08 August 2012

Paul Mitchell receives the PETA Courage in Commerce Award

From its inception in 1980, the Paul Mitchell company announced that it would not conduct testing on animals as part of its pledge to protect the planet and our animals. This announcement made the hair care company the first professional beauty company to do so.

Since then, Paul Mitchell has become one of the premier beauty companies in the world. When the opportunity to begin selling in China presented itself last year, they entered into an agreement with a distributor whose plan it was to get Paul Mitchell products into the Chinese market with a minimum of fuss.  

Unfortunately, the distributor failed to register the products with the government, unbeknownst to the company itself.   When Paul Mitchell tried to rectify the error and register the products for sale, they were told that animal testing would be required.  At that point, the company “halted all sales [in China] while they investigated the issue.”

Paul Mitchell faced a quandary.  Should they lose the investment they’d made in moving into China, a figure potentially in the millions*, or do they pull back and wait until such time as the Chinese government approved a program that included products free of animal testing?  Given that Paul Mitchell has always been firmly against animal testing, we must presume that the hesitation in making the withdrawal was due to attempts to determine the readiness of the Chinese government to allow non-animal tested products into the market. 

Although many other companies such as Revlon, Avon, and Estee Lauder have entered the Chinese cosmetics market, unlike Paul Mitchell, they did so fully aware of the animal testing policy.  And very recently, Urban Decay attempted to capture a market share, only to be met by such severe public backlash, that they reversed their course.  The baffling part of this is that PETA has been working with both the Chinese government and their scientists to make permanent change.  According to PETA progress is being made and they are hopeful that the change will come soon.

Ultimately, Paul Mitchell made the decision to remove their products from China and wait until PETA’s campaign to change China’s mind about animal testing is successful.  For this reason PETA has presented Paul Mitchell with the Courage in Commerce award.   

*The company was unavailable for comment, therefore the exact figures are unknown.  This is an educated guess.

Fianna MacGregor | Blog | Blog | Twitter | Email

New York City Fianna has been vegan for 36 years. She is currently working on a second M.A. in Human Rights from NYU. When she isn’t veganizing every cookbook she can get her hands on, she’s working her urban farm in New York City. She also writes extensively on veganism, running and green living. Her newest project is to trace everything she buys to find out if it’s cruelty-free (both animal and human) and eco-friendly. Fianna and her fiancĂ© are animal rescuers of dogs, cats and birds.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/evelynishere