The mark of a good entrepreneur is being able to spot a need and then develop a product or service to fill that need.
That’s how Carolinne Wittlin, owner of Playa Post, came up with the idea for her clothing boutique store situated in the beachside community of Playa del Rey.
After a lengthy career in the high fashion industry in New York, Wittlin the California native, moved back to the golden state to be close to family and saw an opportunity to offer socially-conscious brands, high-end clothing and accessories to people who wanted fashion but didn’t want to have to drive into the city.
“I try to focus on brands that are charitable like TOMS sunglasses which is a local company here in Playa Vista,” Wittlin said. “They give back to the community so when you buy a pair of sunglasses they give the gift of sight to somebody either through medical aid or glasses.”
Charity, giving back, and helping others is something that Wittlin has made a part of her business since she opened he doors back in 2012.
In addition to clothes and accessories from brands that have a socially-conscious edge, Playa Post also offers a gift registry service, wardrobe styling, clothing donations to Dress for Success, and non-toxic beauty makeovers.
The store also carries candles by Voluspa, a local candle company located in Irvine.
It was Wittlin’s charitable and helpful nature that led her to Beautycounter, an organization whose mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
The organization recently donated $500,000 to various charities such as Environmental Working Group (EWG), The Breast Cancer Fund (BCF), and Healthy Child Healthy World, which empowers parents and caregivers to protect children from harmful chemicals.
Wittlin started out in the organization as a Consultant a few years ago and now is a Director who has created a team of 30 of her own consultants who are tasked with getting the word out about the dangers of unregulated personal care products.
“Our mission is to get safe products in the hands of everyone, no matter the demographic, no matter the gender, no matter if you use makeup or don’t use makeup, no matter your personal income, we want everybody in the U.S. and beyond to be aware of the ingredients that are in your products.”
Wittlin said that some of the dangerous chemicals in personal care products include formaldehyde, which is found in cigarette smoke and used as an embalming fluid by morticians; and coal tar dyes, which is used as a component in mascara.
Wittlin’s consultants would provide awareness through hosting events and sharing this information with friends and family and letting them test out the non-toxic Beautycounter line.
But the problem goes deeper than just makeup.
“Its not just your makeup,” Wittlin said. “Its your shampoo, it’s your sunscreen, it’s anything you put on your skin.”
Wittlin also regularly hosts social events in her store where she can explain to women all of the risks involved in using products that are unregulated in the United States.
“One woman sharing stories with other women is, we feel, the best way to spread the word,” Wittlin said.
Beautycounter recently sent 100 advocates to Washington, D.C. to represent that they want regulations put in place to assure safety in the products used on the skin.
In Europe, more than 1400 dangerous chemicals are banned for use in personal care products, while here in the United States, according to Wittlin, regulation over dangerous chemicals in makeup and personal care products are minimal at best.
According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, a little over 10 ingredients are banned for use in cosmetics in the United States. In addition, according to the Environmental Working Group, which works to keep harmful chemicals out of personal care products, federal laws designed to ensure the safety of personal care products have remained largely unchanged since 1938.
But things are changing for the better in the United States as senators and other politicians are becoming more aware of this serious health issue.
Last year, California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Maine Senator Susan Collins, introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act. If passed, it would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to test ingredients and issue mandatory recalls for products deemed unsafe.
“Our skin is our largest organ, and it quickly absorbs the chemicals in personal care products,” Senator Feinstein said in a statement. “With increasing evidence that certain ingredients in these products are linked to health concerns, ranging from reproductive disorders to cancer, there is an urgent need to update the 80-year-old law designed to ensure they are safe.”
Wittlin, as part of the Beautycouter mission, sees the Act as a great first step.
“It’s a move in the right direction and there’s even farther to go but it’s a great first step and we celebrate moving in this direction to have more regulation,” Beautycounter said on their website.
Wittlin is glad that the issue has attracted the attention of the two state senators and hopes that their involvement will lead to less incidents such as the class-action lawsuit against Wen Hair Care Products.
The case against Wen came about when women who had used Wen products lost their hair due to the ingredients used in the shampoo.
Wittlin would like to see an end to the use of harmful chemicals in personal care products and short of that, would like to have the amount of U.S. regulation be at least equal to that of Europe.
“The ultimate goal is to have an industry in the U.S. that has more regulation, more testing on ingredients that end up being applied topically to your skin because your skin is your largest organ, anything you put on it gets absorbed into your bloodstream within seconds.”
To purchase the Beautycounter line and learn more about becoming a part of the Beautycounter mission, contact Carolinne Wittlin at her shop Playa Post 221 Culver Blvd Playa del Rey, CA 90293; phone 310-359-6183