What was the main determination when creating your skincare line?
It started as another cooking project. I was 19 and just turned vegetarian. I stopped using white flour, sugar and dairy and had to teach myself how to cook again. Vegetarian healthy cooking was not that popular back then. My only reference cook book was Laurel’s Kitchen. I was also a student at the California School of Herbal Studies founded by the renowned and inspirational herbalist -Rosemary Gladstar. So while making what was called Better Butter, my own salt from ground herbs, my own yogurt, sprouting seeds, making a sourdough starter for baking bread, as well as herbal formulas- a brain support tincture for my mom and a clay based baby powder for baby’s bums, making a facial cream was a natural extension of that process. I learned how to make a basic cream using 5 ingredients, no preservatives additives or anything unnecessary. I was not concerned with wrinkles at the time, ia anyone at 19? I did, however, have a Thyroid imbalance- Hypothyroid, which leads to unduly dry skin. I tried different lotions, but they were water based and didn’t nourish my skin on a deep level. I used my original face cream as a body lotion and it worked great. I used that cream as my face and body cream for many years. Then people asked that I share my cream with them, which was the birthing of the idea to share this and other products with friends, family and then patients and the general population, The rest, as someone said, is history, or her-story 🙂
For a new customer trying out your brand what would you suggest as their skin routine?
That depends on a style. Some people like simple regimens, some people want a more complicated and thorough regimen. For those into simplicity and who still expect stellar results, I recommend: Cleanser, Toner, and Serum. Moisturizing cream (day, night or either) and an eye cream. Once a month a clay masque. and that should do it, For those who want a deeper process: 2 different cleansers- an exfoliating or gel cleanser and a moisturizing cleanser, a toner, two different serums for day and night, a day cream, night cream, eye cream. A clay masque a few times a week, a peel once a week, (and our new face lift product- not done yet- once a week) use a tinted sunscreen serum and a natural foundation (coming up soon)
What products will you soon be coming out with?
As a holistic practitioner (Acupuncturist, Chiropractor, Herbalist) I’m always concerned with health on a deeper level. I enjoy working with people individually, creating customized formulas to address the root cause of their skin imbalances. My focus lately has been on healing formulas which, while more general than I’d have liked, still address troubling conditions like a Rosacea Cooling Cream, A Rosacea Serum- Stronger version of my existing one. A soothing Lavender & Chamomile Cream for sensitive skin, a simple yet powerful DIY Facelift, a Brightening cream for women with uneven skin and dark spots, and for fun I’m dabbling in tinted sunscreen facial oils, a foundation and a blush.
What has been the most challenging part of your journey creating this brand?
The unexpected parts of running an inventory based business. As a doctor, when I had a clinic, I had an inventory of supplements, tinctures, herbal formulas & some orthopedic supplies, but nothing that I had to make from scratch, which called for an inventory of production ingredients. I use only the best and highest quality of ingredients available. Foraging (so to speak) for the right ingredients when your budget is limited, yet you’re not willing to compromise on quality, is challenging. Given a bigger budget, I bet it would be exhilarating. Then there’s packaging. While it’s fun to find the perfect container for a new product, the process of designing the label, making sure all ingredients are exact and the ‘how to use’ instructions clear enough, and then the packaging mishaps one would expect to creep up, is tedious. Marketing is another quandary for me–how to reach people who would benefit from my products. Being noticed over the cacophony of competing narratives, some of which are true, some of which just effective marketing campaigns, is an ongoing conundrum. How to be heard and seen without resorting to slimy marketing tactics. How to stay positive in the face of green and pink washing. I find that for me personally packaging and marketing are tough, even though they have fun components, while formulating and manufacturing are completely joyful and inspiring to me.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
The formulation process, choice of ingredient combinations and the fact every formula is made from scratch. Let me elaborate. The formulation process is based on need. I hear of a need, I see a condition repeating itself, and if I don’t see the solutions among existing products in the market, I set myself off to make it. I come up with the formula intuitively as well as scientifically. I don’t have a predetermined idea of what ingredients might be the ones to choose for a particular formula. Once I have the ingredients I believe will work well together, and find the right source for each one, I gather them and start putting the formula together. This is a long and organic process–finding the right combination of ingredients that will synergize into the effective product I want it to be. I run the formula by my friend and colleague, a medical intuitive, and we tweak it some more–adjust a source of an ingredient, an amount, the form of each ingredient (powder, liquid, extract etc), and then we start testing them, first on ourselves and then on our estheticians. (No animal testing…) Unlike most companies, we don’t have a favorite combination of ingredients we use. We like variety and only choose the ingredients that fit the formula, nor do we have a base of ingredients which we use in each formula. That would help with the cost of ingredient inventory and make everything simpler, but we believe, is less effective. We create a whole new product and experience.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Read labels, trust your experience, look for change and don’t trust the hype. Use the least amount of foundation possible and remove it when you get home. Let your skin breathe.