In 1980, with just $700 dollars in the bank and a shared love of animals, friends Paul Mitchell and John Paul Dejoria launched a revolutionary new haircare system selling just three products - Shampoo One, Shampoo Two and The Conditioner.
Twenty years later US-based Paul Mitchell Systems produces more than 100 award-winning styling and haircare products and cutting-edge heat styling tools and is active in 80 countries worldwide.
No animal testing
But one thing that sets Paul Mitchell Systems apart from all other professional haircare brands is that, from day one, the company has refused to test any of its products on animals, and it is currently the only professional haircare brand that is Leaping Bunny approved.
In an interview with Beauty Without The Beasts, Dejoria explains: "The brand was built in 1980 and we immediately made the decision not to test on animals. We said we would make products for humans, so we would test them on humans."
This decision was fuelled partly by an earlier job he had with a company that tested its products on animals.
John Paul Dejoria: committed to cruelty-free
Dejoria says: "Prior to setting up the company, I worked with a manufacturer who had this little room where it kept marmosets. I couldn't understand why they were kept in cages with no access to the outside world just to test haircare products for humans. I thought it was inhumane and cruel, but there was not much I could do. When I asked them why they did it, they just said it was necessary for making skin and haircare products."
Another way But when he branched out with Mitchell, who sadly died in 1989, he wanted to prove there was another way.
"It is our belief that if our products are good enough for humans, then we should stick them in our own eyes", says Dejoria. "In the beginning I was producing a baby shampoo and I put it in my eye and it really stung. I told the guy who was making it to put it in his own eye before he brought it to me in the future.
"Our network of salons test our products and we test them ourselves before they get to the salons. I think this is the only accurate way to ensure our products are fit for humans to use."Not only does the company not test its products on animals, but it insists every supplier it works with signs a pledge that it will not test any of its ingredients on animals either.
"For us, producing the highest-quality professional haircare available is simply not enough," he says. "Paul Mitchell is, and always will be, dedicated to making our world a more beautiful place. We were the first professional beauty company to stand up against animal testing, and we've long been a leader in the global effort to protect consumers from tampered products. Our commitment to caring for people and the planet is a driving force in everything we do."
Protecting the environment tooThis commitment is evident in the company's efforts to protect the environment as well as the animals that rely on it.
Through partnerships with leading re-forestation organisations, Paul Mitchell Systems has funded the planting of enough trees to offset all carbon emissions produced by the manufacture and distribution of its popular Tea Tree brand…and then some.
Paul Mitchell Systems' Tea Tree Brand
With its motto 'reduce, re-use, recycle and respect', an in-house 'green team' brings together employees from all corporate offices, the field and Paul Mitchell Schools to brainstorm 'green ideas' that can be implemented at home and in its offices-everything from using recycled materials to carpooling incentives for staff. The company now uses eco- friendly printing and packaging options whenever possible.
The brand also supports charities around the world, including Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Food4Africa, and the homeless organisation, Chrysalis.
"I believe that every human being wants to do something big and to make a change while they are alive," he says. "And the biggest thing you can do is to do something for another living soul. Animals are living souls and the least we can do is look after them, even if we don't get a thank you."
While its haircare range is well known around the world, what Beauty Without The Beasts readers probably don't know is that the company also has a range for our four-legged chums!
John Paul Pet has products for dogs, cats and horses, featuring shampoos, conditioners and wipes and including a range that is paraben and EDTA-free.
John Paul Pet - tested on humans, not animals!
Dejoria said: "I have four golden retrievers and I used to have a cat. They helped to create the range by choosing their favourite scent. On all our packaging we state that our pet products have been 'tested on humans, not animals'." Commenting on the move from human to pet products, he added: "With more than 30 years in the professional salon business, we know what it takes to keep hair and skin healthy. And the same experience applies to our animal companions. Just as you care what goes into your pet's food, it's equally important to care about what goes on their coat and skin. John Paul Pet has developed the first comprehensive system of pet care products that not only improves your pet's appearance, but their overall health and longevity as well.
"With our botanically-enriched shampoos, conditioners and hygienic pet wipes, you can now deep clean, deodorise and maintain your pet from head to tail - eyes, ears, teeth, paws and coat. And, since your pet's skin chemistry is different than humans, you want to be sure that the products you use are safe and specially formulated for their unique needs. All of John Paul Pet Shampoos are pH balanced to meet your pet's needs."
You can find out more about the work of John Paul Systems in helping to bring about a worldwide ban on animal testing in our recent feature on EU efforts to stamp out the practise.