My Green Life: At Work with Michael Bruggeman

By Rima Suqi / September 7, 2011

green lifeMy Green Life:

“I’ve always had the notion that I’d like to help organic farmers by developing some type of product I could hark back to the land, and how you get the actual fruit, vegetables, and botanicals into something marketable,” explained Michael Bruggeman of how he ended up the founder and CEO of Organic Male, a new line of skincare for men.

The line, which debuted earlier this year after two years in development, has four elements (a cleanser, an aftershave/toner, a serum and a moisturizer) for each of four skin types (sensitive, oily, normal, and dry). “We did a lot of research on men’s skin,” he explained. “Its thicker by a certain percentage than women’s, so you have to take into account viscosity and how things will absorb. Because men shave daily, there are problems we needed to account for, focusing on calming botanicals to soothe razor burn of bumps, because the skin’s acid mantle is so damaged when you run a razor over it.”

All this from a Wisconsin native who, prior to developing this skin care line, toiled in the healthcare industry, ultimately becoming a vice president who oversaw “operational performance and human resources” for more than 20 hospitals. After 9-11, he and his partner, Gary Kleysteuber, bought the Heron Inn (and later the Heron’s Nest and Heron Waterside) in the small town of La Conner, Washington, and made the very smart decision to add the Watergrass Day Spa to the property. That’s where their wellness and beauty immersion course began. “We picked Eminence Organics as the product line for the spa and were selling so much of it that we put it on our website so customers could order refills. Then we noticed we were getting hits from all over the country to buy it. So we launched a website,, and became one of the largest retailers of Eminence in the world.” The success of Eminence led them to pick up a mineral skincare line, one thing led to another, and before long they developed Organic Male, with valuable mentoring provided by the folks at Eminence. “They’ve become great friends of ours,” admits Bruggeman, who adds that they’ve helped tremendously.

Today, Bruggeman and Kleysteuber still own the Heron’s Nest and Heron Waterside, and the Watergrass Day Spa. Nobody is more surprised at the turn of events than Bruggeman. “Would I have envisioned at age 18 that I’d grow up to be a skin care company owner? No. When I was young I thought I’d never leave the family farm. But I was the first one in my family to go to college, and I saw a lot of different opportunities,” he explained, adding “the long-term vision for Organic Male is to work backwards in the supply chain and get really familiar with our suppliers so we know exactly what plot of land the products come from.”

Rima Suqi
Rima Suqi

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