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Consumers Badger for Natural Products

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | August 19, 2013

Badger Balm offers many more products than its name implies.

Eighteen years ago, Bill and Katie Whyte started making small batches of a beeswax and olive balm to sooth cracked hands and other body parts in need of a little TLC. Like most DIY formulators, the couple mixed up these concoctions in the kitchen. Today, the Badger Balm brand has a following all over the world and has a variety of SKUs—from Tangerine & Vanilla SPF 30 Kids’ Sunscreen to Pink Grapefruit lip balm—in the US at retailers such as Ulta, Whole Foods and Wegmans.
But it’s still all in the family: even with 40 devoted “Badgers” that work at the “Badger Mines” in Gilsum, NH; Bill is the CEO, Katie is the COO, and their daughters are on board too. Emily is the director of sales and marketing, Rebecca Hamilton is the director of product development, and Mia is a human resources consultant. And the next generation is already in office; grandaughter Maya was part of Badger's Babies at Work program.
At Badger, safety is the goal, but efficacy is the baseline, according to Hamilton, director of product development.
“Above all, today's natural shoppers are looking for safe products. That being said, an ineffective product is not even an option for most customers,” Rebecca Hamilton told “Because this is their first goal, they look for easy indicators of a product's safety such as certified organic ingredients, certified natural ingredients, simple and easy to understand ingredient listings, and the absence of ingredients that they know to be harmful. Our customers, for example, aren't left with a challenging task, but the average person is.”
Hamilton went on to add, “The average consumer also bases a lot on brand trust. Badger is able to build that trust by maintaining transparency, authenticity and clear product expertise. We tell stories, making the truth about our products fascinating. We run our products through rigorous testing, and we put everything on our website for our customers to go through. We are always honest and this honesty helps our customers to trust our brand and to recognize our products as being safe.”
Badger backs up its claims with verifiable testing and third party certifications, noted Hamilton, and it recently became a certified B corporation—approved by the nonprofit B Lab to meet standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 600 Certified B Corps from 15 countries.
“All of our company practices are made open and public for all of our customers to see,” she said. “Our customers are becoming experts through their own online research, and with that expertise, they require a far more transparent set of standards in the product that they choose.”
Besides working on its foundations, Badger has no dearth of innovations rolling out this season. According to Hamilton, the brand recently rolled out children’s sunscreens, baby care and facial skin care too.
“Light sunscreen lotions and sunscreen sprays are in high demand. Badger released three new easy to apply and non-greasy, aesthetic (organic and natural) mineral sunscreen lotions,” she noted.
Badger will also be expanding its baby care line to include a “simple, five-ingredient” diaper cream and a gentle foaming baby wash and shampoo. It is also bulking up its Damascus Rose line to include a full antioxidant face care regime, including a cleansing cream, a balancing mist and a day cream.  
“These products fit in with our pre-existing antioxidant face oil and anti-aging face sunscreen,” said Hamilton.
As for what’s next in the Badger Mines, future trends are always challenging to predict, but Hamilton has her eye on two.
“First, there seems to be a shift toward ultra simple and traditional products, such as those used before we had many of the chemicals that saturate the cosmetic industry today,” she told “Second, in contrast, we are also seeing many customers that are seeking to switch away from mainstream products and they are looking for the equivalent product in the natural market. This includes makeup and tinted moisturizers.”
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