By now, everyone has seen images of plastic-strewn beaches around the world. Half a billion shampoo and conditioner bottles get tossed out every year in this country alone. Nora Schaper and her three co-founders at HiBAR, manufacturers of a new line of plastic-free shampoo and conditioner products, have been taking action to reduce single-use plastics with their innovative new product line.
Nora said, “HiBAR is inspiring people to remove single-use plastic from their everyday lives. We do that by redesigning commonly used products (like shampoo and conditioner) from the ground up to be beautiful, functional, and 100% plastic-free.”
HiBAR launched in late 2018, and is already on the shelves in more than 10,000 stores across the country. Nora said, “The world needs one or two brands that can popularize the idea and practice of being plastic-free, and we intend to be one of them.”
Four heads are better than one
Nora, a communications consultant, and her husband, Jay Schaper, were owners of a body care product business that manufactured bath bombs and soaps. As the years went by, they became increasingly concerned about single-use plastics pollution.
Their children attended the City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis. When Nora saw fellow parent Ward Johnson in the school parking lot one day, she chased him down. She knew he had recently sold his business, a natural pet food company, and that he had a good business head on his shoulders.
The three of them started brainstorming about business ideas, and soon bumped into another Waldorf parent, Dion Hughes, at a social gathering. Nora said, “Dion had just come back from a vacation, a trip to Mexico, where he’d seen plastic strewn beaches first-hand. He was very motivated to start working for environmental change. Dion is a creative brand builder, an inventive thinker, and a brilliant marketer. Before we knew it, we had our leadership team.”
From humble beginnings
Jay is the HiBAR product formulator. According to Nora, “Jay isn’t a trained chemist, so he doesn’t worry about breaking the rules. He is also a potter, and has years of experience formulating and mixing his own glazes.”
She said, “We started out making product in our basement. We sent out the early orders from our living room. Making shampoo and making conditioner are two very different processes. Shampoo is made in a huge mixer; it’s kind of like mixing cookie dough. After three years of formulation, we launched HiBAR. Our products are salon quality, with all-natural ingredients and beautiful, plastic-free packaging.
“We’ve grown very quickly; we have 35 employees now. We thought we would hire someone to manufacture our products, but our formula is so different from the industry standard that we ended up making our own stuff.
“We didn’t want our products to look like bars of soap, because they aren’t. We wanted them to be visually striking. On the North Shore of Lake Superior, we found river rocks and realized that they held the answer. Inspired by their shape, our bars are a joy to hold, save space in the shower, and shed moisture quickly.”
HiBAR products are distinctly different from other salon quality hair care products because they contain no sulfates, fragrances, silicones, or parabens – and there has been no animal testing.
Core business tenet is care
One of the core tenets at HiBAR is care for the planet – and for fellow humans. Nora said, “We’ve removed over 2,600,000 plastic bottles from the environment. Every HiBAR purchase is equivalent to one 16-ounce bottle of water-based shampoo or conditioner. We extrapolate our sales figures into the number of empty plastic bottles that aren’t cluttering up the environment.”
She continued, “Women are the main purchasers of HiBAR products and of home goods in general. We knew that in order for women to give up their plastic-bottled shampoo and conditioner, HiBAR needed to perform as well or better than what they were switching from. All along the way we asked women to test our products, we consulted with women, and right now the whole sales team is women.”
All product packaging is compostable, recyclable or both. When it comes time for shipping, the commitment to being plastic-free continues. There is no bubble wrap, and no plastic tape.
Nora said, “Our goal since the beginning has been to get to what we call the ‘light green shoppers.’ Conversations about plastic pollution continue to increase – people want to make change, especially young people.”
HiBAR products are readily available in the Twin Cities; look for them at local food co-ops including Seward, Kowalski’s, Whole Foods, Mastel’s, Fresh Thyme, REI, and more.
The cost is $12-$13 depending on the product. A shampoo sampler set ($9.95) includes three of their most popular shampoos in miniature, trial size. Nora explained, “A traditional shampoo and conditioner contains 80-90% water, whereas our products contain none. Because they are concentrated, our products last longer.”
In 2022, HiBAR will be launching two new products: gentle, amino acid-based face cleansers, and a line of deodorant – all plastic-free. Visit the website at https://hellohibar.com to learn more. Access the HiBAR Journal while you’re there, for other stories related to improving environmental stewardship and responsible consumerism.
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