Pangea Organics, a natural skincare company based in Boulder, Colorado, and sold in stores like Whole Foods, has changed its business model to include direct selling—and is banking on the yoga teaching community to climb aboard.
“I’m a yogi, and I’ve been in the yoga world for a decade,” Pangea’s founder CEO Joshua Onysko told Buzz. “A lot of friends, even those who are successful yoga teachers, aren’t making a lot of money. This can help them, and it’s something they can believe in from the bottom to the top.”
Direct selling, also called social selling or multilevel marketing, is the model used by companies like Pampered Chef, whose consultants host parties to let their friends try out and buy new products, and have the opportunity to become salespeople of those products themselves.
In the Pangea model “Beauty Ecologists” make an investment of $199 and get the tools they need to start selling. They receive a 25-30 percent commission on all product sales. And if they get their friends to sell, too, they also receive a small percentage of those sales.
Pangea Organics, which launched in 2000 has earned accolades for its commitment to sustainably harvested natural products for its skincare line and biodegradable (even plantable) packaging, has annual sales of more than $12 million and is sold in 400 natural products retailers nationwide. Onysko says that by summer’s end the products will only be sold in about 250 retail outlets. And as the direct selling takes off, the company will eliminate product sales to the public through its website.
The main benefit of this business change, Onysko says, is that it will allow the company to expand its reach beyond the natural products market—even if its customer base is the same demographic of people who shop for organic produce. “Two out of 10 or 12 people who go to places like Whole Foods go into the body care department,” he explains.
The change also supports the company’s mission to give back, Onysko says, in this case to the brand’s loyal consumers who choose to sell the products. The company also supports organic and fair trade agriculture practices in sourcing ingredients for products.
“We’re able to build direct relationships to farmers, and we’re able to redistribute that wealth to the consumer,” he says. “It’s enabling people to live their passion, live the way they want to live, and sell a product that they really believe in.”
This spring Onysko launched the Pangea Movement Tour, traveling mostly to yoga studios throughout the U.S. to spread the word about his company’s new business model. He’s said he’s not exactly targeting the yoga community, but as a yoga practitioner, it was a good place for him to start.
Some prominent yoga teachers have signed on, including Tommy Rosen and Elena Brower.
Onysko told Buzz that he doesn’t believe in hiring a celebrity spokesperson, as many larger cosmetic and skincare companies do, but having high-profile yoga teachers is different because they are “compensated based on what they decide to do, not what we pay them to do.” Brower’s image, meanwhile, has been widely used in Pangea’s recent promotions.
As for her decision to get involved, Brower, founder of Virayoga in New York City and a frequent Yoga Journal contributor and Conference presenter, cites less travel and more family time as the top priorities. With some 250 people signed on with her, she is one of the most successful Pangea salespeople. But she also says she’s passionate about reducing toxins in our waste stream and promoting more ecological alternatives, and helping other yoga teachers find additional channels to support themselves. “Often I see how hard it is for yoga teachers to believe they should earn a real income for their work,” she says.
“For me, the measures of whether I’ll choose a source of income are intention and integrity,” she says.