We speak to Gloria Noto about how her cosmetics brand is making a difference
Noto Botanics is everything you want your modern beauty brand to be. Natural, clean, vegan, cruelty-free, ethical, gender-fluid, political, and committed to sustainability, inclusivity, and giving back. These are central tenets of the brand’s philosophy, inherent in its core DNA. At a time when it seems as if every brand is putting out a pride collection, when green-washing is rife, Noto Botanics feels authentic in its beliefs, something that no doubt can be attributed to founder Gloria Noto.
Starting off in the industry as a make-up artist, Noto worked with photographers like Harley Weir for titles including Vogue and Dazed before creating her own skincare and make-up line in 2016. Stemming from a feeling of alienation from a wellness and cosmetics industry that wasn’t representative of herself as a queer woman or the people she saw around her, Noto set out to change things. “It just felt extremely privileged to me,” she says. “I wasn't seeing any inclusivity, you never saw people of colour, you never saw queer identities. And I thought, ‘where is that representation and also where is the inclusivity in the prices?’”
A brand born just as Trump was coming into power, politics has been built into it from the beginning with it’s popular ‘Agender Oil’ raising money for organisations like Planned Parenthood, ACLU, LGBT Youth Center, and more. “It is a political brand. I personally believe that every time you spend your dollar, you’re voting towards something or you’re supporting something, whether you realise it or not,” Noto says. “I really wanted the customer to understand this is the point in time where every little bit counts and every little bit matters.”
The products themselves are the result of the brand’s ethos from the simple packaging and neutral fragrances which steer clear of what Noto describes as “what colonisation and the patriarchy might consider gendered scents to be,” to the functions of the multi-use oils which can be used on what the brand call your “anywhere hair” – from pubic hair to armpit hair and everything in between. This idea of being multi-use extends to almost all of the products in the range and stems not only from Noto’s experiences as a make-up artist but also from the commitment to being sustainable. “I believe that sustainability doesn't just stop at the ingredients you use and the packaging. If you use something that is able to fulfil multiple areas for yourself, you need less,” she says. “And if it’s shareable you also need less on your shelf.”
Ingredients are also an important consideration. At a time when the word ‘clean’ is throw around in the beauty industry and has no standardised definition, for Noto being a clean beauty brand encompasses everything from ethical treatment in the sourcing of ingredients – no child labour, no animal testing, not harmful to the crops – to maintaining the highest standard in quality and purity of the ingredients to ensuring the plastic used in the packaging is 100 per cent recycled.
Looking to the future, Noto is hoping to expand globally and establish stores in Paris and London following the launch of the flagship Los Angeles shop that opened just before lockdown. As with everything in the brand, the new store takes the cornerstones of multi-use, gender fluidity and natural minimalism and applies it to a retail setting: an organic, circular space filled with trees and gravel. “I'm really proud of it,” says Noto, “it's really beautiful.”