our packaging.
FB: What’s ahead for the next 25 years?
BHT: We have some exciting launches planned for the remainder of 2020, including a skincare launch that I am personally so excited to share with our Pacifica fans. More information on this coming this summer. But, long-term, I want to be around for another 25 years. I want Pacifica to be an evergreen brand.
Interested in building your career in the booming beauty industry? Explore our BeautyForce division.