Photo: Courtesy of Tata Harper.
Right at the intersection of "chicest woman alive" and the green beauty movement, you'll find the truly inimitable Ms. Tata Harper. Tata is the founder of an eponymous skin-care collection that's earned a cult following among those in the know (or those with access to a Neiman Marcus, where it's stocked). Her life is essentially your wildest Pinterest dreams come true: She lives on a splendid, sprawling farm in Vermont, where she and her family grow and harvest many of the ingredients that make up their meals — and many of her most sought-after products.
Tata's done some serious growing herself over the past few years. Her affinity for locally-sourced ingredients and paraben- and silicone-free formulas has recently come into vogue, which has allowed for her initial foray into the beauty world to evolve into a full-fledged operation. "We have a lab on the farm," she says with a laugh. In fact, her manufacturing facility just underwent a major expansion.
Since its inception, Tata Harper set out to be a vertically-integrated company, meaning that every product bearing this name is formulated and batched at — and shipped from — the Vermont headquarters. "The majority of our energy is involved in product manufacturing, which is exactly the way we want it," says Henry Harper, Tata's S.O. and the company's cofounder. "At the end of the day, it's the integrity behind the finished product that really matters."
This philosophy is what separates Tata Harper from, essentially, every other beauty brand that's even remotely on its level. "It's common for companies to hand off formulations and manufacturing to someone else," Tata says. "But, being vertically integrated is, for us, the only way it should be done."
And so, the Harpers began "Open Lab," a program where each product is stamped with a four-digit code, which can be "traced" by customers on the website. There, you can see when your product was hand-crafted and who batched it.
On the site, you'll also see a video that explains what's going on with the ingredients Tata Harper sources. Since its ambitions have extended to cutting-edge innovations in anti-aging formulas, the company has had to start sourcing from all over the world. (Case in point: the brown algae from Brittany, France, that was used to help children who suffer from progeria, a genetic disorder that radically accelerates the aging process.) Of course, working with high-quality, naturally-sourced ingredients has its occasional pitfalls: Storms in Corsica recently depleted levels of helichrysum essential oil, which had been a cornerstone of many of Tata's products. (They found a suitable replacement in Albania, but it resulted in a slightly more floral fragrance for many of the formulas.)
You'll also learn that, unlike other brands, which often keep their recipes behind lock and key, Tata Harper is constantly updating its products. In the aforementioned video, its formulators talk about the new frankincense essential oil being incorporated throughout the full line, which is why you might notice a slightly different, spicier scent in the oils and serums.
All of this speaks to the brand's sense of transparency — something that's easy to appreciate when you're forking over $100 for moisturizer or almost $200 for serum. And, from a big-picture perspective, it's not unlike current trends in food, wine, and even coffee: How often do we see Portlandia levels of information about our "cage-free chickens" or kobe beef when we visit high-end grocery stores or restaurants? Isn't it time beauty followed suit?
"This is a celebration of craftsmanship, and it offers a complete experience — from our farm to your beautiful face," Tata says. "I think that, when it comes to skin care, the fewer mysteries, the better."
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