My Interview with Margot White of The Choosy Chick.
Despite it being the shortest month of the year, and often the snowiest, I must admit that I am partial to February. And, it just might have something to do with the fact that two exciting celebrations come at this time of year: my real-life birthday and my blogging anniversary!
To kick off the virtual party, albeit a tiny bit late, I’d like to shift focus to one of my new favorite (and equally choosy) chicks: Margot White of, you guessed it, The Choosy Chick. After patiently chillin’ up in the category bar for a little over a year now, I am thrilled to tag my first Curiouser Shop feature! And, yes, that is indeed an Alice in Wonderland reference.
Each interview in this series will feature 9 questions with an inspirational shop owner (and quite a bit of meandering along the way). Why 9? Because the number 9 represents attainment, accomplishment, inventiveness, and influence. I want to give companies that live up to these values, both in business and life, a chance to share their stories. I also want to give you, my precious readers, a glimpse into the personalities of those who are using their influence to educate others and make a positive difference in the world.
Disclosure: Margot reached out to me last year to see if I’d be interested in collaborating. After reviewing her site extensively, I felt that The Choosy Chick aligned with the Eco Eccentric values perfectly. I have not yet ordered items from this boutique, however I had planned on buying some products at the conclusion of our interview. Before I could make a purchase, Margot offered to send me a sampler bag as a thank you for taking the time to chat with her. Other than this gift, I am in no way being compensated for writing this feature. Links are NOT affiliated and all photos appearing in this post are used courtesy of The Choosy Chick.
About The Choosiest of Chicks
Margot White is an extremely knowledgeable and passionate woman. Armed with a BS in Community Health Education, she began her career teaching both adults and children. After receiving her MS in Education, she continued to teach middle school Health and Language Arts & Technology. During her 15 years as an educator, she witnessed a puzzling increase in the number of children with special needs.
We live in a world today where we are exposed to thousands of toxins. Cancer, diabetes, asthma, infertility and developmental disorders, among other serious health issues, are on the rise. Protecting those we love is becoming an increasingly difficult job.
As a mother to 4 boys, Margot understands the importance of doing everything possible to protect those that we love. She believes that through education and access to sensible, safe products, we can pave the way for future generations to live healthy, sustainable lives. Luckily, Margot’s husband, Joe, who has a BS in Engineering and works in the healthcare field, shares her passion!
Together, they have created The Choosy Chick, a lovely, naturally selective online boutique. The store strives to provide a one-stop-shop environment for customers looking for the best in organic and nontoxic beauty goods. Their dedication to educating consumers about harmful ingredients in many readily available personal care products is beyond compare.
The real jumping-off point for Margot was learning that the FDA in this country does not have the authority to regulate the cosmetics industry. The Choosy Chick prides itself on commitment to researching, sampling, and selecting pure products, so that their customers can shop with a sense of security. They do the work, so you don’t have to (unless of course you want to).
The boutique currently carries 37 amazing brands (at the time of posting) that create high quality products with consumer safety in mind, including: 100% Pure, Acure, Ahnesti, Au Naturale, BABYBEARSHOP, Babytime! by Episencial, Badger, Biggs & Featherbelle, Buttercup & JAKE, DN-UNIK, Dr Alkaitis, Dr. Sponge, Earth Mama Angel Baby Organics, EVOLVh, Farm to Girl, Fundamental Earth, GRAHAM Gardens, Griffin Remedy, HollyBeth Organics, Honeybee Gardens, Indie Girl, JACK N’ JILL, Josh Rosebrook, Kari Gran, Kimberly Sayer, Max Green Alchemy, MUN, Raw Elements, Rooted Beauty, Schmidt’s, skinnyskinny, Solavedi Organics, Sparklehearts, Splurge Skincare, Suncoat, Tsi-La, and Waxelene.
Keep in mind that the entire line by each brand may not be available, as each product is carefully curated by Margot and her family before being stocked on the site. Individual products must adhere to The Choosy Chick Standard and may not contain any of the toxins on The Big Baddies list (you’ll hear more about these below). Margot is always happy to help make recommendations, whether it be for a particular skin type or hair texture, or for those trying to avoid potential allergens.
I’m presenting this interview as a dialogue, so please let me know if you enjoy this approach. Comments are welcome! Now, without further delay, here’s my chat with Margot!
Rebecca: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat :)
Margot: Well thank you—I appreciate you doing this :)
Rebecca: I’ve read through your entire website, as well as your interviews on Plein Vanity and Clean Beauty Craze. All are quite insightful! Some of my questions may overlap a bit, but for the most part I will try to keep things a little different.
Margot: Okay, sounds great—Kasey and Crystal were both really great to collaborate with.
Rebecca: I can imagine—I try my best to keep up with both of their blogs!
On Standards and Superstars
Margot: Sure—we [Margot and her husband, Joe] started by researching ingredients in our personal care products and, like most people, were shocked at what we discovered. We found so many chemicals that were not tested for safety. We even contacted manufacturers about their processes, as many ingredients become problematic in production.
From there we created a list of Big Baddies—ingredients we no longer wanted to use on our family or ourselves. Problem was, finding products that did not contain these ingredients was almost impossible!
We also discovered that stores really don’t have standards. Products are offered to consumers with absolutely no regard for what they contain or how they are made. We found this to be a problem even in the natural aisles and at so-called healthy stores.
This was frustrating, unacceptable, and inspired us to create our own standard: The Choosy Chick Standard. We strictly adhere to this guideline when making our selections. And, we enforce product safety through our list of Big Baddies. We will not be duped by natural sounding names or claims.
Additionally, products must be effective—we look for superstars! [Anyone else picturing Molly Shannon right now?]
Our partners must share our mission by putting the health and safety of consumers first and by demonstrating sustainable practices for the environment. We support companies that do not test on animals and who provide packaging that is reusable and/or recyclable.
Rebecca: Thank you for sharing! I’ve also found it to be terribly frustrating to go into natural stores, as you mentioned, only to pick up a bottle and see a ton of ingredients I would never use. Even Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Fresh Market have some questionable products. So, I totally understand what you mean.
Margot: I know—it is so maddening! There is so much greenwashing and with no legal definition to the word “natural,” it becomes so confusing for consumers. [For those who may not know, greenwashing is disinformation disseminated by an organization, so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.]
Rebecca: When looking for “superstars,” are there any specific ingredients that you love to see? Rather than focus on the baddies, let’s talk about the ones you love!
Margot: Great! We LOVE to see organic and USDA Organic (although it is not mandatory), as well as products that are ECOCERT certified. We also get really, really excited when we see GMO-Free.
We love to see companies bringing back glass packaging or stainless steel, as we are trying to move away from plastic. In addition to the above, we also like simple, purposeful ingredients.
Rebecca: You are really speaking my language! Glass bottles are amazing and awesome to keep and reuse. Simple ingredients are really important to me because I have a ton of allergies and sensitivities.
Margot: Yes, they [simple ingredients] make it easier to identify triggers. Do you know what causes your reactions?
Rebecca: I do. When it comes to beauty products, I have narrowed my skin reactions to Rose and Tea Tree Essential Oils. I also try to avoid oils or extracts from the foods I can’t eat, like any type of fennel/anise, black pepper, blueberries, soy, dairy, egg, and wheat.
Margot: Wow, Rose? Many products use Rose Water. A lot of allergies, Rebecca! And of course some of the good stuff—though I do avoid soy.
Rebecca: I think one of the most valuable sections of your site is the LEARN tab. Your page explaining the Seals and Certifications was helpful for me and the Reduce Toxins At Home list is a fabulous resource.
Margot: I am happy to hear that! We really want people to understand that we are here to teach them too. I guess it is the educator in me.
On Headaches and Health
Some talk about naturopathic doctors brought us to my next question:
Rebecca: In Kasey’s interview, you mentioned that you have noticed a significant decrease in chronic headaches since going green.
Rebecca: I too am a headache sufferer and I’d love to talk triggers and remedies with you. It might sound strange (or maybe not so much), but I have found that my stress headaches occur toward the back of my head, while my sinus headaches or those resulting from synthetic fragrances manifest behind my eyes.
Did you find that simply changing to natural beauty products helped, or was it a full regimen change (including diet, exercise, and supplementation) that improved your condition?
Margot: I had always exercised, as well as been careful about chemicals in foods, so I have to say the most significant improvement came by changing my personal care products. I have one of those hypersensitive noses and realized that the synthetic fragrance hiding in so many products was a huge trigger for me. Even walking down the detergent aisle gets me!
Rebecca: Have you noticed any other positive improvements to your family’s health and do you have any recommendations for headache/migraine sufferers?
Margot: Yes, in addition to the improvement in headaches, we have noticed dandruff is a thing of the past, less breakouts (pimples), and fewer skin sensitivities. Also, no more burning from chemicals in eye makeup!
Funny about the headaches—we had collected a big bin of “bad” products and every time I came in contact with that bucket, I got a headache. Crazy :)
The other things that help my headaches are regular mild exercise, avoiding sugar in the diet, and I do take Magnesium and B Complex regularly, which seems to help.
I have also heard—3 sets of 10 push ups! This may sound nuts, but it worked for me when I tried it.
I think you get the lengths people go to get rid of headaches! I also like a little Badger Balm on the temples.
Rebecca: Badger Balm was one of the first companies I tried when I went green :) This is great info and I will have to try the push ups!
On Testers and Toothpaste
Rebecca: I’m not going to ask you how you choose which brands are included in your shop because it is clear that they must meet the criteria we discussed above.
Instead, I’m curious about your testers—can you give us a run down of who is involved (I assume yourself and your family?), their skin types, and what each might look for?
Margot: Yes, we have a big family so that covers most of the bases, but I sometimes ask a couple of friends to help as well.
Me—I have dry/sensitive skin. I am always looking for the best age-defying products and those for long, heavy hair. I use things from EVERY line!
Gram—She has dry skin and gray hair. She swears by Badger Joint Rub for everything from sore hips to a sore throat.
Four boys ranging in age from 18 months to 11 years—The boys have skin on the drier side and are sensitive to chemicals in products. For them we love Griffin Remedy and Max Green Shampoo, and Ahnesti hair gel or Josh Rosebrook Styling Cream. For the baby, we use the Episencial Diaper Balm and Buttercup & JAKE’s Calendula Oil and Cocoa Calendula Balm.
My dear friend and number 1 tester, Marisa—She has oily skin and hair, which is the opposite of mine. She is currently using HollyBeth Organics Marigold Cleanser, Schmidt’s Deodorant, Griffin Remedy Lavender Body Lotion, and Acure Facial Scrub. She is very happy!
Rebecca: This is great! I wasn’t expecting such a detailed list, as I know you support all of the brands you carry equally. However, I think these recommendations will give those reading a sneak peak into what they will get when they contact you.
Margot: We LOVE all of our brands and they are all unique and fantastic to work with. We do a lot to support them and applaud their efforts in putting the safety of the consumer first.
Honestly, there is something for everyone in our boutique and customers can feel free to contact me directly for suggestions.
[Guys and gals, you heard the lady! If you need help choosing products, don’t hesitate to send her an e-mail. I can tell you that armed with only my skin & hair type, as well as a list of my allergies, Margot was able to choose perfect products for me to try. That’ll be a post (or perhaps a video) for another day…]
Rebecca: One of the things I love most about online boutiques is that you are all so wonderfully helpful!
Margot: Well thanks!!
Rebecca: Do companies usually approach you or do you prefer to reach out to the ones you are interested in featuring?
Margot: Wow, great question. Well, initially we did the seeking. Now, we do get contacted by quite a few companies that would like to see their products on The Choosy Chick. I always refer them to our standard first and if the products meet our guidelines, we ask for samples.
Rebecca: Is there a type of product that you are looking to add in the future? I see that you have a great selection for kids, which truly makes your shop unique. However, your makeup selection is quite small right now. And I know dental care can be difficult.
Margot: Yes, toothpaste is on the list! It is so hard to find good options, especially without sodium lauryl sulfate.
Rebecca: It really is hard! I’ve only tried Earthpaste and Real Purity so far for toothpaste, but neither would make me stop searching for something better.
Margot: We are also looking for a GREAT BOYS line, or at least one that is packaged for and appealing to guys. All the boys use the same, horrible mainstream products.
Also, we want to extend our makeup offerings and have a few brands in mind.
[Margot is always looking to us bloggers for opinions, so if any of you have a SUPERSTAR recommendation for her, feel free to send her a message, or just leave it in the comments section below!]
On Giving Back
For the next half hour, we got talking about brands not already on The Choosy Chick, but eventually were able to steer back to the final interview topic…
Rebecca: Wow, we really got sidetracked! Ok, so the last topic I’d like to discuss is giving back.
I have always been a huge supporter of various nonprofits, so I’d LOVE to talk a little about the organizations you work with. I find that discussions about causes tends to bring out the best and most passionate responses :)
Your specialty bags look beautiful and I’d love if you could tell everyone a little about Freeset. Why did you choose to work with them?
Margot: Thank you so much for asking about this. We knew we wanted to do specialty bags and were looking for something unique. I definitely did not want plastic and I wanted something that people could use again.
When I found Freeset, we fell in love with what they do. They provide a safe haven and employment for women in India to help them escape trafficking and poverty. It is an amazing organization and the bags that these women create are just stunning.
Here is some more information about Freeset’s mission (from their website):
Freeset is a fair trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. We make quality jute bags and organic cotton t-shirts, but our business is freedom! We would like to see the 10,000 sex workers in our neighborhood empowered with the choice of leaving a profession they never chose in the first place.
The women in Kolkata are offered a choice through Freeset. They can choose to start new lives by working for the organization. All profits from Freeset benefit the women directly, in the way of salaries, health insurance and retirement plans. As the business grows, more women can be employed and freed from the sex trade.
Although a business, Freeset is also a community. The women are often dealing with health problems (including HIV/AIDS) and psychological effects from abuse and exclusion from society. This makes for a challenging workplace and much effort is put into creating a compassionate environment where the women are supported and their needs met.
However, Freeset isn’t just about the transformation of individual lives; it’s also about transformation of the wider community. The Freeset women leave the sex trade but continue to live in their old rooms and neighborhood as agents of change. The dream is that some day the largest, most infamous sex district in Kolkata will be transformed into a safe community that respects the dignity of women and offers new opportunities to their children.
When you buy a Freeset product, you directly participate in a woman’s journey to freedom.
Margot: We are so happy to partner with them.
Our most popular specialty bags are the Chicks Rule! Bag For Girls, The Mom and Baby Bag, and The Choosy Chick Sampler Bag. [Also available are the Fun In The Sun Bag and the Ladies Love It All! Bag.]
Rebecca: Last, are there any other organizations you work with that you’d like to mention, or do you have any initiatives planned for 2015?
Margot: Sure, we currently partner with Women’s Voices for the Earth and The Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut. We’d love to work with the Breast Cancer Fund and other cancer networks that emphasize prevention.
Rebecca: All great causes! Right now I virtually volunteer with The Grey Muzzle Organization, which helps improve the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other non-profit groups nationwide. I’ve also done work for various medical, environmental, and military nonprofits over the years, most notably the John Dau Foundation and Soldiers’ Angels.
Rebecca: I love talking with others who share my spirit! It has been wonderful chatting with you. I really appreciate your time and your passion :)
Margot: You too, Rebecca. Really, you have gone way above and beyond here. Thank you so much!
Purchase from The Choosy Chick
Visit the The Choosy Chick’s website to purchase products and/or a specialty bag!
Prices: The least expensive item available on the site is around $4.99 (JACK N’ JILL Bio Toothbrush). The most expensive will run you $95 (MUN’s No. 1 Aknari Brightening Youth Serum). But, here truly is something for everyone in between those markers.
Did anything Margot said resonate with you? Are there any products or brands you’d like to see on The Choosy Chick in the future? And of course, let me know how you liked my first interview by commenting below!