Mindful growth: Promoting sustainable consumption top-of-mind for waterless beauty brand founded by ex-Amazon VP
Bhuman is a waterless personal care brand by Yeeli Lee, former vice president of Amazon China and a brand consultant that has worked with the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coty and The Estée Lauder Companies.
Lee developed the brand in an effort to combat climate change by reducing the usage of single-use plastics and lowering the carbon footprint of the beauty industry by using sustainable processes and waterless technology.
The brand currently offers a single product – B Clean Waterless Facial Wash Powder, a 100% plant-based enzyme powder cleanser has a zero-water footprint, allowing it to cut down on emissions from transport as well as packaging.
The water-activated cleanser is available in a special bamboo bottle as well as refills housed in plain aluminium bottles that can be easily and infinitely recycled.
“The whole reason why I went with a simple single SKU – a unisex facewash – is because I wanted something that has a high penetration rate and could be used by both men and women, low in carbon footprint and refillable. I wanted to apply circular economy principles and move away from the ‘make it, take it, waste it’ mindset,” said Lee.
Furthermore, recognising the imposing threat of dwindling freshwater resources, Lee aimed to bring a water-friendly solution to the market
“If you look at the statistics, water is becoming even more scarce either because of climate change… or because of our rapid utilisation of water. Knowing this, I made water scarcity top-of-mind as I developed Bhuman,” said Lee.
Bhuman was officially launched last year on April 22 – Earth Day – with a Kickstarter campaign that reached its goal in just a single day. Over a four-week campaign, the brand achieved U$17,649 in funding, 367% more than its original goal.
Since the launch, the brand has been well-received by beauty lovers and environmentally conscious consumers alike. According to Lee, the brand has a healthy repeat purchase rate of 33%.
Aside from its home market, the brand has extended its reach into countries including Hong Kong, Malaysia, the US and South Africa.
The company is aiming to expand internationally and tap into markets like the US, where there is a huge demand for eco-friendly alternatives.
Lee told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the brand has already attracted the attention of a large retailer in the US, which is pushing her to develop more products for the brand.
As an advocate of conscious consumerism and minimalism, the company is careful about launching too many products, said Lee.
“I’m not growing for the sake of growing. Even though I want to grow, I want to grow mindfully.”
Lee recognises, however, that a company must launch new products if growth is the aim. “Consumers get bored easily, so I need to be launching one to two products at least once every two years at a minimum.”
Currently, the firm is developing a hair care range. The decision to expand into hair care, a new category, was made thoughtfully, elaborated Lee.
“I chose hair care because it has a high penetration rate as well – everyone uses it and uses it daily. That’s the way to make the biggest impact. Also, hair care is 90% water, even more than face cream so it makes a lot of sense for me to focus on hair.”
She added: “While I have developed a range, I’m just going to launch it one at a time and see if [consumers] can commit to this kind of quantity. This is where the community comes to say yes, we can commit and then you can launch the next range.”
While development may be hindered by the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lee remains unfazed and has no target date for the launch.
“I’m not rushing into the hair care range because there’s a certain amount of inventory that you have to commit to, and I don’t want to take on all that unless there’s a true demand for it.”