People at the Heart of Quality
Interview with Birgit Brander
Quality takes a lot of work. But when every employee takes quality to heart, this work can become a source of deep satisfaction. As Director of Global Quality Assurance and Quality Control at Weleda, Dr. Birgit Brander is responsible for ensuring compliance with Weleda’s high standards of quality.
What is behind the high quality of Weleda products?
DR. BIRGIT BRANDER: Most importantly, it’s the people. Be it in product development, manufacturing, testing or distribution, it is always our employees’ dedication to quality that – paired with the best ingredients and systematically coordinated processes – accounts for the quality of our products. Weleda’s exceptional quality criteria are rooted in our company’s culture, one that focuses on the needs of the people who use our natural skin care and medicines.
What about Weleda’s own special requirements?
BB: Quality at Weleda concerns the whole person – the body, soul and spirit. This is shaped by our anthroposophic approach, which is reflected in our selection of high-quality raw materials and our special, in some cases unique, production processes.
We do not use synthetic fragrances, dyes, or preservatives, nor do we use genetically modified organisms. Our most important supplier is nature itself. Nature provides us with wonderful raw materials for our products.
"Our most important supplier is nature itself"
What general quality guidelines apply?
BB: Weleda is a medicinal company, which is why we maintain strict legal standards. This has influenced our entire quality control system, skin care included. The requirements are stipulated in the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for pharmaceutical products. Natural cosmetics have their own GMP rules, and Weleda also complies with NATRUE Label criteria.
These third-party requirements and our own standards are systematically implemented thanks to the commitment of our employees who deeply identify with our quality targets.
Are there any other special requirements for the raw materials?
BB: Yes, I am very pleased that Weleda has been UEBT certified for a number of years now. The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) is a non-profit organisation that has developed a comprehensive standard for the sustainable procurement and use of raw materials. It places great importance on issues such as biodiversity, sustainable use and fair wages, for example, with regard to plant cultivation in structurally weak countries.
I am proud that my company acts responsibly in these areas. The criteria for my colleagues in raw materials procurement and quality control are highly complex and demanding. But for us, what we achieve here makes it well worth the effort.
"We believe that not only the individual ingredients, but also the overall composition and often the production process make a product effective."
What makes the finished product so effective?
BB: We believe that not only the individual ingredients, but also the overall composition and often the production process make a product effective. That’s why we use as many natural substances as possible. Natural fatty oils and essential oils are our most important ingredients. The fragrance of a product should enhance its effect.
Lead plants for the Weleda natural cosmetics line are also selected according to anthroposophic principles. The pomegranate, for instance, is ideal not only due to its natural compounds, but also because it suits the stage of life of the people for whom the series is intended.
What does quality mean to you personally?
BB: Quality is also important to me on a private level. My particular focus is on nature – plants and animals. I would like to contribute to their preservation, and am a great supporter of ethical animal husbandry and organic farming.
Dr. Birgit Brander
Birgit is Director of Global Quality Assurance and Quality Control and has worked at Weleda since 2000. She has always been fascinated by the nature’s diversity, and at Weleda discovered her enthusiasm for geology.