Renewed Collective

Brand Q&A with St James Supply Co

‘Great hair with a clean conscience’. St James Supply Co create natural shampoo and conditioner bars for those wanting to reduce their plastic waste, an easy option for travelling and most importantly, a product that works, making your hair look and feel great. We had a chat to Co-Founder Joni to find out more about this wonderful Perth-based family business.

What inspired you to start your business?

My husband and I had been gradually working our way through our house, switching out plastic for other options. We were frustrated by the lack of plastic free haircare available. We wanted a product that used quality naturally derived ingredients, and which would really deliver on good hair.  And we wanted that without plastic packaging. We weren’t keen on the harsh soap bars that were being sold as the alternative to bottled shampoo, so we turned to milder soap-free surfectants derived from coconut. 

We started making shampoo and conditioner bars for our own personal use initially, and then other people kept asking for them. We realised this was something a lot of people wanted locally, so we decided to start a little company.

Why do you only choose to use natural or organic ingredients?

It is important to us that our haircare delivers healthy, shiny hair in the long term, not just a short term effect that ultimately damages the hair. For us, this means sourcing quality ingredients which are derived from plant-based sources rather than silicones, phthalates and parabens. We chose not to include sulphates as we prefer gentler cleansing options. We use essential oils to fragrance our products, though we do also have some customers with very sensitive skin, so we also do a scent-free range for them.

Your favourite product?

My favourite is the Frankie conditioner bar- as someone with naturally curly hair I struggled for so many years to find a product which would give me shiny, formed curls. It would either dry too crunchy or separate the curls into a frizzy mop. I leave in some of the conditioner and let it dry naturally- and it works better than any of the other products I tried. And one bar also lasts a really, REALLY long time.

St James Supply Co Shampoo and Conditioner

Favourite way to look after yourself?

I enjoy taking myself out to a local café, ordering a pot of tea and sitting with a book. It’s been harder to do that the past few months, and I’ve really missed that.

Currently creating?

I’m currently working on a shave balm/moisturiser. I have had requests for an after shave balm which is gentle enough for sensitive skin and smells like the best kind of masculine. I’m playing with fresh citrus and mint with a touch of spice underneath.

Currently reading?

I’m currently reading the latest edition from the Dark Mountain Project. I’ve only come across the series recently. My husband gave me all the back copies for my birthday and I’m working my way through them. Each volume is a collection of short stories, poems and thought pieces. They are great thought provoking writing for the current times.

Favourite travel destination?

I love different places for different things. I love big cities for the architecture and the food and art. I love wild places for the walking and the fresh air. I’m originally from Wales, so I love green, hilly places, but living in Australia most of my life, I have come to value its unique landscapes. With Covid-19 we haven’t been able to go far, so we’ve spent time enjoying places we can drive to, like walking in the hills and travelling along the South West coastline.

Favourite quote?

I’ve been pondering how to be in the world right now. In his recent book, author Timothy Morton writes about a shift in us realising that it is “not about being ecological, it’s about understanding that we are ecological.” (similar to the shift from thinking “I’m stuck in traffic” to recognising “I am the traffic.”)  That has stuck with me lately. 

And then thinking further about how to effect change – Author Ursula K. Le Guin writes, in her novel The Dispossessed: “You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” That one is a good reminder that change arises from the work we do to first change ourselves- to become something different and better.

Final words…

I think we’re at a really interesting point in history right now. It can be hard to know what’s right and hard to imagine whether buying one less plastic bottle will make any difference against all the things which are wrong in the world. But I think each action is a decision and a meditation on the kind of people we want to become. The more we exercise those muscles, and add extra actions, the more we begin to realise our own strength and start to pull in a different direction. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about getting started in a better direction. Making shampoo bars is something I can contribute to that. 

View St James Supply Co’s bars online here and in store at selected stockists.

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