Getting to Know Luke Penney, the Founder of LEAP Organics
Like all beauty junkies, we love learning about new brands. But for us to consider bringing one into Follain, it needs to do more than pass our clean standards. We’re looking for brands with a purpose as powerful as their products. That’s why we were so excited about the relaunch of LEAP Organics, which creates cruelty-free skincare products, all certified to the USDA’s organic standards—a rare distinction, even in the clean beauty world. The company, which was founded by Luke Penney in 2010, is also committed to using renewable energy and recyclable packaging, and giving back to environmental non-profits as a member of 1% For the Planet.
After taking some time off, LEAP Organics is back with four new skincare products available exclusively at Follain. To celebrate, we caught up with Luke to learn more about how he got started, the values behind his brand, and what’s up next for LEAP.
What inspired you to create LEAP Organics?
I couldn’t find quality skincare products that were truly certified organic, fairly priced, and from a brand that stood for something positive. I had also always been inspired by mission-driven companies like Patagonia, Clif Bar, and Stonyfield, each of which has environmental and social causes at their core in addition to making awesome products.
Where does the name LEAP come from?
At the time I started brainstorming what LEAP could be, I was in a traditional corporate America job, which I was grateful to have, but it was not feeding my soul, so to speak. I wanted to do something I genuinely cared about. So, after spending almost two years researching all of the best ingredients, formulations, and business practices, I left my job and took the leap! Which is, yes, from where the company name originates: Doing something bold, something new, something you’re passionate about that can also make a difference…taking that LEAP forward!
What makes LEAP Organics unique?
I think what sets us apart, even in the clean beauty space, is that all of our products are USDA-certified organic. Additionally, we’ve been a Certified B Corp since inception, meaning we meet rigorous standards of transparency and social and environmental responsibility. We use renewable energy and recyclable packaging, we’re cruelty-free, and we also give back to environmental non-profits as a member of 1% For the Planet. We have a pretty straightforward approach to skincare in that we’re not trying to oversell customers with expensive products or longer routines. We want to make products that people need every day, and we want to do this at fair and accessible price points.
Most people recognize the term “organic” as a food-grade distinction. Why was it important for you to create personal care products with the USDA certification?
For two main reasons: One, we believe that what you put on your body is as important as what you put in it, and we want to provide customers with products they can trust and feel good about using every day. Two, we believe in supporting agriculture that does not use toxic pesticides and chemicals that can be harmful both to the environment and to the health of the farmers. For us, certified organic products are as clean as “clean” can get!
If you were to add a product to the LEAP Organic line, what would it be and why?
We’ve actually been working on the development of two new USDA-certified organic body washes that we hope to launch this winter. For many people, the few minutes they have in the shower is often the only time they have to themselves during the day, and we wanted to make a product that people would look forward to using during that time. Our body washes will be some of the only USDA-certified organic ones on the market, and they have an unbelievably rich, moisturizing lather that rinses clean, without harshness or sliminess. Plus, they smell amazing!
What excites you about partnering with Follain?
I’ve known Tara Foley since Follain was in the idea phase, and it was clear from the start that she was creating a really special and unique retail setting with incredibly high standards for ingredient safety and product effectiveness. Follain is a perfect partner for LEAP because our product and ingredient philosophies are aligned. Plus, both companies are Boston-based, and it’s cool to think that we could be putting Boston on the map as a place where exciting things are happening in the clean beauty and healthy consumer products space.
How would you like customers to think about your brand?
It’d be great if LEAP was thought of as “the feel-good organic skincare brand for everyone.” I’d be really proud of that.
What’s your favorite non-LEAP product at Follain?
This has to be the Raw Elements Natural Sunscreen. Being outside so much, I try to be really mindful of protecting my skin from the sun. I also care about using a natural product that is safer for me and the environment.
Overall, what are you most proud of?
Over the last six years, I’ve been an adjunct professor at Colby College, my alma mater, where I teach a course called “Sustainable & Socially-Responsible Business.” Being able to have an impact on the students’ education and in some small way help develop the next generation of environmentally and socially conscious leaders has been one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences of my life.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Anytime I have some free time, I’m usually doing something active outside, anywhere in New England: biking on the Cape Cod Rail Trails, going for a run around the Charles River in Boston, hiking up in Vermont, or playing golf in Maine. As long as it’s outside and I’m with friends and family having fun, it’s going to be a great day!
November 5, 2018