Debbie May's Update from DC

I am back from Washington DC and wanted to provide you with an update.

Anne-Marie Faiola and I met with many members of Congress. We took pictures of how our customers make products as well as product samples. People we met with were very impressed to see how easy it was to make soap. When we presented them with industry demographics there were surprised to hear that there over 70,000 artisans/people/businesses making handmade cosmetics and over 50 suppliers serving the industry.

One high level staff person said:

“I am so appreciative that you have taken the time to travel to DC to educate members of Congress about your industry. I had no idea you existed and it is important we hear from you before it is too late and your industry is unintentionally hurt by legislation aimed at totally different issues. I can tell you that no one wants to put your customers out of business. We want them to be able to keep doing what they are doing. They are employing real Americans and helping their own lives.  It is industries like this that are holding this country together. Your customers are living or trying to live the American Dream.  We don't want to hurt that.”

While it is incredibly difficult to manage a company, family and travel to DC on a regular basis, it is exchanges like this that keep me motivated to continue to work hard for the industry.

What I did learn this trip is:

There are four pieces of legislation/draft legislation that our industry needs to follow:

  1. The Safe Cosmetics Act 2011 - is a bill that was introduced early this year by a group of democrats. It is supported by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Environmental Working Group as well as several cosmetic companies. This bill contains small business considerations that would exempt nearly all of our industry from registration, fees and burdensome paperwork. The bill is not supported by many large cosmetic manufacturers due provisions surrounding "ingredients of concern”. This bill is being informally called a “Consumer Oriented” bill. This bill appears to have very little house or senate support and will likely NOT move forward in the legislative process.
  2. The second bill is not a current bill but instead a draft of a bill being considered. It is supported by the Personal Care Products Council, The Safe Cosmetic Alliance and many very large cosmetic businesses. While I have not seen the exact language of the draft bill (being told by industry contacts that I may not understand it and "get confused”).  This draft bill has gone through several changes and at this time I am told it would have mandatory registration for all persons/businesses, no user fees, mandatory Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations and mandatory registration of cosmetic ingredients in each product formula. The concept of the draft has the support of some republicans but would currently have limited support in the republican house where the current culture supports less regulation and more small business support. This conceptual draft bill is being referred to as an “Industry Bill”. One driving force for this bill is concept of preemption.  The bill would contain a preemption clause….which means that it if passed into law would override any state regulations. If this bill moves, it will likely be in the first half of 2012.
  3. The third bill that was discussed is just a concept at this time. It has not even been written as a draft. The idea would be for a bipartisan bill that would try to bring the above two partisan bills together. It is my thought that this bill would be a resurrection of the FDA Globalization Act with some changes. It would likely follow the outline and process of the recent food bill. I have been told that currently there are more pressing issues facing the government than introducing this legislation. While a bipartisan bill may be on the radar, it is not a priority today.
  4. The fourth bill would come out of the Senate. On this trip, I was not able to get any firm information regarding its existence in either a written, draft or concept form.

All in all it was an excellent trip. I was told on more than one occasion that the vast majority of elected officials want to help our industry from being accidental collateral damage b y new legislation. Making contacts with these officials and their staffers will prove helpful in the future. I will be making a trip to DC again in the first quarter of 2012. I look forward to keeping you updated and informed.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at

Debbie May