MORRO BAY — Elemental Herbs and the brand All Good, based out of an office in the old Sun Bulletin building in Morro Bay, are celebrating a decade being run under California’s guidelines for a Certified B Corporation.
The certification allows an approach to business which places ethics above profit, but they’re not doing too badly for themselves. Started as a sole proprietorship by founder Caroline Duell, the business grew into a traditional corporate structure before filing for B-Corp certification in 2009. In 2016, they moved operations into their new home, which surprisingly to a visitor, still bears some marks of a newspaper office, albeit one with a fleet of bicycles in the lobby, yoga balls and colorful diversions around chalkboards and low couches for meeting rooms.
The whimsical nods to creature comfort might be expected in a Silicon Valley startup, but explains company representative, or if you prefer “All Good Community Rockstar” Lindsey Bolton, during a tour of their sales, shipping and labeling facilities, it’s the little touches behind the scenes for energy and water efficiency during remodeling with LEED certification in mind that let them stay Green.
The company is rated every two years to see how well they’re living up to the ideals they’ve set up for themselves, and while Bolton does reference how well individual improvements in their operations rate, the B-Corp concept is simpler, “It gives customers a way to see the work we’ve done and vet us for themselves up front,” she said,adding that, should Duell and her husband Ryan Rich ever step back from leadership roles,the company bylaws have enshrined their ideals.
Starting with the flagship product All Good Goop, an organic herbal ointment Rich came aboard as VP of Sales as an extended line of body care products became more popular. Sunscreen, lip balm, salves and topicals for sore muscles are now distributed across the nation in larger health-food and sporting goods chains.
Calendula, an herb present in most of their products with healing properties as an insect-bite soother and repellent, as well as a moisturizer, is grown on 15-acres just outside of Atascadero.
It’s the global reach of their sunscreen line which has gained the most attention aside from the B-Corp status of late though.
The zinc-mineral base in the All Good sunscreen for surfers and divers is one of the few skin protectants known to be safe for Coral Reefs, as Bolton notes, any particles that wash away simply fall to the bottom of the ocean instead of being ingested by the reefs or helping bleach them as other chemical applications do.
She demonstrates that, yes, it takes a little bit to rub in compared to nanoparticle infused solutions which go on clear, but proven safe for people as well as reefs is a selling point. Besides, it’s nice to tell where you’re covered compared to the mixed results of popular spray
With the company for five years, Bolton adds that a lot has changed for the B-Corp movement in even that time. For instance, the company has partnered with a certified green practices financial company to provide employees 401k plans.
Compared to when Elemental Herbs was first chartered there is now an entire ecosystem of fellow B-Corp companies with which to do business, in the neighborhood of 2,500 compared to 15 a decade ago.
“That’s been a real asset for us,” she said. “all of these companies have to be committed to that transparency as well as meeting their own goals. For us, that’s one People, then two Planet, and then Profit, number three. So far so good being able to do that in balance with nature.”