The Global Thinker: Brianne West

By Janetta Mackay
Brianne West of eco-beauty brand Ethique. Picture / Babiche Martens

Brianne West has been test driving a Tesla the morning Viva photographs her. The 30-year-old Christchurch science graduate turned eco-beauty entrepreneur admits she won't be buying the pricey electric car any time soon, but she believes if the world's thinking changes, all things are attainable.

Teslas will get cheaper and her business will grow plus she wants to wait for the convertible model.

This year has been all about expansion for Ethique, her solid beauty bar business. More staff, more travel and more crowd-funding to keep up with demand, off the back of Brianne being named a "global thinker" in US magazine Foreign Policy in 2016.

By omitting water from her skin and haircare formulas, plastic packaging is avoided, saving several hundred thousand bottles and counting.

Customers are often drawn to B Corp certified Ethique for its green and ethical credentials, but Brianne says word is spreading on product performance. One shampoo bar lasts as long as three plastic bottles full, she says.

A $2 million-plus turnover is forecast to more than double in 2018 and Ethique is now stocked on Amazon and by America’s biggest online pharmacy chain.

Brianne’s motivation is two-fold: the environment and an innate entrepreneurial drive. “A purpose beyond profit” is how she puts the combination.

A university business mentor who became an investor helped her launch Ethique. Unlike many who turn to Pledge Me to fund their dreams, she had already won loyal customers.

This helped her initial funds drive in 2015 gain the most female investors in Pledge Me’s history.

In September, a second drive to fund further overseas growth and develop new products raised $500,000, matched by angel investors. Staff have some shares, but Brianne and her launch partner retain company control, so they can drive its direction.

Brianne wants Ethique, in time, to become as inevitably mainstream as driving an electric car.

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