Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

11/13/2009

Eco-friendly Beauty Therapy

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Living in the Philippines is certainly no walk in the park. While our hospitality makes us a welcoming place for foreigners, the struggle simply to survive everyday makes us forgo a lot of our responsibility to the world around us. Thankfully, there are people like Anna, her husband and her sister that challenges convention, through initiatives like Human Heart Nature, a eco-friendly manufacturer making affordable and 100% Filipino-sourced beauty products. Hurray for that!
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Anna Meloto-Wilk gives back by going green
Text by: Carren Jao
Published: MEGA September 2009

REDUCE, reuse, recycle; these are the three pillars of creating an eco-friendly lifestyle. Yet rarely does anyone ever take the leap to create a business model that jives this green lifestyle with financial profit—until now. Launched only last November 26, Human Heart Nature under its mother company Gandang Kalikasan dares to change the game with its line of 100% organic, 100% chemical-free, and 100% Philippine-sourced ingredients. Human Heart Nature beauty products are truly realizing Anna Meloto-Willk’s dream of creating a business that gives back to its community.

Sabi ko, I want to set up a company where we will continue to challenge the way things are being done until it reaches a point where it becomes a norm to actually care for the things you believe in, the people you work with, the people that work with you, and not just, you know, the bottom line,” says Anna with quiet determination.

Not only does Human Heart Nature boast of truly organic products sourced from Philippine organic farms, it has made the conscious decision to dramatically decrease their profits in order to make their products more affordable. “We really wanted to make organic products more affordable to more people because we were just kidding ourselves that, you know, we are an earth-friendly company, we want to help, it’s an advocacy-based business; but when you have shampoos that are 5 to 10 times the price of regular shampoos, then it really kind of defeats the purpose. You’re not really making it easy for a lot of people to make greener choices.”

By avoiding conventional retail distribution, Human Heart Nature also decreases its overhead costs while allowing more people to have their own business. “We sell direct, so we don’t have very high overhead cost…the savings we get, we pass onto our consumers… It [also] gives an opportunity for ordinary people to earn from selling organic products…especially products that they really believe in,” enthuses Anna.

Family affair
Dressed in a simple white top, jeans, and modest pearl earrings, Anna Meloto-Wilk has taken on the visionary ways of her father Gawad Kalinga founder, Tony Meloto. Forming a triumvirate with husband Dylan Wilk, a self-made millionaire who gave up his posh London lifestyle for Gawad Kalinga, and sister Camille, the three make sure operations at the newly minted Human Heart Nature office run smoothly. “As you can see, it’s very lean. It’s just us.” Anna says as she laughs ruefully and motions to her cohorts.

Though headlined in the company’s official website, Anna doesn’t hesitate to clarify, “It’s really a collaboration…It’s really the whole family… like it’s just everybody pitching in. My sister in law is also director in the company. My brother was even the one who oversaw the construction of our offices.”

Clearly, this is a company that also prizes its family bonds, even sometimes looking to its patriarch for some wisdom—or good fortune, as was the case with its company name, Gandang Kalikasan. For two months the scions would try every conceivable name for their new company, but nothing would pass muster with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). “[My father] came up with Gandang Kalikasan and of course the initials were GK and it was approved on the same day… That’s the anointed name na talaga,” recounts Anna with a smile.

Experimental dynamics
For their brand name, Human Heart Nature, sister Camille took inspiration from the iconic I heart New York logo. “There are really a lot of interpretations to it,’ says Anna. It could mean people loving nature; it could also talk about the nature of humans being stewards of creation; or, it could simply allude to the progression of humans loving nature and nature loving humans back. “This is my favorite [explanation] because if we take care of nature then it will take care of us by providing us with the resources we need to nourish ourselves and our family,” says Anna.

Blessed with two children of her own, 3 year-old Ariel and 18 month-old Chloe, Anna understands the value of legacy to one’s children. “The family is really sacred,” says Anna. Despite the gargantuan effort demanded of a start-up, she and husband Dylan always takes care to make time for their children.

“We try to set a deadline na okay, by 6 o clock either one of us—Dylan and me—have to be home kasi our yaya goes home everyday. If one has to work overtime, [the other] has to go home to be with the children. We [also] still bring the kids to school.” On Sundays, the yaya gets a day off and Anna gets to spend quality time with just Dylan and her children.

Anna is used to making sacrifices for her children and their future. She has even gone so far as to use lampins (cloth diapers) after reading that it takes 500 years for disposable diapers to biodegrade; it seems that Human Heart Nature is really an outgrowth of that same passion for the better things in life.

To date, Human Heart Nature showcases a range of all-natural beauty products from shampoos, conditioners, and facial washes to styling creams, hand sanitizers, and hand soaps. Because the market is in its infancy, the trio find themselves with only their sensibilities to guide them. “Kasi we don’t have a benchmark. We’re creating our own benchmark.” True enough, in a world where success is said to be based on a formula, Human Heart Nature dares to experiment and create a new model for success.
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For more information on Human Heart Nature, log onto their Web site. You may also contact them at (2) 494 3580 and (2) 408 5608. Their office is located at Units A & B, 2 Feria Road, Commonwealth Ave, Quezon City, Philippines. They are open Mondays through Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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