Q&A with Marissa - Learn more about Argan Republic

Hey Guys! So I thought it might be fun to share a bit more about our brand, me personally and why it's a passion. As you probably know by now, transparency is our policy so nothing should come as a real shock but I'm just going to lay it all out there! You also may have noticed that I don't do videos - I'm a reserved and shy-type person so I don't get to talk to you guys a whole lot but it doesn't mean I don't have a lot to say! I hope you've gotten to know me a little bit through my blogs. 

marissa masterson

About Marissa

Q. Who's behind the brand?

A. I'm the sole proprieter, operator and formulator. I alone, do all the website maintenance, social media, newsletters, formulations, label design, batching, bottling, packaging, shipping and customer service. The only thing I have help on is my gorgeous product photography. Whitney Horton of House of W designs does most of the photography for our website.

That's why, once in a while you might notice a typo or an error, cause it's just little me! Although I love every minute of my job, it's tough because I am also the full time mother of a 3 year old which means my days are for her and my late nights are for Argan Republic! I squeeze in tasks here and there but you know how demanding 3 year olds can be! Plus now I am pregnant with baby #2 so things are about to get real!

Q. What drives you? 

A. I have to answer this in 3 parts. My family, my passion for health, my worth ethic.

So obviously I don't just run Argan Republic for fun. It's how I provide for my family and that means a lot rides on us being successful. It's super important to me to provide the best quality products though. If I'm asking you to pay $50 for a little bottle of serum, I need to make sure the value is there. 

Health has been a big part of my life for many years in some form or another. I've always been into exercise, eating my veggies and taking vitamins, and in the past 6 years I became focused on going green, eating clean and working out harder than ever(well until I became pregnant). I may not always always follow my own rules, but I like to limit gluten, sugar, soy, meat and dairy - basically eat a plant-based diet with lots of green supplements like wheatgrass. That overflows into my passion for green beauty, where I like to incorporate superfoods, powerful plant extracts and basically anything from the earth that is amazing for your body. 

My worth ethic is just something we capricorns are born with, lol. From selling friendship bracelets in grade school, slinging lemonade in front of my house, working 16 hour days in the hospitality industry, working nights, stacking wood, or slaving away in my garden, work is just something I thrive on. I'm incredibly happy I get to be home with my child AND be my own boss. I have never been too keen on authority and I'm a bit of a control freak so Argan Republic meets my work desires on my own terms. 

Q. What are you doing when you aren't running Argan Republic?

A. Besides pushing my daughter, Juliette on the swing? Yeah she can swing for hours! You will find me doing normal super-mom tasks, cooking, cleaning, play dates. But I also love my vegetable gardening in the summer, I'm a big movie person, exercise fanataic, love hiking and being outdoors. I assist my husband with a lot of house projects, dirty jobs-type stuff! I'm a big wine fan and used to make wine before I had kids(jeeze i need to get back into it!). I love music, indie and folky stuff, Tori Amos, Radiohead, Boy + Bear, Bob Marley.... a wide variety of everything.

black gold

About the Brand

Q. Do you use all-natural ingredients?

A. Yes! And I know how the word "natural" can be a tricky thing to understand these days so let me elaborate. We use only natural, organic, wildcrafted or non-gmo ingredients in their most pure form; the lion's share being plant-based. We never use synthetic, highly-processed ingredients, preservatives, parabens or toxins of any kind. I'm always happy to give you a list of ingredients, tell you why we use an ingredient, divulge the origin, breakdown the benefits and more. No secrets here!

Q. Are you certified organic?

A. No, but we do use as many certified organic ingredients as possible. To obtain the USDA Organic or Organic certification requires a big investment and rigorous process for our micro-business. Although we would very much love to obtain this certification in the future, it's something that's not as important to us, as providing quality, clean, and beneficial products and being transparent about all our practices. For example, we can only obtain wildcrafted marula oil right now which is an amazing ingredient that we don't want to omit. We will likely have to find an honest way to change our formulations in the future to obtain the organic certificate, without comprimising the quality. We also have a huge number of products and it would require organic certification for each - a cost that I don't want to pass on to our customer. 

Q. Do you test on animals?

A. Absolutely NOT! We are certified cruelty-free by PETA and part of their Beauty without Bunnies program. I'm a huge animal lover.

Q.Are all your products vegan?

A. No, but the majority of them are. It's more important to us to create quality, natural, ethical and sustainable products than to exclude animal products all together. That being said, the only animal products we use, or will ever use, are Honeybee ingredients. All our products are vegetarian and gluten-free. Our products that contain honeybee ingredients are clearly marked with the gold honeybee logo to make it a bit easier for our customers to recognize. If you wish to read more about why we chose to use honeybee ingredients, click here! Also, look for the Cruelty-free logo which will have the word "vegan" included if that product is vegan.

Q. What is the shelf life of your products?

A. Since our products are 100% all-natural and we do not use any unnatural preservatives whatsoever, our products do have a shelf life, typically 9-12 months unless otherwise noted. The shelf life of the toners is about 3 months since they are water-based which should be enough time to finish a bottle. If our products are kept out of direct sunlight, untouched by water and at room temperature or below, they will stay fresher longer. We also use Vitamin E, grapefruit seed extract, and leucidal liquid in some of our products to extend the natural shelf life and keep products from oxidizing so they remain potent. In the rare case that you purchase one of our products and find that it is not fresh, please email us so we can handle this on a case-by-case basis.

Q. Why is the product I received different than the color on your website or different than the last one I bought?

A. The color and texture of our products can change batch to batch. Natural ingredients vary in color and texture but it's nothing to be concerned with and does not affect the quality or benefits of our products. We do our best to match up the colors every time but it's just not always possible.

Q. What do you do to be green?

A. One thing I'm proudest of is that we run on Solar Energy! The laptop that I'm writing on right now is powered by the sun! We make more than enough electricity and send some back to the grid! We also run off a well, so all the dishes we have to do are cleaned with pure water from a natural aquifer below the ground! We use glass containers which can be reused or recycled. We use as much paper packaging as possible and try to keep our packages as light as possible. We use paper shred for padding, as well as corrugated paper to tightly wrap each bottle. Sometimes we have to use a little bubble wrap but it's usually recycled from packages we've received. We do use bubble mailers in small enough orders because it keeps the packages light-weight, padded and affordable to ship. We do all our marketing through the internet, so no mailings or flyers. 

Q. Why are your products at a higher price point than some other brands?

A. As with most brands, our products are priced based on the ingredients used, cost of the packaging and labor involved. We use the very best, highest quality, most natural ingredients possible and unfortunately they are hard to come by. Pure Bulgarian Rose otto is one of the most expensive ingredients we use and we use it in more than 6 products. We price our products as low as possible while still building our business. You may have noticed a teensy increase lately and this is because I was not including my labor in the cost until recently!  We try to have lots of sales and free shipping on larger orders but really hope all our customers feel they are getting something of value. 

Q. Do you work with beauty bloggers?

A. Sometimes! My thing is, I only want you to try my products if you are truly interested. That means I no longer push them on bloggers, influencers, friends, relatives or anyone. I recognize that everyone has their own skin care goals and lifestyle and I want all the feedback I receive to be genuine. We also don't pay for sponsorship - we did a few in the beginning but I wasn't that happy with the results and it felt forced. I would say, if you are a blogger and really interested in our products, go a head and order some trial sizes or ask us about a blogger discount. I try to be generous and very much appreciate an honest, well-written review and I try to re-share them on social media!

Q. Why do you have so few trial sizes? Why are there no samples?

A. It's hard to keep all the different sizes in stock. The trial sizes sell out pretty quickly and we have to have all the different sized containers and labels in stock. My priority is to have serum trial sizes in stock all the time but we do run out. The reason we don't usually make samples is because it wouldn't be enough product to let you get a fair result. Our trial size serums are approximately a 30-day supply which is the perfect amount of time to let your skin adjust and see results. It's still a good amount of product so we do charge for them but I've found that's the norm with many other green beauty businesses our size. 

peony serums

What's in store for the future

Q. What are some of the new products you will add in the future?

A. We have a Rose` Facial in the works for summer which will include the super-anti-oxidant Resveratrol and probiotics! We will also have an eye cream/gel, and possibly a blue tansy facial. The ideas are endless and I'm not one to tie myself down to just one idea so you can be sure we will always be adding... that may mean we say goodbye to a product or two but we have a few best sellers which we will always keep. 

Q. Any plans to be available in major stores?

A. Right now the answer is No. Mass production isn't really what I signed up for, and although things may change in the future, I really enjoy creating everything myself, by hand in small batches and sending them off to my customers with handwritten notes( I hope my chicken scratch doesn't ruin the vibe, lol!). We do love being able to ship worldwide so hopefully everyone who wants to, is able to get their hands on our goods. We do have serums available as wholesale to small stores, estheticians, spas and brides which is fun. 

Q. Any other changes or happenings we should know about?

A. We have a new facebook group set up for our customers to converse about our products, chat about skin issues or green beauty in general. I thought it would be fun, especially since our current blog doesn't have commenting capabilities. 

We do quite a few fun giveaways every year so be sure not to miss them via newsletter or instagram. Right now we have a contest to win 50% off your entire wishlist. As much as I wish it was "win your entire wishlist", we can't go quite that far. We've definitely gotten more generous as we go though so don't miss out!

We get a lot of complaints that people miss the sales or release dates. I think this is due to instagram's new algorithm. The best way to stay up to date is to sign up for our newsletter, sign up for notifications on instagram, or like and comment on our instagram posts - which will help our posts appear in your feed. 

We are donating 10% of profits from our Honeybee Collection to "Bee the Change" - which is an initiative in Vermont determined to convert the unused space below solar arrays into a thriving habitat for bees and other important pollinators. It's such an amazing idea and has already been proven to help our pollinator friends, whom we rely on for food! Being from vermont, from a family of beekeepers, making honeybee products and having an appreciation for solar, it's a no-brainer for me to support Bee the Change!

Any other questions? Feel free to email or facebook message me! [email protected]

marissa and juliette