Say hello to Adrienne Peres (right) and Amy Ziff (left), two women who saw a need and did something about it. In January, they launched Veritey, an online resource for people looking for the best “clean” products for themselves and their families. The site caught my attention because I’m always looking for the healthiest stuff I can find, which is much easier said than done. Whether it’s researching natural makeup, non-toxic cleaning products, gifts for my kids, or water filters, I want resources I can trust that will point me in the right direction — and Veritey looks to be one of those places. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Adrienne about her mission to help people like you and me find the best products out there!
Zoe Saint-Paul: Adrienne, have you always been interested in health and wellness? Were you always diligent about the products you purchased?
Adrienne Peres: Yes, I have, although my interest has evolved over the years. Like many people, I spent a considerable amount of time incorporating a healthy diet and exercise routine into my life, as well as regular visits to the doctor. However, over the past few years, I’ve thought much more deeply about “product health” — what I use for me, my family, my home — and how it impacts our health and our environment. I try hard to be a conscientious consumer, but it’s so hard to understand what products are truly “good” versus just marketing hype (a.k.a. “greenwashing”).
Veritey’s mission is ambitious: You run a wide range of product reviews and are building a community on the site. What inspired you to launch Veritey, and what are your hopes for it?
Veritey was created because two moms couldn’t find easy, concise information about what products are good and effective. Amy and I worked together for 10 years, first at an e-commerce startup in New York and then at Travelocity. We would often talk about the issues we faced in researching products and how much time it took. In addition, my family has a long history of breast cancer, and I’m very interested in finding ways to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease. A healthy lifestyle — food, exercise, and smart product choices — all contribute to reducing risk. Our hope for Veritey is to build awareness that we are all responsible for being smart consumers and for what we allow into our homes and lives.
How does Veritey differ from other product review sites out there — such as Environmental Working Group (EWG), GoodGuide, Mighty Nest, etc.?
Great question! We look at ourselves as curators. Many of the sites out there are quite massive, and it’s difficult to find an answer to the question, “What should I buy?” Veritey does just that. We have a rigorous vetting process that involves researching, analyzing, and testing every product (we have 50 separate criteria, plus a Science and Expert Panel to inform our research), so that we can say with certainty that a product is not only good but effective.
What should I be most concerned about when I’m deciding on a product?
Be concerned about what’s not on the label! For example, cosmetics companies don’t have to tell us what all the ingredients are: flavor, fragrance, and “trade secret” ingredients are exempt. Even though the FDA does require certain facts and legal grounds for a company to have something considered a trade secret, the company can add “and other ingredients” at the end of the ingredient declaration. Ingredient disclosure laws don’t apply to products used at “professional establishments or samples distributed free of charge,” and companies don’t have to declare a “masking agent” (an ingredient used to cover up a nasty smell) if it is “in a product at an insignificant level” — although this level is not defined. (For additional clarification, see the FDA’s site.) We recommend looking for conscientious manufacturers that are very upfront about disclosing exactly what’s in a product, as well as their sourcing and production process.
Do you have a team of reviewers? How do you select the products you review?
Amy and I are the final reviewers and arbiters of what goes on the site. We do have a group of interns and volunteers who help us get through some of the vetting process, and we have a community of Veritey fans and followers who are always recommending new products that they love. We select products based on categories where we see a strong need. Veritey launched with product density in the categories of Baby & Kids, Bath & Body, Beauty, and Household Cleaners.
What goes into determining the rating a product receives?
We look at many different criteria, ranging from ingredients to sourcing to production process to labor practices to product efficacy. We’ve built a database of thousands of chemicals and ingredients, which helps us quickly verify whether an ingredient passes our screening. When we have questions about a particular factor, we contact the manufacturer. We also rely on our Science and Expert panel, which is composed of leading doctors, scientists, and researchers. This panel informs the way we think about some of the thornier questions that come up from our investigations.
How long does it take between hearing about a product and getting a review up on the site?
It depends. Sometimes the process is very fast, such as when manufacturers are clear and upfront about their products and have been certified by upstanding entities (the Non-GMO Project is one example). Other times, it can take a while because we really dig in on ingredients and processes, and that research is time-consuming. It’s one of the reasons Veritey started in the first place: It’s challenging to do this research on your own.
Can you share some of your favorite products — the ones you think are the best of the best?
To be honest, we love all of the products on our site! We’ve tested and tried and used these products over time, so we’re fans of whatever we feature. And you can read about “Why We Love It” with every single product.
Where do you see Veritey in five years?
We’d love to spark a movement that shifts market share to companies who are pioneering a purer path. By voting with our dollars, we can make manufacturers accountable for their products. And that level of accountability needs to extend to our government as well: We want to see laws enacted that provide transparency and accountability for products — laws that are often found in Canada and Europe but not here in our own country. We’re entrepreneurs, so we see this combination of capitalism and idealism (what we’ve termed “Capidealism”TM) as the best way to move the needle.
Thank you, Adrienne, for not only telling us about Veritey, but for devoting your time and talents to helping us all find healthier products. Friends, I’ve signed up for Veritey’s newsletter and joined the site so I can ask questions and share information; check it out for yourself and keep Veritey in mind when you’re looking for the best stuff for you and your family!
By the way, this is the third installment of my “What Big Girls Do” series; you can read the other two here and here. The story behind this series is this: Whenever I’m about to do something that scares the pants off me, I whisper a prayer and say to myself, “Zoe, this is what big girls do.” And then I make the leap. It always helps! And that’s the spirit I hope to capture with this series. I interview women who are doing creative, courageous, inspiring things, and I hope their stories ignite your own dreams.
Images via Adrienne Peres