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Zero Waste Beauty With Shannon Goldberg, Founder Of Izzy
We are so excited to introduce you to a brand making waves and setting a new standard in the beauty industry. Meet Izzy, the world's first zero waste beauty line (yes, really!). Izzy is reducing plastic waste with clean and cruelty-free products that are 100% reusable, recyclable, certified CarbonNeutral, and worthy of a spot in your makeup bag!
After nearly two decades of dedicated beauty experience in marketing, innovation, and product development, Shannon Goldberg founded Izzy to create a zero waste beauty brand that would contribute to a brighter future for her daughter, Emm. With Earth Day just around the corner, we caught up with Shannon to chat about her love for beauty, easy eco-friendly tips, her vision for the future, and so much more!
What's your first memory of falling in love with beauty products?
From the time I was a little girl, I loved makeup and fragrances. I would sneak into my mother's vanity and play with her products any chance I could. From her shimmery Chanel lip glosses and rosy Bobbi Brown blushes to her fine fragrances and bath accoutrements, beauty products have always felt magical to me.
How did you get your start in the beauty industry, and what inspired you to take the leap to launch Izzy?
When it was time to apply to colleges, I knew I had to be in the heart of all things glamour and fashion: New York City. I ended up going to The Fashion Institute of Technology, where I majored in Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing. From that point on, beauty is the only world that I've known. After nearly two decades in the industry that included leadership roles at Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care and Madonna's MDNA SKIN, I was ready for a meaningful change. I wanted to stay in the world of beauty, but I also wanted to make it better.
Izzy is setting a new standard for beauty brands—what inspired you to create a zero-waste brand?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I came across an article in National Geographic that pointed out how the beauty industry produces over 120 billion units of unrecyclable plastic every year. I suddenly realized that I was a BIG part of the problem–and that I had been effectively sleepwalking through my entire beauty career! Never once had I stopped to think about plastic and paper waste, carbon footprints or clean ingredients–it was always about launching a brand or a product as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Knowing that the world was heading down a more sustainable path, I no longer wanted to be a part of the problem. That's when the “aha” moment came for Izzy Zero Waste Beauty, which I envisioned first and foremost as a brand that would check all the boxes in question: clean, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, sustainable, and zero waste. But I also wanted a brand that was luxurious, easy, fun, and performance-driven–a unicorn, so to speak, that would also constitute an industry first.
What has been the most challenging part of launching a zero-waste beauty brand? On the other end of the spectrum, what has been the most rewarding?
It’s interesting because some of our most challenging experiences are often also the most rewarding. Izzy is the first brand to offer a fully recyclable, refillable and reusable beauty line, but I hope we're not the last. When you're the first to market with any idea, there's no ruler you can borrow from another brand to measure your success. So there's quite a bit of tripping, falling and getting back up along the way. But we figured out a way to be the most sustainable product solution out there by manufacturing something once–our components–and getting unlimited uses out of them. At the same time, we're very deliberately maintaining a premium brand positioning and debunking the myth that clean and eco-friendly brands are only for tree huggers. So basically, we're making sustainability luxurious, cool and easy–and the reward is saving the planet one Izzy at a time!
Tell us about the mascara and its reusable packaging! Was there a particular reason you decided to launch with mascara?
Like all of our products, our mascara comes with no outer packaging, and is shipped in reusable mailers manufactured from upcycled materials. It comes in medical-grade, American-made stainless-steel tubes, which are designed to be cleaned and refilled on a quarterly basis over 10,000 times–so you literally never have to throw them away. The component contains 94% less plastic than the leading mascara brands, and what little plastic we do use is reground and recycled at our facility. Even the water from our patent-pending antibacterial cleansing process is reused, rather than dumped into the ocean.
We launched Izzy in the middle of the pandemic. Since we weren’t sure when–or even if–face masks would no longer be required, mascara seemed like the safest product to launch with. Mascara also tends to be replenished regularly, which fits perfectly into our membership model for refills.
Are there any other areas of your life where you try to be zero-waste? Any tips you can pass along to us?
It’s about progress, not perfection. Your journey toward a more sustainable life should feel like small shifts, not sweeping changes. I began with the basics first: solid soap, Izzy of course, reusable totes, and coffee mugs. I believe that the most important change is in your mindset–consuming less, repairing instead of throwing away, reusing, reducing, recycling, and refilling.
If someone wanted to take their first step towards welcoming more eco-friendly practices into their life, how or where would you encourage them to begin?
The golden rule is to start small. There’s no such thing as an overnight shift in the way you live. The truth is, we’re all figuring out how to undo a lifetime of learned behaviors and bad habits. By slowing down and making easy sustainable swaps, we can all save energy, reduce waste, and keep our landfills and waterways clean.
Here are my top three daily tips for becoming eco-friendlier:
- Instead of buying a new wardrobe every season, try a clothing rental subscription from Rent the Runway, Nuuly or Rebag.
- If you like ordering groceries and daily essentials online, check out sustainable retailers like Thrive Market, Grove, or the growing number of certified Climate Pledge Friendly sellers on Amazon.
- Focus on eliminating single-use plastics. The average lifespan of a plastic bag is 12 minutes. Instead of throwing them away after one use, wash and reuse them as many times as you can before they break.
You've shared that you wanted to create Izzy to provide your daughter with truly sustainable options for cosmetics. What other changes do you hope to see in the beauty industry or beyond as she grows up?
I would love to see the invention of a compact device that would quickly and efficiently process all household waste into a biodegradable material–maybe even a fertilizer. This device would replace trash cans and eliminate waste by recycling everything that we throw away. That would be my moonshot idea. In the meantime, I would like to see the practical application of the four R’s–Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refill–to all future product development and logistics in the beauty industry and beyond.
What can we expect to see from Izzy in the future (if you're open to sharing)?
Without giving too much away, you can expect to see a full color line of daily essentials. Because of our zero waste ethos, we don’t believe in creating unnecessary products just to chase trends. Instead, we’ll keep our line minimalistic, with everyday sustainable luxury classics that our customers can feel good about subscribing to.
Lastly, let's chat about haircare! What are your go-to EVOLVh products, and what do you love about them?
I’m a die-hard fan of your Healthy Curls Trio! I was in desperate need of a non-toxic solution for my daughter’s unruly hair, which is having an identity crisis insofar as it wants to be straight on the top and curly on the bottom! After meeting your founder, Boris Oak, at a conference in LA, I really wanted to support his brand and thought I’d try the Healthy Curls Trio on my daughter. The results have been amazing, and her hair has seriously never looked or felt better. I also love how clean and gentle the formulas are!
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