More, of less - Introducing SBTRCT
In 2007 I was lucky enough to meet two young founders who were busy raising money and securing distribution for their new skincare brand, Bulldog. I left that meeting inspired and excited by their vision.
I’m a firm believer in “when you know, you know” and without too much thought I left my job and offered my services as their first employee. It resulted in an incredible 10-year journey for me, starting out as Marketing Director and later becoming Managing Director.
At Bulldog we set out to do something very different in the men’s skincare space, both in terms of product (natural formulations were still a relatively new thing) and brand (talking to men in the same way they talk to each other).
We strived to push the boundaries of what an ethically conscious skincare brand should do - we were the first men’s skincare brand to be certified cruelty free and the first to use plastic from sugarcane, as opposed to plastic from fossil fuels, in our packaging.
Following its sale to Edgewell Personal Care (owners of Wilkinson Sword and now Harry’s) in 2017, I decided to leave the business and reflect on my next step.
THE SBTRCT ETHOS
During my time away from the industry, we have witnessed a number of new trends - awareness of the plastic problem, the sense that humankind needs to change its ways, a feeling that a world of materialism and over-consumption is not the path to happiness.
As I wasn’t earning, I naturally watched the pennies a little more. I only bought things I felt I really needed. I tried to simplify my life. I found I felt happier and healthier. I also found that I valued things more. I’d save for things I really felt would add value to my life. I’ve always been frugal and hated waste, but these trends more than ever seemed to coincide perfectly with my new way of life.
Within this time, I’m pleased to say that I also stumbled across that “when you know, you know” feeling again. And I’m even more pleased to say it’s in skincare.
I wondered; what if I applied this new thinking to the creation of a new skincare brand, routed in this idea that less, can, in fact, mean more? What would that look like? What would it feel like and what would it do?
From this, Subtract was born. But with a need to thread the less is more ethos through everything, the removal of the vowels seemed the obvious next step. Subtract became SBTRCT.
LESS IS MORE
I realised that, to make this really work I couldn’t simply have traditional formulations in traditional packaging. It had to be different. It had to be less, but it had to deliver more.
I decided that the only way to be true to this ethos was to take the very best proven ingredients and reduce them down to their most potent form. Using only what’s necessary, to create products that deliver exceptional skincare benefits – only without the unnecessary ‘filler’ ingredients or wasteful excess packaging.
I reconnected with my formulation team and got to work. There are many packaging options out there (stay tuned to the blog for more detail on ours) but for me, the answer was even simpler but not without its challenges.
Solid bars of product in domestically compostable packaging.
But that wasn’t my only test. Beauty is after all beautiful and the idea of something resembling a bar of soap just sliding around on your bathroom shelf wasn’t part of my vision.
Both the brand and the products had to be beautiful in form and designed with intention - practically and aesthetically.
I see the bathroom as an incredibly special space in our home. A place you go to change your state of mind and care for yourself. So, we’ve created our products and accessories to enhance this space with designs that reduce clutter, use little space and store products effectively.
And so, the very first SBTRCT range was born…