Ursa Major is an accurate reflection of the lifestyle principles of its founders Oliver Sweatman and Emily Doyle: simplify, go back to nature and live an active life. Leaving busy New York City for quietly idyllic Vermont, they embarked on a healthy journey that eventually led to the creation of a brand designed to encourage a more conscious lifestyle by harnessing the healing and rejuvenating powers of nature. Here, Oliver and Emily talk about their definite eureka moment, what “living major” is all about and even share their best skin care tips!
Ursa Major: Thank you! It’s been hard and very stressful at times, but [it’s] so rewarding to see things come together. We were both living and working in NYC and loving it, but after a while, we had this yearning to slow down a bit, live in a smaller community, spend more time outdoors and start a small business. Vermont was an easy choice.
Around the same time, we were both on a major health kick and sort of on a whim, tried a pretty intense 30-day detox: no sugar, starch, caffeine, dairy, booze, etc. It was really hard not to break down and sneak in a naughty treat here and there! Through this process we started to learn about all the unhealthy chemicals used in conventional skin and body care products—it was definitely a eureka moment for both of us.
We then spent a lot of time digging around natural food stores trying to replace our conventional products and that turned out to be a really frustrating process! At the time, many of the “natural” products we tried either weren’t really natural or if they were, fell short on efficacy or experience. We were determined to do better.
When we set out to develop our initial daily face care regimen, we established a few key criteria that we needed to meet with every new product. First, does the product work well? Second, is it a healthy product, free of known toxins or irritants? And finally, does it deliver a delightful experience? It’s really hard to check those three boxes using only natural ingredients, but it’s possible, especially with all the new great and natural active ingredients coming on-stream.
On a brand level, we wanted to be as transparent as possible with our process and [to] also make sure we were giving our customers great one-on-one service. Plus, we believe in living a courageous, authentic life (not always easy!), and we wanted to try and inspire our customers to do the same. We call this “living major.”
The hardest thing was to make sure the product truly delivered on our promise—great performance, healthy ingredients/zero toxic chemicals, delightful aroma and texture—and then to keep the formula stable with a robust natural preservative system. Fortunately, we work with some very talented (and patient) natural formulators—and we’re also able to get access to a lot of cutting-edge natural ingredients to get the job done.
Managing ingredient cost is also a big deal, because natural ingredients tend to be (much) more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. For example, we use super-potent plant stem cells that are cultivated in a lab in Switzerland. This particular active ingredient is very expensive to produce and therefore comes at a premium. Also, as another example, to get the desired scent profile for a particular product, we use complex blends of whole essential oils that often increase the cost to make a product by 30 to 40 percent. In the end, we believe our customers appreciate the difference!
We’re going to cheat here and give you three solid tips: 1) try to lead a balanced lifestyle (eat well, stay hydrated, get enough rest, stay active and manage your stress); 2) limit your exposure to the sun and wear a good natural daily sunscreen (experts suggest up to 80% of natural aging comes from exposure to the sun); and 3) lastly, find a simple daily skin care regimen that works for you and stick with it. By following these guidelines, we believe that it’s possible to get that “I’ve just been on vacation look” every day of the year.
Discover Ursa Major’s effective and all-natural approach to skin care with some of our top product picks, below!
Made from 100% naturally derived ingredients, this deodorant provides 24-hour protection and will leave you dry and odor-free throughout the day without the harsh, pore-clogging chemicals that make regular deodorants and antiperspirants some of the most harmful products to touch our bodies. It also features a non-staining formula with a citrusy aroma that contains kaolin clay to absorb moisture and neutralize unwanted smell, eucalyptus to fight odor-causing bacteria and aloe to soothe skin.
Made with 100 percent bamboo fiber, Ursa Major packs all the benefits of its 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic in each of its individually packed face wipes to rid skin of oil and dirt, maintain pH balance, exfoliate and unclog pores. Its travel-size packaging makes it easy to take to trail runs, beach trips and other outdoor activities.
Formulated with honey and shea butter, Morning Mojo Bar Soap helps to soothe, moisturize and balance skin. This gentle and invigorating soap harnesses the exfoliating properties of volcanic rock, oil- and acne-controlling effects of peppermint and the toning and balancing benefits of grapefruit to keep skin nourished.