Sometimes (see: zero closet space; crowded subways; too many martinis) we New Yorkers just want to pick up and skip town.
In 2009, former city dwellers Oliver Sweatman and Emily Doyle worked up the chutzpah to actually do it. And so they took off for Vermont, a destination which the duo would soon find provided exactly the impetus necessary to launch their own natural skincare line.
“Vermont's a huge part of what we're doing,” says Sweatman. “People up here are focused on healthy living and there's a profound respect for the natural world. There's also an ingrained suspicion of large companies churning out soulless products purely to make money and increase market share; folks up here go out of their way to support small, passionate companies that are focused on making a better, responsible product. All this creates a vibrant culture for starting a little brand like ours.”
At the time of their move, Sweatman was undergoing a major detox program, and growing more and more fascinated about organics, meditation, and environmental toxins. It was when he learned about the rampant use of untested synthetic chemicals in conventional grooming products, from shave to hair to deodorant to SPF to colognes, that his calling became clear.
“The vast majority of products out there -- well over 95 percent -- contain parabens, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances that penetrate skin and accumulate in organs, potentially causing serious health issues,” Sweatman says.
“After scouting around natural food stores and coming up empty-handed, we decided to create Ursa Major to offer men a premium natural alternative to conventional synthetics and the lackluster stuff we were finding -- let’s face it: most 'natural' products don’t work well, smell funky, and feel thick or oily.”
Though Sweatman has found the process of working with natural ingredients to be finicky and lengthy (each formula takes up to six months to perfect), he and Doyle firmly believe in the end result. “From the outset we said our products had to be three things: really effective, as close to 100 percent natural as possible, and sublime to use," he says.