Online Exclusives

Teen’s Non-Toxic Dream Gets Real

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | June 8, 2015

Rhode Island teen Ava Anderson serves as CEO of a fast-growing direct sales company that’s playing in multiple household and personal care categories.

This company sells hair care, skin care, color products, laundry packs, deodorants and candles too. Is it P&G? Not exactly. It’s Ava Anderson Non Toxic (AANT), a company founded by a Rhode Island teen who’s on a mission.
 
That teen is Ava Anderson, and her goal is to spread the word about questionable chemicals that she found in common personal care products, and offer an alternative.
 
At 14 years old, Ava conducted some research for school about chemicals found in teen’s bloodstream. She started a blog, and attracted several hundred followers. But when she couldn’t find products she felt comfortable recommending online to her followers, she decided to create her own products to use, that maybe she would sell locally.
 
By 2009, she had entered the personal care space with six skin care products sold under the Ava Anderson Non Toxic banner.
 
Today, with Ava at the helm as CEO, AANT has grown to include 75 products that range from cosmetics to sun care to hair care to candles to home and car care products—all with the promise of being free from what she deems as “toxic” chemicals. Last year, sales reached an estimated $20 million, according to industry sources, and the firm boasts more than 7,500 consultants in the US.
 
Not too shabby for someone who is still in college—Babson, to be specific.
 
Back was she was just a teen, Ava personally sat down with potential contract manufacturers, and she came prepared with a laundry list of what chemicals wouldn’t be in her bottles. It helped her to forge a partnership and roll out those first half-dozen SKUs.
 
Today, AANT works with three contract manufacturers, but has recently brought some production in-house at its new East Providence, RI facility in order to meet growing demand.  It now makes 20 of its 80 products in its own Rhode Island center.
 
According to company officials, Ava Anderson Non Toxic grew 300% in 2014, and its new 55,000-sq.ft. space in East Providence is already bursting at the seams.
 
And growth is still coming. In fact, when Happi connected with the firm for this story, 1000 consultants had just signed on during a 65-day span, according to Kim Anderson, who is Ava’s mom and the company’s president.
 
The Anderson family has long ties to direct sales; her late grandfather Charlie Collis, was a direct-selling industry icon, having started home and entertainment firm Princess House. They saw the direct-to-consumer model as the best fit in terms of delivering education—a critical component of Ava’s mission.

“Retail doesn’t have the ability to communicate with the consumers,” Ava told Happi.
 
Ava consultants, who can sign up and get started for just $99, host “AvaHours” in which they educate guests about the company’s mission, as they show products.  
 
One of AANT’s top sellers is a diaper cream. But according to Ava, it’s not just for diaper rash—it can be used by the entire family to treat eczema, psoriasis, acne and other skin ailments.
 
“People call it the miracle cream,” Ava told Happi about the formulation, which contains ingredients like calendula and chamomile.
 
Other hero SKUs include a skin toner that comes in spray bottle as well as shampoo and conditioner. Newer additions to the Ava Anderson lineup include men’s products and a BB cream.
 
“It is amazing; creamy, smooth, soft and moisturizing, with SPF 20. You have never seen ingredients like this before,” Ava gushed about the beauty balm.
 
The BB formulation, which delivers SPF via non-nanoparticle zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, includes ingredients such as organic aloe vera, organic grape seed, sesame and olive fruit oils, organic jojoba and organic shea butter, and shell and fruit powders for color.
 
Recently, Ava Anderson Non Toxic won Inc.'s 2015 Coolest College Startup, beating out 15 other companies—including many mobile apps, a pet food brand and a wearable technologies business—in what is dubbed as a March Madness-like competition. 
 
According to Ava, her company’s vision and mission has held steady since the start; what has changed is its size. 
 
“At first, we thought, we’ll make this in the kitchen sink and sell locally or online. But how big we have grown in five years—I don’t think I could have ever predicted that.”
  • Supply-Side Innovations

    Supply-Side Innovations

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    Raw material suppliers roll up their sleeves and roll out their new products for the global cleaning industry.

  • New Faces in Familiar Places

    New Faces in Familiar Places

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    The American Cleaning Institute officially welcomed its new president.

  • Special Delivery

    Special Delivery

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2017
    UV protection is important, but what good is that sunscreen if consumers won’t apply it?

  • Take The Hint

    Take The Hint

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 13, 2017
    Water brand forays into sun protection by capitalizing on scent and experience.

  • What’s Up with Brexit?

    What’s Up with Brexit?

    March 9, 2017
    During In-Cosmetics, industry experts from the CTPA will weigh in on what’s ahead for the beauty industry.

  • Shine On

    Shine On

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 6, 2017
    Jelmar’s Tarn-X tarnish remover celebrates 50th anniversary.

  • How We Clean

    How We Clean

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 6, 2017
    Consumers describe what makes them tick and what ticks them off about household cleaning products.

  • Fit for Fitness

    Fit for Fitness

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 21, 2017
    Kinx Active is a new brand targeting women who want beauty products that can stand up to their fitness routines.

  • Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Cargo Says Aloha To Spring/Summer

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 13, 2017
    Cargo Cosmetics has rolled out its new Spring/Summer collection with Hawiianan singer Anuhea.

  • Monday Morning Quarterback

    Monday Morning Quarterback

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||February 6, 2017
    Super Bowl commercials are big business. Let’s look at some of personal and household care brands that bought spots this year

  • Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Catch These Rising Stars of Beauty

    Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor||February 6, 2017
    Who won what at Fashion Group International's Rising Star awards show

  • Switch It Up

    Switch It Up

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||January 30, 2017
    Chicago startup seeks to shake up the AP/deo category with a new launch that meshes sustainability, style and scent.

  • Erasa

    Erasa's New Evangelist(a)

    January 9, 2017
    Impressed by the performance of its hero SKU, supermodel Linda Evangelista joins the company in a hand's on role.

  • Discourse on Disclosure

    Discourse on Disclosure

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 6, 2017
    Transparency impacts the cleaning industry.

  • The Top Stories of 2016

    The Top Stories of 2016

    December 26, 2016
    The companies and topics that grabbed headlines and your attention this year.

  • Positive Influence

    Positive Influence

    December 19, 2016
    Co-founder Elizabeth Scherle talks about her growing consumer review platform, top beauty products and more.

  • Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Seeking post-election unity, a small natural personal care company hopes to cause a big wave of giving.

  • Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    December 6, 2016
    New oral care compositions, the use of radish root ferment filtrate in a cleanser and more.

  • Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    With a recent investor infusion, a new CEO and rebranding effort underway, this luxury beauty retailer has big plans.

  • Organic Matter

    Organic Matter

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    FTC and USDA hold a public roundtable to discuss consumers’ perception of organic claims.

  • Help for Up Above

    Help for Up Above

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    A brand from Down Under is touting a new formulation for what’s missing on top.

  • Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 1, 2016
    Skinphonic is a new brand created with a team of beauty experts and fronted by singer Smokey Robinson.

  • Hair for Me!

    Hair for Me!

    October 31, 2016
    Function of Beauty fulfills the promise of personalization in the beauty space—one bottle at a time.

  • A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 24, 2016
    With three doors in Canada, Blitz Facial Bar opens its first US location in one of the hippest areas of New York.

  • Coming Clean on a Host of Issues

    Coming Clean on a Host of Issues

    October 17, 2016
    Cleaning Products Conference is set for Nov. 9-11, 2016 in Washington DC.

  • Let the Magic Begin!

    Let the Magic Begin!

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||October 10, 2016
    IFSCC Congress gets underway at Walt Disney World this month.

  • Ogee Opens for Business

    Ogee Opens for Business

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    Banking on the power of jojoba oil, a Vermont-based start-up is the newest player in organic luxury skin care.

  • P&G’s Latest Patents

    P&G’s Latest Patents

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    A look at recent patent and IP related news from the biggest household and personal care player in the US.