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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Like Paul Harvey..The Rest of the Story: Providence and Grace repackaging response from Jennifer

Repackaging, repackaging, repackaging....this seems to the debate du jour. Does this or that indie mineral or cosmetics company formulate their colours or is this TKB reincarnate #34? I contacted Providence and Grace and asked about the speculation on whether the products are repackaged, what makes them unique, and I was really pleased with how kind Jennifer was and how much time she took to respond. That means something to me. Here is our discussion, directly copied/pasted in full, for full discloure:

My initial email to Providence and Grave via convo from Etsy:

by Kerjoshinoah profile shop


I'm not asking for freebies, I promise. My question is, I've read a few reviews and received some of your shadows as a gift and have heard about the dreaded repackaging being associated with your products. I'd really appreciate if you could clarify for me the formulations, if you create the colours yourself, and what makes P&G unique? I am an avid makeup reviewer and I buy a lot of what I love. I review and swatch and my blog http://www.tiannemarie.blogspot.com is growing with around 200 hits a day. The samples I received I liked, especially Ms. Smith and Vampires and a solution to the repackaging debate would be divine.

Thanks so much,
19 October 2010 10:46am EDT

Jennifer's response:
by ProvidenceAndGrace profile shop contact

I have written a response that I think will clear up the air about Providence and Grace, as well as dispel some common myths about indie makeup companies in general. It is rather lengthy and I think it would be best sent as an email attachment instead of a convo. Can I please have your email address so that I can send it to you? You are more than welcome to use it in whole or in part for your blog, I simply ask that whatever you quote be used in context.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to respond to the issues cropping up. It is all too common for people to make judgments and spread misinformation without giving the other side an opportunity to defend themselves. Thank you for this opportunity!

Thanks again,
Jennifer Ray
20 October 2010 12:25pm EDT

My reply to her:
by Kerjoshinoah profile shop

Hi Jennifer,

That would be great and I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts. I'll be respectful of your words and quote directly, in full.

I agree that sometimes rumours become associated with truth simply because no one takes the time to discern or ask. I'm grateful you are willing to put the record straight and give info for customers to hear your side. It's only fair.

There seems to be a huge hullabaloo about 'repackaging' as though it's some cardinal sin of makeup. I don't see it that way. I think if companies are honest about where they get their products, then I'm fine. If the colours aren't original per se or come from a premade wholesaler or another source but is resold as another 'brand' then I like knowing that, but at the same time, it's not like anything illegal is going on. It's a weird situation. I don't get why there's this witch hunt so to speak of the indie makeup world when so many consumer products are dupes or third party resell or what have you. It seems off balanced and judgmental to me. Plus, I'm not there when business owners put together their inventory, so it's not right for me to say 'it's repackaged' based on a guess. What do you think?

The way I see it is, if I like it I buy it, plain as that.

My email is pierce. tianne [!at] hotmail. com and I am excited to read what you put together.

Thanks again!
20 October 2010 1:19pm EDT

Her response in kind, as an email to me (the first part is her email message and the longer wording is her attachment):

(No Subject)‏

From: Jennifer xxxxx (xxxxx@providenceandgrace.com)
Sent: Wed 10/20/10 11:39 AM
To: pierce. tianne @ hotmail. com
1 attachment Download all attachments (18.1 KB)
Providenc...docx (18.1 KB) View online


Thanks again, I really appreciate this opportunity. The response I wrote covers a lot of issues, not just repackaging, if you only want to use the repackaging part that is perfectly okay. I’ve been meaning to start a blog for awhile now and I think this is a great opportunity to clear the air so I’m probably going to use what I wrote as an opportunity to start my blog, so don’t feel obligated to cover each and everything that I wrote unless you want to. I think honesty is a much bigger issue than repackaging. Most of the products that I sell are my own formulations but I am not ashamed to admit that some are simply repackaged. If the product is great to begin with there is no reason not to. I do take a lot of pride in the colors that I mix myself though, and am very proud to be able to offer a diverse selection. Customer suggestions are always welcome J



P.S. Most of my customers have said very loud and clear that they hate samples in baggies, so I offer clamshells. I don’t always have baggies in stock, I use them for mixing up small batches when I’m testing out new colors and formulations, but anyone who hates clamshells can convo me and ask if I have any available. If I do, I am more than happy to send the samples in the baggies instead of the clamshells.

Email Attachment (copied verbatim in entirety):

[Tianne here, sorry about the wonky formatting. I hit quotes on blogger and then it went a little awkward at the beginning of a couple paragraphs, but I still assert I didn't make any changes other than putting it in quotes and making it purple]

First off let me say thank you for the opportunity to clarify some things that have been said about Providence and Grace recently. I feel it is in the best interest of my customers to be able to see both sides of the story so that they can make more informed decisions for themselves. The first issue I would like to talk about is repackaging. Let me start off by asking a question. If you were to receive a large shipment of one high quality eyeshadow that was the exact color that you were looking for would you change it for the sake of saying that it was not repackaged? Of course not! Very few of my eyeshadows are repackaged. The only reason that I repackage any eyeshadow whatsoever is because it is the exact color and quality that I want to sell. It is easy to find large quantities of low to mid quality pigments at very low prices, however, utilizing those products would be a disservice to my customers. Only the highest quality pigments are used by my company. I have very strict guidelines that I use to decide if a color is worthy of being sold by my company. A few of the criteria that I use are pigmentation, blendability, long lasting, and being hypoallergenic. If a color does not meet all of my standards it is not sold.

I believe an explanation of what my company is and what I strive to achieve will better help to defend my stance on repackaging. There is an abundant number of cosmetic companies in business today who are out to simply make a large profit. Many of the large, well established, companies selling cosmetics today are in it simply to turn a profit. They have very low costs and sell at an extreme profit, making their products only accessible to those who are not struggling financially. In my opinion, the perception that makeup is a luxury, and that “you get what you pay for,” in other words, that you must pay an exorbitant amount of money for a high quality product, is simply a myth. I believe that all women, especially those that may be struggling financially don’t want cosmetics, they need them. Many women derive a sense of self-worth from feeling good about themselves, and they feel good about themselves when they feel that they look good. Women today are under incredible pressure to be “perfect.” The perception is that a woman should be able to juggle a career, motherhood, friendships, and look good while doing it. This can be very stressful for women and I feel that my purpose is to make life less stressful. The cosmetics that I provide are high quality, affordable, and easy to apply. I feel that the products I offer allow women to obtain a larger selection of makeup that is high quality and easy to apply. If I can, in any way, aid women in rebuilding their self image, I believe I should do so. Do I repackage? Yes, occasionally, but only the highest quality cosmetics are repackaged in order to keep prices affordable and allow all women the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of makeup.

The colors that I create myself are blends of several different pigments that create unique or specific shades that either I was personally looking for or my customers have requested. I do not add filler or bulk to my cosmetics. I have read many companies claiming that certain ingredients that they add will help with adhesion, glide, and characteristics of that nature. I have personally tried more than 20 such additives in my cosmetics and have found no benefit whatsoever to the final product. The only benefit that I have found is that these filler products are cheaper than the original pigment which in turn creates a larger profit for those who consistently add these additives to their products. After much trial, error, and experimentation I have come to firmly believe that additives in small amounts add no perceivable benefits to the final product and can, in fact, diminish the quality of the original pigment.

Repackaging has become an issue among purveyors of indie makeup companies. Let me explain why. Many companies do repackage, and several repackage low to mid quality cosmetics. That practice gives repackaging a bad reputation. I don’t know of any women who need a pound of any one single color. On top of that, although the price per gram is low, the overall cost is prohibitive to the average consumer. Repackaging high quality cosmetics make them affordable for everyone, not just those who consistently use the same color every day, and plan on doing so for the next decade or so. I believe the greatest disservice to the indie cosmetics community is the practice of taking bulk cosmetics and adding “filler”, allowing a company to say that they do not repackage. Another unethical practice is the addition of ingredients in amounts so low, generally 1% or less) that they add no benefits to the original product. These companies do not repackage, and their labels/listings claim the benefits of certain luxury ingredients, but none of those qualities are actually discernable to the customer. In other words, both repackaging and not repackaging can be issues. Consumers must make informed decisions based on facts, not on perceptions or uninformed opinions.

Recently Providence and Grace has come under scrutiny for the fact that our lipsticks are technically mica infused lip balms. While I can understand that sounding like a bad thing it in fact is not. All lipsticks, regardless of whether they were bought from a department store, drug store, or an indie makeup company are simply an infusion of colorant into a lipstick base. This does not by any means indicate that I do not personally test each and every lipstick that I make to ensure a high quality, well formulated lip product. There is simply no other means of introducing color into a lipstick than to infuse it with the base.

Another common misconception is that the term base refers to something “cheap,” of poor quality, and laden with chemicals and preservatives. While this can be true, and is true in the case of many companies, it is not necessarily true and certainly is not in the case of Providence and Grace. The bases that I create are my own personal formulations. Each and every base that I use is hand made by me. Months of research, trial, and error have gone into the bases that I create. Some people have commented that I either use a lipstick base that they have never heard of before or that they can’t figure out who my supplier is, based up on the ingredients list that I provide. Let me assure you that my ingredients list is 100% correct, I firmly believe in disclosing all ingredients so that consumers can make highly informed decisions. The reason why no one can find the supplier for my lipstick/lipbalm base is because I make it myself. Every ingredient that I use serves a purpose and is of the highest quality.

I am extremely proud of the beeswax that I use. 100% of my beeswax comes from my father’s bee farm located in rural Indiana. There are many abhorrent practices among bee farmers, but to make a long story short, my Dad runs a cruelty-free bee farm. He truly cares for his bees and will not hesitate to turn a loss if it means that his bees are well taken care of. The beeswax is unrefined, unfiltered, and unbleached. The refining, filtering, and bleaching processes that most beeswax undergo removes precious nutrients, minerals, and other naturally occurring compounds that can heal, protect, and nourish our lips. Most companies use bleached, refined, and filtered beeswax to remove they sweet earthy smell associated with raw beeswax. I personally do not find this smell in any way offensive, and feel that the benefits of the natural wax far outweigh any honey like smell that is found in my lip products.

I have heard of people saying that my lip products are drying. I have never had that problem with any of the lipsticks that I sell. I have, however, recently reformulated my lipsticks to make them even more moisturizing than before in an attempt to alleviate any problems that my customers were having with my original formulation. I strive for 100% customer satisfaction and find it very sad that anyone would have a problem with any of my cosmetics and not bring it to my attention. I want to make things right. I understand that most companies do not truly care for their customers and have very little concern for any comments or complaints. For anyone with any type of issue concerning any indie makeup company, not just my own, I encourage you to speak to the owner before posting any negative comments or feedback. You may be surprised at how honest, genuine, and concerned we are about you and your experience with our products.

There is also some misinformation floating on the internet about the switch from Allure By Jen to Providence and Grace. This change was by no means an attempt to move away from Allure By Jen because of negative feedback, lack of sales, or bad PR in general. When I first opened Allure By Jen I wanted to start a company but wasn’t sure what name I should choose. At the time Allure By Jen seemed like a good name, Allure (beauty or attraction) by Jen (made by me). Over time I realized that the name did not fully encompass what I strive to be as a company and did not have the personal meaning that I had wanted. My company’s new name, Providence and Grace encompasses all that I strive to be as a company and is a much more fitting name. First and foremost in my life is my faith. I truly view this business as a blessing from God. There are two definitions in the dictionary for providence that truly encompass who I am, and what my company is. The first definition is “the wisdom, care, and guidance believed to be provided by God” {Encarta Dictionary: English (North America).} The second is “good judgment and foresight in the management of affairs or resources” (Encarta.) I believe that my company is a blessing from God, and that it is my solemn duty to manage is with good judgment and foresight.

Grace has three different definitions that I feel embody my company. The first is “gift of God to humankind”, the second is “elegance,” and the third is “generosity of spirit” (Encarta.) As I stated before this business is a blessing (or gift) from God to my family. I strive to allow all women to feel elegant and beautiful, and last but not least, I feel that my prices are a generous in the sense that they allow women to indulge themselves in a wide selection of products.

There have also been comments regarding the use of photo editing software with my pictures. I have recently read a comment that I used an African American model and then edited the lips onto the skin of a Caucasian. That is not true at all. I use myself and my family members for all of my models, and we are all Caucasian. I would never even dream of degrading African Americans by removing their skin tone and replacing it with a Caucasian skin tone. As a matter of fact I would love to have models with skin tones other than my own; I love the diversity of skin colors that the world has to offer. Right now my business is by no means large enough to employ an actual model so I use myself and my family as models. One day I hope to be able to provide multiple pictures of every product that I sell on many different skin tones.

The picture in question is actually a picture of me. I have blotchy skin around my mouth and have a huge amount of freckles as well. I personally don’t mind at all, it is just a part of who I am. On the other hand, customers were actually making comments about how I needed a new model with better skin. As a company it is my job to give my customers what they want so I simply replaced my actual skin with a flesh tone in the pictures. The lips themselves were not changed, only the surrounding skin. I feel that it is obvious from my pictures that I am simply trying to highlight the beautiful color of my products, and not attempting to hide the fact that it is a cut-out placed on a flesh-tone background.

With this business I strive to utilize providence (good judgment) in all that I do while use the grace that has been given me to help others. Along the lines of the words grace and generosity I would like to point out that 15% of my gross sales are donated to causes that help people both in my local community and abroad. I do not do this as a marketing ploy or a tax deduction. I strongly feel that it is my duty to give back to those around me. I believe that many people who are “down and out” simply need someone to help them up and give them the resources that they need to be able to stand on their own two feet.

The last point that I would like to discuss is the fact that not all of my products are vegan. Somewhere along the lines there was a breakdown in communication and the word got out that Providence and Grace was a strictly vegan company. I never meant to make anyone think that every product that I sell is 100% vegan friendly. Many of my items are labeled as vegan friendly because they are. There has been some confusion though that since some of my products were vegan then they must all be. This has recently been brought to my attention and I promise to update my listings for non-vegan friendly items to specifically state that they are not vegan friendly. I have a 100% disclosure policy for my ingredients and truly feel bad if anyone thought that they were buying a vegan product, only to find out that it wasn’t after they had purchased it. It will take me some time to update all of my listings but I give my word that all products will be updated with a vegan or not vegan friendly rating.

Once again thank you so much for the opportunity to dispel some myths and clear the air about Providence and Grace. To sum it all up: Do we repackage? Yes, but only a few of our products are repackaged and they are of the highest quality. This allows us to provide extremely affordable cosmetics to all women. With today’s economy it is more important than ever that women be given an opportunity to purchase affordable high quality cosmetics. Are our lipsticks mica-infused lip balms? Yes, as are all other lipsticks that utilize minerals for their colorants. The only other option is lip balm infused with FD&C dyes and lakes. Do I use a base? Yes, and it is 100% my own formulation, made by me, using only the finest ingredients. Are my lip products drying? I have never had that experience; however, if anyone has I encourage them to speak to me about it. The only way that we can grow as a company is to understand the needs and experiences of our customers. Am I switching from the name Allure By Jen to Providence and Grace to try and outrun any negative feedback or comments? Most definitely not! The new name has a very personal and special meaning to me and is more fitting for me and my company. Do I photo edit? Yes I do, but never do I change the color of the cosmetic in question, I only change the surrounding skin to “clean up” the picture and I would never change the skin tone from one ethnicity to another. Are all of my products vegan friendly? No, the products that I carry which are vegan friendly are clearly labeled as such. I will update all of my listing with a vegan friendly rating so that there is no longer any confusion about this.

My company is based upon the principle that I would never sell a product that I would not personally use myself. All of my ingredients are of the highest quality and I fully disclose all ingredients that I use. I feel that this business is much more than just a job, it is a way for me to give back to others, both financially and as a means to give people the opportunity to afford a wide range and selection of their favorite colors. I take my business very personally and very seriously. I view each and every product that I send out, along with my customer service, to be a direct reflection of who I am as a person and what my company stands for.

Here's my thoughts: A lot of indie companies are women learning to grow a business and I think there can be some leeway given. This is just my brain at work here. I don't need to be the repackaging Nazi and it sounds like P&G has some love and thought put into it. I'd hate to see someone's hard work and time affected negatively by speculation. I value Jennifer's time taken to address the worries and I like what she had to say. It's affected my opinion of Providence and Grace and because of this, I think shopping with them is a great idea. This world has too many big problems in it for me to stress over makeup and I am thankful Jennifer took the time to share her thoughts. I hope it helps someone out there make an informed decision about Providence and Grace and enjoy makeup for what it is: Something to make us beautiful.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope this helps!



Anonymous said...

The only thing that bothers me really about companies repackaging is, I thought that it wasn't allowed on Etsy that's all. But I have seen alot on Etsy (Not talking about P & G) of repackages of TKBs hilites, and travel to pigments.

And what gets me is so many on Etsy selling the flourescents that are only approved for novelty use, NOT eye use. Some do state that technically it is not approved, but some don't mention it at all and sell it like it's eyeshadow they made.

One of those companies even tells a blatent lie in there announcement page that states "all our makeup is vegan, there is no such thing as mineral makeup that isnt, just sayin" seriously? That company though, I'm not sure but I think it may just be a couple of kids.

That kinda thing is when repacking bothers me. I understand TKB has loads of micas that are beautiful as is. The reason I personally don't repackage is simply because so many other people are already selling those colors. I want to be different (and maybe a little "strange" lol).

TianneMarie said...

I really value your input on this- thank you! I think Etsy buyers leave themselves vulnerable. It's pretty easy to set up shoppe on Etsy and make whatever claim you'd like.

I think too, a lot of sellers aren't aware of the issues repackaging or ingredient snafus may cause. I think truly a lot of them are honest women who had their hearts in the right place but just weren't savvy on what's considered a faux pas or what unallowed.

The quality control on Etsy appears to be an unspoken trust by buyers that sellers will be straight up and if they're not, nothing really happens unless the seller gets called out. Does Etsy follow through like Ebay on policy and procedures?

I can see where repackaging would be an issue. For me, I just want to know. List your colours that aren't your own. It's all a matter of disclosure. That won't discourage me from shopping because I agree with Jennifer- hey if it's gorgeous, I'll love it and thank you for providing it. I also don't want 50g of it either, so I appreciate the smaller sizes indie sellers provide.

Anyone who blatantly misrepresents themselves needs to fly straight, disclose the truth, or close up shoppe. That's my thought on that. Please don't lie to me to get my $- especially on an issue of veganism. There are some hard core vegans out there who would be really offended to be misinformed. As for me, I'm not concerned if a product is vegan or not...but if I were and it turned out to be a mistruth on animal products, that would cause me to not buy again.

I also wonder if there is any accountability like this for big names like Estee Lauder/L'Oreal, etc...or maybe it's just a matter of those types of co's being so big, consumer voices are like fleas screaming at a castle. Who knows?

All I know is that I don't want to pay too much. I want the products to be what they claim to be and do what they claim to do and have a nice package to open it from. I'm an easy pleasey girl :)

For the record, Persephone, I appreciate your clarity and I am excited to check out your stuff!

Anonymous said...

I think alot of people don't like the repacking also because you can go to TKB and get up to a tablespoon of some micas for 1.50. I think thats most of it you know, these customers get there order and swatch and then they're like "Wait a sec! I couldve got more this this for $1.50 and I just paid like $7 for half the amount!" It's just very hard not be price driven these days, that's all.
You should get your order soon, btw (hopefully if they dont send it back again :/ )

Goddess said...

Whew! That was a mind full wasn't it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of good reputable companies out there and yet it is the scum that ruin it all. I know that scum is a harsh word, but think about it. A pond is beautiful and tranquil, as the temp rises so does the algae levels which in fact creates a scum and blemishes the beauty of the pond. Things can't breathe and become choked out. The same can be said about companies who are legit and want to sell a good product. But where there is money there is greed. The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar revenue and everyone wants a piece and they don't care who or how they destroy companies and clientel. Trust me, I have worked in the beauty industry to know all the cruel back-stabbing tricks in the book. It is a buyer beware world and vanity is a sin.....love that thought. People dont care when it comes to vanity, just look at the botched jobs of those who didn't care how to look good, unfortunately they will have a permanent reminder when they look in the mirror. Thanks for the vote of confidence and research into P & G. I will put them on my list of companies to buy from.

The Peach said...

What a great response from Jen. I have not ordered from either Allure By Jen or Providence & Grace, but I would not hesitate to do so. I think her response to you was very professional and nailed it on the head! I'm glad you took the time to contact her and share this information with us.

TianneMarie said...

Hi Persephone- I agree...if you can get the smaller amounts from TKB then yep, if I got charged the markup under the premise of 'all original' formulas...I would be peeved. THAT is the issue with repackaging. Just be clear is my motto. Speak the truf!

TianneMarie said...

Hi Goddess {{{hug}}} I like your analogy...and it's true, some people don't have integrity and will sell you their grandma for a profit. BUT I truly think a lot of Etsy sellers mean well and once they realize buyers have an issue with repackaged pigments, they phase them out. I'd rather educate than judge or label a shoppe and then they lose business over a mistake. I'd rather build someone up, but then again, I don't want to be taken for a kindly fool.

TianneMarie said...

Hi Peach! I agree with you! I think Jen handled it perfectly and from now on, I'm going to ask and not assume. I've found most sellers are friendly and really want women to love their stuff. To me, that's different than being shady. So rock on P&G! :)

SilhouetteScreams said...

I like her response for the most part, but I think she's confusing fillers with a base. She says she tried additives and they didn't help whatsoever with adhesion, which I find a bit hard to believe =/ some of the samples I have adhere well, but Starlet was awful! Pretty much any additive would help that shade.

My only problem with repackaging is pretty much the price thing and if people do it dishonestly - basically what Perseophone said about paying $7 for something you can get more of at $1.50

Great response though, thanks for clearing things up :)

TianneMarie said...

Hi Silhouette! I agree with you too. Don't overcharge and be straight up. Thanks for the filler info. I notice when performance isn't so hot but I am learning the reasons why slowly- so that helps!

MartianDelights said...

I agree with the above comments as well. I don't have a clue about what is repackaged and what isn't. Seeing Grey's post, I just thought that they probably were because the ones I have seen are just straightforward colours, with no real complexity. I wouldn't have known either way otherwise.
I think repackaging should be clear to the customer. Nothing wrong with repackaging, some shades are really nice indeed, and yes I can understand the mark-up statements. Fair enough.
It would also help us not get dupes and all that.
And I am looking forward to Jen's new lipstick formula. I like the old one, the colours are lovely (check out Hawaii) and if they feel a bit drying, they work really well over a layer of lipbalm :)

TianneMarie said...

Hey Lorraine :) I think you summed it up perfectly. I really want to try Hawaii. I'm adding it to my list. It's so long now...I'll be 50 by the time I catch up :)