Winter 2010 Letter from Steph
Another season change has arrived since our last catalog. Winter came nipping at the heels of Fall and took over-all too soon, in my opinion. The gorgeous leaves and vibrant colors are gone, leaving the bare limbs of trees reaching unadorned to the sky. Unlike some of you in other parts of the country, we rarely get snow around here so our winter months can be rather drab and colorless without a beautiful blanket of fluffy white. On the other hand, since we don’t have to deal with muddy slush and other snow-related complications, “drab” is not so bad when I stop to think about it.
Our lives seem to get busier with each passing month. Noelle is talking up a storm and has a strong opinion on just about everything. Her presence is a constant joy and humbling reminder of our shortcomings. One of her new favorite phrases is “I don’t wANt to!” in response to an instruction or request. It’s proving to be a tough lesson for her that life is filled with many things we don’t want to do but must do anyway. The difficult, the dirty, the mundane, and the frustrating are all part of life as well as the fun, exciting and enjoyable. Nevertheless, even though she is only two-and-a-half, Noelle’s learning to help with daily chores. She loves doing anything with water and has become quite the little dishwashing and rinsing marvel. This tops the list of her favorite household duties for which to volunteer. The floor is usually covered in water by the time she’s done, but she cheerfully helps clean it up, and I can count that as an impromptu mopping of the kitchen floor.
My wonderful husband and Beeyoutiful’s CEO, Steve, facilitated an incredible surprise for me and three ladies on our Beeyoutiful staff. As you may know, we sell the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I’ve had a lot of respect for the work of Sally and the WAPF for several years now although I’ve never been able to become a member or attend any WAPF conferences. But in November, Steve surprised us with a trip to Chicago to attend the 2009 WAPF Conference. One of our most valuable take-aways is that we interviewed some of the vendors at the conference who are excellent resources for healthy foods with difficult-to-find quality and safety sources. The interviews are posted on YouTube under the username stephtallent. They can also be found in the Education forum: www.merryheartmedicine.com.
Looking ahead to the next few months: You’ll see various resources become available in several forms, one being articles from experts that participated in the conference.This month we feature an article from one of my favorite vendors: a delightful couple I dubbed “The Sprouted Grain Folks.” Co-owner of To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. (www.organicsproutedflour.net), Peggy Sutton graciously agreed to write an article for our customers to teach them step-by-step how to sprout grains and prepare them for grinding. We also have a companion article written by my sister-in-law, Stephanie Kuvik-Tallent, sharing her story on soaking (un-sprouted) flour and also her step-by-step recipe with pictures. Articles like this get me excited and make me want to run to the kitchen and create something nutritious for my family!
Someone at the conference asked me who and what Beeyoutiful is as a company and why they should trust us. The question startled me because I frequently take for granted that our customers have a relationship with us and know the work and quality control that goes into each and every product we carry. I also assume people know they can trust us to always try to do the right thing, whether we succeed or not. I realize, though, that both of these assumptions are very wrong. We have new customers coming to our metaphorical doors all the time. Questions about quality control and why a company should be trusted are both trademarks of a wise consumer. I ask them myself before trusting the integrity of a new company or giving my hard earned dollars to purchase a new product.
So, Quality Control: How well is the quality of the manufacturing processes managed for Beeyoutiful products?
I could bombard you with a lot of nitty gritty manufacturing details but in a few paragraphs, your eyes would glaze over, and you would skip to more interesting parts of the catalog. So I’ll stick with the bottom line version.
For any of you who want some particular nit or grit detail that I don’t cover here, please, as always, feel free to write us. We are what the industry calls a “full disclosure company” (the rare breed that seems to be ever more endangered). That means if you ask us, we’ll tell you. It also means that each product label tells exactly what is in the product. The law allows that, if any ingredient is less than 1% of the whole of a product, a company is not required to report it in the nutritional facts. At Beeyoutiful, though, we know that for consumers this is a terrible thing. Sometimes even trace amounts of an ingredient make a difference. So in the spirit of doing unto others what we would like done unto us, we are committed to disclosing every single component of every single product, no matter how tiny the amount may be.
Our supplements are all made at facilities with a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification. GMP is a quality control check of every step of the manufacturing process. It ensures the final product is safe for consumption, is not contaminated, and that every unit is produced with consistent care. What’s more, our primary manufacturer goes above and beyond the basic GMP requirements. The company takes 11 random samples from each individual raw ingredient shipped to their facility and runs them through a mass spectrometer. If there is any trace of a pesticide, heavy metal, or any other harmful compound, the shipment is refused and not even allowed into the facility. The detection capabilities are so refined that in examining the raw materials, they can detect the equivalent of one grain of sand in a five-mile beach. This is significant because, even in certified organic shipments, they’ve found contaminants and refused to use the materials.
We also like to support home businesses. Most of our skincare products are made by cottage industries. We’ve found that large companies often cut corners to reduce expenses, and the quality of the products intended for external use suffers. It can also be difficult for large companies to consistently locate enough high quality ingredients. Small manufacturers, on the other hand, can usually buy raw herbs, beeswax, and other components locally and can personally check out the quality of the sources to ensure purity.
We’ve seen how several “natural” body product companies that we respected changed policies as they grew, letting in what we consider inferior ingredients once they had won the publics’ trust. This is something small, home-based manufacturers do not have the luxury of doing. They see their customers face to face at farmer’s markets and use their products on their own children, family, and friends. This provides a highly personal element of accountability that can be missing in large-scale skincare production.
A last comment on quality control but certainly not the least important: All of our products are manufactured in the US. While quality products can be found overseas, it’s much more difficult to personally check up on the consistency of quality controls. And it’s almost impossible to enforce any special requests. We would be at the mercy of the discretion and trustworthiness of local management, a situation complicated by the potential miscommunications due to language barriers.
Many people wonder how we go about adding products. Do we design them ourselves, or do we have a professional do it? How do we come up with the blends we carry?
Our goal is to make available the most affordable and highest quality products for families that we can. As we learn and expand the range of natural living products we use for ourselves, we try our best to make them available for our customers. Sometimes this means going to the manufacturer/designer of a particular product that we think is amazing and asking if they will allow us to private label it. Other times, this means we come up with the idea of a product and propose it to a formulator and manufacturer, having a custom product made just for us. A classic example is our Organic Red Raspberry leaf capsules.
We’ve always offered a 30-day, 100% satisfaction guarantee to our customers. If you order something and don’t like it for any reason at all, you can return it, and we will refund the full cost of the product (I would say “no questions asked” except that we do usually ask for the reason because feedback helps us learn how to improve our products in the future). Recently, though, we’ve increased the 30-day policy to a 60-day policy in order to give even more time for folks to try a product and decide if it is beneficial or not. It’s another way for us to underscore just how important your satisfaction is to us.
Finally, the most compelling assurance I can offer that we always strive to have the highest quality products is that we take these products ourselves on a daily basis and use them with our children and loved ones. Our personal best interest mandates that we maintain the integrity of our products.
In a way, we hope that someday a company like Beeyoutiful will no longer be needed. The ideal would be for our society to offer genuinely nourishing, beneficial, and affordable foods as well as education for food preparation methods that deliver the nutrients needed to maintain good health.
In striving to learn for ourselves and pass this knowledge on to others, I recommend an amazing educational resource: the video documentary Food Inc. Request it at your local library, borrow it from a friend, or rent it. The education it provides as to why our nation has reached its current food and nutritional crisis is priceless.
I hope you enjoy this Winter Catalog. Snuggle up in front of a fire, or curl up under a blanket, get a hot cup of whatever beverage makes you happy, and enjoy! May you and your families be warm, well nourished, and healthy this winter.
As always, if there’s anything I can do to help or encourage you or your family, please write to me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org