Welcome To Paul Penders HQ in Penang! (Part 2)

Since moving to Malaysia, my son Bastiaan always seems to be surrounded by beautiful women — as seen here with members of our staff at Paul Penders Headquarters in Penang, Malaysia..

Was it coincidence or fate?

When my eldest son Bastiaan decided to leave his banking career in Holland and join my company in Malaysia, we took together several days to drive around Penang island and happened upon a sleepy little fishing village. We turned a corner and there was a compound featuring offices and warehouses, which had a sign out front advertising space for rent.

It seemed like a happy coincidence – here the Paul Penders company could have a laboratory, warehouse, and office space as well as comfortable housing just next door. Bas would be able to enjoy the city life and tourist comforts of Georgetown and still retreat to the peace and quiet of the little village where the pace of life is slower.

It can take a bit of doing to get there but Penang is worth a visit!

Only an hour by plane from Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, the tropical island paradise of Penang is a world-class tourist destination. Most travelers head into the gorgeous historic district of Georgetown, the main city on the island of Penang, where the global mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Western cultures appears in the architecture, art, and world famous Penang food.

Many consider Penang the most livable place in Asia. It combines both busy city and quiet country, historical sites and ultra-modern services, with skyscrapers overlooking vistas of mountains, forests, sand and sea.

While the home and heart of Paul Penders International remains on the Andaman sea island of Langkawi, obtaining supplies, shipping, and crucial services like internet and telephone can all be problematic on that tiny island three hours at sea.

With both bridges and short ferry rides to the mainland, close to 2 million population, and bustling trade and industry, Penang island, by contrast, offers some of the best services in the world – and those are available even in the most peaceful, rural corners of the island.

Just a short ride out of the city takes you past green mountains, lush tropical foliage interspersed with elegant residences, and sandy beaches with views out to the fishing boats and yachts lying just out at sea. In less than an hour, we pass through the famous seaside resort area, and then after a short drive along a narrow, twisting road, we arrive at the ageless village of Teluk Bahang where Paul Penders now has its headquarters.

Nowadays Bastiaan no longer wears a suit and tie to work every day. He often appears at the office in a comfortable t-shirt and shorts.

Father and son agreed; Paul Penders International would have its headquarters in Penang. This is in addition to manufacturing facilities in Kuala Lumpur and the Langkawi offices. With today’s communications, it’s almost possible to operate a business anywhere in the world!

Tags: Paul Penders products, Paul Penders International, PP Headquarters, Teluk Bahang, Penang, Malaysia, Bastiaan Penders


 

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Welcome to PP HQ Penang!

Welcome to the Paul Penders headquarters on the island of Penang, Malaysia in the little fishing village of Teluk Bahang!

Our “second home” is not far from the beach in a green valley surrounded by gentle hills. From PP Penang HQ, we often see tour buses on their way to the nearby Penang State Park and its enormous lake and dam. Or they could be heading just up the street to the attractions tucked into the nearby hills: the Butterfly Farm, the Tropical Spice Garden or the new Escape Adventure theme park.

PP International now has two main offices – one on the island of Langkawi and one on Penang island. As a UNESCO-designated “GeoPark,” Langkawi is a garden of paradise. It’s gorgeous there but services can be less than satisfactory; on the other hand, Penang is a commercial hub and a world leader in IT and related computer services. It’s been almost 2 years since we opened the Penang HQ and it’s turned out to be a good common sense solution to maintain both places.

Neighbors count. Our HQ is located right next to a mosque and there’s an excellent medical clinic across the way. The community surrounding our Penang HQ is primarily Malay Muslim with many carrying on a family heritage of fishing or operating small but excellent restaurants and food stands. Many also head to the tourist town of Batu Ferringhi just next door to work in the hotel and hospitality industries.

People here seem to have balanced life and work very well. They live in a strong community of family and friends and live a “laid back lifestyle.” Some of our neighbors are quite ambitious — a new coffeehouse has recently opened downstairs in our complex. We often stop in for tastings of the variety of excellent Malaysian coffees.

Every day, delivery trucks back up to our warehouse doors on the street level. Whenever I’m in town, I peek in to say hello to the hardworking staff there. The warehouse is stocked nearly to its high ceiling with boxes of supplies and items ready to be shipped out to distributors all over the world.

As Asian traditions dictate, you must take off your shoes before climbing the narrow staircase up to the offices above the warehouse. There I am greeted by our friendly office staff including Yen or Louise who are usually on the phone working on marketing and sales.

The facility is spacious and super clean. There’s a conference room where important meetings take place. People gather in the central office space which has a large workstation with adjacent cubicles that accommodate 4 or 5 people at their computers at once – giving both privacy and proximity.

Yen meets me in the nearby kitchen to share coffee and cookies. We peer through a glass wall and wave to the chemists working in the most fascinating space of all – the special temperature-controlled laboratory.

One evening, we invited blogger Teviot Fairservis to watch as Bas and senior chemist Dr. Gatot Pulanggono and I “cooked up” a new shampoo product. Here’s what she wrote:

    “I felt privileged to be on hand at the birth of a new product. Paul, Bas and Dr. Gatot moved easily around the space, taking down vials and bottles of various herbs and essences for the new formula. Counters line three sides of the room and they shifted from scales that can measure tiny amounts to machines that can shake-and-shimmy ingredients into formulas in a special “cold blending” process. It was fascinating to watch! And I even got to help in a final step by sniffing herbal fragrances and offering an opinion on which fragrance smelled best.”

Much of Paul Penders business is conducted by Skype or by phone, or when Paul and Bas personally visit distributors in near or far away countries (see Paul’s travel blogs about India and Hong Kong visits with heavy traveling only done over a short period of one month).

Paul Penders products are shipped out to distributors in some 15 countries – and to nearby locations or to the other end of the world — from our facilities in Penang or Kuala Lumpur.


 

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At last the EU bans stops the sale of cosmetics tested on animals!

Animal lovers rejoice! Animal rights activists all over the world breathe a sigh of relief this month as the EU ban on the sale of animal-tested products finally goes into effect.

The 11th of March will be celebrated by animal lovers for years to come as a day of victory!

What a relief! At long last, the European Union wakes up to the idea that there are far better, less brutal ways to test the safety of products than to harm animals. Let’s hope the rest of the world takes similar action soon!

Paul Penders International adopted a ‘no animal testing policy’ more than 30 years ago when I personally witnessed the cruel treatment of rabbits in a cosmetics testing laboratory.

“… I can only remember thinking about the rabbits and how evil animal testing was. Why on earth should these animals be force-fed shampoo when no rational person would pick up a bottle and drain it down their throat? What was the point of all this unnecessary suffering? I made up my mind there and then, that none of my products would EVER be tested on animals, no matter the consequences.” (to read more of Paul’s autobiography, click here).

As of March 2013, the new European ban makes it illegal to sell any personal care products that have been tested on animals – no matter where in the world those tests were done. That includes all beauty products – from high end to your local department store brands as well as all toiletries from soap to toothpaste.

It almost didn’t happen.

The EU Commission received so much pressure so that Commissioner Tonio Borg was considering applications for still further delay. As a last ditch effort starting in 2011, celebrities enlisted in the No Cruel Cosmetics campaign including Sir Paul McCartney, Morrissey and Sienna Miller, after it became clear the final phase of the ban might be delayed for up to ten years.

For the last 23 years, we’ve applauded the efforts of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) as they work tirelessly towards the goal of ending all experimentation on animals. First established in 1990, the organization now represents 26 animal welfare groups in 24 EU states.

The efforts date back even farther. Founded in 1898 by Frances Power Cobbe, an Irish writer and suffragette, The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV). In 1973, the BUAV brought the use of animals in cosmetics tests to UK public attention for the first time, encouraging people to shop cruelty-free. This was followed up by the BUAV’s popular ‘Choose Cruelty Free’ campaign in the 1980s.

According to the ECEAU, final success was due to the work of Tonio Borg, the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. “The former European Commissioner in charge of the EU’s cosmetics regulations had been considering recommendations to delay or weaken the ban, allowing the cosmetics industry to continue testing cosmetic products and ingredients on animals until they could find alternative methods.”

As we now know, alternative tests for cosmetics are already available. Thankfully, Commissioner Borg ruled that the ban should go forward and now it will be integrated into the national law of each EU Member State.

We rejoice with the millions across the world who stand up for an end to cruelty to animals.

By Teviot Fairservis.


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March is Women’s Month


Aviatrix Amelia Earhart has become an international symbol for women’s potentials.

Women can stand proud this month as the world celebrates women this March!

It means different things to different people: a celebration, a call for action, an opportunity, a cause. March could be called “Women’s Month,” kicking off with International Women’s Day on March 8th. More than 350 events in the UK, and around 150 events in the U.S., Canada, Australia and many other countries celebrate women in 2013. In the U.S., the celebration continues for a whole month. Since 1987, U.S. presidents have designated March as Women’s History Month.

Significant gains have been made towards reaching “gender equality” in many countries but there’s still a long way to go.

In Pakistan, a Taliban gunman hunted down and shot a 14-year old girl in the face for blogging about the need for girls’ education. Malala Yousufzai came to world attention when she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and participated in a UNICEF conference. The gunman reportedly tracked her down on her school bus. Luckily, she survived and has become an icon for the need for girls’ education. In Afghanistan, southern Thailand, and too many places elsewhere, the simple act of walking to school can be life-threatening.

Things are changing for the better for women. Here in Malaysia, this March, the new “Bella” awards celebrate successful women, inaugurating this annual event in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

Supported and endorsed by Malaysia’s Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Malaysia now has its first women’s awards show – Bella Awards 2013 – to celebrate, recognise, and honour successful women for their great achievements and inspirational contributions to the society. The top award this year went to Dato’ Ruby Khong for the strong impact she has made locally as well as internationally with her KSK soup kitchen feeding hundreds of empoverished people in Kuala Lumpur. A special Appreciation award was also made to the famous shoe designer, Dato’ Jimmy Choo, born in Penang, for his contributions to women and society through his work.

Women on the march…

The years leading up to and including WWI found women marching in the streets of London and Washington, D.C. for the right to vote. On March 3, 1913, 5,000 women marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in the first “national procession,” staged the day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration. It was the first civil rights parade to use the nation’s capital as a backdrop.

This year in the U.S. for Women’s History Month, The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, all will “join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.”

As a natural beauty products company with a long history of service to a largely female clientele, Paul Penders International has witnessed changes in the cultures, tastes, styles, and conditions of women the world over.

We can all be proud of what women have achieved in the past year alone. And we can use this month as a time to consider and articulate what we hope for the future of our young girls in our ever-changing world.

By Teviot Fairservis.


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Can you say “phthalates?” Part 1

How many personal-care products do you use every day?

  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Body wash
  • Hair spray
  • Nail polish
  • Aftershave lotions
  • Hair gel
  • Hand lotions
  • Lipstick
  • Perfume or cologne

Did you know that many personal care products contain plastic? New warnings are out about the health risks of a somewhat mysterious substance called “phthalates” found in plastics.

Our own Paul Penders’ chief chemist, Dr. Gatot, explains that these are often added to cosmetics to make them long lasting or to enhance their smell. He promises, “We have never used them in PP products and never will.”

Do the personal care products you use contain phthalates? Probably. You might never know because often phthalates are swept under the label ‘fragrants’ (or ‘fragrance’) and therefore do not have to be listed on the containers. Look on the ingredients lists of your favorite products for these phthalates, which, if listed at all, may be indicated with an abbreviation. The three most commonly used in personal care products are: DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), and BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate).

Can you say “phthalates?” It’s a tricky word (pronounced tha-layts) that has become the subject of intensive lobbying activities and major research studies. Why? Because phthalates have been linked in recent studies to childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes, especially in older women.

Scientists now place phthalates in a class of chemicals termed “endocrine disruptors” – because they have been shown to affect the endocrine hormonal system of the human body. They actually mimic hormones; as a result, there is potential for neurological and reproductive damage.

Researchers found that adult women have higher levels of phthalate metabolites than men do, probably because they use more cosmetics and other skin and hair care products.

Recent studies have also demonstrated possible connections between plastic toys and childhood obesity – and now toy manufacturers are rushing to remove phthalate plastics from the market.

We live in a chemical world – see the new September 2012 updates to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (2009).

Yes, this is scary stuff.

According to the CDC, “the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that the DEHP [probably the most common phthalate] may reasonably be anticipated to be a human carcinogen. The EPA has determined that DEHP is a probable human carcinogen. These determinations were based entirely on liver cancer in rats and mice. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has stated that DEHP cannot be classified as to its carcinogenicity to humans.”

Our air, water, and food are all loaded with chemicals – an environment that our ancestors never experienced. Leading environmentalists Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie described the effects of their self-tests in their startling book, Slow Death By Rubber Duck (2011).

It’s now almost ‘old hat’ to say that we live our 21st Century lives very differently than people did in the past. We plunge our hands into detergents to wash dishes and clothes. We add fabric softeners to the wash water; spray aerosol fragrances into the air; hold objects near our heads that emit rays (mobile phones) or sleep up close to machinery that emit measurable radiation (TVs). We walk under wires or live near huge towers that any good electrician could tell you send out huge waves of energy.

What are we doing to our bodies? It’s a question I find myself asking daily. As I continue to research for this blog and my own interest, I am increasingly grateful for companies like Paul Penders International that takes an environmentally conscious stand and uses only high quality organically grown herbs in their formulas.

Given the choice between coating yourself in plastic and washing in tropical herbs and flowers, which would you choose?

By Teviot Fairservis.


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