In our more health-conscious world, beauty products that tout natural ingredients have become as ubiquitous as raw smoothies and fitness trackers. But ILERA Apothecary of Detroit is taking things further with its skin care products – which also consider our planet's well-being. Whether it's beard oil, natural deodorant or body butters, every concoction lives in 100-percent recycled or recyclable packaging. But that's just the beginning.
Co-founder Chinonye Akunne wondered, "How do we reduce our carbon footprint?" Since ILERA – meaning "health" in the West African language Yoruba – got started a few years ago, the brand has been working to "give back to the environment instead of consistently taking away from it," says Akunne, who has a master's in public health, specializing in environmental health.
Instead of purchasing from vendors, the brand makes many of its oils in-house using real fruit and plants. Actual chamomile and calendula flowers are steeped for 30 days and then used in its baby products – like the natural baby balm. Akunne says she hopes to continue to expand on these processes and directly source more ingredients. She'll be traveling to her parents' native Nigeria this month to build relationships with shea butter and coconut oil farmers.
Ultimately, she wants ILERA to be "a more vertically integrated company," which means having farms under its ownership so ingredients are sourced in-house, and also micro facilities around the world to reduce how far products are being transported and, in turn, emissions. Akunne says, "Everybody's making body butters, everybody has natural products. But a lot of people are not integrating true sustainability. It's really important to me, because we only have one Earth, and I don't think people realize what we're doing to it."