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By now the world agrees on the need for good skin care. It’s our largest organ. It’s also one of the first toiletry items to be left out of your dopp kit right before a big trip. No more. Thanks to a TSA-approved regimen from Ursa Major, Vermont’s all-natural skin care company, you can rest easy knowing your skin is getting the protection it deserves. 

  • Includes: 
  • Face wash (2 fl oz)
  • Shave cream (2 fl oz)
  • Face Balm (0.5 fl oz)
  • 5 tonic-infused bamboo face wipes
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A natural path to true north

Oliver Sweatman and Emily Doyle had everything they wanted in New York City in 2010: beautiful apartments in affluent neighborhoods, well-paying jobs at some of the biggest companies in the beauty industry, friends that felt like family, their favorite restaurants. But they needed something more, something that New York City stopped offering them more than a decade ago—a life that had to be lived courageously and with a sense of adventure. “If you feel strongly, you will act,” says Sweatman. “When I quit my job, packed up, and turned my back on a very comfortable life, it was a huge gamble. It was an uncertain adventure, a fresh start. I was doing something passionate.” 

Just like the early American explorers of times long past who followed the brightest star in the night sky, Sweatman headed north. He went to the place where he was raised—where he was connected to the land and the people and could connect with the place that had inspired him as a young man: Vermont. After a month of hiking every day, reading Moby Dick every night, bleak moments, inspired moments, and walking through health stores unable to find a face wash he was willing to put on his skin, Sweatman knew what he needed to do and who he wanted to do it with. So he called his business partner and the love of his life, Emily, who was still in New York City. He asked her to drop everything and come to Vermont to start an all-natural skincare company. She did. “My logical side said No—you have a good job, a good life, and my emotional side said Yes—go for love, act in courage, you’ll make it work,” says Doyle. “I knew I had to go or I wasn’t going to expand my horizons.” 

After countless caffeine-fueled winter brainstorming sessions with mood boards, business plans, and product mock-ups, the fact that they had followed their passion—their true north—to the countryside of Vermont became not only their story, but their brand. Ursa Major men’s skincare, named after the northern star, was born. Despite a recession, the difficulties of a start-up, and everyone growing beards, Doyle and Sweatman found creative partners, private formulators, product labs, and organic sources and created a shaving cream worthy of Esquire’s 2012 Grooming Award. 

The early success allowed Ursa Major to expand quickly, and now just over two years later, they offer shaving cream, face balm, face wash, face tonic, cologne, and candles—each organic and all-natural, true to the brand’s initial mission of beautiful, useful products that delight customers. Because of the lack of regulation on organic and natural products in the U.S., Ursa Major adheres to the European Ecocert standards and is inspected twice per year by an independent Ecocert specialist to promote transparency and give customers peace of mind. Sweatman says that each product is at least 98.7 percent natural and 50 to 70 percent organic, which is a measurement leagues ahead of what most brands offer. Even so, he struggles with the pursuit of an impeccable product. “I’ve learned to be more skeptical of what ‘perfection’ is,” he says. “Pursuing an unattainable rendering of ‘perfection’ can interfere with progress.” 

That first step and uncertain choice five years ago led Sweatman and Doyle north, to their true north. It didn’t seem perfect at the time, but it led to progress neither one of them ever expected. “I feel like I am making choices—life is not leading me along,” says Doyle. “I am the leader of my life, and that is what feels best.” 

Feeling your best—and living your best life by way of passion and progress—is the brand of Ursa Major. At the end of the night, all Emily Doyle and Oliver Sweatman have to do is look up at the brightest star in the sky to remember that message and keep moving forward. —Lauren Steele


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