Sustainability on Your Skin

The following blog post was written by Kimiko Foster, an IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training alumni.

Two years ago, I started a business called Seeds of Change Workshops, which was an idea I developed at IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training. I’m an entrepreneur and an educator on toxic and non-toxic ingredients. Earlier this month I launched my second business, Miiko Skin Co., a natural skincare product line based on my knowledge of safe ingredients and principles of sustainability I learned from IMPACT!

I studied environmental studies and anthropology at the University of Victoria and graduated in 2012. My studies provided me with strong insights into human behavior and an understanding of various global crises. Unfortunately, environmental studies ultimately left me cynical, depressed, and angry. Our problems are significant, complex, and overwhelming. And who was I but another cog in the wheel of fortune? So I took some time off after I graduated to become a yoga teacher and travel. 

Upon returning from Thailand in March 2013, my sister told me about a program in Vancouver she thought might interest me: a training session for leaders in sustainability. Then it dawned on me, “I’m a leader in sustainability. Maybe I should apply?”

When I looked into IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training, I saw there were two requirements: participants needed to be students and should have a project idea. Neither of these applied to me. But the IMPACT! team sometimes makes exceptions for candidates strongly suited to the program.  

IMPACT! challenged me to turn ideas into possibilities. I remember the weekend left me vibrating with excitement and inspiration. But I also remember feeling small. Everyone else’s ideas and projects were so groundbreaking, advanced, and frankly intimidating. But, I also knew that my project, Seeds of Change Workshops, was realistic and well suited to my abilities and passions.

After IMPACT, I spent 6 months developing a social media following for my workshops, and I received a $1000 loan from Community Micro-Lending in Victoria, B.C.  I held my first two workshops at my yoga studios in December 2013. Both were sold out with over 25 people in the room.

Since the launch, I have held 15 workshops, most of which have been sold out. There is an 80% retention rate, meaning that most people who attend a workshop return. I have spent this past year directing these teachings at high schools and private events, such as an Aboriginal Women’s Health Day event.

Last year I realized that, while there is a wonderful community of pro-active doers, there is a much larger community of people who would rather be given direction. I decided I could reach more people with my education through an intelligent product line.

This past year I’ve been dedicated to developing Miiko Skin Co, a natural skincare product line based on the recipes and education I teach at my workshops. I have sourced ingredients from local suppliers in B.C. and credited them on the label. By including the names and locations of my suppliers on the ingredients label, I hope to generate a new kind of business transparency in the natural product industry.

My purpose is, and will continue to be, toxic and non-toxic ingredient education. I chose simple recipes to avoid any toxic ingredients and preservatives in my products. I do not use plastic packaging, as the toxic ingredients from soft plastic are also a concern to me. Even aluminum will be completely phased out of the line, as the suppliers could not guarantee the lining was not coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA).

I aim to spend next year continuing to provide the Seeds of Change Workshops. I would like to bring groups of people together and teach them about skincare, toxic and non-toxic ingredients. People can try my products, eat and drink the ingredients (to exemplify we should be able to eat the same ingredients we put on our skin), and purchase the products, if they wish.

If it wasn’t for IMPACT! I can truly say I would not be where I am today.

Sign up for the next session of IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training in Ottawa, Guelph, or Sudbury! Learn more about the IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training here