I’ll never forget my first encounter with LILFOX. I received a generous assortment of products, each packaged with an artful design. Immediately sensing that these products were special, I took my time to study each box, read each whimsical word, before opening each jar and bottle one by one, taking in the exotic, addictive scents. Each aroma was distinct, every texture decadent and luxurious. Then, I took my first dip into a product. I was enchanted. It’s not a word I use often, but it is the only way to describe the transcendent experience. I was overcome with sensory delight. As I soon discovered, this was the exact intention of Alexis Rose, the capricious founder of LILFOX, lovingly known as Madame Fox.
When Madame and I first spoke, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm. Her formulations were pure artistry and reached a new zenith of beauty. I had been transported, and just like falling in love with an artist for the first time, I immediately desired to experience her entire range.
Our connection was immediate, and as I’ve come to know Madame, I’ve been struck not only by her artistry, but by her generosity. Alexis and her small women-only team weave a tapestry of creativity, passion, purpose, talent, empowerment and joie de vivre into their work. Carefully sourcing each ingredient from exotic, sustainable producers, she knows that her art is only as good as the materials she uses. In her blends you will find tart and fruity Maracuja (passion fruit) oil from Brazil, sustainably harvested raw honey from a rainforest in Hawaii, and exotic mineral rich White Clay from the banks of the Amazon. With her masterful mix of science, intuition and alchemy, Alexis blends precious botanicals, essences and crystals that fill the senses while delivering potent benefits to the skin. The playful, soulful spirit of each formula is captured through the whimsical drawings on each package, the work of Miami born artist, Natalia Jhete.
Late last year, I visited Alexis in her Miami-based studio where she gave me a sneak peek at a work of art in progress, the Cleopatra Restorative Milk + Honey Beauty Mask. It was still in development, but our shared hope was that it would be ready in time to deliver as an exclusive launch and Sidekick to this month’s Hero product, Jungle Glow. As fate would have it, the ingredients, inspiration and formula came together just in time for Alexis and her team to hand mix each small batch of this exquisite mask, inspired by the matriarch of beauty herself. Cleopatra detoxifies and tones with decadent crushed rose petals, coconut milk, honey, jasmine and French Rose clay while enzymes of papaya and pineapple resurface and boost cell turnover. Superfruits camu camu and baobab brighten with super antioxidants that will leave your skin glowing. Truly fit for a queen, this exquisite mask is just the latest in a portfolio of master works.
Join me as I follow the Fox into her enchanted world of beauty, artistry and whimsy.
What inspired you to create your brand?
Ever since I was a little girl, I was always busy practicing my own sort of alchemy, mixing different elements: infusing herbs from the gardens with oils and making teas, infusing crystal energy, crafting spells and potions to make it rain, so I think this always been in my DNA.
In my late 20’s I decided to attain an aromatherapy certification and study organic cosmetic formulation. During my studies I realized I had a talent for creating luxe spa products with organic ingredients and unique aromatics. From there it was down the rabbit hole with extensive research on ingredients and product formulation. I was so intrigued by the vibrant energetics of the essential oils that I decided to create a collection that really captures these plant energies.
How did you learn the art of formulating?
I believe I have a natural affinity for the plant world. Alchemy and crafting unique blends comes naturally to me when I tune into the magical plant realm. I really must give a lot of credit too, to my amazing Aromatherapy teacher, Andrea Butje. She inspired me to further my studies of phytotherapy and essential oils and obtain an aromatherapy certification and a teaching certification from her school, Aromahead. I also studied the basics of organic cosmetic formulation, but I learned the most about plants, aromatic blending, plant energetics, and how the care for the skin and spirit on a holistic level from my aromatherapy studies with Andrea.
When it’s time to create/develop a new product, what is your process?
I am most often walking my two dogs under the lush tropical palms and admiring the gorgeous green foliage of the South Florida peninsula when I get an idea to work with a specific ingredient or to have an underlying theme communicated with a new product. After more thought I then usually dream of what other delicious ingredients would go well with the focal ingredient and draft the formula. Then I experiment with many different versions until I find the perfect balance.
I also love working with fatty oils that have their own unique aromas, such as Maracuja oil from Brazil. It has this sweet fruity yet tart aroma that is really quite lovely on it’s own. When I first smelled Maracuja oil and applied to my skin and saw how light and fast absorbing yet nourishing it was, I instantly knew I wanted to feature that in number of products in the LILFOX collection. I never would want to cover or mask the smell of these tropical oils, but instead elevate and magnify the fruity tart aromatics.’
What’s been your biggest discovery in terms of the creative process?
I am most inspired to create products that can transport the user to a different realm whether it is through the intoxicating aromatics, or the luscious textures that soften and plump skin.
For example, Jungle Glow contains ingredients from rainforests all over the World. It is a celebration of some of the Earth’s most beautiful forests. I also am inspired to pay tribute to lost civilizations who lived in harmony with the Earth and had a great respect for it, for example the Ancient Egyptians. The Egyptian Lotus Perfume and the Cleopatra Restorative Milk + Honey Beauty Mask are both a celebration of Ancient Egyptian culture and their beauty rituals.
Do you have a favorite ingredient? What do you love about it?
Honey. As they say in the Jungle Book, It is the nectar of life!
Can you share some of the details on how you source your ingredients sustainably?
We concentrate on working with organically farmed ingredients and wild harvested ingredients because we see the importance of supporting the local communities who are farming, harvesting, and producing the ingredients. That is just as important as the quality of the ingredients and eliminating harsh chemicals and pesticides going into our products. This practice of working with organically farmed ingredients and wild ingredients leads to less pesticides and harmful chemicals in our soils and water sources as well as empowering the local communities.
What’s your workspace like and a little bit about your team?
Well you have visited my original tiny little nook nestled in the heart of Miami. We are so excited to be expanding to a beautiful space close by to our original one with lots of natural light and windows and plenty of room to grow into! We have lots of crystals around to elevate the mood as well as a beautiful hand crafted diffuser diffusing special blends depending on the mood. Very simple, white airy curtains and plenty of plants in the windows. My team is a small group of inspiring, hard-working, and incredibly talented women who take multi-tasking
Do you have a creative muse?
Frida: her art, the colors, the flower crowns, the colorful clothing, her independence, and her love for animals is always inspiring!
Do you collect anything?
Crystals, Succulents, and Norma Kamali Pieces.
Where might we run into you on a Sunday morning?
Working from home in the morning while my hubby plays soccer, then a leisurely long brunch which includes a favorite of mine, a gazpacho bloody mary!
How do you relax?
My nightly bath ritual is my favorite time of the day. I love to play peaceful spa music, light candles, pour dead sea and Himalayan salts into the tub, and or use the Flowerball Body Polish as an ultra-moisturizing and enticingly aromatic bath soak. I like to disconnect by leaving my phone in another room.