last year, suki® ended its partnership with Whole Foods Market. people often don’t realize what goes into these corporate partnerships & why collaborating isn’t always the blessing it might seem for an independent company, especially those who stand by their strong ideals & values. in fact, after I broke off our partnership, Whole Foods began to claim that they kicked us out, which actually tells you a great deal about this giant, picking on a tiny company like ours. I mean, we could hardly impact their bottom line, yet they had no problem with potentially destroying a small business with their false accusations! talk about power corrupting…
so this week, to mark the one-year anniversary of this decision, which I’m still proud hell to have made, I wanted to share the letter I sent to my independent retail partners (who are growing in numbers & as ethically strong as ever!).
know your beauty®, the philosophical foundation behind suki® , means accepting ourselves for who we really are, never punishing ourselves for being “less than perfect” or needing to live up to an outside definition of beauty, & acknowledging we must always take & own our power, including the power over our health & well-being.” I set my own rules for my company: we’re transparent, honest & committed to sourcing the most pure & efficacious ingredients—100% organic or fair trade when possible. we are truly independent & always have been in creating products that actually solve skin problems!
you are my independent partners & I know you share our values. you have stood by me since day one, when I started my company in my kitchen in the woods of New England. we agree that an environment of real choice & truly healthful solutions is key in this industry. we also know that as others have grown massively, their missions have altered. we have experienced too well the push of profit put ahead of ethics, as unique independent brands are homogenized to do businesses with the all-powerful corporate & publically traded brand, Whole Foods Market.
over the past 14 years, suki® skincare emerged as Whole Foods’ leading premium skincare brand & we are grateful to have reached many people through this partnership. however, we examined our business relationship & found that Whole Foods is no longer committed as they once were (when they were independent themselves) to providing ethical, effective & pure products to those who TRULY need them. sadly, it appears they have become aligned with centralized manipulative marketing practices.
(January 2015 strike at Whole Foods Market , Brooklyn, NY)
their tactics include pressuring small businesses like us to alter our messaging, requiring their subjective approval for every decision as if we were a subsidiary of Whole Foods Markets & trying to force us to overturn our ideals, values, & even our product formulations! & this, folks, is how you kill a small business & the ideals of a small business owner, unless you are as stubborn as, well, us
Whole Foods has compromised their original mission by allowing “acceptable” synthetic stabilizers, gums, preservatives & other synthetic ingredients like non-labeled GMOs that we would never deem appropriate into their stores. & thanks to other brands in Whole Body that make efficacy claims without doing scientific studies (which we have done!), we are told to get rid of any language that informs our consumers of how our products can help them.
shockingly, Whole Foods adopted the same oppressive tactics as Wal-mart with respect to labor negotiations, purchasing practices, restricting small business autonomy & dictating communications.
so we have made the easy choice to let go & focus on our partnerships with you, the TRUE pioneers of the industry. I want you to know that I deeply respect every one of you for your trailblazing commitment to providing truly natural & organic solutions for your customers.
we will continue our original mission of creating strong, safe solutions for skin problems & sensitivities, & helping people achieve their best skin by treating the underlying systemic causes of their problems. we will remain strong & self-sufficient, answering to our ethics, our hearts & our ideals. when I began all this in my kitchen, I swore I would NEVER compromise my ideals for profit—for anything. & I’m happy to say I never have.
so here’s to all of our growth & continued paving the way, hopefully, for future idealists.
River Valley Market, one of my awesome independent retailers in Northampton, MA