"Ethical" can mean different things to different people, but there's a special thrill that comes with finding a product that lives up to the description from all angles -- and we felt it when we discovered Me & The Girls. This 2-year-old, Philadelphia-based skin care label's products are organic, non-toxic, eco-friendly, and vegan (and they work!), plus the brand also has a strong charitable component.
Me & The Girls regularly contributes to multiple nonprofits, but the centerpiece of its philanthropic endeavors is the Hope Bag Mission. Created by Me & The Girls founder and critical care nurse Sharon Hackney-Robinson, the project distributes bags filled with donated personal care items to organizations that treat and house women rescued from human trafficking. In addition to basic, essential products, the totes also include beauty products, inspirational books, and notes of encouragement penned by the volunteers who fill the bags.
"The most rewarding part of [running my own business] is funding the Hope Bag Mission," Sharon said. "Using the company to help other women is the most awesome feeling."
She noted that the Me & The Girls products themselves are also aimed at helping other women. Sharon -- who was making her own beauty products long before she started selling them -- calls the brand a "social enterprise," and it has been that way from the beginning. "My girlfriend from childhood recently reminded me that I taught her how to care for her skin when we were twelve years old," she said. "…My 'aha' moment presented itself when my friends and co-workers started to ask me to 'cook enough cream' for them and their skin because mine was always so clear and supple. Me & The Girls was born after getting feedback from [them after they used] the Moon Anti-Aging Night Moisturizer, which is my signature HBA Global Award-winning product."
The facial and body moisturizers and lip balms are designed to work for all skin types and shades, and made to be gentle on both the user and the environment. "We live in a toxic world for the most part, so creating a beauty line that eliminated chemicals from our most cherished beauty routines just made sense to me," Sharon said. "Our skin is a living organism that absorbs an alarming percentage of chemicals applied topically through beauty and skin care products that we use every day, all day. That’s a lot of chemicals over time, and it is very scary to me, especially with our little girls using fragranced conventional products starting as young as 4 years old. "
This commitment to non-toxic, cruelty-free ingredients, combined with quality products and a solid charitable component, is enough to make us love Me & The Girls, but there's also another aspect we admire: behind the brand's kind, tender messaging is an incredibly cool, bold CEO. Sharon's a risk-taker, in a good way.
"Developing a completely waterless organic moisturizing system is bananas and totally disruptive in the conventional beauty world," she said. "The raw materials that we source globally are expensive, there are no fillers to [save money during production], and it is a huge risk with consumers to [ask them to] embrace a truly natural way of moisturizing and beautifying their skin. I took that risk because I wanted to give women the opportunity to try something new, safe, and effective."
And she's also gracious. "I believe in my company and its collection with my whole heart," Sharon said. "But when I see [our] products featured in magazines, it is shocking that something that I created is good enough to share with the rest of the world. I am surprised and humbled by the unimaginable favor."
Upcoming plans for Me & The Girls include developing a line of products for younger women; hosting a 2015 Hope Bag benefit featuring a silent auction of gently-used handbags donated by celebrities; establishing a wholesale presence in the U.S. and Canada; and redesigning the brand's website.
Scroll down to see some of the label's most popular products and read more about Sharon's philosophy.