Episode 48: An Unconventional Route to Cosmetic Formulating – Interview Bill Basinski
More information about Bill.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany to a US Army Artillery Captain and his American wife, raised in Wiesbaden. Attended the American College in Paris, AA in Philosophy and Literature, the U. of Paris, Sorbonne, and the U. of Heidelberg. Left academia to write a novel, worked as a German teacher for the US Army, then moved to Cape Cod to become production manager, partner and benchtop chemist at Margit’s Natural Cosmetics, making 20 products sold in health food stores. Co-founded CBI Laboratories in Dallas in 1982, solid it in 1994, worked for Coats Aloe for 5 years, bought back CBI in 2004, left it to found Basinski Personal Care Consulting with wife Ada in 2011.
BACKGROUND Came to the US in October 1997 with $500 in my pocket, guitar, typewriter and a knapsack of clean clothes. 15 minutes later, had $50 in my pocket and was partner of Margit’s Natural Cosmetics. Partner Paul Cain had met Margit while studying in Heidelberg. Her hobby was makeing natural skin care products for friends and family. They took a look at natural cosmetics in health food stores, which were just coming into being, and were shocked at the artificial ingredients used. So they made a line of their own and sold these handcrafted products in health food stores for 5 years. I duplicated a mineral make-up popular at the time, Incian Earth, which was an illegal cosmetic made with mined hematites from California.
I used legal iron oxides, and that led us to found CBI Laboratories in Dallas in 1992, first making a line of mineral make-up and complementary products for a single customer, then evolving into a private label manufacturer. Since we were fluent in French and German, and my partner in Italian, the European-trained aestheticans liked us, and we started making spa and salon products using cold-pressed vegetable oils, herbal extracts, essential oils and natural colorants, while the 20 other labs in town were hustling Aloe Vera products and claiming to have the best Aloe available. We blew them out of the water, and soon they were duplicating our products.
The European manufacturers loved us because we used their products and spoke their language, and knew where their plants were located back in the Old Country. And we put new ingredients into the commercial pipeline before the big boys were finished spilling coffee on their technical data sheets. In 1994 we were approached by Thermo Electron (now Thermo Fisher). A new laser division, Thermolase, bought us lock stock and barrel, and after building a business out of almost nothing, we breathed a sigh of relief.
American Dream: mission accomplished.
CURRENT PROJECTS: But life goes on. And on. So now we’re working on projects with Dermatologists, helping local manufacturers get started in business, or existing ones get into skin care/personal care, going to the dogs with several line of pet products, doing industrial products for the leather care industry, wound care products, medical products, and anything that comes done the line and through
I’ve developed a sensorium for gentle and mild acne treatment/maintenance products, natural insect repellants, soothing hand care/skin care products (Wile Bill’s Ranch Hand & Hide Cream) and a natural nail care conditioner for guitar, banjo and other finger-pickers. Somebody, since we’re in Texas, asked me to make a gun cleaning/lubricating solution. Now I’m looking at making deer and wild hog attracting bait additives. I’ve got a line of music-themed skin care items that I don’t want to discuss in detail, because it would excite a herd of claim-jumpers and me-too knock-off artists. My wife and I had discussed ideas and concepts in the past, only to discover that people had other chemists develop them without our approval. Talk is cheap when you don’t have to pay for it.
INTERESTING PROJECTS: Made a 3-phase bath oil many moons ago, along with a 2-phase body oil and a 2-phase shower gel, which was sold to people like Crabtree and Evelyn and others. Nobody else seemed to knock it off. Green Cleansing Gel: took a Croda concept Sucrose Cocoate cleanser, gelled it up, added Rose Oil, colored it green with Chlorophyll, and everyone loved it and knocked it off across the country as well as the ocean. Speckled Bath Salts for BBW and the world:
Midwest SCC - November 10
LESCC meeting - November 17
Mid-Atlantic SCC - November 19