Beauty Store Business

SEP 2013

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I explored multiple ventures looking for what would eventually become my calling—to launch suki skincare. Prior to starting suki, I started a company servicing tennis equipment. At the time, I was pursuing competitive tennis. I also realized through taking classes that I am really a writer—non-fiction being my true interest. Being a writer means that there are traits innate to my character, which I could not deny: the need to know the reason behind things, to always dig deeper and cut to the heart of things, such as by asking the difficult questions to get to the truth. So I pursued a degree in journalism with a minor in psychology from University of Massachusetts Amherst, which led me to a career in freelance writing that honed my research skills and developed the discipline of validating my facts. This is all part of my personal path of self-discovery. I always felt the need to be independent, self-employed and not beholden to anyone for my welfare. And I think in many ways this was born out of a deep insecurity that colored how I saw the world. that skin problems aren't all about vanity and the scars can go far deeper than the skin's surface. Prior to starting my namesake company, suki skincare, I had tried literally everything for my skin issues—from pharmaceuticals to department-store brands to so-called naturals. While some provided temporary relief, none provided long-term relief without side effects. As a result, I set out to discover why there were no effective skincare solutions for people like me and what it would take to create them. Like a scientist, a good journalist is trained to seek out the answers to hard questions—answers that must be triply verified. Also, a journalist must be willing to persevere when people aren't willing to talk or help. After my own diligent investigation, I realized that the active agents in skincare products consisted of synthetic chemicals, irritants and worse—toxic ingredients that can do long-term harm, such as phthalates and artificial, cancercausing fragrances, as well as dyes and preservatives. They even contain shortterm cortisones that actually never cure anything—such as dermatitis, eczema or the like—but are prescribed almost exclusively. A simple, nongreasy salve and a good exfoliate actually heal the skin without causing long-term damage. "Consumers need help understanding their skin types. Don't be afraid to point out their specific issues and [suggest compatible] products." From my earliest memories, I suffered from skin issues, specifically extreme eczema all over my body. My skin sensitivities created a self-critical dialogue [that's] all too common in young women. This caused me to disassociate and to wear baggy clothes to hide my body. It made me feel bad about myself, and it actually drove me into this industry. Growing up, I can't remember whether the teasing started because of my skin problems or my skin problems caused my wallflower behavior that, in fact, motivated the teasing. Either way I know To even suggest the category be called "skin care" is misleading as [is a lot of] marketing speak. When you get claims of efficacy but in fact, the skin is irritated so that the immune response kicks in—minor swelling "reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles" is quite appalling actually. This was the kind of information that I was discovering en route to becoming a cosmetic chemist. The desired effects were fleeting because the skin is capable of building up a tolerance for irritants. As a result, it requires even higher concentrations [of a formula] to achieve the same 54 September 2013 | effect [over time], slowly denigrating the body's inherent regenerative abilities to provide vibrant, healthy skin. I decided that I'd find a way to create my own skincare solutions that would enable, complement and support the body's ability to achieve balance. [Furthermore, I would] use only 100% pure ingredients that the human body would respond to in a healthy way, achieving far better results than anything I could purchase in a department store or a pharmacy. This meant two things: using absolutely no synthetic chemicals ever, and that my products must be proven to work equal to, if not far better than, anything one would expect from a conventional skincare product. It was not enough to develop a product that appeared to work. I wouldn't settle for anything less than the full verification necessary to back up any claim, thus the need for clinical trials and validation. I reached out to cosmetic chemists in the industry, first hearing only that my goal was impossible. I didn't really know anything about how to create what I was trying to do. I remember telling a chemist my goal—[to create] a 100% synthetic-free emulsion (lotion) that contained actives equal to the actives found in a highly active acne-care or antiaging product, and with the same sophistication level in texture, and a scent-blend made only of essential oils blended with perfumery techniques. It would be clean, so that it wasn't synthetic or allergenic. I was laughed at and told it was completely impossible unless I was willing to use at least some synthetics. I take remarks like that as challenges so I continued on. Through two years of a roller-coaster ride of self-doubt, experimentation and daily study on my own and with the invaluable help of, let's say, more progressive-minded industry chemists Images courtesy of suki skincare Beauty Store Business: Please tell us about your previous work experience prior to launching suki. KRAMER: Like many entrepreneurs,

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