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Interview with Michael Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Germany

by | May 30, 2019

Emanuel Bronner founded Dr. Bronner’s in 1948 in Los Angeles, California, beginning production of the peppermint liquid soap that remains a signature product of the brand over 70 years later. With headquarters and main factory in Vista, California, Dr. Bronner’s is a certified vegan brand and loved all around the world for their range of ecological soaps and other products. Raise Vegan had the opportunity to chat with Michael Bronner, grandson of the company founder and current president of Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling soap in the U.S. natural marketplace!

Interview with Michael Bronner of Dr. Bronner's Germany
Credit: https://www.drbronner.com
Interview with Michael Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Germany

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Interview with Michael Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Germany

Here are the excerpts from the interview.

What are some of Dr. Bronner’s most popular as well as signature products?

Michael Bronner: Dr. Bronner’s most signature, the iconic product is the Peppermint Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. Other popular fragrances of Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in the U.S. include lavender, almond, and citrus. Our All-One Toothpaste has quickly become a top-selling natural toothpaste in the U.S., and our virgin coconut oil is the highest quality fair trade and organic coconut oil on the market.

Baby’s Besties Set/ Photo by Annika Lundkvist
Interview with Michael Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Germany
Photo: Annika Lundkvist

I read on the website that liquid Peppermint soap was one of the first products Dr. Bronner’s offered, in the year the company was founded in 1948.  Why Peppermint specifically?  

Michael Bronner: Peppermint was Emanuel Bronner’s favorite scent. Some of my earliest memories are of him and the scent of peppermint radiating from his pores. I think he really wanted to make something that was more than a soap but also a sensory experience.

Credit: https://www.drbronner.com

Can you tell us more about the social responsibility aspect of Dr. Bronner’s?

Michael Bronner: Dr. Bronner’s is committed to using profits to support imperative social justice advocacy work. For example, Dr. Bronner’s has supported efforts in the U.S. to raise the minimum wage, enact drug policy and criminal justice reform, and educate consumers about the benefits of plant-based diets and lifestyles. Social responsibility is a core part of the principles that guide our company, what we call our Cosmic Principles. The Cosmic Principles that underscore Dr. Bronner’s social responsibility include: Do Right By Customers; Treat Employees Like Family, Be Fair to Suppliers; Fund & Fight for what’s Right! We are also a Certified B Corp.

Dr. Bronner’s is truly an icon in ecological soaps. How do you feel the company has maintained such a well-reputed spot in the ecological cleaning and body care marketplace for decades now?

Michael Bronner: Having entered the US market in 1948, with no salespeople, no advertising, and run by a man who eventually went completely blind, Dr. Bronner’s became the best-selling natural liquid soap in the country strictly by word of mouth. Aside from having a range of products that each have multiple and effective functions, more people are becoming aware how Dr. Bronner’s aligns with their consumer preferences and they appreciate the integrity of our ingredients and the way we do business. Our certifications are third-party verified, so our customers know they can trust our claims.

https://www.drbronner.com
Interview with Michael Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Germany

Was it in 2000 (when you, Michael Bronner, joined the company) that Dr. Bronner became international?

Michael Bronner: We actually waited until October 2003 after we were able to obtain organic certification to the USDA food standard for all of our major raw ingredients since there wasn’t an organic certification standard for cosmetics. 

How many countries are Dr. Bronner now sold in and do you feel that any region has been particularly unique (or even an interesting challenge) to market to?

Michael Bronner: Dr. Bronner’s is actively sold in more than 35 countries around the world. We are well-positioned as demand for clean, organic wellness products with social and environmental integrity is growing faster than ever in the global beauty market. While we might have to focus more on the education of our products when we first enter a new country, we still promote our core advocacy causes based on what resonates with our local partners and we are able to stay true to our business ethics.

Credit: https://www.drbronner.com

Dr. Bronner’s is not only committed to making ecological soaps but sources majority of your raw materials from certified Fair Trade Sources & is committed to using recycled plastic.  Can you share more about the dynamic interplay in the history of Dr. Bronner’s between ecological concerns & great soap making?

Michael Bronner: Everyone needs soap. It’s Dr. Bronner’s mission to make the best, most ecologically and socially responsible soap possible. When we first committed to becoming fair trade and organic certified, many of the ingredients in our soap could not be sourced at the scale needed via existing fair trade organic supply chains. So we decided to invest in small scale farmers and producers, and help them make the switch to fair trade and organic models. Our environmental commitment is captured in another of our Cosmic Principles, Treat the Earth Like Home!

Photo: Annika Lundkvist
Interview with Michael Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s Germany

Dr. Bronner’s has been supportive of the hemp industry & is also very active with environmental causes.  Can you share more about this aspect?

Michael Bronner: When Dr. Bronner’s reformulated our Pure-Castile Liquid Soap to become certified organic, we added organic hemp oil, sourced from Canada to the soap. Hemp oil is deeply moisturizing to the skin and helps our soaps achieve the thick, foaming lather we are known for. At the time, hemp farming was illegal in the United States, despite being farmed worldwide as it is known to be a versatile, ecological plant. Since adding hemp oil to our products, Dr. Bronner’s has supported a wide variety of efforts to legalize hemp farming in the U.S. And we are proud that as of December 2018, hemp farming is no longer considered a controlled substance in the U.S. and our farmers can now grow it! Beyond support for hemp farming legalization, Dr. Bronner’s supports a wide variety of environmental advocacy efforts, including the work of Sea Shepherd, vegan and vegetarian education, animal rescue and animal advocacy organizations, disaster relief efforts, and regenerative organic supply chains.

How long has Dr. Bronner’s been a certified vegan brand?

Michael Bronner: Dr. Bronner’s soaps, toothpaste, lotions, hair cremes and rinse, virgin coconut oils, are Certified Vegan and also certified Cruelty-Free by the Leaping Bunny Association. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap has always been a vegan product, since its original formulation in 1948.

Raise Vegan readers: use the code RAISEVEGANBRONNERS20 in Dr. Bronner’s online shop for 20% off.

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Annika Lundkvist

Director of Public Relations & Media| [email protected]

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