Our Cosmic Principles define our most important relationships, and guide us in everything we do, from soapmaking to peacemaking – All-One!
150 years and 5 generations of family soapmaking
Dr. Bronner’s was founded in 1948 by Emanuel Bronner, a third- generation master soapmaker from a German-Jewish soapmaking family. He used the labels on his superb ecological soaps to spread his message that we must realize our unity across religious & ethnic divides or perish: “We are All-One or None!” Still family-owned and run, Dr. Bronner’s honors its founder’s vision by continuing to make socially & environmentally responsible products of the highest quality, and by dedicating our profits to help make a better world. All-One!
Soapmaking begins in Heilbronner home—Jewish quarter, Laupheim, Germany.
Discovering 150 Years of Soapmaking
Dr. Bronner’s grandsons David and Michael Bronner travel to Germany to discover their Jewish soapmaking roots.
Heilbronners invent first liquid castile soap—supply washrooms across Germany—sell bar soaps under “Madaform” brand.
Emanuel Heilbronner (Dr. Bronner) enters the world!
Emanuel (Emil) apprentices with Jewish soapmaking family—receives Soapmaking Master certificate from guild system trade school and university degree in chemistry.
A Brief History of Dr. Bronner's
From German-Jewish soapmaking roots to countercultural icon. All-One!
Emil’s powerful personality, Zionist ideals and ideas for modern soapmaking lead to clashes with father and uncles—emigrates to U.S.
Emil advises U.S. soap and chemical specialty manufacturers. With rise of Hitler, drops “Heil” from last name.
Nazis nationalize family soap factory—Emil’s parents deported and killed in Auschwitz and Theriesenstadt.
Emil adopts honorific “Dr.”—with his intensity, scientific knowledge and thick German accent, no one argues.
Escapes Elgin State Insane Asylum after being institutionalized for vehemently espousing his views—later blames shock treatments for declining eyesight and blindness in the ‘60s.
Founding of Dr. Bronner’s! Production of liquid Peppermint soap and health food seasonings begins.
All-One! Dr. Bronner lectures in Pershing Square, exhorting all to unite as one—sells Peppermint soap on the side—realizes many are taking soap and leaving so prints lecture on labels. Sons Jim and Ralph help with business.
Dr. Bronner’s soap becomes iconic soap of the era. Young people groove on label’s call for peace. Plant moves to Escondido, California. Jim becomes VP of R&D and Production.
Dr. Bronner’s soaps spread to mainstream. Ralph works with Dr. Bronner to refine message on bottles. Jim launches Bronner Chemical and Technical Consulting—invents foam concentrate still used in fighting forest and structure fires.
Work Hard! Grow!
Number one in Dr. Bronner’s Moral ABC: Work hard! Prosper! Learn, grow, improve. Success is the engine that makes everything else possible.
1st: If not for me, who am I? Nobody!
2nd: Yet, if I’m only for me, what am I? Nothing!
3rd: If not now, when?!” So begins Emanuel Bronner’s Moral ABC. The message is clear: We are responsible for ourselves but also each other, and as we grow, we must grow responsibly.
Jewish-German soapmaking roots—Emanuel Bronner’s peace plan for uniting Spaceship Earth—iconic soap of the countercultural 60s—leaders of the organic and fair trade movement.
"Share the profits with the workers and the Earth from which you made it!"—business as a force for good—becoming a Benefit Corporation and a Certified B Corp.
Look it’s all connected: Hemp victory, taking on GMOs, liberating cannabis, opening our hearts to each other and our sacred earth.
Uncle Ralph—son of Dr. Bronner and uncle to current company leadership—embodied the heart and soul of our company—helped spread his father’s message that we are All-One!
Do Right By Customers
First ingredient: love! Lead with heart, take time, give best—serve customers as you would serve mother-daughter-son.
Only the purest organic and fair trade ingredients—most products vegan and certified to the same organic standards as food! No synthetic preservatives, no foaming agents. Body, hair, face, mouth & teeth—food, dishes, laundry, mopping, pets—Dr. Bronner’s is the very best for human, home, and Earth.
We make soaps using traditional methods—this philosophy extends to all our body care products: we look for natural ingredients to take the place of synthetic chemicals.
Independent certification ensures our products meet the highest standards for ecological and social sustainability.
We’re fighting for a marketplace where consumers are not misled and where organic standards are applied to body care just as they are to food.
Treat Employees Like Family
Be kind, reward generously, support good and healthy living. Seek and encourage the best in one another. For whatever unites us is greater than whatever divides us!
We’re a family business and consider all who work with us to be part of our extended family. Every “family member” in every position within the company has an important role to play and deserves to enjoy the best benefits and compensation programs we can offer.
100% free health care for employees and their families—5 to 1 cap on executive salaries—yearly bonus of up to 25% of salary for full-time employees—15% of salary in profit-sharing.
What it was like to work with Dr. Bronner—working at Dr. Bronner's throughout the decades—how the company has grown and matured.
Be Fair To Suppliers
Build relationships with organic farmers and producers to create equitable supply chains. Fair prices for farmers, living wages and excellent working conditions for workers, investment in communities, respect for land and people!
Our relationships with our organic suppliers is direct, local, personal, sustainable, tangible, and verifiable. It’s a way for customers to know that the products they’re purchasing will have a real and positive impact on the people and communities who make them. For us it’s a continuation of Emanuel Bronner’s legacy. He wanted to change the world for the better with the label on our bottles. We want to do the same with what’s inside.
Fair pay, good working conditions, loans and community development projects support small-scale farmers and local economies—regenerative agricultural techniques improve soil, yield!
Canaan Fair Trade in Palestine, Serendipol in Sri Lanka, Serendipalm in Ghana, Creation Biotech in India, Kwale Coconuts in Kenya—fair trade and organic sources for all Dr. Bronner’s main ingredients!
Treat The Earth Like Home
Make humble and mindful use of the earth’s gifts. Do not waste, do not harm the land or people or animals. What comes from the earth must go back!
Regenerative organic farming projects—soil enrichment and tree-planting programs—100% post-consumer recycled packaging—aggressive waste and water-use reduction—yes!
Healthy soil = healthy planet—industrial agriculture major generator of greenhouse gasses—how regenerative organic agriculture can reverse climate change!
100% post-consumer recycled plastic packaging—bottle-to-bottle recycling—local recycling reduces bottles shipped overseas = fewer greenhouse gas emissions!
Solar panels, 100% post-consumer recycled corrugate, water/materials recycling—bringing down our waste-water-energy use—going for one dumpster a month—on our way to near-zero-waste!
Fund & Fight For What's Right!
Be an engine for positive change—share profits, share talent, share muscle, share voice—give & give, fund & fight!
Dr. Bronner’s has always been an activist company, dating back to when Emanuel Bronner was calling on the human race to unite from street corners and auditoriums, selling his peppermint castile soap on the side. Carrying forward that same activist spirit, it is our mission to continue to use the company today to fight for and financially support causes we believe in: regenerative agriculture, fair trade, animal advocacy, industrial hemp and drug policy reform, and living wages among others. We call ourselves the “fighting soap company,” and are committed and strategic in the causes we fight for.
Our novel, ecological, exhilarating foam “shower” transforms events, communities, lives into temporary magical paradises covered in “SnoFoam”!
Dr. Bronner’s supports federal/state initiatives to raise the wage—raising minimum wage boosts consumer buying power—helps small businesses—fairly compensates hard-working people!
Dr. Bronner’s leads battle to bring hemp agriculture back and end counter-productive cannabis prohibition in U.S.—supports psychedelics as effective tools for healing trauma, awakening compassion!
Factory farms keep animals in cruel conditions—less & better meat plus plant-based diets more humane to animals, better for planet, healthier for you!
Honouring the legacy of Jim Bronner through support of youth programs/charities—boosting lives and communities at home and abroad.
Dr. Bronner's Magic Foam Experience
Jim Bronner’s foam innovations are honored today with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Foam Experience, through which we share the joy of foam at schools, mud runs, parades and events.
Dr. Bronner’s health failing from Parkinson’s, sons Ralph and Jim and Jim’s wife Trudy assume control of company—Jim serves as President, Ralph as VP and company spokesperson, Trudy as Treasurer/CFO.
Passing of Dr. Bronner.
Independent third-party certification ensures our products meet the highest standards for ecological and social sustainability.
Jim Bronner, battling cancer, spends year training son David (24-year-old Harvard graduate, mental health counselor, hemp advocate) to run company. Donates 1,200-acre parcel of wilderness worth $1.4 million to San Diego County Boys & Girls Club.
On Jim’s passing, David, with mom Trudy and Uncle Ralph, begins running company.
Standing Up for Hemp
David Bronner brings his passion for hemp to Dr. Bronner’s, unites with other industry leaders to perform acts of civil disobedience.
Michael Bronner joins company—begins exportation of Dr. Bronner’s soaps around the world.
Dr. Bronner’s funds and helps coordinate hemp industry’s battle to defeat DEA’s regulations—victory comes on February 6, 2004—Bob Marley’s birthday!
Dr. Bronner’s becomes largest personal care company certified under USDA’s National Organic Program. Pioneers 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Institutes progressive business practices: 5-to-1 compensation cap between top salaried employee and lowest-wage warehouse position—100% health coverage—all profits not needed for business dedicated to progressive causes and charities.
Uncle Ralph performs off-off-Broadway one-man show about his life, father, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.
The Undiluted Genius of Dr. Bronner's
Inc. Magazine‘s in-depth profile of the Bronner family and the unconventionally successful company they created.
Sue Kastensen (Sun Dog Hemp Body Care) joins Dr. Bronner’s—helps reformulate her famous lip balms, body balms and lotions to USDA National Organic Program standards.
Comprehensive project to source all major raw materials from certified Fair Trade sources.
Dr. Bronner’s certified as Fair Trade company.
Release of independent film (Journey to Serendipol), Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox.
Dr. Bronner’s becomes the first producer of fair trade and organic coconut oil.
Dr. Bronner’s celebrates 150 years of soapmaking and 60 years of certified organic products. Expands distribution into Israel, fulfilling Emanuel Bronner’s lifelong dream.
Sister company, Dr. Bronner’s Germany (DBG), opens in Dusseldorf, distributes throughout Europe.
Dr. Bronner’s co-brands with its Fair Trade coconut supplier from Sri Lanka (Serendipol) to launch White Kernel and Whole Kernel Fair Trade Coconut Oils.
2010 to 2013
David Bronner arrested outside DEA headquarters for planting hemp seeds, and again for harvesting hemp plants in a cage in front of the White House.
September 2013, Dr. Bronner’s staff celebrates with farmer Ryan Loflin as he harvests first American commercial hemp crop in over sixty years.
2012 to 2013
GMO labeling throwdown! Dr. Bronner’s partners with coalition of parent, consumer, health and environmental groups to demand labeling of genetically engineered foods.
After growing 1,100% over 15 years, Dr. Bronner’s moves into larger factory. Commits to becoming a zero waste operation.
Passing of Ralph Bronner, heart and soul of Dr. Bronner’s—inspired us all to hold true to the mission of spreading love first, making profits second. Thank you, Uncle Ralph!