Joseph and Zack Borkovic
Joseph Borkovic wasn’t always in the organic hair care business. In fact, about eleven years ago, he was homeless.
But a series of circumstances and an innocent question from his then three-year-old son Zach started what is now a successful and Earth-friendly business.
“Dad, does what we put in the water hurt other fish and animals?”
Zach was concerned about dolphins, and how they may be harmed.
After a trip to the library for some research, they found that when we wash our hair and body, harmful chemicals in products like shampoo are washed down the drain in our showers and sinks. These chemicals eventually end up in the oceans, and pose a threat to marine life.
As people with curly hair, we now realize that harsh chemicals and artificial ingredients don’t do much to give our hair the moisture and health it needs. This usually means we turn to organic or more natural hair care products.
Through positive thinking, hard work, and great ideas, that’s exactly what Joseph and Zach are now able to provide.
Their business, called Organic Trader Canada, creates organic and environmentally safe hair and body products.
“A lot of product ideas originally came from my son, and he would tell me his ideas about the Earth and products to help the Earth and dolphins,” Joseph said. “I would just listen and write everything down. It is so important to give children a voice, to allow their own authentic voice to come out into a safe and sacred space.”
There are multiple brands created by the company: Professional Organics Salon & Spa (exclusively for salons and spas), Earth Spirit Organics (for health stores and health practitioners) and Organic Pet Spa (for pets and horse products).
Of the chemicals most of us initially lookout for, these products contain no Sodium Laurel Sulfates or mineral oils. Even the packaging used at Organic Trader is “green”. The labels are biodegradable and completely made with wind power, Joseph said.
While they personally use all of their creations, Joseph’s favorite product is the Shea Butter Lotion, which fairly purchases shea butter from a small village near the African country of Burkina. The product manager for the lotion is actually from the village, and Joseph would love to visit in the future.
“Social justice issues feel good,” he said.
Joseph promised his son they would one day swim with the dolphins they love so much. And about eleven years later, they took a trip to Hawaii, and did.
Joseph and Zach have documented their incredible story on a DVD titled “The Promise”, which is available for free from their website.
What began as a father-son duo has now grown; Organic Trader is a team of seven people working to produce unique products.
Zach is 14 years old now, an honors student in school, though his dad joked that girls have been his latest discovery. The same boy who posed the question that started it all is still involved in the company. His favorite product is the Earth Spirit Shampoo.
"Look after Nature and the Earth,” Zach said. “It's just natural to love and be loved in return."
Most of their business comes from "micro-private labels" – very small stores or salons can start with just 2-4 cases of products, with no surcharges. This is rare, Joseph said, as companies only allow people to use create their own “brand” of the product for very large and expensive orders of product. Organic Trader is enabling the small businesses of its customers.
“No one else in North America offers this micro-private label program,” he said. “Customers LOVE it, that they get to have their own name & logo right on the bottle!” he said.
And even though Organic Trader is based in Canada, 30%-40% of the orders are from the U.S.
Among the most popular products is the styling eco-creme and hair eco-gel, he said. They contain no alcohol, PVP (what shredded vinyl records are made of!). The gel formulas are plant based.
Ask anyone if they believe in reducing the harm we do to the Earth. No one will say no. But frankly, it can be quite easy to reach for the cheap (though harmful) products. Joseph doesn’t believe in compromising.
“Do we really want to put a price on health, save a dollar and damage ourselves and our environment and ecological resources?” Joseph asked.
“Life and Nature will always trump economic interests,” he said.
He argues that the while these harmful products are still being produced, it is ultimately up to the consumer to decide what to purchase.
"Every dollar that we spend, is a vote for or against, the Earth," he said. “Let's spend wisely.”
While Organic Trader Canada and all things environmentalist are certainly major parts of his life, he enjoys other things.
“No matter what, making time for the things that are important to me and my family,” he said. “So live, really live and love - be honest, always stay within your own integrity.”
If there’s any doubt that doing our best to maintain our naturally curly hair is the right thing to do, Joseph’s philosophy will surely help you.
"Always stay true to yourself – follow your heart!"