Meeting Andrew Bernstein, The Mind Behind Kinder Beauty Box
“The issue of cruelty-free beauty always struck me as an aspect of the animal rights movement where the consumer market hasn’t yet caught up to what a majority of consumers want. What I mean is, when surveyed, even non-vegans are overwhelmingly against the idea of animal testing, and so it feels like a very winnable battle. From the start, our goal has been to make cruelty-free, ethical beauty mainstream with the hopes that we can create real, lasting change in the beauty industry. When I came up with the idea for Kinder Beauty, Daniella and Evanna were the first two people I had in mind to go into this with me, as they’re both strong, dedicated vegan and cruelty-free activists and they both have really engaged audiences on social media. We launched in January of this year and it’s been an amazing ride.” – Andrew Bernstein, Co-Founder & President of Kinder Beauty Box
Prior to launching vegan and cruelty-free beauty box subscription Kinder Beauty Box, Andrew Bernstein worked at a large animal rights nonprofit managing their celebrity relations division. It was in that role that he became friends with Daniella Monet and Evanna Lynch, now his business partners at Kinder Beauty Box. Raise Vegan chats with Andrew about the growing ethical beauty market, consumer awareness, and change and Kinder Beauty Box.
Raise Vegan: What is your perception of the development in demand for cruelty-free and ethical beauty products?
Andrew: Things are definitely trending in the right direction. We’re seeing increased demand for cruelty-free and ethical beauty products, and bigger players in the space are taking notice and even changing how they do business. Late last year it was announced that CoverGirl was pulling their products from China (where animal testing is mandatory) and has now been certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny. This is a huge step and we expect to see this demand increase significantly in the years ahead as consumers continue to educate themselves on this issue.
Raise Vegan: Do you think we are at a critical juncture of awareness that is also helping to fuel not only interest in these brands but also the ethical entrepreneurship occurring in the production of more items in line with the vegan ethos?
Andrew: It’s a great time to be an ethical or mission-based entrepreneur. Conscious consumerism is very much on the rise. Vegan and “green” products are no longer considered niche, or just for the Whole Foods crowd. Beyond Meat is now in almost every major grocery chain – and they’re reportedly about to go public with a valuation over $1 billion! For myself and my partners, we all very much want to change the world – that’s what drives us. We’re also entrepreneurs who want to grow our business; we want Kinder Beauty to be a household name. So it’s an exciting time for us in that those two things are not mutually exclusive. We’ve created a business model that allows us to have an exponentially more positive impact on the world around us as we scale.
Raise Vegan: What has your experience been getting familiar with the vegan beauty brands thus far?
Andrew: As a guy navigating the beauty world for the first time, there’s been a huge learning curve for me. Early on, my partners would say they want me to find a great vegan blush or highlighter and I’d pretend to know what they were talking about while quickly Googling “what is a highlighter?” Now, I’m becoming way more familiar with different brands and product categories, and even find occasionally complimenting strangers’ choices in eyeshadow or lip liner. It’s been really helpful for me that there are so many great, ethical brands out there. It feels like we could feature a new brand in each Kinder Beauty Box and never risk losing the discovery factor for our subscribers.
Raise Vegan: What are some changes you are looking forward to seeing in the ethical beauty product space?
Andrew: I’d like to see more brands that are not currently cruelty-free make the transition to being 100% cruelty-free. I’d like to see more cruelty-free brands transition to being 100% vegan. And I’d like to see even more innovation in the ethical beauty space. There is so much that can be done with clean, natural plant-derived ingredients, and conscious consumers shouldn’t be limited at all in terms of the quality and variety of beauty products available for them to try.
Raise Vegan: Do your boxes generally cater to women and if so do you foresee possibly having a box for men or for example a special holiday edition box for men?
Andrew: While we don’t market Kinder Beauty as being just for women, we certainly see a lot more women subscribing than we do men. We’ve talked about doing a spin-off box featuring products for men and it’s something I can definitely see us doing down the road. At the very least, I’d subscribe in a heartbeat!
Raise Vegan: Last year California voted to the sale of cosmetics tested on animals (to go into effect in 2020). What is your own viewpoint and hope moving forward for similar legislation to be passed throughout the USA?
Andrew: It’s time. As is often the case, California is once again leading the charge on this no-brainer, long overdue legislation – and now legislators from other states need to follow suit. Even in the current charged and tribalistic political atmosphere, I don’t think animal testing can in any way be viewed as a partisan issue. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone in New York City or Little Rock, Arkansas or Omaha, Nebraska that considers themselves pro-animal testing. Even hunters and meat-eaters and people who otherwise find very little to relate to in the animal rights world will tell you that animal testing seems cruel and completely unnecessary.
Raise Vegan: Why do you think that the issue of cruelty-free beauty is not something that has quite caught up with the consumer market yet? As you noted, even non-vegans overwhelmingly oppose the idea of animal testing, so why, in your opinion, have we not seen a full ban on it?
Andrew: There are a few reasons why this hasn’t happened yet. Part of it is that, frankly, consumers will too often go with what’s familiar over what’s right. What I mean is, if you walk into a drugstore it can already be annoying to find something in your shade, for your skin type and from a brand you trust. Some will go online to get answers, but even when they do that, they may see a brand is on PETA’s list but not Logical Harmony’s. So is it really cruelty-free? And is it vegan? Shopping for beauty products can be complicated and exhausting, even for those that are passionate and well-researched on the issue. But I do believe that if given the clear choice between a product that checks all the boxes but tests on animals versus a product that checks all the boxes and is cruelty-free, 95% of consumers are going to make the right choice. This is a big part of why we created Kinder Beauty, to take the guesswork out of ethical beauty. We do the research and the curation of high-end ethical products so that our customers won’t have to. In that way, we’re helping to educate our customers on which brands and products are safe to use, and we hope that will affect their long-term shopping habits.
The other thing is that only recently have beauty brands needed to pay attention to all of this. Through social media and with the help of great organizations like PETA and Cruelty-Free International, the issue of animal testing has been brought to the forefront and taken up by a much larger audience. Consumers now understand how outdated and unimaginably cruel animal testing is, and they are starting to demand change. Our philosophy at Kinder Beauty is that if we can appeal to mainstream consumers if we can, in fact, become a household name, the beauty industry will have to pay attention and get serious about making cruelty-free the norm. There are other beauty boxes out there, who are not cruelty-free and who have hundreds of thousands and even millions of subscribers. If one of these companies took a stand and said that starting tomorrow they’d only start working with cruelty-free and vegan products, you’d see major brands change their policies overnight. You’d have a lot more CoverGirls… But these other boxes aren’t stepping up to take this on, so we created Kinder Beauty and we’re happy to be the ones to do it.
Kinder Beauty Box
Raise Vegan: Lastly, how are you enjoying life in Colorado? What are some of your favorite local restaurants and things to do?
Andrew: My wife and I moved to Denver last May, after many years in Los Angeles, and we love it. Compared to LA, Denver is quieter, more scenic has cleaner air and more affordable housing…and, of course, a bit less traffic. There’s also greater value here placed on the idea of raising a family and spending time outdoors. That said, we definitely miss our LA friends a lot and we also miss being surrounded by so much great vegan food. We actually used to live across the street from Crossroads in LA, which is considered by many to be one of the best plant-based restaurants in the world. While Denver’s vegan scene isn’t quite as prolific as LA’s, it’s definitely a foodie city and we’ve already found some new favorites. City, O’ City, Vital Root, The Corner Beet and Tony Pho (they make an amazing veggie Pho broth!), to name a few.
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