When Natalie Novak-Bauss was working at a department store in California, she went to clean up the stock room after one of the mild earthquakes that occasionally shakes up the state. There, she found that one of the skin care products she was selling people had spilled—and eaten a hole into the carpet. She was horrified that she had been recommending that product to her customers and wanted to do something different. Luckily, she knew just the person.
Rob Webb was a literal rocket scientist, who worked for NASA, GE Aviation, the Air Force, and the NSA, and loves nothing more than solving problems. He credits his experiences outside the cosmetics industry with helping him create an innovative line of products that uses physics and chemistry to enhance how products are absorbed by the skin, after realizing that many of the active ingredients touted by other companies couldn’t even get through the skin to have a positive effect.
Together, they launched KPS Essentials in 2016, a line of organic, vegan, food-grade (as in, you can eat them if you really want although it’s not encouraged) products that are sold through a whisper network of devout users and a select group of spas. According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, your body absorbs 64% of what is put on it, so organic and vegan options are increasingly appealing to customers in the ever-growing wellness market. (It was a $4.2 trillion industry in 2018!)
Webb, who spent a lot of time on a horse farm as a child, feels very strongly about the fact that the line is not tested on animals. It’s a move that comes from his heart, but is also a savvy business angle as the state of California recently banned the sale of animal-tested cosmetics starting in 2020.
Despite the fact that KPS Essentials is not found in department stores or pharmacies and operates in the decidedly unhip (don’t @ me) Grand Rapids, Michigan, the company has grown to $5 million in revenue in just a little over two years, donating a percentage of each KPS Essentials purchase to a nonprofit that provides free makeovers and cosmetic education to women battling cancer.