What Women Want:
A Conversation with Kari Gran

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.   

First, thank you so much for launching The Essential Balm with Beauty Heroes this month, we are so excited to share your newest product release!  While many brands are continually launching new products, you are proceeding carefully to launch new products…. why is that?

Aside from the addition of Three Sixty-Five SPF 28, we have not made an addition to our skin care line since we’ve launched – and that took four years! We believe in a minimalistic approach to skin care.  Our goal is for each product in the line to multi-task and work hard for you, as you would say Jeannie, Use Less. Love More. Also, we believe our customers should can customize their skin care each day based on how their skin feels. It just makes life a little bit easier and lighter.

Given that you take this minimalist approach to skincare, what convinced you to formulate The Essential Balm, was it customer demand?

A big part of the decision to add to our skin care line was the frequent requests we’ve received from our fans who were longing for an eye cream, hand cream, body lotion and a richer multitasker that can treat many areas. We balanced this need with our mission of staying true to our philosophy; to keep skin care simple.  We developed our new Essential Balm as a super comforting way to pamper your skin and keep it looking radiantly healthy. Our Essential Balm is designed for those who love our best-selling Essential Serum but want or need a little bit more. We’ve kept the same light scent that we use in our Essential Serum, but created a creamier, more emollient whipped formula. The balm leaves a nice soft velvety finish, which is a perfect primer for makeup and multi-tasks like a champ.

I so identify with your use less, love more approach to skincare. How hard is it to show restraint, when the beauty industry is all about turning out something new, and brands are focusing on new launches all around you?  I imagine that the Kari Gran customer appreciates that you are not ‘feeding the beast’ so to speak, do you hear that from your devotees?

We are surrounded by so many amazing ingredient options, which makes showing restraint hard. However, we are forever inundated by “new and improved” whether it be in the food or personal care category. We grew weary of the overpromised and under-delivery game and just wanted something that made our skin feel good. When my business partner Lisa and I were real estate agents, and not part of the world of clean beauty, I was bossing her around regularly on what products she “must” use on her skin. She’d be repurchasing what I last told her and I’d be on to the next product by then (and she’d be terribly confused). So, we knew that if we needed an answer many people must be searching for the answer too. We founded our skin care company with products that made our skin feel good, regardless of the hottest trend.

You and Lisa take an unapologetic approach to simplicity, flipping the script on the anti-aging marketing tactics and the traditional model for a beauty company.  Other brands and media are following suit, for example, Allure magazine recently announced that they are no longer using the term anti-aging.  Do you think this is a trend? Or do you think the beauty industry is shifting?  And, are you excited about it? 

We’re banking on the hope that the world we live in has finally come to its senses. It’s just a fact, all of us are getting older. Every single one of us.  And, because we are older, we know it!  We cannot be fooled by the empty promises to look younger. We are not buying it. We want to look and feel our best, whatever our age. Luckily for us, we live in a time when this huge group of our population, the baby boomers, are embracing age in a whole different way. Thankfully that thinking is coloring the fashion and beauty worlds. It’s high time they caught up with the big group that does a lot of purchasing. Yes, the times they are a changing!

What can we expect from Kari Gran Skincare in the future? 

You can expect us to remain true to the simplicity of the line made with the finest natural, wild harvested, non-GMO and organic ingredients. We have also launched a Bath Soak this fall. It’s the perfect me-time experience reminding us to be kind to others, yourself, and of course, Be Kind to Your Skin.


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