March 7, 2009

an elephantjournal.com report: Natural Products Expo West ~ via Claire Burstein

Today I attended the Natural Products Expo West for the first time on behalf of elephant journal.dot.com.  I was honored that Waylon Lewis, the editor-in-chief, asked me to attend since he needed to hold down the fort in Boulder, CO.  I first met Waylon at Eco Gift Festival, where I was a host for the press and speakers.  Now, in this moment, I am acting as press, and it amazes me how one thing leads to another.  I am a feng shui consultant, environmental advocate, writer, and have worn many other hats professionally.  I also have experience as a self-taught chef, so the emphasis on natural foods and holistic health personally appealed to me.  Plus, I am planning to write a book related to food, feng shui, and abundance at some point in time. 
I decided to stay true to my green ideals and take the bus to the expo from Irvine to Anaheim.  Going the cheap route (rather than hopping on the metro) only cost me $4 for a day pass…but it cost me much more time than I had planned for.  The OCTA (Orange County Transportation Authority) did get me to the expo eventually, and I used the hour I spent waiting by making business calls.  No such thing as wasted time, in my opinion.  However, it saddens me that the bus system is much less sophisticated here than in L.A. or San Francisco.  I was grateful to have gotten to the expo, nonetheless.  I was also very hungry and sorely tempted to get a quick bite from the myriad of fast food shops close to the bus stop.  I decided to keep moving, however, and have faith that the expo would cover my needs in that department.  I would rather wait for quality food than spend my time and money on a quick, but unsatisfying, bite to eat. 
Upon arriving, I was impressed with the level of organization regarding the exhibitors.  There was an area devoted to display showcases representing products from the various companies, including their booth numbers, and put into distinct categories.  I was, at once, wowed by the level of information included in the buyer’s guide and surprised by the sheer mass and weight of it.  I had brought my computer with me, but decided to pay the $2 to check it (along with the buyer’s guide), rather than carrying it on my back all day. I’m glad I made that choice, and that it was available to me for a small fee. 
I checked in with press relations and was able to do an impromptu interview with O Organics, a company that I had recognized from my occasional trips to Safeway in San Francisco.  They had pizza and orange juice samples available in the press room.   Their press kit was a flash drive made of bamboo!  Very impressive and innovative.  The organic stone-baked cheese pizza was fantastic, with a bit of a bite, thanks to a blend of four cheeses, including parmesan.  I know, small details, but those can make a big difference.  They have two new flavors coming out soon, spinach mushroom and roasted vegetable.  Yummy! 
Note: Claire and elephant will be doing a final, comprehensive report re our favor companies at the end of the Expo, with plenty of photos! ~ed.
The first exhibit that caught my attention on the main floor was ICI, international cosmetics inc.  They have a full-spectrum of body care products, including shampoos, conditioners, foot scrubs, body butters, and more.  I spoke with Joanne Choi, and she was excited to show me their innovative packaging, with push-down dispensers to minimize the possibility of waste and contamination.  They do not use outer packaging and all their products are made with natural ingredients and are paraben-free.  According to Joanne, ICI’s clients are those that appreciate functional products that yield results.  At the moment, their products can be found in natural boutiques and high-end pharmacies.  I promised to point them in the direction of my favorite high-end pharmacy, Elephant Pharm, based in Northern CA. 
Hugo Naturals has a gorgeous display set up with an array of flowers, a lovely display case of natural product samples and tables set up with colorful and wonderfully aromatic soaps.  Hugo Saavadra is a former chef, with the passionate disposition and energy generally associated with the breed.  He is the “master of scents” as his wife, Debra, put it.  She designs the packaging.  They have been making body care products for fifteen years and this current line was started three years ago.  I asked what changed three years ago, and Hugo said “look at this, this is the best, how could it get any better than this?” in his passionate, vehement, Argentinian way.  He said that “life gives you abundance and you have to grab it and give it back.”  That really stuck with me. 
My next stop was No-Miss Nail Products Limited, where I spoke with Pamela Rubenstein, an organic chemist, about her company’s products.  I had seen their nail care products in Mother’s Market in Irvine, CA and at Rainbow Grocery and Coop in San Francisco, CA.  Their nail polish line has close to two hundred shades and is reportedly longer-lasting and shinier than regular nail polishes.  It it also made without formaldehyde or tuolene (check my spelling on this one, please, Way).  Their nail polish remover used fruity acids rather than acetone or acetate.  They try to use things at least twice and all their packaging is made from recycled paper and vegetable ink.  I really liked their display and would consider using their products if I decide to purchase nail polish or remover at the health food store. 
Yogi Tea is one of my favorite tea brands, and I was excited to talk with Cynthia Hswe about the company.  Yogi Tea is unique in that the tea’s have a great flavor, a unique blend of herbs and spices, and they are used to address on-going or short-term health concerns.  Detox is their number one seller, and I have personally used it as part of my detox routine.  It was great to make another personal connection and meet the people behind the brand. 
Good Earth Teas and Good Earth Coffee were also represented, as were many other natural food and beverage companies.  Oregon Chai was handing out samples of their peppermint chai, already gearing towards the holiday season.  I learned about Vita Spelt’s products and Traditional Medicinal’s unique teas.  Goodbelly Probiotic Fruit Drink had samples of their newish product.  I had a great chat with Tisha Brady of Rainbow Light about their new cleanse-away seven day program and their new K-9 Wellness Product Line.  I’ll write more on these companies later and the many more that I plan to interview in the next two days.  Stay tuned!
Claire Burstein is a California-based writer, environmental advocate and feng shui consultant.  She is whimsically named “the feng shui fairy”.  Her other writings and info about her services can be found at www.thefengshuifairy.com.

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