Beauty Store Business

AUG 2016

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72 August 2016 | beautystorebusiness.com Skincare Spotlight ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT WRITING this skincare column is what I learn and who I have the opportunity to meet and get to know. This is never truer than when I get to interview another female beauty entrepreneur and skincare brand founder—particularly, when we have acquaintances in common and share the same alma mater. Having recently written about the emergence of pro- biotics as an innovative skincare ingredient (see Beauty Store Business April 2016 issue), it was all the more interesting to me to interview Dr. Roshini Rajapaska (aka Dr. Raj), the founder of TULA, a skincare brand based on probiotics. First, some background: Dr. Raj is a board-certified gastroenterologist and internist with a medical degree from New York University School of Medicine and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College. She is an associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, and an attending physician at NYU Langone Medical Center. She also has a successful media career, is a published author, a wife and the mother of two. Of course, I had to begin our conversation by asking her about our shared experience in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tell me about how you ended up at Harvard, and what you loved about your undergraduate years. DR. RAJ: I am the only child of two immigrants from Sri Lanka. Both of my parents are doctors. They immigrated to the United States in 1971 when my mom was pregnant with me. I was born in Brooklyn and moved to West- chester, New York, when I was five years old. Harvard was always the best-known school in the world, and on my radar. So I was thrilled to be accepted. I was there between 1989 and 1993, and [resided] in Leverett House. I was an english major and pre-med. I loved taking non- med classes though. I knew I would be doing science for the rest of my life; so I loved to explore other areas. Beyond the academic side of it, the most important part of those undergraduate years were the friendships I developed. I had a group of five roommates, and we are all still so close. My closest friend is one of those women. She is now in San Francisco, and we still speak once a week. My college relationships have also helped on the business side of things; the Harvard network is so very strong. Why did you go into medicine? As I [previously] mentioned, both of my parents are doctors. They never said, "You have to be a doctor"—but they always did instill in me the desire to be in a career that helped people. Seeing the letters and notes my parents got from their patients always fascinated me, and I knew pretty early on that I wanted to go into medicine. My mother is a gastroenterologist. I saw my first colo- noscopy when I was 13 years old. It was a wild experience seeing the inside of the human body. I was hooked! During medical school rotations, I was attracted to sur- gery. I love the immediacy of opening up someone, seeing what is wrong, and fixing it right there and then. Surgery however does not have the opportunity for the development of close long-term relationships with patients. Gastroenterology is the perfect blend between surgery and the longing I had to develop long-term relationships. How did you get into media? As a resident and a GI fellow, I did a lot of speaking at conferences and public speaking on GI topics. By hap- penstance, a TV show came to NYU where I was at the time. They wanted to film a female GI talking about and doing a colonoscopy. I was chosen by default! I did it and loved the experience. It felt natural and organic— and they liked me. That is how my media career started. I developed a second career as a medical correspon- dent. Ten years later, I am the Channel 5 local medical news correspondent. I also appear on national TV and speak on everything related to wellness and health. It's an extension of my medical career—although more about educating the public, and less about the one-on-one connection with patients. Why did you create TULA? I kept thinking: "What is the next phase in my career?" I started to think about creating something tangible that people could have in their home, in their lives. I wrote a book (What the Yuck) about health questions, and in a way that was the beginning "products." But I wanted to do more. I met Ken Landis (co-founder of Bobbi Brown) and Dan Reich (both of whom are TULA co-founders), and they began telling me about their desire to create a very differ- ent kind of skincare line. One conversation led to the other, and we liked each other—and that's how it all started. As a GI, I had been working with probiotics for a long time, and had begun thinking about the next frontier for probiotics. Using this category of ingredients as the basis of TULA made sense. Getting to Know Dr. Raj, Founder of TULA This beauty brand is looking to turn the concept of "antibacterial" into "probacterial" products in beauty. by Ada S. Polla Top image courtesy of Ada S. Polla; photo by Kelli Daily, Third Line Studios; Dr. Raj photos courtesy of TULA "Our Hydrating Day & Night Cream is a best seller, the first product we launched (and my personal favorite)." Dr. Roshini Rajapaska using Tula Hydrating Day & Night Cream.

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