Salt & Pine makes sustainable, small-batch, all-natural health and wellness products packaged with reusable and recyclable materials. Salt & Pine harnesses the power of natural ingredients to make you feel your best using all of your senses, from how things feel on your body to how smells awaken your body and initiate the healing process.
Use any of the balms or their aromatherapy pillow to feel well again and get an immediate mood booster as well. You can bring your Salt & Pine items with you on your travels—wherever you go, you’ll get that same hint of salt water that inspires all Salt & Pine products.
Read below for our exclusive interview with founder KC: you’ll be intoxicated by the sea just like we are!
Tell us what made you want to create your products — did something in your life serve as inspiration or an experience you had?
I was born and raised on the coast of Southern California — the coastal lifestyle and culture have been ingrained into my being since day one. Surfing, barefoot, the Beach Boys, all of it. It's a beautiful way to grow up. I've always been more comfortable in the ocean than I have been on land, and it's the place where I'm probably my steadiest. Being on or in the ocean instantly calms me in a way that really nothing else can. It's a type of lifestyle that is not only a way of life but it's a way of feeling that is incredibly special to me and I wanted other people to be able to experience that.
What gaps in the market did you see, and how does your brand fulfill that need? Why do you think that gap exists?
Growing up on the coast was wonderful. However, ocean pollution and beach trash are a constant issue that you have to deal with, especially in California. And, when you pair that with products that are manufactured with ingredients that are not only damaging to humans but the ocean and its ecosystem as well, it's incredibly frustrating. So, for me, I wanted to change that. In my opinion, the market has always been this either/or setup. It either could be completely natural and eco-friendly but not really work or it could be made with artificial ingredients and wasteful packaging but could give you results. But, not both.
To me, this was just absolutely ridiculous. I knew that there was a way to create and produce completely natural and effective body care products that were kind to both us and the sea. It just had to have a foundation of being natural, waste-free as much as possible, and it had to do what it was supposed to do. So, you know the saying... if you want something done right then do it yourself. So, I did.
How do you want customers to feel when using your products? Or what do you want them to think?
I was inspired by the thought that no matter where you are, no matter the weather outside, you can always have a piece of the coast with you each and every day. So, I hope that when they're using a Salt & Pine product, customers have a moment of that coastal relaxation and peace, even when landlocked a thousand miles away from the nearest coastline.
Tell us a story about developing one of your products: What is something that happened along the way in your design/production process that we might not expect? What was the biggest roadblock you had to get through?
I think more so than developing a specific product it was letting the targeted audience tell us what it wanted while revealing itself—rather than trying to figure it all out or force it. When you start a company, especially a product company, you don't know what products are going to be successful or exactly how it's going to be received and how it's going to grow, even if you do all the marketing research, testing and predictions that you possibly can. You want to appeal to the masses but you have to realize and understand that you're not going to be everybody's cup of tea. And, that's absolutely ok. You don't need everyone to like your brand or your products. You just need the right people to. The ones that identify with your message and purpose, who love what you're offering them and who feel that you are fulfilling a need that they have.
Once we realized that, it became a lot easier from a marketing perspective to just focus on our supportive customer base. We don't do the bells and whistles, and we aren't very active on social media but because our products speak for themselves we don't have to. Word of mouth has been our biggest asset to growing our sales.
What is one misconception sustainable shoppers might have about your design/product, or the market space it’s in, that you want to address?
That a Salt & Pine product doesn't work because it's natural. So, our response is simply "Try it." We can tell you all the benefits, the ingredients, and the sustainable practices behind it but until you put in on your skin you don't know. So, just try it. You'll either love it or you won't. That's it.
How has developing your product changed your views on sustainability?
California has always been one of the ones at the forefront of sustainability (road smog aside) for the most part so reusing and recycling has always been a natural, everyday thing that I've never had to think about. It's always been an unconscious thing to practice a sustainable lifestyle. And even further, in the past five years, I have really embraced a more minimalistic way of living in every aspect that supports my "pick up and go" lifestyle even more. But, starting and developing this company really showed me that I can apply the same mindset as an entrepreneur and that it doesn't have to be hard to create sustainable standards as a business. You just have to do what you can do, create your non-negotiables, and be ok with some flexibility.
What do you think we need to do as a society to achieve sustainability? What structural change would help you sell more of your products?
I think as a society, we have to employ a bit of tough love, both on the consumer and the manufacturing front. We need to make ecological practices more affordable, and easier to adopt. But, we also need to not give so much time to switch over to them. The US tends to give people, companies, and cities years to switch over to a sustainable practice (like recycling, the plastic bag ban, etc.) which, in turn, doesn't make it a daily priority for most people. For example, it's not hard at all to bring your own bags to the store. I always have a stack in my car and a foldup one in my personal bag so I'm always prepared. But more times than not I see people at the checkout without them and it's the same people that absolutely lose it when they're charged five cents for a reusable (albeit still plastic) bag. I don't get that, just bring your own bag!
European countries like Switzerland, France, and Denmark are leading the pack on their ecosystem vitality and we, as in the US, could learn a lot from them. 75-100 years ago it was absolutely normal to use paper and glass versus plastic but that went away with the uptick of disposable packaging and long shelf lives. So, convenience for us came with consequences for the environment. We need to look at what our grandparents and great-grandparents did and adopt the practices they used that worked.
Here at Salt & Pine, we use sustainable and reusable glass and tin packaging for our products but we don't love the fact that the sprayers on our Hand Sanitizer bottles are plastic. But currently, there isn't a more sustainable and affordable option for us yet. We're continually searching though. That's the constant battle - pairing sustainability with affordability so our costs, and therefore our prices, don't rise to the point that it prices out a percentage of our customer base.