Name, age, where you live.
Ira Kaganovsky Green, born in Ukraine and immigrated when I was six. I was a financial advisor for 18 years and am the single mother of three crazy girls that are 10, 10 and 11.
When my boss told me he thought women should be barefoot and pregnant and at home, and I was pregnant at the time and thought it was the best idea. So I left and went home. I started my own financial firm.
A few years ago, three friends were diagnosed with breast cancer in the same year. I looked around and went, what is going on here and what can I do about it? I went to a natural food store and bought my first natural deodorant, and over the course of that year, I bought about twenty deodorants that didn’t work.
You had these three friends that got sick and you wanted to do something about it. What do you mean by that? You’re not a scientist or a doctor so how did you get to natural deodorant?
It wasn’t like they got sick and I thought, “I’m going to save them.” It was talking to them during their treatments, and listening to what they were going through. The one thing all of their doctors said was to not wear anti-perspirant. That was the commonality between all their different treatments. So I did some research, went through all these deodorants and couldn’t believe what was on the market. A friend of mine just told me to make one. A week later, I was the crazy girl making deodorant in her kitchen. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. It was that opener of,” I’ll make this for myself and for the people I love.”
Anti-perspirant is a drug, according to the FDA which I didn’t realize. I called chemists and manufacturers and said, “Am I doing this right?” I grew up in a Russian Jewish family that cured everything with matzo ball soup. I grew up with all this natural stuff, so I don’t know why it surprised me that ” natural ” works.
What do you mean ” anti-perspirant is actually a drug?” What should people be looking for on labels?
Without completely pissing off the FDA, anti-perspirant is actually patented. In that patent is a formula, and in the formula are aluminums and parabens and all that stuff that change the way your bodies work(it reduces sweating by 30%)and when something changes the way your body works, it has to be classified as a drug. The patent came out in the 1940s, and it hasn’t been changed since then. Isn’t that a little suspicious? Aluminum is the big one that scares everyone. When I spoke with the chemist, they said it’s an amount that is under the limit. But what they’ve never tested for is what happens if you use it over and over again for thirty or forty years. If it says anti-perspirant anywhere, there’s a 99.9% chance of containing aluminum.
Is that the difference between anti-perspirant and deodorant?
Yes. Anti-perspirant actually stops the sweat. Deodorant just takes the smell away. I can handle the sweat, I can’t handle the smell.
When you started developing the product, what was the process like?
It’s an ongoing process. We have all these new products with new formulas. Sometimes people are a little sensitive to baking soda, so we’re making one without baking soda for all those people. We learned that even without baking soda it’s just as strong, and goes on a little smoother, so now we’re folding it into the new sticks.
You have how many scents?
Five – Amber, Bergamot Mint, Frankincense Peach, Lavender Citrus, and Unscented
What was the process of picking the scents? How did you decide?
One of the things that I didn’t love about the natural space is that everyone smells so natural. I don’t want to smell natural. The only patchouli I like is the Tom Ford kind. But I’ve learned that perfume is full of bad stuff too. You want to put perfume on your clothes, not your skin. It used to be mostly flowers but not it’s about 80% petroleum products. It helps manufacturers make more and have the product last longer. But I bought every single essential oil and asked chemists if they had any natural perfumers.
One of our manufacturers is Lieberman, who’s been around for 100 years and have massive fields for essential oils. They also make the smells for Calvin Klein perfumes, so I got the best of both worlds.
It’s actually interesting because we’ve been using all this stuff for so long and we haven’t even thought twice about it.
When my friends got sick, I wasn’t reading beauty blogs or anything. I did not even know where to begin.
How old is your company?
Two years old.
Is there a lot of competition? What differentiates Freedom from all these other people?
Yes! There’s a ton of competition. Everyone’s thinking about natural deodorant. But we have a lot of trial and error in it, we’ve really been through it. And of course, our design. Everyone else is really going the green route still. I think we look different and smell different. We’re smoother than some of the other guys, too. It feels nicer, too.
What’s your favorite scent? And what’s up next for you guys?
Bergamot mint! That’s what I wear. We have our lip line now, the lip balm. I am obsessed with olive oil and think it can cure everything, so we use olive oil and hemp oils in the lip balm.
What do you do for you, when you have the time?
One of our clients is TrueFusion and they have great yoga classes, which is my favorite thing in the world. I make sure to run in and do a vin yoga class whenever I can. It’s rare, but I really try.
Do you have any family traditions that are important to you?
Cake in the morning on your birthday, always. And latkes.