Molly Hart is the founder and CEO of HIGHR Collective, a certified B Corp beauty company reimagining the lip category. She and her team take the terms “clean” and “sustainable” to new heights, whether it comes to formulating products or supply chain considerations. See what the process entails and how HIGHR is reinventing what it means to be green in the beauty industry.
What inspired you to create HIGHR Collective?
While working in social media for all the big beauty brands, I had a direct line of communication to our customers on a daily basis. Everyday, I was fielding questions from our customers about ingredient safety, environmental impact and shade frustrations. When constant customer concerns went ignored by decision makers, I knew there was a gap in the cosmetics market for a cleaner, greener product line.
What do you think most clean and luxury lip companies lack, and how does HIGHR Collective bridge that gap?
HIGHR is different because our focus is lip products. Our founding purpose was due to the lip category being the most invasive category in the beauty industry (the only category we directly ingest), thus giving us a clear mission to switch as many cosmetics consumers into cleaner lip options.
We also started with one hero product (HIGHR Lipstick), and we gave ourselves the challenge of building the cleanest supply chain around this one product. That led to solar powered formulation, wind powered packaging, removing all pervasive synthetic ingredients in lip formulation, and tracking and offsetting all remaining operational CO2 to produce the world’s first CO2 neutral lipstick.
By working this way, we also became the first certified B Corp™ in our competitive space, meaning that we have met the highest verified standard of social and environmental impact, transparency and accountability.
How is HIGHR Lipstick CO2 neutral—and the world’s first lipstick to be classified as such?
We use as much renewable energy throughout our supply chain as possible, and then offset the remaining footprint with our friends at Native Energy. As I mentioned, we use solar and wind in our immediate supply chain. The tricky part then is finding partners, representing our Scope 2 and 3 emissions, who have the same values as we do. We vet our partners and their operational ways of working relating to energy consumption before bringing them onto team HIGHR.
We’ve also found some great gold standard projects to support in North America that are working to expand the use of renewable energy. Our most recent project, the Crow Lake Wind Project in North Dakota, keeps as much as 430,000 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually!
Our total product footprint is calculated by tracking all CO2 emissions from the beginning of product development through to final product, negated by our renewable use, and then coming to a total footprint left to offset (all calculated by Native Energy). Once the offset is complete the product is officially CO2 neutral – meaning that we saved as much CO2 as we created making the product.
What kinds of ingredients are on your “never” list and why?
I didn’t start formulating with a “never” list, per se. I thought that lip product formulations were corporately irresponsible so I started by making a 100% organic product, and then working back from there to achieve a professional standard. Our products are between 60 – 74% organic, with the remaining formula made of plant derived emollients and actives.
We’re lucky in that there’s some great innovation happening in the creation of coconut derived silicone replacements, which give the silky texture of a traditional silicone lipstick. In my view, there’s no excuse to put silicone, synthetic wax, mineral oil or polyethylene in a lip product. Those ingredients also have no place near or on your mouth.
What’s your brand’s secret to balancing the beauty needs/goals of the consumer with sustainability and clean formulation considerations?
At HIGHR, we want to focus on a tight range of product that are as universally flattering as possible rather than create newness for the sake of it. We’re finding balance by formulating different lip product formats so that we have a lip product for everyone.
We start each product the same way – organic. We then work back from there until we achieve a professional level product that customers will love.
What’s been your most rewarding moment with the brand to date, and what do you still hope to accomplish?
There are highs and lows with all startups. HIGHR has been worn by some very recognizable faces, and we’re starting to partner with retailers – these have all been great moments. But the most rewarding moments hands down are the emails I get from customers with kind words on the business and product. It always grounds me and reminds me why I started, and it’s so thrilling to know that people across the world have incorporated our products into their lives. Our goal is to reach 1 million cosmetics customers with HIGHR lip products in the next 5 years.
What are your skincare and self-care non-negotiables?
Hyaluronic Acid is my number one. During the pandemic, I royally messed up my skin barrier by using too many acids and HA was the only product that would help. Since then, I’ve switched my chemical exfoliant to the physical Goldfaden MD Doctor’s Scrub. It exfoliates and has the added benefit of retexturizing my skin.
The biggest part of my self-care routine is family. I walk my children to school every morning, which is the best start to the day. Children are tremendous sources of joy, and I find it easiest to switch off from the ups and downs of business when I’m with them.