Driving Change in the Beauty Industry: Mukti on Building an Ethical, Organic Empire

For our latest conversation, we sat down with Mukti, the innovative founder of Mukti Organics. Starting in 2000, Mukti has been at the forefront of the organic beauty movement, creating award-winning formulations that perfectly blend efficacy and science.

This interview takes a deep dive into Mukti’s journey in making her brand 98% recyclable, her commitment to sustainable practices at the company headquarters, and the challenges of meeting the evolving demands of eco-conscious consumers.

Mukti also shares her experience in maintaining ethical standards across global markets and offers insights into her approach to product development, from initial struggles to leading an award-winning brand.

Mukti, can you walk us through the transition of Mukti Organics to 98% recyclable packaging and the challenges that came with it?

I’m very proud of the strides we’ve made in reducing our environmental impact (while maintaining the integrity of our brand). Moving towards being fully recyclable has always been the goal, so achieving 98% recyclable packaging is definitely a significant milestone! I’d have to say it really is a delicate balance – our commitment to sustainability sometimes feels counterintuitive to maintaining the high-quality aesthetics that our customers expect from Mukti Organics.

It would be so easy to choose the path of least resistance, that is, go for the pretty, fancy and functional packaging and not consider the environmental impact. But that would go against our core values, so we’ve had to remain steadfast in our dedication towards finding the right solution that ticks all the boxes.

There has been a lot of work to ensure that our ecological efforts haven’t diminished our standards for product protection, aesthetics, and functionality. I would say this has been one of the biggest challenges – It has required thorough evaluation of existing packaging materials and scouring the globe for alternative options. We collaborated closely with suppliers and conducted extensive research to identify options that aligned with both our environmental goals and our branding. 

Another challenge in this regard has been educating our customers and the industry as a whole. There is an assumption that refillable packaging is the more environmentally friendly alternative, and while it is better than brands that have disposable packaging, there is still a lot of waste involved in this. Add to that the risk of contamination (which means it’s not currently a sustainable or financially feasible to sterilise and refill packaging across multiple products) and I do believe our option is the most sustainable.

Our bottles and jars can be deposited into the customer’s kerbside recycle bin and we’ve phased out single use plastic sample pots. If you look at many of the other ‘sustainable’ brands, they’re still using single use plastics for their samples, not to mention the environmental impact of refillable waste.

What inspired the sustainable design of Mukti Organics’ headquarters, including solar energy and natural ventilation, and how has this approach influenced your business philosophy?

Our commitment to sustainability is a way of life for us – the work that we do in this area is a reflection of our values. So, you could say the inspiration comes from our core values or the way we live day-to-day. It is always our goal to do better when it comes to minimising our environmental footprint and we are dedicated to pushing boundaries in these practices. Hopefully these efforts inspire others in the industry to embrace eco-friendly alternatives too.

As Mukti Organics has grown, how do you balance maintaining high-quality organic beauty products with the ever-evolving demands of eco-conscious consumers?

As I mentioned earlier, it really is a delicate balance. We never want to compromise quality, but we are also unwavering in our commitment to sustainability. We know the importance of reducing our environmental impact and are dedicated to finding innovative ways to do so (while still providing our customers with the highest quality products).

It really does take a lot of work to uphold these standards! For us, we are always trying to stay at the forefront of eco-friendly options – we demand it of ourselves, and we are delighted that the industry is catching on. 

As our company continues to grow, we will continue conducting research into packaging options to ensure that we use resources responsibly and prioritise the use of recycled or reused materials. We’ve recently made changes in that regard, for example, to reduce our carbon footprint, we no longer accept the return of used bottles and jars.

Alternatively, our bottles and jars can be deposited into the customer’s kerbside recycle bin. We also do not currently accept refills. The risk of contamination to the formulas is simply too high, and there is not currently a sustainable or financially feasible option to sterilise and refill packaging across multiple products.

We have also phased out single use plastic sample pots. This means that our sample offering has evolved so that we are not encouraging thoughtless consumption of little packets and jars that often end up as pollution or landfill. We have transitioned to a limited selection of deluxe samples that are housed in reusable glass, rather than plastic, and all spatulas for our jarred products are made from biodegradable materials. 

In what ways have local planting initiatives and carbon offset programs become an integral part of your brand’s identity and mission?

These initiatives are the undercurrent of everything we do at Mukti Organics. We are a sustainable beauty brand, first and foremost, so any work that we do is underpinned by the most sustainable route. We are always looking at ways that we can offset our impact, and these programs are just an example of our efforts to reduce our footprint.

Reflecting on your journey from researching ingredients in a library pre the world wide web, to leading an award-winning organic beauty brand, what key learnings have shaped your approach to product development?

Anyone that has been in an industry for over 20 years will definitely tell you there have been LOTS of key learnings! Many of those learnings came earlier on in my journey and often came from the mistakes we made. Back when I was researching ingredients, I was a single Mum that was trying to learn about ingredients and formulating.

I felt like I was on my own navigating the intricate world of natural, clean formulations, learning from every single mistake. Our first Mukti Organics product was a lip balm, and the original iteration was a complete disaster! However, I didn’t let that stop me. I perfected the formula and kept creating more products.

We once also had to throw ALL of our products in a skip bin because the preservative system failed. Despite this, I’d have to say these challenges only fuelled my determination to create a skincare brand that echoed my values – kind to the skin and sustainable. I knew I could do things differently and today I am very proud that I didn’t let any setback stop me.

I guess that’s one of the biggest learnings – to navigate your way through the setbacks, follow your intuition when it’s telling you there has to be a better way (despite people often telling me there wasn’t), and let your values provide you with the moral compass to navigate through challenges and make choices that will positively influence those around you.

Managing a global brand like Mukti Organics, how do you ensure consistency in ethical practices across different markets, and what key advice would you offer to new brands in the beauty industry?

Ensure that there is complete transparency all the way through the supply chain. We simply will not work with suppliers who have practices shrouded in mystery or aren’t upfront about the sourcing and manufacturing of ingredients.

‘Ignorance’ is not an acceptable excuse when it comes to ethical and sustainable practices. You have to KNOW where your ingredients are coming from, work with trusted suppliers and maintain your integrity no matter what. Choosing the ethical and sustainable way can sometimes cost you more, but that’s a small price to pay when you know you are making a valuable difference. 

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.