- + Founder Q&A
Q&A WITH FOUNDER BROOK HARVEY-TAYLOR
Brook Harvey-Taylor drew from a background in aromatherapy—and an early love for scents—when she began the innovative brand Pacifica. Together with husband Billy, Brook devoted herself to creating quality, eco-friendly scents that are complex, yet fun and easy to wear. The fragrance line has now expanded to body and skin care and even cosmetics, all made with a dedication to natural, effective, ingredients. We spoke with Brook about her origin story and what makes Pacifica a great fit for Pharmaca.
How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
I didn’t really start out in the beauty industry. This brand is sort of my life story in products. I have always had a keen sense of smell. When I was a kid, I would pick herbs around our creek where I rode my horse, and I would make my own tinctures using spices from our kitchen and pretend I was a medicine woman. My mom was always into natural ingredients and due to health issues, she followed a strict macrobiotic diet. When I was a teen, she was one of the early members of our natural food co-op, and my mom, sister and I worked there to get our membership. I chose to work in the beauty department. I always gravitated to the natural products world and specifically beauty.
I started making products with natural ingredients because I knew that we could do better for women. Our core value is compassion, for women, animals and the planet. I believe that everyone deserves the best products using the best ingredients at accessible prices.
Pacifica started in fragrances and home goods, but now you have skin care, cosmetics, bath & body, and hair care. What was the learning curve like when you started to branch out into these other products?
Yes, we started with a line of seven perfumes that quickly moved into candles and body butters. At the time, boutique perfumes were not a thing and there was no market for what we were doing. So, putting the scents into home goods gave us a position. But we always saw ourselves as a beauty line. As we moved into new categories, we stayed rooted in scent and aromatherapy benefits—this has been our true guide.
As for the learning curve, one of the most challenging things for me was having chemists say things like, “just use this stock formula. Women won’t mind, it’s the packaging that matters.” As if women aren’t smart enough to know what is better for them. I think that the beauty industry has not given women enough credit.
What is the process like for developing new Pacifica formulations
We can spend years developing our formulas. We work with a few incredible chemists who help bring our innovations and ideas to life. The most important part is making sure they meet our ingredient parameters, since we have a huge list of ingredients that we will and won’t use. We are super specific in our requirements around texture, feel, ease of use and ingredients.
Before we decide on a final formula, our Product Development team vets the ingredients, and internally, we all use and experience it and provide feedback.
The creative process around creating art and packaging is also extremely important to me. Every color I choose, every pattern on every package has meaning to me both around the ingredient, the intention of the product and the energy I want to express.
Your packaging is beautiful. Where does your design inspiration come from?
First of all, thanks for the sweet compliment! I personally have a hand in every single package. Most of the patterns are symbolic in some way. I also am a huge believer in color therapy, so we focus on using colors that are full of joy and good vibes. I have an amazing small team of in-house designers who are also talented artists. One of the best parts of my job is sitting with them and exploring packaging ideas.
How does your role as a mom play into your dedication to using natural and vegan ingredients?
My hope is that in 10 years, my daughters don’t have to think about what is in their products. They can just assume they are safe. When you become a mom, you start thinking more about what is in everything because you get into mama bear zone. I am still there. Only now I am mama bearing everyone who uses our products!
Do you have any environmental or community-focused initiatives as a company?
YES! We have partnered with Preserve on our recycling program. Preserve is a company that makes razors, toothbrushes and other useful goods out of recycled #5 plastics. With this new program, anyone can recycle most of our products we sell, as long as they are #5, no matter where you purchased them. Our goal is to make it easy for our consumers to participate in the program; to incentivize consumers, so we give loyalty points from our loyalty program when you recycle through us.
We really believe that it’s our responsibility to work towards closed-loop recycling. We also have a zero-waste goal in our own facility. In addition, we donate our excess products to local women’s shelters in Portland. Each year we choose a non-profit to support, and this year one of our big initiatives is to support a vegan Thanksgiving in partnership with the Gentle Barn.
What are your personal favorite Pacifica scents and products?
I am all about the woody notes. My favorite scent is our Himalayan Patchouli Berry. I am also an endless fan of our Dreamy Youth Day and Night Cream. This was one of the first skin care products I created, because selfishly, I wanted a product that really addressed aging skin. Right now, I also use our Super Flower Rapid Response Face Oil every night before bed. And I cannot stress enough how important it is to wash your face. I love all of our cleansers.
Why did you decide to partner with Pharmaca as a retailer?
Pharmaca is such a cool place! I am a person who integrates both natural and Western medicine into my life, and I think this is becoming really common. Yet there are very few places like Pharmaca (I can’t think of any) that serves me personally this way.
I love that Pharmaca takes a very natural approach to health care, yet still is grounded in the reality of how we have to live. I also love that Pharmaca is all about integrating health care into our daily lives by offering a wide variety of health and beauty products.