Birchbox Man Q&A: Ursa Major Co-Founder Oliver Sweatman

We spoke with Ursa Major co-founder Oliver Sweatman about the brand he started with partner Emily Doyle, and how the outdoors inspired a "supernatural“ product assortment and their "Live Major” mantra. Read through to learn why Sweatman and Doyle left a bustling life in New York and founded the company in Vermont.

BBMan: What is it about Vermont that made it the best place to launch the brand?

OS: It’s really easy to focus on your work up here because there aren’t many distractions! Vermonters have a history of championing upstart companies that take on the establishment, so it’s a natural fit in that sense. We love the vibrancy and sense of possibility in NYC, but also found ourselves heading north most weekends for the fresh air, mountains, local food scene, and small-town vibe in Vermont. After a while we started to wonder: Maybe we should live in Vermont and visit the city, not the other way around.

BBMan: In which ways is Ursa Major both a grooming and a lifestyle brand? How does your “Live Major” motto fit into this?

OS: Foremost, we’re striving to make the highest-quality natural (and organic) skincare products out there. That’s the first step, and we have to be successful at that to pay the bills! But on a deeper level our brand is about taking better care of yourself, and the idea of “living major”, which means following your heart and blazing your own path in life. It’s about living authentically and courageously, which of course is no easy feat!

BBMan: Why did you choose the name Ursa Major for the brand?

OS: We wanted something distinctive with a bit of romance in it—something to help evoke the elemental and supernatural. “Ursa Major” is loaded with meaning: bears, exploration, the outdoors, finding true north through the constellations… all good stuff in our eyes!

BBMan: Can you describe your "effective, healthy, sublime" criteria for each product you create?

OS: Of course! Effective means it’s got to work; it needs to do what the product promises. Healthy means using only pure, clean, sustainable ingredients and avoiding harmful toxins (sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrance/color, etc). Sublime is all about the experience: Does the product smell and feel great? A great product in our mind needs to be all of these things at once.

How do you "live major"?

Readers: Tell us how you fulfill Ursa Major’s principle of “living major”. In the comments below, describe how you fulfill Ursa Major’s principle of “living major”. Again, this is about following your heart and blazing your own path in life.

Photos courtesy of Ursa Major

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