By Christopher Cieri
I don't love flying. Stuck in the seat for hours, I get a little stir crazy. A nice byproduct of this is my mind starts to race and new ideas flood my head. On a recent flight back from visiting my daughter in Spain I started to think about ways we could be even more sustainable and eco friendly as a company. We already use packing peanuts made from vegetable starch, our packing tape glue is made from potato starch, we use recycled boxes, etc. But I knew we could do more. We always pride ourselves in making the right decisions and this was the time to live up to that brand promise.
My first idea was to design and implement a recycling program that made it easy for our customers to participate and scalable enough for us to manage. Over the next week we worked on fine tuning and simplifying the program. What we came up with was pretty damn simple, yet awesome...
What to do with the returned used products? That was the next challenge. This is where the story pauses and we change direction.
As Franklin & Whitman has grown over the last two years it was imperative to me that we were not only located in a space that fit our needs, but also were located in a unique building. In May 2017 we moved our operations into the Edward W. Bok Building in South Philadelphia. BOK, as its affectionally called, is a historic vocational school closed by the School District of Philadelphia in 2013. The new building owner, Scout Ltd, has been working to lovingly restore the building into a new, richly layered and constantly evolving center for creatives, small-businesses, non-profits, small-batch manufacturers and beyond. The building currently houses over eighty-five businesses, including Franklin & Whitman. Being a part of the BOK community has allowed us to think outside of the normal skin care world and create new products. Our first joint collaboration within the BOK building was our Cruelty Free yoga tanks and our Perfectly Imperfect t-shirts. Both of these garments are sourced and printed by a BOK neighbor, Top Banana Printing.
This leads us back to the challenge at hand of what to do with the used, returned containers. I had already worked out how to responsibly recycle our plastic containers, but I wanted to do something different, sustainable, and more creative with our glass bottles. While on the flight I was prepping for a Small Business Saturday Pop Up Shop being held at BOK that was featuring companies within the building that handcrafted products. This pop up shop was the brain child of one of our building neighbors, Becky and Danielle from Remark Glass. Remark hand forms used bottles individually and thoughtfully transforming them into their opposite: hand crafted, functional, and colorful accents to include in daily home life.
While I prepped on the flight I realized the answer to my glass question was right in front of me. Have Remark upcycle our used glass bottles into beautiful mask bowls! The next day I presented the idea to Becky and Danielle and they loved it. Within a week we had sample bowls to check out. Within another week Remark had enough bowls made that we were ready to launch them as a new product.
On one of their production days we visited them to check out what went into turning a bottle into a bowl. I was blown away (no glass pun intended) at the time and care each bowl received during the creation process. Each bottle was worked on one at a time with multiple visits into the furnace. It was amazing to watch as each bottle slowly formed into the final, one of a kind beautiful product.
I couldn't be happier or more excited with how they turned out. They are elegant, sustainable, and very 'on brand'. I hope you love them too.