Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Pretty Pink Folder

Long ago I learned to compartmentalize some of my small business owner activities so that they don't overwhelm.

  • I order new supplies once a week (Wednesdays) and I don't even think about it in between.
  • When bills come in, I immediately tuck them into my "pink folder". I only sort through and pay bills on Friday.
  • I come in at 9:00 and leave at 6:00 and weekends are not for working.
It's like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In life, we need to meet the physiological basics first (food, water, sleep, etc) before we concern ourselves with the "higher" needs.

Similarly, I find that if my inventory is well stocked, my bills are paid, and my mind and body are refreshed by family and friends, then all the other stresses of owning my business are manageable.

Even if I do work extra hours (not really that uncommon), at least I have made an agreement with myself that I don't have to, so staying is more of a pleasure than a stress.

Do I accomplish everything I want in every day? Nope. Do I move forward on my projects as quickly as I would wish? Nope. Do I take each day with a relaxed and open heart: as much as I can.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Patent Pending on Natural Pigments

Recently I was contacted regarding the company 100% Pure and its patent pending for use of fruit, vegetable, flower and seed pigments for use in cosmetics.

The concern was that if 100% Pure succeeds in their patent then it will negatively affect all natural cosmetic companies.

The author requested that we call the examining attorney Tania Ashby at 571-270-1348 and that we write a formal complaint to the commissioner for patents

The Commissioner
for Patents
PO Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

OK, I have passed the word along, now here is what I have thought about this over the years.

1) The folks at 100% Pure are based here in the Bay Area and I have talked with them as well as sold product to them. In particular, the female founder has taken a mineral makeup class from me when I taught years ago at thenovastudio.com. This in itself doesn't mean anything but I wanted to let you know that the people behind 100% Pure are just people. In some ways they are small, independent natural businesses just like yours (if you have one), although perhaps better funded. They operate out of a 30,000 square foot warehouse in Oakland.

2) I always scratched my head over this patent, because the FDA regulates what color additives are approved for use in cosmetics and the list touted by 100% Pure aren't FDA approved. In my mind, 100% Pure was (is) in violation of the FDA regulations regarding color additives in cosmetics.

3) But lots of companies do use "fruit, vegetable, flower and seed pigments" in their products. For example, Aveda uses botanicals in its formula for Black Malva shampoo. But Black Malva is not on the FDA list of approved color additives. I think the reason they get away with this is because they add it as a "botanical additive" not as a "color additive". Typically, color additives are at the end of an ingredients list in the "may contain" section. I suspect that Black Malva is up there above the "may contain" designation and listed as a botanical. Botanical additives are not regulated by the FDA. This tricky little slippery slope has been used by all kinds of natural cosmetic manufacturers to insert natural coloring agents into their products.

4) So why the patent application by 100% Pure? After scratching my head for about a month, I finally sat down and read the the patent, quickly (patent application number 20060280762) . My read was that they are by-passing the FDA regulations for their current product line by claiming that they are not coloring the cosmetic, they are coloring the body, the fact that there is a cosmetic in between is kind of an "afterthought". For example, cherry juice stains the lips. Yes, there is some waxy oil blend (read: lipstick) which is used to apply it to the lips, but the cherry juice is not there to color the waxy oil blend, it is there to stain the skin of the lips. Maybe I am misunderstanding the patent application, but when I rephrased it that way at least I understood how they were getting around FDA regulations.

5) But let's say I'm wrong.
Let's just say we all agree that "fruit, vegetable, flower and seed pigments" are not approved for use in cosmetics by the FDA.
Let's say that 100% PUre is currently manufacturing in violation of FDA regulations by claiming that they use natural pigments to color their cosmetics -- pigments which are not on the approved list. Are people being harmed? Nope. Why is that? Because the ingredients are not inherently unsafe. They are not approved by the FDA simply because no one has no one has invested the money necessary to have them become FDA approved. Why would they when they have so many reliable analine dyes to use instead.

6. So, perhaps the folks at 100% Pure are pure genius. Even if natural pigments are not FDA approved I assume that this does not prevent you from filing a patent for the idea. And if you held a patent on the idea, funding for such FDA approval would easily follow because all of a sudden you would own something that everyone -- especially the big guys -- would be willing to license. As an example, perhaps the
attorney for a patent-holding 100% Pure would argue that the ONLY reason the Black Malva is in the Aveda shampoo formula is because Black Malva is a dark pigment and it offers some natural darkening to the hair. It does not offer any other qualities (such as shine, or silkiness). Therefore the use of the Black Malva in the shampoo formula violates the patent and therefore Aveda must cease and desist and/or pay 100% Pure a license fee.

OK, lots of guessing, speculating and noodling in the above. I'm not telling you what the situation is, I'm throwing in my two cents. I'm sure there are some errors in my thought process and I welcome feedback. But if I'm right even 80%, I have to say, the folks at 100% Pure smarter than I originally thought.

Kaila Westerman

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Green Cleaners made by Clorox

In 2008, Clorox Corp (based here in Oakland, CA) came out with a line of green cleaning products. More than 99% of the ingredients in their new GreenWorks line come from natural, non-petrochemical sources. The ingredients include:
  • Water
  • Alkyl Polyglucoside. This is a detergent surfactant made from coconut oil
  • Ethanol SDA-3C. This is a dirt-dissolving solvent made from corn oil
  • Glycerine. A solvent from corn oil
  • Lemon oil. From Lemons, obviously, there for the fragrance
  • Kathon, a preservative which is part of the 1% of the formula derived from petrochemicals. But it is biodegradable
  • Milliken Liquitint Blue HP and Bright Yellow dyes. Also part of the 1% of the formula derived from petrochemicals.
As you probably know, most commercial cleaners do not provide a full ingreidents list such as Clorox has done. If you want more information about a commercial cleaner, you can visit The Green Guide, an online publication of National Geographic.

Hope these sites lead you to new ideas!

Kaila Westerman

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Press Release

August 11, 2009

Changes to the Mixing Pot
Pigment Lady's Simple Pleasures purchased by TKB Trading

It was 1996. EBAY and Craigslist were uncertain startups right along with Lori Schenkelberg's “Pigment Lady” and Kaila Westerman's “TKB Trading”.

“We met in an AOL chat room,” explains Kaila. “What started out as a hobby for us, quickly became micro businesses. Our other chat room buddies included ElaineWhite (who had just published a book on soapmaking), Melody Upham (founder of Rainbow Meadows soapmaking supplies) and Linda Jines (founder of Sweetcakes Soapmaking and Candle Supplies). None of us would have imagined our futures unfolding as they did. At the time, we were simply trying to make soap.”

The Pigment Lady was the first to offer repacked pigments and dyes to soap makers at an affordable price. In 1996, her son was just entering first grade; he is now entering college. “It's been a long journey which has been comprised of a lot of hard work, a lot of fun, and a lot of life lessons thrown in for good measure,” says Lori. “I could not have done it without the loyal soap making community which supported me throughout the years, and I thank them!”

Lori's decision to sell her business to Kaila is one which will benefit her Simple Pleasures customers. Kaila's TKB Trading already offers hundreds of pigment, dye and mica options, and her customer service and loyalty are unsurpassed.

For information on TKB Trading, visit them at www.tkbtrading.com or www.wholesalecolors.com.
To contact Lori and wave “goodbye”, please shoot an email to PigmntLady@aol.com.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Last month we took a day off to have a company outing. We took the ferry to San Francisco, then rented bikes and biked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Here are some photos. They should play as a slideshow automatically, just be patient!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Work in Progress

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Baby Steps to Community Participation

My business is a simple one. It boils down to buying large quantities of interesting stuff, packing said stuff into smaller quantities and then shipping it out to people who have the time and energy to play with it.

While it is gratifying to be part of my customers' creative cycle, the work is work. It's routine. I try to be very Zen, to see the task in front of me as meditation. But, during a recent "meditation" I calculated that I had been meditating for about 30,000 hours. Time to be enlightened!

In our neighborhood, there is a laundromat, Woody's Laundry and Drapes. I've known Woody for several years. He immigrated from China and started this laundry our rather rundown part of town. Later, he added a cafe. In addition to growing his business, Woody touches the people of this neighborhood. He began to host "outdoor movies" free for the neighborhood. He signed up to host the National Night Out parties. Does the neighborhood love Woody? Yelp has 48 positive reviews on his laundromat. Who reviews laundromats except the most rabidly loyal?

I am aware that my business also touches people, I get feedback along that line pretty much every day and I appreciate it. But this week, I commit to being more like Woody. I commit to taking baby steps to bring our business closer to having a positive impact on our immediate neighborhood.

Our first baby step is tomorrow when we take time out to repaint the building facade. Next step is to complete our "public" space by the end of August (right now it pretty much looks like a rainbow exploded in here).

In September, we will host a Maker's Meet. The Maker's Meet will be a by-invitation event for community leaders who work with the youth in our area in a creative way (art teachers, community organizers, etc). Our plan is to introduce them to what TKB does, what it has and what we know. I think once they get to know us, opportunities to impact will come at us like snowflakes in Minnesota: unique, soft, deep and cool.

Wish us luck!

Kaila Westerman
TKB Trading, LLC