How did your RINGANA journey begin?
“We want to do it better” that is what I and my partner in business, Ulla Wannemacher, thought at the beginning of the Nineties when our son came home from kindergarten with a toothpaste containing the questionable ingredient, triclosan.
Several years of research with a team of holistic health practitioners and biochemists culminated in 1996 in the development of RINGANA Fresh Skin Care – a professional range of skin care products that even today remains ahead of its time and which not only meets, but far exceeds, all sustainability requirements.
RINGANA Fresh Skin Care products are not warehoused for lengthy periods, and they contain no chemical preservatives, additives, microplastic or mineral oils. Instead, these products have an expiry date, they contain valuable natural substances and are also vegan and free of animal testing.
These skin care products have since been joined by five further types of product – RINGANA PACKS, CAPS, DRINKS, SPORT and COMPLETE – all of which are fully aligned with the company´s original philosophy and vision.
The little lab from the early days has become a cutting-edge research and production facility, and now forms part of the brand new, state-of-the-art RINGANA Campus in St. Johann in der Haide. But certain things have never changed: the philosophy, the vision, and the drive to make it better.
Where does the name come from?
It refers to a little mountain close by which has the name “Ringkogel”.
Why fresh skin care – and what is fresh skincare?
As already said, we wanted to make it better. The positive effects of freshness can be summed up in four points:
1. it’s all about antioxidants: they are extremely important inside and outside, because they prevent premature cell death. They are virtually rust protection for our cells and are essential for our health. It is no different in nutrition: Mediterranean lifestyles are healthy because they are rich in antioxidants. Different active substances and approaches throw themselves into the firing line for our health. But unfortunately, they have a disadvantage: they oxidise and destroy themselves. Which way can solve this problem? The use of a short shelf life! Other companies are not able to draw from this potpourri – neither qualitatively nor quantitatively – because their products oxidise.
You only have to visualise how cosmetics are largely presented – in a jar that is opened and closed several times a day, thus allowing oxygen in again and again – so no antioxidants can remain. And what’s more: not only one person takes a bite of the contents with their fingertip, which is often covered in bacteria, but sometimes even the whole family – and yet the cream doesn’t get ruined.
How does that work? The answer is: the formulations are over-emulsified, they contain metal soaps, they contain chemicals. And even natural cosmetics on sale have to follow certain guidelines and have to provide shelf lives.
2. fresh cosmetics and fresh supplements don’t need any negative additives. We don’t have to be so stable – because of our short shelf life we can focus on absolute quality – without compromise. Short shelf life means the possibility to do without neutral oils like saturated fatty acids, without over-emulsifying, without preservatives or metal soaps. We leave out what doesn’t work anyway or even has negative effects on people and offer clean cosmetics.
3. freshness enables us to use the free space. In sum, a formulation always consists of 100%. A formulation that does not need 20, 30 or 40% for accessories can contain 20, 30 or 40% more active ingredients. You can replace this space with high-end ingredients. For example, we can use peptides, hyaluronic acid and other highly efficient active ingredients in huge doses. That is why our formulations are not cheap. Where other manufacturers use 0.1% of an active ingredient, we can use 1% – because we have the space.
4. And this is the most interesting point for me: fresh cosmetics are healthy. This healthy nourishment for our body from the outside – via our largest organ, the skin – is often forgotten. It needs protection against free radicals, protection against dehydration, protection against environmental influences. If we want beautiful skin – wrinkle-free, dimple-free, glowing, etc. – we need healthy skin. Beauty, firmness, the natural glow – all these are subsets of healthy skin!
Can you share how you coped with some of your biggest challenges and how you faced them?
The biggest challenge was the fact that freshness means short expiry dates and that no store would offer a listing. At that time there was no e-commerce or influencer marketing, so we had to find a way to promote our products. The biggest challenge later on turned into one of our USPs: Women and men recommending our products because of their own conviction.
What are you planning for the future of your business?
We will drive further growth in Europe, and we will start with the intercontinental expansion. We will launch a completely new product line. We are expanding our transparency – two transparency reports have already been published, more will follow 2023. We will continue to expand our sustainability mosaic, and there are already many projects and actions set for this.
What aspects of the business do you enjoy the most?
All topics in relation to research & development and marketing.
How do you get inspiration for your new skincare and supplements?
I get most of my inspirations or ideas in the morning, when my mind is fresh, while exercising or showering. I firmly believe that you can’t look for ideas, they will find you if you are open to them. You have to pick up on random discoveries that you may not even have consciously noticed and put them on the right track. There is an expression for this, it is called serendipity. Be open to coincidences, recognise inspirations and implement them.
The best piece of business advice you have ever been given?
The worst thing that can happen to you is mediocrity. If the quality of something is poor, you are forced to trade; if it is good, you can be satisfied and build on it. But mediocrity paralyses decision-making, therefore it is the enemy of the entrepreneur. So never settle for mediocrity – whether it’s product quality, your people or your philosophy.
Anything you would like to add?
The brand-new RINGANA Campus in St. Johann in der Haide outstrips any previous facility. At its heart is the highly mechanised Production department with a daily capacity of up to 30,000 kg, ten stirring units and 17 filling lines. The new-build integrates perfectly into the surrounding landscape and was designed to be ecological. For example, the Campus features greened roofing over an area of 9,500 sqm. This serves to retain rainwater and helps to reduce the building’s cooling requirement.
Because of their natural ingredients, many RINGANA fresh skin care products have been given a grade of “Very Good” by the independent rating platform “Kosmetikanalyse”, and have also been awarded natural skin care and organic certification in line with the international ECOCERT standard. RINGANA has already been recognised with the LUXE PACK MONACO packaging award, the Austrian Environmental Label and the Austrian Climate Protection Award for its many sustainable ideas, and with various product awards, such as its most recent accolade – the NutraIngredients Award for BEYOND omega.
RINGANA launched the skin care industry’s first recyclable product bottles. Thanks to the patented airless dispenser, the glass bottles can be used several times. So customers can return their skin care bottles to us, and we reward them with a free skin care product of their choice. Our plastic packaging is also the new printed fiber packaging of RINGANA DRINKS is made from cardboard waste and is therefore 100% recyclable and sustainable because it derives from sugar cane and contains no mineral oil. Instead of using environmentally harmful single-use packaging, we wrap our products in organic cotton hand towels to prevent breakages. The fill material in our packages is made of corn starch, and can even be used as fertiliser.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
RINGANA obtains many of its raw materials from organically-certified village communities through wild harvesting. Close co-operation also exists with the local charity organisations, Caritas, Lebenshilfe and the SOS Children’s Village. Corporate social responsibility equally embraces the company’s own employees. The vegetarian canteen provides all employees with a free and healthy lunch every day.