As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly thinking about innovation. But what I’ve learned is that creating something new just to have something to talk about isn’t innovation – it’s cheap and easy marketing. Real innovation may come less often, but it leaves a lasting impression. Indeed, real innovation changes the game. This is what Kari Gran and her business partner, Lisa Strain, have accomplished. Dubbed the Little Black Dress of Eco-Beauty, Kari Gran epitomizes simple sophistication. With only 5 unique products in their skincare range, Kari and Lisa are perhaps the most calculated formulators in Indie Beauty, launching new products not based on marketing cycles, but based on authentic consumer demand.As two of the smartest, most authentic and practical women in beauty, Kari and Lisa assume the customer (that would be us) is as smart as they are, and doesn’t want to be sold or told anything that’s not true and that doesn’t serve them. I loved working with Kari and Lisa on their 2016 launch of a serum sunscreen – Three Sixty-Five SPF 28 – and was so excited to learn that Kari had decided to launch one, very special, new product. Knowing her commitment to minimalist skincare, I immediately asked if we could feature the Essential Balm as a special, holiday discovery.In the following conversation, Kari shares more about staying true to her minimalist skincare philosophy and how Kari Gran Skincare resists the urge to cater to industry demands, and instead listen to what consumers want.
Behind the Scenes
On a blustering, snowy day, I met Kristi Blustein, founder of KHUS KHUS in the warm and cozy Dushanbe Tea House in Bolder, Colorado. Though not conscious of it at the time, the sensorial contrast of our first meeting was not dissimilar to how I experienced KHUS KHUS; namely her Hero product, Bleu Body Wax. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried due to its simultaneous cooling and warming effect on my skin. I was instantly intrigued by this unique sensation, and equally curious about her background in Ayurveda. Having spent a month doing a full-on (very restrictive) ‘pancha karma’ Ayurvedic purification ritual in Grass Valley, California (incidentally the same area where Kristi studied), I was well aware of traditional Ayurvedic principles, ingredients and practices. But while her line is rooted in this ancient eastern philosophy, her products didn’t smell or feel like anything I had experienced before. My interpretation was that Kristi learned and studied the rules, practiced them for years, and then adapted them to make something that was somehow reverent of tradition, but entirely her own. To me, KHUS KHUS has its own distinct look, scent profile and feel – not an easy feat when you’re abiding by centuries-old recipes. The oils are unctuous and decadent, and super skin-softening. While there is no shortage of oil-based green beauty brands available these days, KHUS KHUS stands out for its modern take on Ayurveda that will, as Kristi intended, get you hooked on a daily Abhayanga, self-massage practice.
Over a decade and another lifetime ago, I knew Begoña Sanjuan as a master international educator, and she knew me as a Spa Director. We collaborated on several different events, and I always marveled at her depth of knowledge and passion for her work. Imagine my deja vu and delight when I connected with her again, this time each founders of our own companies. AYUNA skincare was founded by Begoña and her business partner Isabel Ramos, a scientist and master formulator. With over 40 years combined experience in skincare and spa, the two Spain-based beauty veterans created the AYUNA skincare line on the premise of “skin fasting”, a scientifically-sound practice of feeding skin only what it needs, essentially starving it of toxins, inflammatories and overstimulation.
If you have the fortune to meet Axiology Founder, Ericka Rodriguez, in person, you’ll quickly learn that for this California-born beauty, she’s not into playing small. A vegan since her tween years, Ericka has been an advocate against animal cruelty for as long as she can remember, using her voice to protect the voiceless. She also had a mad crush on lipstick, amassing a collection of shades to pair with her current mood. Imagine her shock when she realized many of her favorite brands tested on animals and even contained animal byproducts. She turned her anger into action and set out to create the most comfortable, wearable, sustainable lipstick on the planet, starting with small batches from her kitchen.
When I stumble upon a new skincare or beauty brand, I start with Why. “Why did this Founder have to create this brand?” More often than not, there’s a compelling story that captivates me, and I immediately want to share it with the Beauty Heroes Tribe. But, when I first discovered LINNÉ Botanicals, my first question wasn’t Why?; it was How? I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how this founder created a brand so luxurious, with formulas that were as unique as they were effective. LINNÉ Botanicals was unlike anything else I’ve come across. In fact, when I first applied this month’s Hero product duo, PURIFY Face Wash and ACTIVATE Body Wash, I told Jenna Levine, the Founder of LINNÉ Botanicals, that I simply could not choose between the two! They were both Hero worthy and I felt they both deserved the spotlight. So, in the first time in Beauty Heroes history, we celebrate a double feature Beauty Discovery that is pure, effective and unique.
Svetlana Zakharevich, Founder of GRESSA, is the first to tell you there’s no such thing as a miracle in a jar, which makes her stunning beauty and lit from-within, radiant skin seem even more enviable, because you know she comes by it honestly. In fact, Svetlana has dedicated her career to demystifying healthy, glowing skin. While earning her PreMed degree, she discovered that the topic of nutrition was barely broached, so she pursued degrees in natural sciences in biochemistry to offset this gap in her education. What she learned through her studies is that total body wellness begins in the gut through a healthy diet and a balanced biome. A love for all things glamorous happily collided with her passion for science, and she set out on a mission to formulate products to highlight and support healthy skin. Her skincare-first makeup line is a range of natural skincare and color formulations that nourish the complexion, illuminate its best features and wears like a second skin. With each product taking years to perfect, Svetlana takes us behind the scenes and reveals her inspiration for her brand and shares the philosophy that has made GRESSA a cult-favorite among the most discerning audience – celebrities, makeup artists and beauty editors. Meet Svetlana.
A distinguishing factor of Indie Beauty brands is that more often than not, products are formulated based on the founders’ personal values. SkinOwl Founder Annie Tevelin so perfectly demonstrates this in the relaunch of her Hero product, Beauty Drops PM. … Continued
Connected by our shared love for Hawaii, Maryna and I have long dreamt of a girls trip to the island of Kaua’i, the home and inspiration for her artisan beauty brand, Mahalo Skin Care. As we planned for our third collaboration, the timing was right to make this dream a reality. I flew to meet Maryna and for 4 sacred days we escaped the daily to-do’s of our ordinary lives and ventured into the lush and sometimes precarious terrain of the island Maryna now calls home. Days of hiking, swimming, deep breathing and absorbing the energy of the island led to incredible breakthroughs and divine inspiration for both of us, some of which we share in the video below. Perhaps one of my greatest revelations was how the land can hold space for our personal transformation. While I’ve always known that the island has so many gifts of nature to offer – botanicals, ocean, indigenous wisdom, and Mana (the word for the energy the Hawaiians derived from the land and nature) – I witnessed first hand how these bountiful gifts have offered Maryna a safe space for her evolution.
Nothing brings me back to my Hawaiian roots quite like the first days of summer. Vibrant green foliage in bloom, white capped waves crashing on the shore and the warmth of the sun on my skin transport me to my carefree childhood in Honolulu. What better way to usher in the Aloha spirit of summer than with Honua Skincare, a minimalist green beauty brand based on the traditional healing methods of the Hawaiian people. With a luscious range of products crafted with traditional Hawaiian plants like ʻōlena (Turmeric), Kamani ( Tamanu), Alo Alo ( hibiscus), and noni, Honua’s aim is to revive, support and sustain the few agricultural land and farms left in Hawaii. To dig a little deeper into the story and science of Honua, I sat down the founder, Kapua Browning, at the Beauty Heroes Headquarters. A mother of four and wife of a traditional Hawaiian medicine man, she is a glowing earth mama and a warrior for peace who exemplifies Aloha in everything thing she does. Read, watch and meet my friend and soul-sister, Kapua.
I have been holding my breath for nearly a year, waiting to deliver the beautiful cylindrical boxes – each hand made in Bulgaria – that encase this month’s Hero Product, Circle of Protection Body Oil. But before we get there, … Continued