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Using data to create high-end skincare at drugstore prices with Versed Skincare’s Melanie Bender

Joining me in today’s episode is Melanie Bender, Founding General Manager of Versed Skincare.

Versed launched as the first community-driven mass beauty brand and the first clean skincare line to debut in over 1,850 stores as part of Katherine Power’s lineup of super impressive brands including Who What Wear and Avaline.

Driven by a team of skin experts and a community of 16 million people, Versed’s mission is to make clean products for all, with the planet in mind. They help you find what you need to use and what you need to know—from the right product mix, to ingredient breakdowns (the good and the bad), and late-night chats about those lingering pimples.

We had so much fun recording this episode! We chat about the importance of gathering data to drive forward brand building, why launching into Target was critical to the success of the brand, keeping creativity as a core focus and what’s driving the brands growth right now.

Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!

Melanie: Yeah, I'm Melanie Bender, I am the founding president of Versed, where we make clean skin care for everyone, and I have the immense privilege of getting to run really the the day to day of all aspects of that business, from our marketing to our creative to product development, to how we distribute the retailers and on Ekom and really just just power that incredible ship.

Doone: Sounds so fun, so fun, you have an amazing track record of creating and building, starting with your own millennial focused agency prior to joining Who, What, Where, and then obviously going on to incubate the skincare alongside founder Katharine Power. So I want to go back to the very beginning and find out where this story actually starts for you.

Melanie: Yeah, and, you know, I think I think there may be is no real beginning point, because one thing as I reflect back in that I always felt in my career is that it was it felt so Securitas and I looked at other people that I aspired to become later in my career or my peers. And their career path seems so set and well understood and easy to navigate. And that was never mind, I was always someone that was incredibly curious, that loved learning different things, learning how things were connecting with people and just understanding how they interacted with with those things. And that led me to a lot of really, really different experiences that at times felt hard to string together. I actually end up back in university. I studied aerospace engineering and global environmental science, so I clearly had no idea I wanted to get into beauty. But it gave me this really awesome one, like a foundation for kind of scientific theory and thinking and forming hypotheses and testing them a really strong kind of engineering perspective and understanding operationally, how do you put things together? And also just a really great appreciation for our incredible planet and the people and things that live on it.

Melanie: After coming out of school, I started working in sustainability and really just felt like a spark was missing. It was interesting work, but not at all connected to to people, to emotion, to the the kind of beating heart that I felt inside me and and is so much of a culture. And from there, I transitioned into marketing more of a leap then than really knowing where it was going to take me. I was in New York at the time and that was where I just started starting to get so excited about digital that was emerging. And I was working in PR, which at the time was calling up editors on the phone and putting them on your story. But I thought how my day to day behavior was changing of spending so much time on Facebook, Instagram, which is coming online. Twitter was becoming to be a big deal and really got excited about what that can mean for brands. And that was the niche that I started to carve out for myself first at that agency, an agency that I that I started working at. And then I had the opportunity to get together with the team behind that agency and found a new agency really focused on that millennial consumer and helping brands reach them through these emerging channels. And no one had a playbook for you.

You had to get in there and experiment, test, try different things, be willing to fail and learn. And that was really how I first got in to brand building. And from there I was led kind of by cookie crumbs from one opportunity to the next or one project to the next. Learning, digital learning brick and mortar, retail learning, fashion, beauty, learning, math. I did luxury brands. I did drugstore brands. I did direct response brands that are sold via radio ads and MLM brands that are sold via via a multilevel marketers. And I was doing that work that I got more deeply into beauty working with one of the the largest contract manufacturers of beauty in the US, nanoproducts based in in New York. And that was a real inflection point in my career because I got to partner so closely with these incredible chemists, these incredible product developers. And that was really where I learned what goes into a product and the difference between a luxury skin cream and a drug game, the difference being typically packaging and markup. So that was just a really incredible way to to really kind of learn from the inside out beauty and and skin care that I was able to kind of tap into years later when I had the opportunity to start pulling together versus.

Wow, holy moly, I definitely want to dig into what you saw when you were building those luxury brands and the kinds of learnings that you're able to take and bring into first and specifically how you're able to kind of innovate on the pricing and innovate on packaging, like how you're able to get that price point so far down.

But I first want to stick with when you're in, who, what, where how did you kind of get into that business and get into a position where you decided to launch this brand with Catherine?

Yeah, well, first, I was just a big follower and lover and consumer of WHO or I had been reading it, watching their their content for probably close to a decade. And I think you always are the best asset to brands or industries or businesses that you already know and love because you have a unique purview to them. You probably have a lot of more direct empathy with their customers. So that was really where it all started. And I had a friend that went to work at it who were working on their data and insights, which is one of the the really incredible assets of that company. I started as a media company and then saw the opportunity to really tap into that audience and and create with them and to learn from them. And they had an opportunity come up for a marketing role a few years down the road. And I had actually at the time I was working at at Westfield at one of the the largest operators of brick and mortar retailer. I was really just getting steeped in and that environment, which still, you know, even even today accounts for 80 to 90 percent of all retail sales. So certainly significant. And I was involved in an initiative there around the future of retail and really thinking through what this world will look like, how retail will be a part of our lives 10, 15, 20 years down the road. It was a project that I kind of raised my hand for that I thought was interesting and I wanted to be a part of that.

Led me to lead a talk at South by Southwest and Katharine Power ended up being one of the panelist on that talk. And that was how I met her. And when that marketing role popped up that they thought of me, they reached out to me and it was just such a slam dunk for what I wanted to do, for where I wanted to be, had nothing to do with brand development. For the record, it was coming in and and running marketing for their media properties as well as their growing consumer brands, which is what I was. I was a marketer and brand developer by experience. And it was when I got in the door that I learned that she was interested in developing new brands. And I think one thing that I've done well throughout my career is, you know, the job that you have to do today, but also understanding where do your leaders want to go? What are their goals? What are what do they want to have happen? And they're one to five years plans. And how does that intersect with what you want to do and what you're interested in? And I was always great about raising my hand when I saw the light and when I heard that she wanted to do brand development, I said, hey, that's me, I can do it for you.

And I actually wrote a new job description. I wrote it into my job description that I was going to work on that.

And she gave really just incredible direction as to the vision for the brand that she wanted to see something that was very digitally driven, that was in beauty, in this really growing exciting industry that was powered by the community that she had built. And from there, it was really up to me and the team that I was leading to figure out the rest. And it was through listening to that community and honestly, through having conversations with retailers, with EDS, that clean skin care really became kind of the the light bulb that we wanted to hone in on. And from there, over a long course, I would say it took us probably a year and a half to develop the brand, the products. It's you know, it's an incredibly iterative process to really develop a brand, to develop an assortment of voice, a look, a feel, even a logo and a name takes a lot of time. So that was what led me into that role. And in throughout the development process, I was doing that as well as doing my my kind of job and how it works when you when you do kind of break open those those passion projects.

And ultimately, when it was clear that Verst was, you know, it was going to happen, it was it was there was going to be brought into this world.

Catherine asked me to take on the role of general manager for the brand, which is honestly not something that I knew I wanted. And it was even a little scary at the time to really take on the full PNL and and responsibility for areas outside of the more traditional marketing. But I, I was very, very fortunate that she saw the potential need to do that. And it's a a jump that I. Just so, so grateful for it, because it's brought me to this new new chapter of where I am now.

Oh, my gosh, it just sounds like the most exciting pathway for you and obviously such a huge learning curve that you've been able to up skill in this totally different area of and being able to witness building a brand on all different aspects. I want to go back into the data role that obviously who what where plays into building the skin care brand. As you mentioned before, it's super critical in what you guys have been building and you have this incredible audience already.

What were those initial steps like in finding out specifically what the consumer actually wanted in a skin care brand?

Yeah, that was absolutely incredible. And the community continues to be the beating heart of our brand and where other brands are found or driven or influencer driven or even retail driven, we're driven by our community. And I had developed brands before. I had worked on quite a few brands and none of them put the community at the center in the way that we had the opportunity to do. And it just was like this explosive experience of having so much information, so much depth, but also so much connection to the time. It was just our opportunity now, its connection to the people using our products every day. And it's kind of an unreal experience for a brand person where typically there's if not just one wall, there's two or three walls between you and the end user. But tactically, it started as really just wanting to understand the data and insights. And it was using a combination of quantitative data that came in through who, what, where more passively. So things like what articles people were reading, what products were they clicking on, what were they checking out in their carts, which we could see through affiliate data, what were the highest engage and interacted with social post and then combining that with qualitative data, which helps you understand the why kind of the reason behind the behavior. And that was focus groups. We have a private Facebook creation group which now has over sixteen thousand people. We do surveys that reach two thousand people and it's knitting all those data points together that we really navigated each step of the journey.

And oftentimes it's not an answer. When you kind of get one of those data points, it's really just asking another question. And to me, that's what's really, really exciting. And we it's different than crowdsourcing your brands because it's using data to really to empathize with them and become closer to them and understand what their life is like, what are their needs, what are their wants, what are their values, what's missing from from their experience. And what was so, so glaring is that for someone living in L.A. who worked at who, what, where and had all the right access, the products that you use in your skin looked completely different. They were clean. You were clued into ingredients. You're probably quite a bit in your skin care regimen. You probably had help with the hormonal acne or the dark spots or whatever the the concerns is. But for the majority of consumers that didn't have high household income and that couldn't drop two hundred fifty dollars on a regimen that didn't have a Sephora in their city, which is a lot of people, or just didn't want to spend two hours Googling ingredients to understand the difference between scorelines Waylan. Their regimens look completely different. And they saw the clean movement happening around them. But it felt like it wasn't for them. It was for people with access, with income, with the right connections. And that was what was really the the exciting moment for us, this opportunity to to take this movement that we so believed in and we were already benefiting from and make that something for everyone, really democratizing the access to it and and democratizing it in every sense of it.

Yes. Like Price Point is a huge barrier. How it's distributed is a huge barrier, but also just making it easy to understand, not treating it like it's it's rocket science, helping people understand the the right products to use for their own skin needs how to layer them and use them together and really giving them a seat at the table and signaling any way we could that this brand is is for you. And that was really, I think, the the biggest outcome of of creating with our community really the the breaking down of those barriers. And it gave this desire and even imperative for transparency. And when there's transparency, you're held accountable to everything you're doing as a business from how you're sourcing your products to the claims that you're making, the imagery you're using, who's on the team around you and. I think that's been to us something that's beautiful, scary at times, too, to really prioritize transparency because there's nothing to hide behind, which is typically Mbuti, you're hiding, hide your airbrushing and your Luxuria imagery, your beautiful merchandising displays. But for us, it was really about building this entire brand for the community that we we were serving ultimately.

Totally, and I imagine through all of that process as well and being so transparent and speaking to your community, you're really getting one hundred percent of that buy in the super excited about what you're building. They're going to be your first customers. They're going to be the ones who shout about it and tell their friends because they've been part of the whole journey from the beginning, which is just so exciting. I'm interested to know how you were able to innovate in terms of the price point and be able to produce high end products with those kind of active ingredients that are usually kind of exclusive to the Lomez of the world or whatever it is, and bring those down to drugstore prices.

Yeah, you know, first it was just the intent to do it. Most people who were were starting brands. They wanted the luxury price point. They wanted to create something that felt exclusive. It was very much the the Vogue thing at the moment. But that wasn't what we wanted to be. We wanted to create something for everyone. And I knew from my time working in beauty manufacturing that that really it's there's not a huge difference. The biggest cost between a mass product and a prestige product is the packaging. So we made some very deliberate decisions, like using one hundred percent stock componentry. When you see a beautiful prestige product and it's got that that custom jar or bottle that you don't see anywhere else, you're paying a lot for that. That's a custom mold.

It probably costs more than what's going inside of it. The markups also look very different for a prestige retailer than for mass. So it's kind of dissecting the typical cost profile of a product and figuring out how do we invest more in the group that goes inside of the bottle and then. Oh, wow. Yeah, building on to that, there's this little me that I learned from my time in beauty manufacturing. There's this practice of using marketing ingredients. So you put just enough of something in there. It's typically something by the CBD to talk about it in the packaging, but it's not in there at an active level. So it's not going to benefit your skin, but it's still adding to the cost profile of the product. So we we were very meticulous about what was going into each product. And if it wasn't in there at an active level that was going to benefit your skin. We pulled it out to really pare back and just focus on investing. And really what does the hard work? Certainly, we also focused on the most readily accessible, active ingredients. So instead of the buzzy new ingredient that was everyone was pushing out this season and next season, we focused on the kind of tried and true the hyaluronic acids.

The is one because the research is there, the results are so well documented that you know, that by putting them in there at a certain level, you're going to get that effect that you and two, there are a lot more cost efficient because so many people are buying into them. They're very there are a lot more inexpensive to source. And that ultimately lets you make the product a lot more affordable. And then the other big differentiator for us was having the incredible partnership that we did with Target to distribute. And we're now in in three thousand dollars globally. We started in and over fifteen hundred. So compared to the brands that wanted to start more selective in their distribution with like a detox or Accredo, which we love or wanted to start direct to consumer, only the quantities that we buy, they let us pass on really such incredible cost savings to our customer. When you buy twice as much of a product that often can cost 50 percent less. So those were the things that we knew that we built into the brand to enable us to really invest more than anything in the formula formula first, like we like to say.

Wow, that is just so many incredible insights that you just packaged up there in a few minutes. Holy moly, that the the packaging thing, that's crazy. I had never thought of that of custom molds vs. just a regular bottle that you're able to buy. Yeah. I was really curious to talk about the the reason behind launching into Target and I guess you've just touched on that versus going that traditional like see model, which we obviously see a lot of at the moment. So was that the reason that you exclusively kind of launched with them instead of doing the data see thing?

Yeah, you know, ultimately we we step back and I think with the time we were developing this, this was kind of the heyday. But like I said, even then, 90 percent of retail sales were still happening through retailers and stores. So for us, it was really about building a brand that could thrive in both worlds. And that's the future that we are at least looking five to 10 years out. Retail was, of course, going to be a big part of it. So we wanted to create a brand that could really straddle both. The other really important insight when talking to our community is that when they're evaluating new brand thinking about a new product, they want to discover it in store. They don't want to buy it from a sketchy website that they've never been to. They want to touch it and feel it. They want that credibility that having it on a retail shelf brings. And to us, that was a really key takeaway, that by by leaning into a trusted partner like that, we are able to just accelerate the growth so much more quickly. And that was really what we were after because we knew we had a window of opportunity.

We knew that no one was democratizing, playing in the way that we wanted to. And we knew it was going to happen and we wanted to be the ones to do it. So it was all about how do we go after this with a lot of integrity, but also with a lot of momentum so that we can be really the ones to break this open. So Target, really, it was about reaching more consumers more quickly, really partnering with someone who was invested in clean. And I look at what they done with their clean program and their heads and shoulders above the FDA in terms of the the requirements, the transparency, I think they've done more than possibly anyone in the US to to make clean more more prominent, more easy to understand. So really, our strategy was to lean in with a partner that could help us build this this brand ecosystem that takes the best of digitally native brands, which is what we it's how we think of ourselves, but brings it to life in a way that thrives in both direct consumer and retail worlds.

Hmm, yeah, totally, totally so amazing.

Can you share a little bit about how you actually launched the brand with Target and through your own channels and through who, what, where? In the beginning, yeah.

Yeah. I mean, gosh, brand launches. There's nothing quite like it. I feel like there's just so much anticipation and honestly, there's no right way to do it. So for us, it was one like you said, we had this incredible community that had created the brand with us at the time that we launched, I think we had about twelve thousand people that had actively participated in some way to to shaping the brand. So we really wanted to give them that that first access and and really make them a part of that. Hand in hand, we knew that influencer is obviously a huge driver in beauty. We saw hashtag ad going crazy. And we also, in talking to our consumer, knew that the biggest thing missing from mass beauty is trust. They're so used to the consumer, so used to being marketed to with claims, with supermodel imagery, with airbrush to a T. They don't trust anything that's being said. So that was the most important thing for us to overcome. And to do that, we felt strongly that we weren't going to pay anyone to talk about us and really just wanted to focus on building a brand with integrity, with the values of of clean sustainability, transparency, consumer centricity, letting that speak for itself along with the quality of our products and believing that that was going to be the driver instead of paying someone. So in order to do that, we also really wanted to to super serve our influencer community, the ones that we had relationships with, who had also participated with us in focus groups along the way. So we gave them the access. And and that was that was really a continuous thing, kind of getting their feedback on on the products, on even the the branding and imagery so that they're bought into the brand as well. And then for the actual launch, I mean, we really leaned into the partners that we had, so pushing it out through it.

We're pushing it out through Target, pushing it out through what at the time felt like a massive seeding push. I think we sent out probably five hundred packages in our in our first. So we're doing it now. Now we're at probably around eight hundred sevens in a typical month. So at the time it felt, it felt really momentous.

The whole team was in the L.A. office literally packing packing boxes, writing notes.

And that was how we wanted to get it out because we knew that the people who would tell the story best were the ones that were closest to it. And we felt that rather than taking out a huge advertising campaign, we wanted people to learn about us from authentic places, from people that were excited about the brand, excited about the products, excited about what it could mean. So we really leaned on those those partners, close partners, the earned influencer evangelism, and ultimately just really focusing on building up our own channels. You know, you start your Instagram, you start with zero zero followers. But we really focused on using that as. Yeah, I mean, of course, it's it's a channel for selling, but we really wanted to be known for was education. And by putting out content that brought value to people's lives and wasn't just hitting them over the head with by this thing, we're able to make that really give this kind of gathering place and a channel that's grown really quickly over the last year and a half.

Totally, and I that's something I actually really appreciated when I was looking through your Instagram, I was reading about I think you had a post really recently about XMA and I was like, oh, OK. Like, this is something that I hadn't you know, I didn't know that and I didn't know that that's how it worked and stuff. So I found that really interesting. And I, I really felt that education piece. So I can understand why the audience really thrives on that, because it's a different message than you're usually getting.

Yeah, absolutely, and that's that's always what we want to strive to be.

What do you think, looking back over the last year and a half has been the biggest driver for the growth of the brand?

You know, honestly, our values.

And yes, you know, we've had incredible support from of course, from Target, from who, what, where, from media, but. By building something that we believed in and the community believed in, it kind of becomes its own flywheel and I think that's what marketing is really all about. You don't want to. Gone are the days where you want to be paying for every eyeball, paying for every consumer that you acquire.

You want to create something with that element of sheer ability of reality. So any one person that you're bringing into it, they go and tell 10 people in their life. And we really prioritize those values, which honestly, like at the time, it wasn't terribly sexy to be thinking about the footprint of your packaging. Of course, exclusivity and diversity were always really important to us, like talking about transparency and an education. But that was something that we held so dear what what the brand stood for. And it meant making hard decisions, like not paying influencers, like we've never airbrushed skin on our channels, things that were kind of unthinkable. And I remember prelaunch.

We told people, hey, we're going to do this. And they said, no, you don't want to do that. But we really we really stuck to our guns on those things.

And by being precious about what we wanted the brand to be and what we stood for, it, you know, we I think we saw where the industry was going, that there was really this kind of dearth of values that consumers were starting to call out.

And those are now great marketing. It's that's now what the consumer is looking for. In addition to, of course, our product that that works and being results driven was always kind of the first bar to clear, because we knew that if the product didn't work, no matter how clean it is, no matter how mindfully produced it is, you're not going to sell. It doesn't matter. So, first of all, it was creating a product that works, but coupling that with the values of democratization, exclusivity, better for you, better for us. That really has created something that people are just excited to discover and share.

That's so nice. Just amazing. Love it.

I read that you were named by Fast Company as one of the most creative people for 20, 20, and also by WD as 40 under 40 in beauty for twenty nineteen.

Congrats. Such a big achievement. I love that for you.

Can you share a bit about what you were doing specifically that landed you those super, super exciting awards?

Yeah, that was really about the bringing bringing us together and, you know, as we've been saying, it was really about seeing an opportunity to break open this this clean skin care movement and invite everyone to be a part of it. And I was able to lean on the experience I had. But I think the biggest part of my job is really empowering my team to be the experts that they are the best that they can be. And I have had incredible team members and partners through every step of the journey. So while I get to enjoy those incredible awards, it's obviously a huge team effort. And for me, success is when someone on my team raise their hands and says, actually, I have a different idea, I think we should do it this way. Or, hey, like we haven't been talking enough about the footprint of shipping to customers. If we use this shipping method instead of this shipping method, we can save X amount, which is something that happened last week. To me, those are the wins and the biggest moment. So I think it's a combination of being able to step back and look at the forest and know where we collectively need to go, but then really empowering the people around you to to drive initiative to to drive each through and and really get to that place together.

Totally, absolutely, I love it because we often talk about what someone attributes the success of a brand to, and we often talk about the wins and all the good stuff.

I also really love to flip it on its head and talk about things that haven't gone to plan, the lows and the challenges.

What have been some of the unexpected challenges you faced while growing the business?

Yeah, totally. Well, for one, managing a business during covid is, I'm told by many people with much more experience than me that it's the hardest time there's ever been to the manager, Brad. And I believe it. And hey, we're fortunate to be growing like crazy right now because we are clean, we are sustainable, we are excessively priced. We are distributed through essential retailers. But it's still tough. We're all still human.

And just the emotional impact of trying to get up and do a typical day is tough. And you add on to that supply chain challenges. We've been out of stock of some of our our our heroes skewes for a good bit of the year because the combination of really high demand and a challenge supply chain is just one ingredient is delay. The whole product is delayed. That's been really tough. And that's that's a huge impact on the team whose job it is to compress time and space and make two months disappear. So I think right now it just feels like every day is about trying to be as in touch with yourself and in touch with the people around your team as you possibly can to understand what is everyone kind of feeling and needing right now. That's kind of just an ongoing goal. But there's definitely been definitely been challenges and things that didn't go as we expected. We when we launched, we had our smaller items. They have to be in some kind of packaging to go on a retail shelf. And we saw these cute little plastic pouches that were clear so you could see the product. We thought they were great. Within a month or two of launching, we started to get feedback of, hey, like it feels like extra plastic. Why did you do it this way? And that feedback really it sat with us and it made total sense. And we asked ourselves, why did we do it that way? So within, I would say, three months of launching, we started to source new components. There's new packaging for that, something that would be more sustainable, that wouldn't lead to to landfill, to a waste impact.

And just two months ago, we've started to flow through now our new paper pouches. So instead of being in a plastic pouch, it's a cute little paper pouch. It's made out of FSC certified paper, Forest Stewardship Council that ensures that the paper is sustainably harvested. So it's not contributing to forest degradation or deforestation, and it's also not contributing to landfill impact because it's both recyclable and biodegradable. So that was one thing that I did not see, that I did not see that coming. In hindsight, it made total sense and it took us close to a year to be able to to really bring about that change. But I think that's really part and parcel to being an emerging indie brand and especially one that that has a disruptive mission like we do. You have to be willing to reflect on decisions you made to accept that constructive feedback. And even when it felt like the right thing at the time, even when your intent was in the right place, you have to be open to making a different decision when when a new point of point of data comes to light. And I think that's one thing that that we've done well. It happens on the product side. Do we have a ton of data? So we we get a really good read on any product before it launches. And our data predicted about 80 percent of our top performers, which is so cool when you think about it. Wow.

But on the other hand, that means 20 percent of they got wrong. Certainly. Twenty percent. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

And to me it's that I think having that those are reminders of humility are important because it just draws you that much closer to the community to understand, OK, where did things change or where did we misinterpret a message like why did we why do we get that one wrong? And I think it's those moments that you got something wrong that are way more important than when you got something right, because that's an opportunity to learn to close some gap that existed somewhere between what you were expecting to happen and what actually happened.

Totally, for sure. Absolutely.

I'm curious to know where the company is today, like, how big are you guys and what's coming next? What can everyone look forward to?

Yeah, we're twenty six people now, which feels so big when we launch. I think we had maybe five and we've just been around for a year and a half. So it's grown really, really quickly and honestly. Like I say this, I feel like every day, every quarter feels like our biggest quarter every year feels like our biggest year. And we've only have, I guess, eight quarters. And I think when I compare where we are now to where we are when we launch. Yes. Like your launch day, your launch month, your launch here, they're incredibly exciting, but you're figuring out so much. You're you're really needing to to test and learn and and make much smaller decisions that this year we've we've really had a lot more of that, both frankly, both the resources. We did our series at the end of last year, but also that that confidence, that that knowledge of, hey, we're on to something to make bigger swings to to really drive the business with bigger moves and bigger programs. And that's been incredibly exciting. We are expanding. We launched in Canada in August, which was our number one request and market from from consumers.

Oh, well, yeah, yeah.

And we love we we always love hearing from people when they say, hey, you got to come to I got to come to India, I got to come to Sweden. So certainly continuing to bring our products to more of those places that our community is at and is asking us for. We are having some some big plans in the UK early next year, which we're excited about. And then we're we still see a lot of amazing opportunities with our products. There's certain things missing from our regimens. We still hear so much about things like dark spots, how to get rid of blackheads, really areas that we we feel passionate about being able to continue to innovate. So we're always looking to to add new heroes to our line. And really, the next year for me is also about sustainability. And we've made incredible strides this year. We're now net zero emissions. So both measuring and offsetting one hundred percent of our greenhouse gas emissions. We're now manufacturing in post consumer recycled plastic and over the next year will be flowing that through to really every product that's compatible with that kind of packaging. We're for safe, we're safe, but we still see more opportunities to really ensure stewardship of all ecosystems throughout our supply chain. And transparency continues to be a thing that we we really want to continue to push the bar on. So a combination of really continuing to bring our brand and our products to more people, but but also to really drive home even further these values that we hold so dear.

Sounds really bloody exciting, that's for sure.

What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own thing?

Yeah, one, it's going to be hard, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.

Be prepared for that. It feels hard for everyone. It feels impossible for everyone at times. And that's OK. And then to, I think, invite people into it, get feedback on it, have people help you think through your blind spots, any areas of weakness, maybe even other opportunities that you're not thinking of? I think it's so when it's something especially that that feels personal to you, it's tempting to want to hold it very close to you and not want people to to criticize it or to even, you know, it takes vulnerability to say, hey, I have this idea. It might be kind of crazy. I don't know. But something beautiful happens when you do open it up because you get more input. You get that diversity of of ideas, which so many studies show the more diversity of viewpoints and ideas of backgrounds that are a part of a project, the better it's going to do, the more successful it's going to be. But it also then gives you points of connection. And I think one of the biggest challenges for any any founder, anyone early on in the process is that feeling is just isolation of I'm working on this thing. Does it matter? Does anyone know it exists? What am I doing? And I think having those people that whether they become your cheerleaders, whether they become just kind of helpful connections, that that might make an introduction down the line. I think that that network of people that believe in you or believe in some aspect of your project are incredibly valuable.

So true, so true love that we are up to the six questions part of the episode.

Fine, I'll try to be ready to go. Sure. Oh, you don't have to be, I, I just say, because it sounds good. Quick questions. I love like a good alliteration. Yeah. Question number one. What's your why.

Yeah I thought about that one and I think I love alliteration to people, planet profit people because ultimately everything I've done I really strive to have an emotional connection. And I think I am someone that has felt lonely at times that felt like where is my place in the world I don't belong. I don't know where I'm going. And to be able to be a part of a brand or a product that adds something to people's life, that has some some relevance to their wants, their needs, their goals, even how just how they as simple as how they express themselves. To me, that's incredibly special. And to be able to be a part of other people's journey is just incredible. That's that's kind of what what makes my my heart beat. And that could be obviously the community, the end consumer that we're serving. My most impactful moments are reading notes from complete strangers about what our products and brand means to them. It's also the people that you share the journey with the team members. And really, like I said, we got to kind of all just leave it out there. You got to you have to be brave. And when you're collaborating with people. So that's definitely a big driver for me. Planit, it's I've been a part of sustainability and started working in that seventeen years ago. It sounds crazy to say everything we hold dear in life. It is supported by this incredible planet that we're on.

And once you recognize that, how can you not want to take care of it and and be a good steward to it and then finally profit, because for me, that's been my ticket to both of those things, that by building a thriving business that puts those things at its center, I can do so much more both of those things. So it's let me if let me scale it's let me it's let me reach more more people and and have a greater impact by really building this this in this case, this brand. But even a career that has has tried to support all three. And I think I reflect now, maybe twenty years ago, you might have to pick one of those. Maybe if you're lucky, you get two of those. But I think it's a real testament to how much things have changed, that a business can prioritize people and its environmental footprint and it can be profitable and be a thriving business. And that's the world we live in. And to me, that's incredible, because that's because people because consumers have demanded for more and demanded better from the companies that we support. And I'm just so grateful every day to to get to do what I do in this time that we're living in right now.

Absolutely, for sure. I actually think, like when I speak to the women that I speak to so many women, this comes up the people planet profit thing.

And I just think it's something that, you know, I don't know if I hear this from male founders. Like, I can't think of one that I've heard that from. And of course, there would be many out there. But it's something that really drives home for women. I think when we're building brands and and having more empathy for the whole picture of us is just profit above anything else, which I just love. Yeah. Question number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that's made your business, pop?

Yeah, you know, like like I've said, it's because people talking about us. It starts with values about creating something that that you think is is has an impact that you think is worth something. And to me, that's that's really the marketing driver again.

Twenty years ago, you might have paid someone to to host a press conference for you or a celebrities to star in your campaign. That's not what people care about today, which is just incredible. So for me, really, the the best marketing are the values that we've built into the brand and really inviting people into to be a part of them, which then they they get to share with everyone in their life.

Totally fishell.

Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading?

How do you listen to what you subscribe to Total Podcast, Nerd Love podcast for going deep on really any topic Love Economics podcast. So like Freakonomics Planet Money, there's some amazing sustainability podcast. How to Save a Planet is really incredible. On the racial justice side, Code Switch is when I've been really enjoying Timi. Podcasts are just an incredible way to dive deep into topics that you care about. And then at the same time, like I, I still subscribe to The New York Times. We get a paper in the mail. I'm big on intersectionality and I just have seen everything really converge. So being able just to kind of skim and see what's happening across really every industry, every part of the world. To me that that really adds a lot of depth. I want it's good to have that perspective because it's as a founder or brand leader, it's easy to have tunnel vision and think only about what you have to do today or what went wrong yesterday. But there's this much bigger world out here, and I think always keeping that perspective is so, so important. And then there's also just so much to learn from different industries, from how people have solved other problems in other parts of the world or other sectors. And to me, I always want to keep that that open mind to to really learn from anywhere I can.

Totally, absolutely. I'm also a big podcast listener.

He loved to love a good story because, you know, before is how do you win the day?

And that's around your AMPM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated and productive.

Yeah, big on rituals. Super big on rituals. I'm a creature of habit. Meditation has been one of the hugest life improvements, just like hands down and it's free. I have a couple of meditation apps that I love. I do use insight Taimur. I have a meditation guru that I am just the biggest fan of Tara Brock. She also has her own podcast with Guided Meditations. It's just brought so much peace and clarity to my day. I meditate both in the morning and in the evening. First thing I do when I wake up, last thing I do before I go to bed and then, you know, really just I'm big on self care. I love to eat well. I love to exercise. And one of the other big life improvements that I made is just setting better boundaries for work throughout the day. I'm someone that identifies so much with what I have to do, and I love to put my heart and soul into things, but I have to be able to create that space because ultimately it'll make me better at the job I do. It'll also just make me a better human. And that's probably the the more important thing at the end of the day. So having the time that I sit down and I start work and also having the time that I log off at the end of the day has been really important to create space. I do have an amazing daughter, an amazing husband, and it's all about being able to to focus on each of those things, to really soak up as much of as much of those things as you can.

One hundred percent, I've recently just started meditating as soon as I wake up as well, and I've seen a really clear shift so quickly, which is I've struggled with meditation like a lot throughout the last like seven years. And it's something that I haven't been able to build a habit into, except really recently, about three weeks ago, we just were like, OK, first thing we do, as soon as we wake up, ten minute guided meditation. And it it's really starts my day off in such a way that I'm just like not letting those messages, not letting social media into my personal space for like an hour minimum after I wake up and having those calm, quiet moments are just so important.

Yeah, that's amazing. And it was the same with me.

I tried it so many times and I just like now I just can't do it. It's just not for me. And then one time it just clicked and now I couldn't live without it. So stick with it.

You know, for the first time, those habits do take time. But and even if your mind wanders, even if you feel like you're failing at it, you're not the best time to create peace. It's always right now. It's not in the future. It's not tomorrow. It's not when you've done this thing. It's always in the moment that we have right in front of us.

Mm hmm. So your question number five is, if you only have a thousand dollars left in your business bank account, where would you spend it?

Girl, I would go out and buy more of our products, I would buy our products and get them out into the hands of people that like them, because I think it's, again, like you want to build something that that has an impact on its own. And we have invested so much in our products and brought so much integrity to to really every aspect of it. I think there are best marketing vehicle. So I love putting our hands and our products in people's hands to try them to tell us what they think. And that's been really the the best driver for us today.

Amazing. And last question, question number six is how do you deal with failure and that can be a personal experience or just your general mindset and approach?

Yeah, you know, I my mindset of it is it's inevitable and it's only a bad thing if you make it a bad thing.

So first, I think you have to give yourself just a minute to process. And there are emotions that come along with it. And that's that's fine. That just means that you care. So rather than trying to push back the emotions to to make them go away, even we can be so hardened so we can judge ourselves for feeling a certain way. Just give yourself the time to let it be. And then, you know, I try to reflect and learn as much as I can against failure. It just means that the expectations I had in my head, there's a gap between that and what actually happened. So there's something to learn. So really treating it as an opportunity to learn where you anticipated things differently, where there is a piece of information that was out there that you are missing, that's great. So ultimately, trying to make it into a way that I can improve and and kind of come out with a fuller picture is always the goal.

For sure.

Thank you so much for this episode, I have really love chatting with you and hearing your passion and enthusiasm for building this brand and everything that you guys have been doing just so incredible. So thank you so much for taking the time.

Thank you so much for taking the time as well and for your amazing questions.



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