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Interview with General Manager, Kaya Line Knust

Beauty for good means investing in products that make you look good, feel good and give back. But what actually makes these products good? The Stop the Water While Using Me! Skincare line is the perfect example of an earth and community conscious brand that embodies the essence of “good” in all aspects. From the sustainable packaging to the carefully blended ingredients, to the Good Water Projects program that helps conserve water in Tanzania, STW-WUM is certainly a big beauty brand to have on the radar.

Although the Stop the Water While Using Me brand is based out of Hamburg, Germany, the product line has global reach. Partnered with luxury hotels from Switzerland to Hong Kong, the goal of brand is to help conserve water around the world while helping consumers and businesses become informed consumers. STW-WUM provides refillable and recyclable packaging and products that are free of synthetic fragrances, silicon, paraffin, animal testing and are vegan (except the Lemon Honey soap).

Below, Kaya Line Knust, STW-WUM’s General Manager, talks about her conscious upbringing, STW-WUM’s water impact, and why being environmentally friendly is no longer a beauty trend.

CONSCIOUS: I love the entire concept of the Stop the Water While Using Me brand- especially the intentional focus to reach countries that are currently facing water shortages and droughts. Can you tell me more about how the STW-WUM brand started?

Kaya Line Knust: I grew up in a hippie commune in the countryside which lead the way to an extremely resource conscious lifestyle. Since we were getting our water from a self-made well, the resource water was always a focus for me. We all know that water is the essence of all life but it still gets wasted every single day. So I’m more than happy to stand behind a brand that was developed by a team of creatives from Hamburg who initially had the idea of creating cosmetics that asks people to save that resource. Together we developed the first natural cosmetics range that encourages people to save water: STOP THE WATER WHILE USING ME! Our brand name is a clear message to the entire world – from Japan to California. Despite the name, it was essential for us to create a 100% natural organic product made from only the best ingredients that complies with the highest standards for certified natural cosmetics. Of course our products are 100% biodegradable – which means that we create a natural water cycle.

CONSCIOUS: The growth of sustainable and vegan beauty brands is on the rise globally- which I find to be very exciting. However, as someone who’s been in the business already- can you tell me why it’s important that the general public is made aware of all these sustainable beauty brands?

KLK: I personally believe that organic products in general but especially organic cosmetics will become the norm in future. It will no longer be a “special market” since overall behavior is changing a lot. People start to understand that their actions in this world do have consequences. This is why they start to behave in an environmentally friendly way – from organic food to veganism etc. This includes the use of organic and environmentally friendly cosmetics. At least this is my vision for this world and I sincerely do wish and hope that every brand will be a do good brand in the near future. We all have to be part of the change!

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CONSCIOUS: Why all-natural products are better for people, and for the environment overall?

KLK: By using organic products that are pure and clean you are making a difference not only in your life and for your health but also for the environment. Just think about your daily routine: You wake up, you brush your teeth, you wash your hands, you get in the shower and use shower gel or wash your hair. So, you start your day with being in contact with different beauty products and therefore different ingredients. Most of the time we’re not even aware of what those ingredients are and what their effect on your body and for the environment are. All natural products are made with superior and non-synthetic ingredients. So by using organic cosmetics, you look out for your own health and also helping to protect our fragile ecosystem. I don’t want to start finger-pointing and name out individual ingredients that can harm you and our environment but let me just inform you that many ingredients in regular shampoos, shower gels, soaps and other rinse off products are prohibited in so called leave on products like body lotions because they can do too much harm to your health. In addition, they do a lot of harm to our ecosystem as well since they are not biodegradable at all.

In the end it is not only about being environmentally friendly, but also about becoming an informed consumer.

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CONSCIOUS: I love the packaging and branding! What was the inspiration behind the design?

KLK: The idea was to create a refillable packaging to reduce waste. This is why we work with pump dispensers, who can easily be refilled. Also we wanted to work with a minimalistic but loud branding, so that we can focus on our message. Our brand name is clear and unmistakable. It is a clear statement that is understood worldwide. We are designing it all by ourselves and we do have brilliant designers working in our company who are constantly working on all of our designs, looks, etc. We also do all photo shooting by ourselves in our offices actually. It shows how much we’re committed to both worlds: sustainability and design.

CONSCIOUS: In addition to inspiring the average consumer to conserve water and educating them about product sustainability, the STW-WUM product line is globally distributed with luxury hotel businesses. Can you tell me a little more about the partnerships?

KLK: Our message to be environmentally conscious is not only important for private use, but especially for the hotel industry. The average hotel guest uses significantly more water than the average household. By drawing attention to the issue, we invite guests of our partnership-hotels to save water and to minimize the amount of waste in the bathroom.

We work with beautiful international boutique hotels from Australia to Chile, as e.g. the 25hours Hotel Group – all of our partners do focus on sustainability. Most of our partners also provide our products in their shops. But it needs to be said that we exclusively work with the refill system in hotels and not with little sizes since we don’t want to create extra waste. So hotels are using our 500ml bottles and do refill them with our canisters. The overall feedback, especially from hotels with which we work together for years already, is that their water and energy bill actually went down since having our product in their bathrooms. It just makes me so happy that we can be part of that positive change and that people actually react to our message and save those resources.

Stop the Water While Using Me! Gives back

CONSCIOUS: What is the Drop a Donation while buying me project, and how does it work?

KLK: For us it is not only important to save water, but also to donate water and to give something back. As there are still one billion people who have no access to clean and save drinking water, we’ve decided to do something about it. Therefore, we launched our initiative GOOD WATER PROJECTS. With our initiative we permanently support intelligent projects all over the world that provide fresh and clean drinking water where it is needed most. For those projects, we are donating a share of our revenue. With DROP A DONATION WHILE BUYING ME!, people are able to support our initiatives. Every time they buy a product from our European online store, customers can make a donation. Currently, the money is directly invested into the construction of more fog collectors in Tanzania. In other words, save water – donate water. We’re currently working on the implementation of this tool in our US online store as well.

CONSCIOUS: Can you tell me more about the current and past Good Water Projects?

KL: Our first project was the construction of fog collectors in Tanzania in 2014. Each collector provides up to 1.000 litres of fresh drinking water every single day. Simply out of the fog! The fog collectors now give the school children of Dareda access to clean drinking water. To save even more water for dry seasons, we’ve financed the construction of a cistern this year. This cistern has a capacity for up to 20.000 liters!

There are also a few very exciting, new projects in development right now. More information to come on World Water Day 2016… Stay tuned.

CONSCIOUS: What do you love most about being the General Manager for the STW-WUM brand?

KLK: My career path began in the brand communications field and not so much in cosmetics. Since my childhood, a considerate environmental behavior was natural to me from the beginning and still remains important to me. And its not only about caring for our resources but also understanding the consequences our actions have. At home we only used organic cosmetics in our family, and I still do, since it’s not only better and healthier for you, but also better for the environment. I live the brand everyday and I stand 100% behind our message. We don’t just ask people to save water, we ask them to be environmentally friendly in all their actions. The most rewarding for me is if I get the feedback that people do actually change their every day behavior because of our message, that they start to think about consequences their lifestyle has and act accordingly to change for the better. This fulfills me with love and joy, every day. We can all make a difference! I truly believe that!

CONSCIOUS: What’s your must have STW-WUM product that you can’t live without?

KLK: I would say our Hand Balm. It makes your hands so smooth not only due to the organic shea butter and jojoba oil but it also boosts your protective skin function. But at the end of the day I wouldn’t want to miss any of our products which I use in my daily routine. Cheesy but true!

CONSCIOUS: Cheesy is great though! Thanks again Kaya for taking time to speak with us and to inspire our readers.

For more information on the Stop the Water While Using Me! Brand, follow the brand on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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