Have you ever tried to make one of your grandma's signature recipes? Chances are that even if you have the recipe and copy it exactly, it never turns out quite like hers. Why? Because Grandma made that recipe a million times and knows what it should look, feel, and smell like by sense — not recipe.
Small batch beauty is a little like that. We meticulously follow formulations, but it's a human-made process, and years of practice means we know how to get it just right.
In the immortal words of Outkast, small batch beauty ensures that our makeup is "so fresh and so clean, clean." Really though, we hand make our products because it keeps them fresh and "clean," but also because it gives us maximum control and flexibility, and keeps us closely attached to our work.
Chief Axiology Formulator, Chloe, has been with Axiology since the beginning (she was Ericka's first hire!), and personally measures, melts, mixes, pours, and constructs every one of our lipsticks, crayons, and balmies. Yeah, she's pretty cool.
With all of that experience, you could say that Chloe has that "grandma touch," despite her young years. The Grandma Touch is part of why Axiology keeps it small batch.
After Chloe works her magic, the Balmies are all painstakingly wrapped and taped by hand, and the lipstick and crayon "bullets" are carefully placed into their Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic tubes. The finished products are then carefully packaged into our boxes that are handmade from recycled paper by women on Bali. We're serious about the "made by people" thing.
I talked to Chloe recently about her formulation work. "I'm very attached to the process. I put my heart and soul into this," she said with a friendly laugh, but utmost sincerity. "I want them all to look great and for people to be really happy and excited about them. I do genuinely care that every piece looks perfect."
In addition to allowing Chloe to infuse each piece with love, there are some very practical upsides to brewing in-house.
When you work with contract manufacturers, you have to order in huge "minimum" batches. We're talking thousands of units — per SKU (that's per shade, in our case). By handmaking all product in our own Axiology lab, we're able to be nimble with changing preferences (everyone switches to a new spring shade? No big deal! We'll ramp down production of winter's fave and Chloe will get a move-on on spring's hottest hue), and keep an eagle-eye on quality control.
Plus, speaking of "Fresh and Clean," making product in small batches means we make it more frequently, and it sits on the shelf for less time than the average lipstick before getting to you.
For one, this short lead time between crafting and customer means we don't need to use heavy-duty broad-spectrum preservatives (that y'all made clear you didn't want) for our waterless products (FYI, products that include water or juice (aloe, e.g.) require broad spectrum preservatives — no matter what). We still use some of nature's fresh-makers like elderberry extract and organic neem oil so our products are "clean" as can be!
Second, our lipsticks, crayons, and Balmies are made with skin nourishing plant oils and butters, and the precious botanical benefits are maximized with fresh (and high quality) oils. That means that the fresher your lipstick is, the more benefits you're reaping!
Though we're a fairly small operation, we take professionalism very seriously. We follow meticulous cleaning and manufacturing guidelines for tip-top safety, and number and carefully track all our batches. We also work with a cosmetics consultant to stay up-to-date on chemistry and formulation best practices.
With all mush intended, we care deeply about the products we make and our mission to do better by animals, people, and planet. Keeping it small batch and handmade is just one of the ways we're working to be as "good" as can be.
By Lauren Evashenk