There’s a gathering of horsemen about once a year up in the Santa Barbara-Santa Ynez area, ostensibly a competition to see who is the most adept rider, the most skilled roper. The style of riding and roping is one that was almost rendered extinct, the old Spanish vaquero style, sometimes called Californio horsemanship. There are prizes, to be sure, silver conchos and hand made leatherwork, fine saddles, boots, chaps, everything anyone who rides horses could want. The riders come from as far away as North Dakota.

Bruce Sandifer

With pride and prizes on the line it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the big picture. That left it up to the organizer, Bruce Sandifer, a lifelong horseman and vaquero, the man who, as much as anyone else rescued the Californio style from oblivion, to put it in perspective before the event even got underway. “I want an event,” he said, “where competition will not be more important than quality horsemanship and good stockmanship.”

With a foot in two worlds, skin care and the world of the vaqueros, that got me thinking.

Just a few days before hearing Bruce say that I had been talking with a patient about the products she was using. She brought in six (by actual count) different skin care products that she said she used every day. All of them were from a well-known manufacturer, and all of them had names that left my head spinning like the character in BEETLEJUICE. There was not a buzz word known to man that was left out. Everything was lightening, brightening, hydrating, anti-aging, moisturizing, and on and on. Almost as though someone at corporate had the idea their customers would be so fascinated by the names that they would cease reflective thought.

Every word was on the label except what was actually in the products; for that you had to go online where most of the ingredients had unpronounceable chemical names. Competition clearly had become more important than quality.

Turmeric root - key ingredient in Sanctuary Daily Gel Wash

If you know me, you know it is not my style to pat myself on the back at the expense of anyone else and I don’t intend to start now. After all, in order to succeed in business you have to be effective and be aware that you are in competition or those funny marks on your back will look very much like tire tracks as you competition runs you over.

And not to be mistaken, we have thought up a few cutesy names ourselves. My point, however, is that after you get past the name you find our ingredients are all there on the product labels for everyone to see.

Bruce Sandifer didn’t say competition wouldn’t be important. He said it wouldn’t be more important. Same as us. We are in business to succeed but we always keep the idea foremost in our minds that quality and giving our customers credit for having the ability to think for themselves are what sets us apart.

Natural, organic, bio-elements, sustainably sourced with no animal testing…we’ll compete on that playing field all day, thank you.


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