In a society obsessed with over-consumption, it's rare to find anyone working in the fashion or beauty sphere that doesn't have this mindset. But for Ben Grace, founder of plastic-free beauty brand SBTRCT, it was his humble lifestyle that led him to starting the business in the first place. "The previous skincare venture I was involved with sold a few years ago, and so I took some time off to reevaluate my life and figure out what I wanted to do next," explains Ben. "I am naturally frugal (I hate waste) and I wasn’t earning, so I bought less and focused more on what really mattered to me.  I found myself happier and more content.  It was this lifestyle change that was the genesis of SBTRCT and perhaps more tellingly our one guiding principal; less is more." Having noticed that "as a generation, we are waking up," Ben believes there are three environmental factors within the industry that need addressing: plastic pollution, water usage and an over reliance on palm oil. "The desire to create high performance skincare that also address these three issues is what brought me to developing solid state products."

So how does he go about it? It's simple, as Ben states. "Take the best proven ingredients such as squalane, glycerine, Granactive Retinoid® and coconut oil. Reduce them down to their most potent form. Negate the need for water-based formulations and single-use plastic packaging, and make them with love here in the UK." The result? Solid skincare that's environmentally-friendly, packaged in biodegradable materials and leaves you with healthy looking visage. What else can you ask for? 

We gave Ben our 8Qs to answer, so we can find out more about this innovative entrepreneur's day to day life.

What is a book that you always come back to and why? 
Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton. It's a book about a Japanese philosophy that celebrates the perfection of imperfection. Beth is a friend of mine and her words in this book are incredible and always help to keep things in perspective. Not only that, but there is a beautiful passage in the book that Beth lets us use on our product packaging….

Less stuff, more soul. 
Less hustle, more ease. Less chaos, more calm.
Less mass consumption, more unique creation.
Less complexity, more clarity.
Less judgement, more forgiveness.
Less bravado, more truth.
Less resistance, more resilience.
Less control, more surrender.
Less head, more heart.

What is your morning ritual like? 
I wake up and either myself or my wife will make us both a coffee which we drink in bed.  I’ll often check my messages and check in with some of the team.  We all have young kids so we’ve found this little window of the day is a good time to catch up quickly before the madness descends before school.

After that I get up and make the kids breakfast and then I go for a run. Running is really important for me. It’s when I am able to make sense of everything going on in my head before starting the day.

I then drop the kids at school, come home and have a shower. I get dressed put on some SBTRCT Moisturising Facial Balm (obviously), and have some granola and blueberries before heading down to my office at the bottom of the garden. From then on, I could be up to anything; speaking with my board, working on new formulations, selling to new retailers or catching up with the team on marketing.   

What is the best piece of advice you've received? 
Nothing changes if nothing changes.

What is an ongoing goal of yours? 
One day I would like to build a house for my family. I really don’t think there is any place like home, and I’d love to really create somewhere that’s beautiful, easy to live in and sustainable. Our current house is a passive house, but we didn’t build it. There are definitely a few things I would change next time around.

What's your party trick? 
I am excellent singer… it’s just people aren’t very good listeners!? 

If you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be? 
I would like to visit Lisbon.  It is a place I have never been.  My wife booked it for me for a birthday present, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.  One day I’ll get there.

Name something that you're grateful for. 
My family.

Name three things that you can't live without. 
Family, sleep and running.

Shop SBTRCT here.

More More More!

+ In Conversation with Neighbourhood Botanicals...

+ Zero Waste Body Wash?

+ Surprise Me!