“Very early on I didn’t align with industry standards and I was OK with that.”
We’re chatting with Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice, ire of Father John Misty, about the beauty industry and though the entrepreneur and mother knows that she’s fodder for what she calls "cynical humor," she remains dedicated to what matters to her.
"I'm into nature, and health and consciousness-- and that,” she says, “has nothing to do with beauty and fashion industries. My mom was in the fashion world and I was raised in New York in the fashion world and I wanted nothing to do with that. I was like the weird daughter from Ab-Fab.”
Chantal Bacon says it's a disconnect that began during the onset of womanhood. “It was probably around puberty,” she says, “when I realized, ‘oh there is this whole world out there and this projection on women,’ and I started to feel the expectation that I was meant to be ’pretty.’” It didn’t vibe.
She says this need "to be pretty" was really at its height during the ‘80s and ‘90s-- the Model Search “Are you the next cover girl” and Victoria Secret catalogue days. “It all felt really off to me. The boobs, the push-up bras, the lipstick, the inherent weakness that I saw. I was really cognizant of how that got imprinted.” To her point, by 1997, Victoria’s Secret was sending 450 million catalogs a year and seeing a return of $661 million in mail-order sales alone.
“Seventeen was all about ‘how to have perfect hair,’ ‘how to wear the right lip gloss,’ ‘how to put on that eyeshadow,’” she says. “I was 13, I was just getting boobs and didn’t want to do that, it didn’t resonate with me and I didn’t think it looked good.” Then she got to high school and Cosmopolitan was running covers on “‘How to give the best blow job,.” She says “All of that information started collecting in me and I really didn’t want to train on my free time how to give a better blow job. I didn’t want to keep up with the shimmery eyeshadow world.”
So she didn’t. “I wasn’t a tomboy, but I did play sports, I really liked writing, nature, and being funny with my friends.” She started on what’s become a lifelong journey to re-examine beauty. “I think it really starts with a baseline of what is actually safe to put on and in our bodies,” she says. “Beyond safe what is truly going to be beneficial and unifying.”
Even as a young woman, Chantal Bacon says “I was not going to align with anything that did not feed my body, was not in harmony with the planet, and told me that I was in my prime during an age when I was not my strongest. None of us feel our strongest when we’re 17 or 18. When we’re 21 or 22. My god, if I look back at that and see that that’s what was being projected on me, that’s when I was most desirable, that’s when I was most beautiful-- that’s completely off.”
"I was not going to align with anything that told me I was in my prime during an age when I was not my strongest."
She brings up the “George Clooney, Clint Eastwood thing.”
“There’s the thought that with age men become more handsome, sexier, they have more mystique-- that’s great I love that for men. I find that to be very true. I also find that to be true for women.”
“It’s one thing for everyone to look beautiful,” she adds, "but when we take unhealthy measures to get there or ruin the planet and environment in the process, that makes no sense, especially if you’re thinking about beauty as longevity.”
Moon Juice is Chantal Bacon's grown-up response to the discrepancies she felt as a teen; an inside-out approach to beauty.
The business, which began with a tiny shop on Rose Ave. in Venice, now has four locations, the most recent of which opened on Melrose Place this past summer. The brand's organic and wild-crafted herb mixtures will be available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-a-Porter, Urban Outfitters Free People-- about 70 retailers in all. So, she's figured out how to scale "juice," something that she says started as "a fun party trick at first.” (The Moon Dust products, not raw juices, are suitable for beauty resale.)
Chantal Bacon was juicing for herself at the time and convincing other people that cold-pressed juice tasted great. “They wouldn’t want to try it and then they’d take a sip and it would blow their mind.” A trained chef, who "loves food," she was working a full-time job “with crazy hours, six days a week and could not keep up."
"I’d always joke that juicing was like a full-time job, until that joke didn’t feel like a joke anymore.” It was then she realized, “This is the full-time job that I want, this is the life that I want. It was a leap, but it was leap that had such a natural urge behind it that there was nothing else for me to do.”
Other people like to joke as well, especially about Chantal Bacon’s lifestyle, food diaries, and social media posts about crystals. She's not blissfully unaware, but it doesn't slow her down either. “We like parody and I’m sure I’d make a great SNL skit. I can understand that. I totally get that. In my dream next job I get to do a TV show about how wacky and wild what I experience is. The characters that I know, my friends, the stuff that really happens-- if you think the Elle article was bad or me asking for someone to anonymously return the crystal that they stole from us, if you think that’s bad, you should see what’s really going on. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I live a very different lifestyle and my friends live a very different lifestyle. The things that we talk about are just way out there.”
She does say that she thinks there is a more loving way to be humorous, but then adds, “for me-- other people can do what they want.”
“I get all types of reactions. I get hate,” which, she hesitates to call hate, “but I get just as much love. I get more people that write to me and say, ‘Thank you so much, I felt lost and confused and knowing that you’re out there and doing similar things is comforting.’”
“My favorite is when I get teenagers that come out and see a different version of a female and how I explore my femininity. I think it’s different than an actress, a model, someone selling perfume.” She's referring to concepts like growing old with grace and a more holistic approach to beauty.
She knows that "the movement" is polarizing, but that “it takes a while for people to figure out if it’s a path they’re interested in.” She also agrees that ”it’s a lot easier to figure out if it’s a path you’re interested in if you have expendable income.” 14 servings of Beauty Dust, for instance, cost $30, a bigger jar costs $65.
However she encourages people to look at what they’re spending money on. “If you do want to make changes, maybe you need to reconsider the kind of coffee you buy or the car you’re leasing. Or reconsider how often you need to buy seasonal fashion items or get your nails done. Or rather than getting your hair dyed or highlighted in a certain way, you could focus on something that would grow your hair.” Chantal Bacon lets her grays fly.
“It’s re-examining what you want to choose to invest in,” she says, asking, “Why do we feel comfortable investing so much money in automobiles, premium gasoline and car washes, but OK with putting our bodies second to that? There is a disassociation we have with our bodies.”
“Why do we feel comfortable investing so much money in automobiles, but OK with putting our bodies second to that?”
“And I do challenge people to do some price comparison,” she says of Moon Juice's often lambasted pricing.
As for the pushback, it's par for the course. “I think I am a figurehead to a movement that is rapidly emerging. When there is something that’s different, it challenges people and whenever there is a moment when you look at someone and can’t see yourself completely in them, it’s uncomfortable."
Yes, she burns Palo Santo. She rarely wears makeup. She rocks her grays and she eats foods that most of us can't pronounce (rehmannia and schisandra), but whatever your incense preference might be, getting incensed over it is not the Moon Juice way. It's about asking, “Does this make you feel good about yourself in a long-term sort of way? Not, does this make you feel good about yourself for five minutes when you look in the mirror or for a month of your life where you stay on top of a practice that feels sustainable for a moment."
It's about feeling, "nourished and healthy. On a soul level, asking, is this good for your soul?”