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Top tricks for getting your product certified



Small Business

By Bridget Carmady

By: Bridget Carmady, BNat, BHSc (Hons), Founder of Clémence Organics

With my background as a naturopath I have always been passionate about health and sharing the benefits of living a natural and organic lifestyle with others. I studied naturopathy because I found it so beneficial for my health, and for the health of my family and friends.

In fact, in my final year of university it was my father’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent radiation that helped kick-start my career in organic skincare. Seeing what a difference a simple change of skin cream could make to his radiation dermatitis when compared to other patients on the oncology ward was a game-changer for me.

When I went on to open my own naturopathic practice I began making skincare products for patients with issues such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. I realised that there was a lack of truly organic products on the market that could still deliver the luxurious experience and powerful results of conventional high-end skincare. So, I decided to develop my own, and Clémence Organics was born.

Making it a certified organic brand has always been a dream of mine. Why? Well, with so much green-washing in the skincare industry, it’s a clear way to stand out and prove that what we say is organic, truly is organic. So many brands claim to be ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ but a closer look at their ingredients reveals a list of fillers and preservatives that you don’t want anywhere near your skin.

Choosing which organic certification to go with was relatively easy for us. In Australia there are a few options to consider including Australian Certified Organic (ACO), COSMOS and NASAA. As an aspiring international brand, I wanted certification that was going to be recognisable whether you are in Australia or Austria. As an international standard, currently used in more than 45 countries worldwide, COSMOS fits this bill perfectly.

In Australia, ACO is the approved certifier for COSMOS and so you are able to run everything directly past them in their Brisbane office from start to finish. Here is a brief overview of the ACO COSMOS application process:

  • Ensure all formulations meet COSMOS regulations. We had formulated our products to this standard from the get-go and so this wasn’t too laborious.
  • Apply to ACO for COSMOS approval. This required quite a bit of paperwork including detailed spreadsheets for each and every one of our formulations, including the source of each ingredient and flow-charts for ingredients (how they were produced etc.).
  • Audit meeting with ACO. Thankfully they travel and so we were able to meet locally and go through our company processes, including our environmental policy and how we dealt with things like pest control and waste management.
  • Label approval. Once our formulations were approved, we received the logos and applied these to our labels and unit cartons. These are then sent back to ACO for approval before printing.

Although these steps took us a few months to complete, it is a relatively straight forward process. Having said this I would have loved a few pointers from someone in the know, and so here are my top tips to getting certified:

Get yourself organized first.
As certifiers deal with many businesses on a daily basis it can sometimes take a few days or weeks to hear back from them. Make sure when you do email them with completed forms or requested information that you have everything you need included.

Read the organic standard.
It might seem like a relatively simple suggestion but it can save you a few headaches by being 100% on top of what is allowed and what is not. Most certifying bodies have their standards easily downloadable on their websites.

Give yourself time.
When I first started the process I was under the misconception that it would be a quick process. As there are many forms and cross-checks to go through, it can take a while to get all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Give yourself 3-6 months to finalise the process.

Get clear on the costs.
Certification is not an inexpensive process so make sure you’re on top of the fees and expenses before you dive in. But don’t let this put you off. Think of it of as an investment – it will be well worth it in the end.

Don’t let a certified organic stamp put you off starting.
I launched my brand without certification, knowing that it would be something I could do further down the track as my business and budget grew. Start by purchasing certified organic ingredients wherever possible and clearly label these so that customers know what they’re getting.