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Today’s guest is a gem. He’s just a gem. And I’ve really never used that phrase before but I couldn’t think of any better way to introduce Chris Cieri, the founder of Franklin and Whitman, the instagram-famous plant-based, paraben and cruelty free skin care company you might already be familiar with. You know that song: “started from the bottom now we here?” Well Chris’ version might as well be “started with a beard now we here” because that’s really the story of how his passion-project-turned-second-job exploded onto the natural skin care scene. Just like Chris is blown away by the response to his handmade products, I was blown away by this conversation because we go WAY more than skin deep. Haha I love puns. We talk about morals and ethics and life and death and dogs and Instagram and serums and dry shampoo and everything in between.
PS. Wanna save a whopping 20% on your Frank & Whit order?! Use code: PARTYINMYPLANTS at checkout to do just that!!! 😀
This episode is sponsored by my bff’s Amazing Grass who just became even MORE amazing by launching some new amazing ELIXIRS. (If you’re wondering, the true definition is “a magical or medicinal potion.”) Amazing grass’ 3 new organic medicinal potions (which come in packets or tubs as per their usual) are crafted to support your beauty, your brain and your belly. I’m a personally humungo fan of their brain elixir which has my beloved matcha in it plus my also beloved MACA among a bunchA other carefully chosen ingredients which work together to keep your focus IN CHECK. I’m also a humungo fan of their BELLY elixir which I’ve been especially going to town on since it has probiotics in it and I’ve misplaced my probiotics in my home!
So Many Awesome Things:
Why is Franklin and Whitman called “Franklin and Whitman” (Frank and Whit for short) when the founder’s name isn’t Franklin OR Whitman?! –> Well because the company’s based out of Philadelphia and Chris, the founder, wanted to show some city pride in the name: Benjamin Franklin and Walt Whitman both spent lots of time and did lots of important stuff in Philly AND 2 of the major Philly bridges are Franklin and Whitman bridge so yeah…that’s why.
Frank and Whit originally started as a men’s grooming company. Chris, the founder grew a beard and it was really itchy. So he created his own beard oils and friends wanted to buy them!
From the start, Chris wanted F&W to have some guiding principles/”brand promises:”
- All natural
- No parabens
- Cruelty free
- 5% goes to dog rescue funds!
“You get one go-around in this world and I want to make sure that I’ve made a difference, or I’ve done everything I can to make a difference while I’m here.”
With this philosophy, Chris doesn’t mind spending a little bit more money to make his product totally environmentally friendly. Like he packs his products with these super cool packing peanuts that are made of 100% biodegradable vegetable starch that you can actually MELT IN YOUR SINK (it’s a blast! Kids and boyfriends go wild for it.)
“Every decision we make we ask: how’s this affecting us, how’s it affecting the client, how’s it affecting the planet?”
^^He’s very passionate about giving back.
He starts every product with a superfood – matcha, cacao, etc.
“Our whole thing is – feed our skin.”
Chris is a big Gary V fan and totally agrees with:
“You can do all the things you just have to sacrifice leisure. And I’m like ‘ok! I can build a company from 6 PM to midnight every night and work weekends.”
“You have a ven diagram and with what you love and what you’re good at and the magic’s in the middle and I hit the magic spot and I love it.”
“There’s always 5% that you can put towards something – whether that be energy, time, money, energy, whatever, just to try to make a difference.”
BTW: Parabens are synthetic preservatives (some people think they’re totally safe…other people do not.) But F&W decided to bypass all preservatives which is a challenge! Cuz, like, how long can a product last w/o preservatives…nah mean?! So Chris makes all his products without WATER in them — because once you introduce water, things mold can form and that’s when and why you need those preservatives.
So that’s why all of F&W products* are either powders that you add water to yourself at home or they’re oil-based.
(SOOO interesting right?!?!?!)
*remember, save 20% with code: PARTYINMYPLANTS at checkout!
So when you add liquids to the powders at home you can play around with those liquids…like some people have used apple cider vinegar, coconut milk or even yogurt.
Hayyyyy…check out F&W’s new dry shampoo! Just hit the market.
Their masks are definitely their highest selling product – by far. They have 4 kinds to touch on different skin types/issues.
Next best-selling would be the face serums – which btw are oil-based applications that most people use daily.
He’s super proud of his botanical steams which are very very unique. They’re just organic herbs and flowers that he mixes together (and had researched the healing properties of) that you steam into your face. Steam alone is great for opening your pores and releasing toxins and sort of prepares your skin for a mask.
Chris taught himself how to make his products! With help from google university, haha. He says he’ll pick something, like a clay or a superfood for example and then researches the benefits and drawbacks of each clay or superfood.
“Names are the hardest thing because I name them all after neighborhoods or parks in Philadelphia and I’m running out of names!”
Guess who’s his #1 tester? His wife! What a rockstar.
He also has dog products! A “paw and nose balm!” How cute.
Chris’ favorite plant-party restaurant: Vedge in Philadelphia
His favorite plant: sweet potatoes! He, like me, could eat one every day. He loves putting them in a slow cooker and letting it go for the day (cool!), I love spiralizing and then sauteing it.
His most-used kitchen tool: his mandoline (how fancy!). He uses it to slice his plants really thin!
An inspiring book he loves: anything by Gary Vaynerchuk!