What do Jamaican farmers have to do with deodorant? More than you might think.
It was nearly 20 years ago when now North Coast Organics
CEO/Founder/Co-Owner Nathan Morin of Fort Wayne participated in a field study of subsistence farming on the island as part of his anthropology program at Ball State University.
“Something really clicked about where our food really comes from,” he says, noting that his experience inspired him to start eating organic food and ultimately become vegan.
Being more conscious about his diet led him to a natural progression of scrutinizing the ingredients in his personal care products.
In 2000, Morin made the transition to all-natural body care products. Still, he was left wanting for organic options.
A Chicago resident at the time, he surveyed local food co-ops in search of deodorants with an organic seal. His search turned up empty.
That’s when he saw the opportunity to fulfill an unmet need in the marketplace. He created North Coast Organics to sell an organic deodorant with only five simple (and edible) ingredients
. The name is a nod to the Chicago lakefront where he launched his first stick deodorant at Chicago VeganMania
By 2013, he had earned the USDA organic certified seal, which is no small feat. As Morin explains, it’s a stringent process
due to the amount of documentation required.
Speaking of red tape, that’s exactly why he decided to relocate the business to his hometown of Fort Wayne in 2014. In hindsight, he says the move was a good choice because it has been easier to do business in Fort Wayne than in the Windy City.
North Coast Organics employees hand-craft each deodorant stick.
Today, North Coast Organics—
which operates out of a warehouse near Indiana Tech—
is a processor of natural and organic deodorant. They market their own line of deodorants and also offer a private label service. (This allows other brands to enjoy custom labels and scents, among other things.)
North Coast products are currently found in stores like Whole Foods, 3Rivers Food Co-op
(locally), and online via Amazon resellers.
Morin says something that sets his organic deodorant apart from other brands on the market is that "actually works." He tested his first batch on a 50-mile bike ride on a late August day
back in 2011.
Since then, North Coast has expanded twice, and it's now eying more consumer distribution channels, like Kroger and Walmart.
North Coast Organics sells many varieties of deodorant.
Around the world, big box stores are catching on to the organic beauty trend.
A May 2017 Fast Company
article says: "The organic beauty boom is part of the larger shift in consumer awareness about health and wellness. Thanks to a growing number of beauty blogs and social media accounts dedicated to the benefits of going chemical-free, consumers have access to more information than ever before."
This information has only empowered consumers to be more savvy and socially conscious. To that end, another way North Coast has a corner on the market is via their Certified B Corporation® status. This means they have met or exceeded rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
According to North Coast’s website
, “There are over 1,800 Certified B Corporations in 50 countries with one unifying goal – to redefine success in business. Certified B Corporations are using the power of business to alleviate poverty, address climate change, and building strong local communities and great places to work.”
In other words, there’s more to the business than turning a profit.
For example, Morin says his people are paid a fair wage and everyone gets paid vacation and sick time, regardless of full-time or part-time status. The company also donates products to organizations like homeless shelters, who have a great need for personal care products.
Wherever the business takes him, he says he’s committed to maintaining that status because it speaks to his values.
“I’m an accidental entrepreneur. I started a for-profit (company), but wanted to do it a responsible way.”