It seems as though the term “sustainable” is attached to nearly every wellness product you can get your hands on these days. Wiselands is ready to reshape the status quo by creating products made with raw and common ingredients powered by the most natural elements: sun, land and water. Here, cofounder Connor Ulrich discusses the ethos of Wiselands, the importance of nurturing a sustainable mindset and more.
What inspired you to launch Wiselands?
We wanted to create something that we didn’t see in the world: sustainable yet sexy luxe skincare without the luxury prices. But also, the daily products we grew up thinking were designed to care for our skin too commonly rely on a long list of petrochemicals or fossil fuel–derived ingredients — a norm that exists in the beauty industry because it’s cheap and convenient.
So we created sustainable skincare products using all renewably sourced ingredients at active, concentrated levels that are vegan, cruelty-free and biodegradable with no petrochemicals. We’re working to rebuild transparent and renewable supply chains with value-driven partners.
On a more personal level, I wanted to help create more space for the next generation of queer and LGBTQIA+ creators to thrive. It’s time for the business world to genuinely empower queer creators instead of using them during Pride month.
What was the process like creating the brand’s sustainable ethos?
Concern for our collective future drives us to be sustainability obsessed. Whether it’s our neighbors in Northern California literally on fire or our friends underwater in New York City, the status quo clearly isn’t working for us. And the science is clear: It’s going to take a massive collective action to move in the right direction together.
Early on I would ask myself, What is the best decision for a more sustainable future? This approach can be seen in everything from Wiselands’ renewable raw materials and recyclable glass packaging all the way to being employee-owned. We’re owned by the people creating the product, meaning each teammate shares in the profits. This seems simple, but it is a very unconventional ownership structure.
Have you always been sustainably minded in the way you live your life?
Growing up in rural Minnesota, I would spend my early summers gardening on my grandparents’ family farm near Biscay. Eventually, I moved to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota, where I studied biology, reinforcing my wonder and respect for nature. My mentors would ask me: How can you best use your passion and interests to serve others? This has stuck with me.
After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles to develop skincare products for Jessica Alba’s Honest Company. I learned the value of transparency and entrepreneurial vision at Honest, along with the power of green chemistry and clean beauty. Building on those experiences, I moved to San Francisco to work with Sephora to co-create clean Gen Z skincare brand OTZI before embarking on Wiselands.
Currently there are only a couple Wiselands products available. Why did you start with these?
A mentor of mine always emphasizes creating a thoughtful foundation when building something meaningful to last. Our Daily Rosemary Cleanser and Flax & Chia Cream are the first steps Wiselands offers for daily skincare use. For me, cleansing and moisturizing in the morning and at night is the minimum care I need for good skin health, but also the most approachable to squeeze into a busy lifestyle.
We’re planning to serve up multiple product drops before next summer — new formulas packed with potent actives to complement the existing products. One of our next products is actually the first we concepted when originally mapping out the Wiselands vision.
How do you unwind after a long day?
We’ve had a lot of long days since launching in September. I love to do three things when making a perfect evening: garden into the sunset with my puppy and fiancé/cofounder, Lukas, watch marathons of Bravo’s Real Housewives, and pop an indica gummy.
What’s next for Wiselands?
We are growing! My cofounder Rachel Ma and I are building a team of super talented, creative queer and BIPOC collaborators that look like the world around us. We’re thinking about intentional intersectionality as we grow and want to bring Ellen Pompeo energy into the culture of our company. And as a value-obsessed company, we are looking to partner with similar folx in the beauty retail space because sustainability doesn’t stop at the product level. It must carry through the entire retail experience. Retailers who value sustainability, but even more so, those interested in telling authentic queer stories to a larger audience are who we’re speaking with for our exclusive USA retail launch. Stay tuned.