Like many great things--penicillin, chocolate chip cookies, the Slinky--America's first all-natural care product company was created by accident. Well, sort of.
Forty years ago, Aubrey Hampton, the founder and CEO of Aubrey Organics, injured his back and neck in a car accident. At the time, he often frequented George Oshawa's macrobiotic restaurant in New York City, and knew about the healing powers of wild ginger.
Hampton helped his mother make herbal remedies as a boy in Indiana, and used his knowledge to combine eucalyptus, sage, cinnamon, ground ginger and other herbs with coconut oil to create a bath product called the Relax-R-Bath for his neck. "My neck and back felt much better, and I felt relaxed," Hampton says. "This started me on the road to creating Aubrey Organics."
Hampton was then working for Faberge, a big cosmetics company that is now part of Unilever, and he says it gave him an idea of the things he did not want to do. "I wanted a company that was about the product and not about the marketing,"he says.
Aubrey Organics is riding high in its 40th anniversary year, though Aubrey says it took a long time before he could consider his company a success.
"Now the company is one of the leaders in developing personal-care products that include organic ingredients," says Holly Givens of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). "They've been OTA members for 14 years, and in that time they've been generous with having their staff volunteer to work with us on issues important to the industry."
David Seckman, executive director of the Natural Products Association (NPA), cites Hampton's "knowledge about organics and his tireless activities promoting...