Jenn and Laith Salameh of J&L Naturals: Five Strategies Our Company Is Using To Tackle Climate Change & Become More Sustainable
Fail quickly and cheaply — Failing is inevitable, so it’s super important to fail with as little waste as possible and as quickly as possible, so that you can learn from your mistakes and adapt.
As part of our series about how companies are becoming more sustainable, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jenn and Laith Salameh with J&L Naturals.
Jenn and Laith Salameh are the husband-and-wife duo behind J&L Naturals — your one-stop-shop for everyday essentials, made ethical. Together, they are redefining the health and beauty industry, transforming it into one that’s kinder to the earth and all who call it home. Sharing their passion for nature, it is their goal to make earth-friendly and sustainable living more accessible to people around the country.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
J&L Naturals was started in 2018 when I, Jenn, got tired of dealing with chronic acne for 15 years. After countless failed attempts to improve my condition using commercial antibiotics and topicals, I felt devastated and decided to try less conventional methods. From there, I fell down a rabbit hole of learning about natural healing. Eventually, I gained a deep understanding of my condition, and how certain natural ingredients could affect it. I ended up creating a natural face salve, and lo and behold — it worked better than anything I had ever tried before. Yes, including expensive serums and medical treatments! Shortly after, Laith developed a rash on his underarms from deodorants made with harsh chemicals. So I thought, ‘could we try the same nature-based approach?’ We did some experimenting and came up with an aluminum-free deodorant, which worked like a miracle! This was our lightbulb moment. Proud of our handmade, natural creations, we began making products for our friends and families too — each according to their unique skin types. But as we began to produce more batches, we noticed another problem: the plastic containers that started to accumulate. We realized that appreciating natural ingredients goes hand in hand with taking care of nature, so we decided to do something about it! J&L Naturals is our way of harnessing the best of nature to help others, while also helping the earth.
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
Our mission is simple: we want to make sustainable and ethical living easier and more accessible to people. You shouldn’t have to choose between the planet and the products you use ever again. The climate crisis is not going anywhere, and it’s the business’ responsibility to adjust and ensure that they’re making a positive contribution to the planet. We’re firm believers that our planet has everything we need. That’s why we focus only on natural, simple ingredients. No sneaky chemicals. No unnecessary fragrances. And nothing else that shouldn’t be in products in the first place. We also believe that it’s not enough to just take from nature — you have to care for it too. At every step of our business, we’re committed to practicing sustainability and responsibility — from our zero-waste containers, to the eco-conscious manufacturers we partner with.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
In our company, we’re guided by what we call the “J&L Difference”:
● Good for you, better for the earth — All our products are 100% vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and preservative-free.
● Locally made with love — Our serums, salves, and other concoctions are made with our own hands, right here in the United States.
● Making a difference with your wallet — We partner with like-minded organizations such as #TeamTrees and #TeamSeas to ensure our sales have a direct positive contribution on the planet and our communities.
● The whole package — Working with our manufacturers, we have developed containers that meet our highest standards of sustainability — such as biodegradable and compostable kraft, and recyclable glass.
● Circularity at our core — Our in-house recycling program takes old empties and recycles them into new products again and again.
Nothing wasted, nothing that ends up in landfills.
We’re committed to offering the highest quality sustainable and ethical products at accessible price points. Because we believe that, to truly make a difference for the earth, sustainability cannot be limited to just a select few who can afford to shop at high-end, organic grocery stores.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious?n Can you share a story or example?
In the past, businesses have gotten away with cutting corners and choosing the cheaper, more economical option — whether that means using non-biodegradable, plastic packaging or simply paying less equitable wages. But with the state of our planet today, it’s every business’ responsibility to be more environmentally conscious throughout the supply chain, or there will simply be no world left for any of us to enjoy. Beyond that, consumers nowadays are smarter and more responsible too. Studies show that consumers across all generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, are willing to pay more for sustainable products, and will even go out of their way to support brands that share the same values as them. The market is certainly there, so balancing profit and purpose is more than possible.
The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
● Bring them outdoors — It’s difficult for children to appreciate and care for something they don’t know. To inspire them to care for the earth, let them spend time outdoors so they can see nature’s beauty firsthand and be more motivated to do their part. It can be as simple as taking walks in the park or weekend camping trips.
● Get involved with your community — Nowadays, there are so many environmental organizations and programs that are open to everyone, such as beach clean-ups or tree-planting activities. You can make it a family affair and join together, so that it can also be an opportunity to spend quality time with each other.
● Come up with simple household rules — It all starts in the home! Try to come up with systems to make your home more sustainable and encourage the whole family to live more mindfully. These rules can include switching off lights and appliances when not in use, separating trash, watering the plants, and more. Remember to explain the significance of each rule and why it matters to the earth, so that your kids don’t feel forced to do it out of obligation.
● Have conversations — The climate crisis is scary. Understandably, we want to protect our kids from harm and worry. But if your kid is a certain age, they probably already hear about the climate crisis anyway. As parents, we won’t be able to solve everything, but the least we can do is not make them feel alone and empower them to take action for their future. So while these conversations may be hard, they have to be had. Give them the facts, and speak from a place of compassion. Let them know that not all hope is lost.
● Lead by example — Kids take after what they see, so the best way to engage them in sustainability is to lead by example! Be mindful of your own everyday actions, even if it’s just picking up trash when you’re out and about, or ditching the straw when eating at restaurants.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
● Embrace your strengths and weaknesses — It’s impossible to be great at everything, but it’s important to understand what you are good at and focus on that. While you need to know how different aspects of your business work, you shouldn’t try to do everything yourself. Spreading yourself too thin won’t get anything done, and it’s okay to ask for help.
● Trust your team — It’s tough to give up control. As a founder, you sometimes want to do things a certain way. But again, you cannot do everything alone. Let your team’s strengths shine!
● Process, process, process — Having the right systems in place can make a huge difference. It’s not easy setting them up when you’re starting out, but the effort pays off. This is something that we constantly try to improve until now, especially as we continue to grow.
● Use the right tools for the job — People don’t often think of this, but investing in the right tools increases efficiency and reduces the time spent on tasks. You’ll have much more energy to spare for more important aspects of the business.
● Fail quickly and cheaply — Failing is inevitable, so it’s super important to fail with as little waste as possible and as quickly as possible, so that you can learn from your mistakes and adapt.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It’s tough to pick just one person as we have such amazing support from our friends, family, and community! Of course, we’re also so grateful to have each other. As husband and wife, being business partners can be difficult at times, especially when we don’t agree on certain things.
Fortunately, we’ve been able to separate our tasks and responsibilities and make a great team (along with our daughter Laila who helps keep us on track).
Here’s one story to show how appreciative we are of everyone’s support. When our company was much smaller and we had just started getting into wholesale, we received three big orders back to back. Laith’s mother who is retired stayed with us to help us fulfill these orders over several weeks. After several weeks of waking up earlier and staying up late, we were able to fulfill them! We wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As a low-waste brand, one thing we really want to do is to inspire people to live mindfully and reduce their waste too. Trash is one of the most notorious culprits that pollutes landfills and waters, while harming precious marinelife and forests. We know that it’s currently impossible to be 100% waste-free, but if we could just encourage one person to recycle, ditch their plastic bag for a reusable tote, or choose refillable products over single-use plastics, then we’re happy. Small, imperfect steps by thousands of people around the world can make a greater impact than you think.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
When it comes to building and running our business, one quote that summarizes and guides our mission is: “The earth is what we all have in common” by Wendell Berry. We may come from different backgrounds, countries, and families. But at the end of the day, we all come home to the same mother earth, so it’s everyone’s responsibility to help nurture and care for it. J&L Naturals is one way for us to do just that.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
Keep posted on our social media pages: @jnlnaturals on Instagram and J&L Naturals LLC on Facebook
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
Jenn and Laith Salameh of J&L Naturals: Five Strategies Our Company Is Using To Tackle Climate… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.