What You Don't Know About Dr. Bronner's

Dr. Bronner's products come with both suds and a strong message. According to the company's website, the founder aimed to create unity between those who have a religious or ethnic divide. "We are All-One or None" is the company's slogan. A unifying motto for a business with roots over 100 years old. It may sound like a trademark that has very little to do with soap. But if you knew the story behind Dr. Bronner's, selling soap and unity will suddenly appear like a natural duo. Born in 1908 to a family of soap manufacturers in Germany, the founder of Dr. Bronner's, Emanuel Heilbronner, received a master's certificate in soap-making and a university degree in chemistry before emigrating to the U.S. The move happened after family clashes over his strong and outspoken beliefs.

According to Vox, Dr. Bronner continued to make soap in the U.S. and dropped the "Heil" from his last name after Hitler came into power, thus making him go by Emanuel Bronner. Sadly, Bronner's parents were taken by the Nazis and were later murdered in Auschwitz and Theresienstadt.

The Holocaust fueled Dr. Bronner's advocacy

The death of Bronner's parents led him to become even more of an outspoken activist who used his soap company to promote his "All-One" beliefs, states Vox. Bronner may have made and sold soap on the side, but his main job was to advocate for peace, emphasizing less focus on our differences. The soap maker became a minor celebrity within hippie and environmentalist groups during the 1960s and 1970s. So naturally, the suds he sold on the side of his convictions were the choice product for these "green" groups.

We know why the founder of Dr. Bronner's dropped the first part of his last name, though when and why he decided to add the "Dr." is unclear, but it was easy to do. The company's website claims that with his thick German accent and scientific background, no one questioned the Dr. prefix added. With his new name and strong beliefs, Dr. Bronner's business steadily started to grow. 

Bronner's grandson is fighting for cannabis legalization

Emanuel Bronner passed away in 1997. The current leadership at Dr. Bronner's are Emanuel's grandsons, Michael and David Bronner. The two are clearly advocates, just like their grandfather. David in particular is most passionate about legalizing certain drugs. During an interview with Forbes, David stated, "I realized my granddad, Dr. Bronner, was 100% right that all faith and shamanic traditions at their mystical core are pointing at this transcendent mystery and reality when they're not making fundamentalist idols out of their beliefs ..." he said. Adding, "And that cannabis and psychedelic sacraments are crucial for many people like myself to wake up to and walk their path in service to this reality."

When not advocating for the legalization of marijuana, David is open to sharing his views on Dr. Bronner's. "We're a real-family company, fifth generation, and we just have really deep roots," he says via Vox. "We're just staying true to what we're doing."

The Bronners' business savvy

David's brother, Michael Bronner, is also an activist. Lifestyle Collective shares that the current president of Dr. Bronner's is an advocate for fair trade, organic standards, farm animal protection, and ocean conservation. When discussing the company's pledge to social sustainability, Micheal states, "Social responsibility is a core part of the principles that guide our company, what we call our 'Cosmic Principles.'" The Cosmic Principles that underscore Dr. Bronner's commitment to social responsibility include Work hard!; Grow; Do right by customers; Treat employees like family; Be fair to suppliers; Fund & fight for what's right.

These brothers are passionate about their beliefs, but the company's success is a clear sign that they are savvy businessmen, in addition to being sustainability advocates. The product may have flourished with its cult-like hippie following in the 1970s, but it has cultivated an even stronger following today. According to Inc., the company surpassed $44 million in sales in 2011. And it has burst at the seams by boasting over 1000% growth since the 1990s.

Dr. Bronner printed his speeches on the soap labels

The company has stayed in the family of like-minded and passionate crusaders. But what is it about the product itself that has created such a loyal band of followers? For one, the bottles are iconic, like the peppermint soap, for example. According to Mental Floss, Emanuel Bronner used to give the soap away at his rallies when he spoke about his strong convictions. When he noticed people were taking the soap and not staying around to hear what he had to say, he started printing his speeches on the products' bottles. His rambling creed is still found on the products' bottles today.

Michael Bronner also believes the brand's commitment to their original all-natural products is what customers want. "As time goes on, more and more people are learning about the importance of organic body care, " he explains to Lifestyle Collective. Adding, "They are also becoming more concerned about using body care products with ingredients they cannot pronounce, that may be derived from petrochemical synthetics. And, they are also investigating what the values are of the companies behind the products they purchase. Thus, our brand is more relevant now than ever and is growing more relevant year by year."

Dr. Bronner's is extremely popular

Dr. Bronner's products and the strong, social mission of the family-run business have blossomed from its German origins to become a staple to anyone in America who wants to buy it. A-listers and those who don't even know a list exists have Dr. Bronner's products on their shelves.  

Unique product labels, organic formulas, and a colorful founder are all factors that have contributed to Dr. Bronner's lasting success. It is clear that the two brothers at the head of the table are the perfect balancing act the company needs. "My brother is mission-driven, whereas I'm more product-driven," Michael stated to Inc. "He is looking to pioneer progressive measures that people don't know they want. I am looking at what people want. And the company needs both." Dr. Bronner's has carved out its own quirky niche in the soap world. The products may leave our skin squeaky clean, but it is likely that the Bronner brothers are hoping the "We are All-One or None" slogan is leaving a lasting residue.