It all started on my honeymoon in France in 2011. We ate ourselves merry and stayed at fancy-schmancy hotels. Each one had the most beautiful bath products on display, which I promptly snatched up to take home with me.
It was in these fancy hotels that I learned a dirty truth from Sean… These beautiful bath products that I was pocketing were actually fragrance covered crap! No matter the branding or how good the fragrance, the actual products in these hotels were mass produced by giant factories that use subpar ingredients and harmful preservatives in order to keep shelf-life up and costs unrealistically low. And he would know. He owns and operates several luxury boutique hotels. My mind was blown. (Though maybe shouldn’t have been. When I really thought about it, I realized I always brought my own products from home.)
Besides the sneakiness of wrapping low-end product in high-end branding, billions of half empty plastic hotel amenity bottles end up in our oceans and landfills every year, while chemicals from these toxic products seep into our waterways and our bodies.
Thus began a quest to create something better. I had an idea to make a sustainable and natural hotel amenity line that would also look great in a luxury setting—something I couldn't find anywhere on the market. I sought out products from anywhere I could find them, particularly boutique hotels in Europe and Asia.
And then, life got in the way. I had two babies, took on solo responsibility in another business and, went through a massive postpartum period… But then, Lingua Franca was born. It was a complete surprise (my therapist who was helping me through postpartum suggested I find something to do with my hands so I picked up a needle, thread and old cashmere and started sewing funny sayings on sweaters.)
As LF grew into a community of incredible people, who all wanted to make the world into a better place, who were all giving a damn in their own worlds, I got inspired to share with Kate (my first embroidery hire and current COO) my “natural amenities” business idea.
And let me start by saying, it took us 3 years longer we expected. And let me continue by saying, every week has been a learning experience. We have gone through so many revisions and changes. It’s felt, at times, like we’ve been unfeeling a giant onion that never seems to stop having more layers.
The industry has changed so much since we started in 2016, and it’s still rapidly changing as we speak. All of this is to say, we are very proud to present you with our new line of six unique bath products, which officially launched in the rooms of the Bowery Hotel in December 2019.
They were also recently featured in print in this month’s Vogue!
We are thrilled to share these products with you, the most valued members of our community, in hopes that your feedback will help us learn and make changes to them along the way!
But first, we’d love to show you how these products came to be:
From the very start, we wanted to make something that was as environmentally responsible as we could. It took a lot of trial and error (we started out with pouches!), and a lot of research. Here's a brief history of our bottle evolution:
We settled on 3.4 oz bottles made out of 100% post-consumer recycled PET. This means that NO NEW PLASTIC was made in the creation of our products—a step that no other hotel amenity line has taken. We hope to push other companies towards switching to 100% recycled plastic by showing how beautiful it can be!
Our bottles require 75% less energy to produce than virgin plastic, while also actively diverting preventable waste from ending up in landfills.
After many months of trying out all of the natural hair care products on the market, I was convinced that there was an opportunity to create something amazing that is currently missing from the natural, luxury haircare space. We worked with friends, and friends of friends, to find a factory in California that would take the time to help us develop our very own formulas that we could feel were the best in their class. All of our products are pH skin neutral and free of common allergens and harmful ingredients like dyes, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, urea, DEA, TEA, petrolatum, propylene glycol, and silicone.
We spent another 3 years working with a company in Vermont with expertise in natural product development that also makes some of the world's best known luxury bar soaps. With their help, we were able to create something that I truly feel is the best natural bar of soap I've ever used. I hope you agree!
We spent two years smelling hundreds of fragrances from several different fragrance houses. This was one of the coolest (and most challenging) things I've done in my life! We wanted the fragrance to be both luxury and universal. As we learned more and more about the pros and cons of natural vs man-made fragrances, we opted for a responsibly crafted manmade version. Thus, the only non-natural ingredient in our products is the fragrance. There was a lot of thinking behind this decision...
From our conversations with dozens of specialists in the fragrance field, we learned that using all-natural fragrance is often actually less eco-friendly (think about how much water it takes to grow enough lavender to make a one ounce bottle of scent) and frequently involves unfair labor practices. Also, in many cases, natural scents are MORE irritating to skin than fragrances made in labs. So, after almost two years, we settled on our original scent: a blend of vetiver, fig and driftwood.
There are so many other things I could share with you about the crazy journey we went on in the development of this line. Like the time I went to Oaxaca, Mexico and became obsessed with a certain shade of green (for the bottles); or like Annie, our product developer, who we hired straight out of Columbia University to help lead this wild adventure. She was studying neuroscience and I think would agree that at times this project presented more challenges than her syllabi. There are countless tales of having to throw in the towel and start from scratch! In short, this has been sort of the opposite of the overnight success of our sweaters. But, we are committed to the cause and will keep on keeping on until we get you the best product we can! And, with your help, we hope to be in 20oz sustainable bottles in stores around the world in 2021!
If you made it this far, we hope you'll consider purchasing one of our packaged sets (which comes in a pouch made from recycled brushed twill cotton fabric), and won't forget to let us know what you think!