Meet The Beauty Industry’s Newest Hyphenates: Founder-Farmers

Another founder-farmer, Ojai Wild‘s Janna Sheehan, seeds the soil in a 1.5-acre plot she leases at the Red Tail Ranch in Ojai, Calif., with white sage, marshmallow root, German chamomile, vetiver, pink peppercorn, lemongrass, helichrysum and roses for fragrances. “I don’t want to wild harvest anything. I don’t feel that’s an ethical way to source plant materials for what we are doing, and I like to get my hands dirty,” she says. “I really wanted to start growing our own botanicals, learn the process, and be as hands on as possible through the entire process.” Although most skincare founder-farmers aren’t primarily driven by business motives, founders with access to their own ingredients can better ensure ingredient quantities and product outcomes. As climate change interferes with crops around the world, that control may become extremely valuable to skincare brands seeking to keep their product manufacturing humming.

Red Tail Ranch in Ojai, Calif.

Clark and Sheehan aren’t convinced consumers pay much attention to how and where skincare ingredients are grown. She figures about a quarter of them consider sourcing, if that. Sheehan says, “People care more now than they’ve ever cared, but, with fragrance, I think people care more about the experience of smelling it, and they will put to the side certain values if they love something.” However, she adds, retailers seem to appreciate the farm-to-fragrance aspect of Ojai Wild. “They are very interested in the whole story and the process. They love all the details,” says Sheehan. “The story has been really important for us.”




  • A growing number of beauty entrepreneurs are buying or leasing farms to learn about and cultivate ingredients for their brands’ products. These founder-farmers include Julie Clark of Province Apothecary, Paolo Manfredi of Bottega Organica, Megan Cox of Amalie, Janna Sheehan of Ojai Wild and Jami Morse Heidegger and Klaus Heidegger of Retrouvé.
  • A passion for ingredients compels many of these founder-farmers to grow plants for their products, but they are also interested in controlling ingredient quality and supplies to keep their merchandise consistent.
  • Consumers don’t seem to be paying much attention to beauty ingredient sourcing at the moment. However, the rise of sourcing awareness in food suggests sourcing awareness could make its way to the beauty category, and beauty retailers are taking note of the sourcing transparency that operating farms affords brands.


By Rachel Brown, October 5. 2017.