Let our microbes live.
Emerging direct-to-consumer brand Concur is getting to the nitty gritty of microbiome matters with a 12-stockkeeping unit range designed to support beneficial bacteria, fungi and viruses inhabiting human skin. Its organic skincare products are made to order with no preservatives, stabilizers and added fragrances, and rely upon slightly acidic preparations to mirror the skin’s ideal pH of 5.5.
“Concur focuses on microbiome protection, and all of our products are formulated to ensure that the healthy bacteria on the skin thrives and the pathogenic or bad bacteria doesn’t,” says founder and CEO Lindsey Moeller. “We work really well for customers that have acne, eczema or psoriasis because a lot of their underlying issues are from a bacterial imbalance. We focus on the root causes of the issues our customers have.”
Concur’s Microbiome Recovery Kit consisting of the cleanser Raw Honey Cleanse, toner Restore Toning Water and cream Quench is at the heart of its product assortment. The kit is available on a subscription basis for $49. The majority of Concur’s sales are from subscribers, and customers repurchase its products at a rate close to 60%, well above the 31% repurchase rate the brand pegs as the industry average. This year, Concur projects its sales could hit $1 million.
“Since we are made to order, the subscription helps us from a production standpoint to be able to scale appropriately. We can predict how much we have to make,” says Moeller. “For the time being, made to order makes sense, and there is a novelty to fresh products that people really love. As we start to uncover packaging solutions that create longevity, we might be able to work with the right retail partners.”
The microbiome has become a buzzword in beauty circles. Moeller explains its rise in the beauty segment follows increased attention paid to the gut in the medical and nutrition fields. She spots many large beauty brands addressing the microbiome—Dove, for instance, released a commercial promoting its Deep Moisture Body Wash as “microbiome gentle”—but argues they’re jumping on a trend rather concocting products with the microbiome in mind.
“Concur focuses on microbiome protection, and all of our products are formulated to ensure that the healthy bacteria on the skin thrives and the pathogenic or bad bacteria doesn’t.”
“We are seeing them trying to retrofit their products to a new marketing campaign, and it doesn’t really fit. They are speaking very vaguely about the importance of the microbiome, but their products have preservatives and aren’t acidic,” says Moeller. “It’s great that they are validating the market and that there’s so much interest. The important thing for us is to educate the consumer so they make the right choices.”
Concur is the outgrowth of a brand Moeller started in 2016 called Balm Skincare. The previous brand’s name was an acronym for Moeller’s name and the names of her sisters: Brooke, Alison and Mara. Due to a trademark issue, Moeller decided to leave behind the name Balm Skincare and tweak the brand to concentrate on the microbiome in its messaging. She elaborates, “The product formulations haven’t changed, but, before, I talked about the microbiome without saying microbiome. I would say bacterial balance is important.”
Launched at the end of last year, Concur kept Balm Skincare’s minimalist packaging, but took it up a notch with bold fonts and tones—bright yellow has joined the color palette—to strengthen the brand image. Although early adopters of Concur’s products are largely familiar with natural skincare, its clean, modern aesthetics are meant to widen its reach to customers accustomed to conventional brands.
Moeller’s path to Concur began in 2013, when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her mother saw better success with alternative treatments than Western medicine, but Moeller says she lacked regular access to alternative treatments in Moeller’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Moeller’s mom passed away from cancer in 2015. A year later, Moeller, who studied biology and molecular genetics at The Ohio State University, established Botavi Labs to improve the availability of alternative treatments by producing custom herbal remedies for naturopathic practitioners and patients. Her skincare recipes found a following and pushed her toward the skincare business.
“I’m a firm believer that, if a company doesn’t offer a product or service that raises society, it shouldn’t exist at all.”
Moeller views Concur as a hybrid health-beauty company. She doesn’t think every day beauty maintenance should be separated from health. Moeller stresses, “The more we close the gap between the two industries, the more will be able to focus on preventative lifestyles to reshape what healthcare looks like in the United States. We are validating this market with skincare, but, in the future, we will expand into all topicals. We will get into shampoos, conditioners, deodorant, body wash and more.”
Concur is in the middle of trying to secure a round of seed funding. Moeller details the money would go toward food-grade packaging to house its preservative-free formulas, marketing, clinical trials and a customization program allowing the brand to individualize products for a person’s microbiome. Concur has been bootstrapped by Moeller to date.
On top of its microbiome protection purpose, the brand has a strong conscious consumption mission. In fact, the main tagline of the company has nothing to do with the microbiome. It’s “The Conscious Company” and underscores Moeller’s advocacy of kinder capitalism. “I’m a firm believer that, if a company doesn’t offer a product or service that raises society, it shouldn’t exist at all,” she says. “It’s important to me that companies are conscious, and consumers are conscious and demanding products that enhance their wellbeing.”
Concur is developing an immersive retail experience that demonstrates the impacts of consumer choices. It may incorporate augmented and virtual reality. Products could be purchased as a part of the experience and made on demand. Moeller says, “The intent would be to share the importance of conscious corporations and consumers, and communicate that Concur is a leading brand in that space.”