How did you decide you wanted to start an organic deodorant line?
It happened by accident. I made Agent for myself because conventional deodorant didn't work for me and it's toxic. It mimics estrogen and is linked to breast cancer. After testing nearly every natural deodorant, I found that most made me smell worse so I decided to mix my own. It worked really well so I shared it with friends and they asked me to make more. So then I tested it on 100 people and 90 wanted to buy it. At the point I knew I had something special.
What was your inspiration and purpose?
My inspiration is nature, wellness and luxury so I wanted to create something that was equally beautiful as it was healthy so that I could feel good sharing something with the world that saves lives.
Natural is obviously the most important part of this product.
Where do you obtain all these fresh, amazing ingredients?
In the US!
How did you decide on the scent of Agent NateurN°3?
I wanted to make something that was unisex and not too strong. I wanted men to steal it from theirgirlfriends and wives. Luckily that happened!
You make your deodorant yourself, by hand, which is pretty phenomenal.
What is your process, start to finish, and how did you perfect this talent?
I cooked the deodorant for nine months before perfecting the formula. A lot of it was trial and error. Now I have a team that cooks with me. We cook 200 bottles per batch. I still enjoy pouring so sometimes I arrive for that step. It's quite therapeutic and healing. Our ritual is to always play South American Kundalini music during the process. Each bottle is unique and will never look identical since we pour by hand. After pouring, my team inspects each bottle to ensure they are perfect for shipping.
In your opinion, why is it important to compliment
a healthy lifestyle with healthy products?
Because our skin absorbs up to 90% of what we put on it. It's just as important as eating healthy.
A little birdie told us there is an exciting collaboration in the works.
Can you tell us ANYTHING about it?
My deodorant collaboration with Shiva Rose is launching very, very soon. It's called h o l i ( r o s e ) and we are very excited for it. It's lovely.To satisfy the beauty junkie in us all- what are some of your favorite products
that you cannot live without?
Thanks to Shen Beauty, my all-time favorite product right now is Pai's Rosehip Oil. I use it religiously. It is so incredibly anti-aging. I also love Shiva Rose's face balm. I apply it to the corner of my eyes for a nice glow. It smells so good. I'm obsessed with Josh Rosebrook's hydrating mist. I use it to set my makeup.
Rodin's cream is a must-have. It's super moisturizing and smells heavenly. May Lindstrom's Honey Mud has become a ritual. It shrinks pores and leaves my skin incredibly soft!
Q: How did you find your passion for fragrance?
I found it through my mother and at a very young age. It was the early 80‘s and the fragrances of that time were so intense and I was pretty transfixed by the extreme nature of them: Dior Poison, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Paloma Picasso (my first perfume) etc, etc.
More than any other scent Paloma Picasso really started it for me. I can remember, like it was yesterday, finding the small sample of this perfume scattered among my mothers fragrances and beauty products when I was 11 years old. I had always loved to explore the bottles and jars she had in her bathroom and on that day that small vial caught my eye as it was new, something that wasn’t there the last time I had rummaged her things. I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I opened it, as I never really liked the fragrances she wore. They were beautiful, but not my thing and looking back they were so quintessentially 80ʼs, loud and expansive (which now I find amazing and nostalgic). Until that day I figured perfume just wasn’t for me. Most of the scents I had experienced were very floral, heavy and uber feminine. So I was more trying to figure it out, to understand why people wore it. I was also a little mystified by it, how it became more than an accessory, and truly a part of a person. How when I smelled certain fragrances they would immediately remind me of people, places, things, experiences etc. But when I opened that sample I was riveted... Literally. The scent was something that I immediately loved. It kind of confused me and drew me in at the same time, and I couldn’t get enough. It was dark and different, a bit masculine, intense and all over the place & I didn’t know it could be like that. From that moment on I loved fragrance and it started a journey for me to seek out that experience over and over and to find scents that were more androgynous, more mysterious and edgy so to speak.
Q: What was the deciding factor to start your own line?
It was very simple: I just couldn’t find a natural fragrance that possessed the qualities I was looking for. The backstory is that I opened an apothecary in Florida in 2001 (before I moved to New York) and I sold only natural and organic skincare/body care products. The shop was the first of it’s kind in Florida and it was during that time that I became interested in oils and natural perfumes. I was always looking for natural fragrances to stock and the market was limited at that time, so I started dabbling with my own scents and was inspired to create something sophisticated, modern and a little bit “out there”. I wanted to create something that was beautiful, luxurious and didn’t ask the customer to compromise. Im a strong believer in authentic luxury and for me, natural is authentic. It would be several more years before LURK would come to fruition and I am still inspired every day by my work. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love.
Q: We know you are a mom. What role has family played in the creation and execution of LURK?
It has played a very large role: Having my own business has allowed me to be closer to home and be with my son more. This was a very big factor when LURK started and to this day that remains the same. Like most entrepreneurs the hours can be long and the stress levels very high but being able to construct the company around my sons needs and my own needs makes life much more manageable and much more fulfilling. I honestly can’t imagine how I would be a single parent if I was not working for myself and doing what I love. It translates into every aspect of my life and my family.
Q: Making fragrance can be very personal at times. What fragrance speaks to you the most and which scent is your most favorite to make?
I would say TRN V4 and VLC V2. These 2 scents most represent my personality as well as the depth and level of complexity I seek in a fragrance for myself. My favorite scent to make is NST V7, the layers and the formula are challenging and I am always astounded by the end result and that never gets old.
Q: Your process for making each fragrance is made by hand. How important is this process and using locally sourced products?
They are both very important. A large part of the nuances and uniqueness of the scents start in the handmade process. I also source domestically/locally whenever I can. With the perfumes I create though, the raw materials can be quite rare and exotic so that presents a challenge. So many of the extracts and essences are simply not grown here in NY. I am able to get my organic jojoba domestically and that is huge as the bulk of the jojoba on the market is grown in other countries. Finding that source was a very big deal for us.
Q: How did you manage to keep Eau De Toilette green just like your perfume oils?
It took a long time to be able to do this and we actually held off on launching them for about a year as we were unable to find the right natural/organic preservative for the scents. We are using a fully organic, proprietary preservation system that is comprised of wild thyme and wild marjoram & to date we are still the only fragrance company using this material. It was very challenging from a blending/formula perspective to maintain the scent profile of the perfumes as the wild thyme and marjoram initially impacted them. Through a lot of tweaking and tenacity we were able to get them into the formula while maintaining the original scent profile of the perfumes. We also used an organic pharmaceutical grade alcohol. Pharm grade is triple distilled and is the absolute purest alcohol available. We absorb alcohol through our skin so it had to be the absolute cleanest available. So much research and time went into these formulations and we are very proud of what we were able to do.
Q: We see you are launching your new LURKshop in Shelter Island. How did this come to be and what is your vision for this store?
We are so excited about this!! I originally opened the shop in 2014, there weren’t any green beauty boutiques on the East End and the demand was/is definitely strong. This will be the third season on the East End for LURKshop and yes, this year we reopened on Shelter Island. We’re super excited about the move as I live on Shelter Island now and have also moved my studio there. The pull to Shelter Island has been very strong for me and for LURK. The island is such a magical place and the community is so wonderful as well.
The shop is about turning pre-conceived notions about what green is on it’s head so to speak. My goal with the shop was/is to create an environment that is really about amazing, super luxurious products that are innovative, beautifully designed and made to perfection by makers, creators and visionaries. My philosophy for the shop is the same philosophy that drives my fragrances—I believe that all products should be sophisticated, effective, safe to use, give the best possible benefit and experience, and should never ask a customer to compromise. The luxury experience is imperative.
Q: Shen was the first to receive your new packaging and scents. Can you tell us a little more about the switch up and the launch of the new scents with Shen: BS 004, VLC V2. Inspiration, dreams, ideas, etc.
The packaging evolution has been a long time coming and it represents the progression of the brand. I wanted to maintain the simplicity of the bottles while taking it to a place that is stronger visually and represents the modernity of LURK. The new look is cleaner and a bit more sophisticated as well which we love. The choice to launch our packaging and our newest scents with SHEN was very natural and very deliberate at the same time. SHEN represents for us the best in retail and was one of our first retail locations. The support and energy is amazing and to say we are honored to be a part of Jessica’s vision and lineup is an understatement.
Our newest scents exclusively available at SHEN are BS 004, which is an evolution of our bestseller BS 003. The original is very light, summery and androgynous with a spicy undertone and BS 004 takes that summer vibe to the next level with deeper citrus notes and more complex layers. Its a bit of a sun soaked cocktail and is less spicy and a bit more lighthearted than its counterpart.
VLC V2 is a blue cypress, vetiver based beauty that I created this past winter in anticipation of the summer. Most people don’t associate woody fragrances with warmer weather but this one is all sun, sex and skin for us.. This blend incorporates super seductive woods with juicy pink grapefruit and sensuous florals that are never heavy or overdone. We can’t get enough.
Q: Founded in Australia, Gentleman’s Brand has a pretty amazing back-story. Can you share with us how you brought it to life?
Gentleman’s Brand Co. was brought to life by my co-founder siblings Matthew and Sally Woodward. Born from their love of design and Sally’s passion for creating natural skincare and fragrance, Gentleman’s Brand Co. was soon recognised globally as a rising star in men’s natural skincare. They did such a great job in bringing the line to market, building a powerful aspirational lifestyle brand and developing a global business. Love those two!
I came on as a co-founder about a year ago to help scale the business, it just so happens that I have a face that NEEDS skincare (Crow’s feet like a cracked desert from years of sun, surf and wind). I was actually a Gentleman’s Brand Co. customer (and evangelist) before I had even met Matthew and Sally. Meant to be!
Q: Ingredients are the most important part of skincare. What’s special about the ingredients you use?
We always say ‘ingredients are everything’. This is a statement that we live by at Gentleman’s Brand Co. We have this incredible local phenomenon in Australia - our native botanicals are uniquely nutrient dense thanks to their lack of cultivation. This is perfect for an Australian skincare brand passionate about origins. We use ingredients such as the Kakadu Plum, the world’s richest source of Vitamin C (incredible for those crow’s feet of mine), the Tasmanian Mountain Pepperberry which is a powerful antioxidant and Organic Australian Macadamia Oil a rich moisturiser.
All these ingredients are normal for us but are relatively exotic for the rest of the world and allow us to get a product in our customer’s hands that works.
Q: What’s your day-to-day skincare routine? Any tips, tricks, or how to’s you can share with us?
My daily routine is fairly simple. I think most guys aren’t looking for a ‘Patrick Bateman-esque’ skincare routine, I definitely fall into that category. I want easy and functional.
Upon waking I take a shower and use our Face Wash with a Clarisonic. I started using a Clarisonic years ago and noticed a difference, such a good gift! I get a little hit of summer from our Coconut scented Body Wash.
I then take 3 to 4 drops of our Face Oil and gently apply it with light pressure. The Face Oil is a nutrient dense combination of organic seed oils and Vitamin E. If you’re like me and partial to a life outdoors, you want a product like our Face Oil; it’s all repair and protection.
I’ll brush my teeth and then take our Face Serum, a lighter moisturiser we developed for the Asian market, pump twice into my palm and gently massage into my Face.
As a side note, I have Face Serums everywhere. One in my work bag, one in my gym bag, in my surf kit, my fly fishing kit, and one in my travel kit. Whenever I feel dry or tired I apply a couple of pumps and feel alive again.
Q: What's next for Gentleman's Brand Co.?
Big things! A generic answer in some respects but we have been reformulating (pun intended) our business and are ready for a bright future. We're sampling some great new products too.
Q: What was your inspiration for starting UMA?
Well, there were really three main inspirations:
When I moved to the United States about ten years ago, I witnessed first-hand the plethora of low quality/diluted essential oil products that inundated the market, and that customers were paying ridiculously high premiums for them! Having grown up in a family that has farmed and manufactured essential oils for generations, I knew that we could guarantee the purity of the ingredients harvested at my family’s estate. I believed that UMA would resonate with every customer that cared (and deserved!) to know about exactly where the ingredients in her skincare were coming from. I mean – how is it that you can go to the farmer’s market and find out exactly where your $2/lb tomatoes come from, but you don’t have the same option for your $150/oz. skincare! This is the degree of transparency and accountability I wanted to create for customers through UMA.
Second, I was taken aback by the abundance of misconceptions about Ayurveda in the western world. The eastern science of Ayurveda, as well as the benefits of essential oils, deliver natural, powerful results – all backed by science. However, I found that perception of them was shrouded in mysticism and a general ignorance, often giving Ayurvedic remedies a bad rep. Therefore, UMA has always been very focused on educating people about the Ayurvedic science behind our products.
Finally, I wanted to create products that signified “luxury” in the truest sense – not the kind where bells and whistles are added to drive up the perception of a product’s value! To the Uma family, the highest form of luxury and respect is the investment of time and the use of only the rarest, purest ingredients. That is why our products are always handcrafted in small batches; even the bottles are hand-blown and engraved by hand. The UMA 6 Point Wellness Oil Therapy is also meant to give people the ultimate luxury – making the commitment of their own time for their complete wellness. That stems from the age-old definitions of luxury in India, so I wanted to incorporate that into UMA.
Q: Tell us a little more about where you source your essential oils. I heard all ingredients are sourced from your family’s farm. How long has your family had these sustainable farms?
My family has been growing oils on the estate for generations - literally. In fact, my ancestors were Ayurvedic scientists who created beauty and wellness concoctions for Indian royalty. My family has carefully and dutifully handed down their expertise, and today only 5 people in the world know the exact formulations for our oils. Today, the UMA Estate supplies the likes of Estée Lauder and Tom Ford, while continuing our sustainable, small batch farming techniques.
Q: What makes UMA different from other face and wellness essential oils that are on the market?
The key differentiation between our oils - and many (all?) natural beauty brands in general - is that we are completely vertically integrated. The entire process, from the organic growing, to the harvesting, to the extraction and blending process is managed by one estate (ours). This means we can entirely control the quality of our essential oils from start to finish. Most of our competitors purchase oils from external sources where the quality cannot be verified. This means their consumers are often using products with diluted essential oils and are none the wiser. Not only can we ensure the integrity of our ingredients; we also can stand behind our workers who all have expertise and degrees in Ayurvedic science. This combination allows us to create truly effective products that bring Ayurvedic remedies to modern day.
In addition, UMA Oils is a company that truly respects the community and environment our products come from. Our farming practices are pesticide-free and we repurpose and recycle our waste to minimize our environmental footprint. In addition, we foster a number of gender equality initiatives, as well as programs to help our staff and community with basic needs.
Q: What is your favorite essential oil and how do you use it?
I absolutely adore sandalwood oil, and to be honest, this has a lot to do with the luxury it represents. Sandalwood farming was actually banned 300 years ago by an Indian king who believed the oil was only fit for royalty! Although regulations have been somewhat lifted today, the oil is still extremely rare due to the long process necessary for growing sandalwood.
It is an incredible ingredient in face oils because of its amazing luminosity boosting powers, and it has a wonderful scent. I love to massage it on my face, and like spending a few minutes every day creasing out fine lines on my face while applying oil.
Q: Any advice for those who want to get into using face oils but have never tried?
We recommend selecting oils based on your specific skincare concerns to start. Check out our handy guide to which oils work best for specific needs here. If you’re still conflicted, we recommend starting with a lightweight oil. Many people often incorrectly use face oils when they first start because they are used to using creams and moisturizers. The correct application is to drop 2-3 drops on your palm and rub your palms together. Then gently pat (don’t rub - this is only necessary with thicker products, like creams, which don’t easily absorb) the oils around your face. You can apply in the evening or morning, or both! Try gradually introducing them into your routine in order to determine what works for you.
Q: One question we get a lot from customers pertains to the order of applying face oils- before moisturizing or after? What is your recommendation for applying your face oils?
Keep in mind the "lightest to heaviest" rule of skincare. The oils can be worn over many very light moisturizers and serums, but should be worn under thicker products like creams or heavy moisturizers. Of course, the oils can stand alone in your skincare routine as well (something a majority of UMA users have come to do!). Face oils can also be worn under makeup, and can actually help enhance the appearance of makeup (read our tips on using face oil to enhance makeup here). We also always recommend the use of sunscreen and that should be applied over the oils (or at the end of your regimen).
Q: One great thing about UMA is that it also gives back to its employees. Can you share with us how you support and encourage your workers?
We do our best to foster gender equality in our workforce, something that is sadly lacking in India. We employ a workforce of over 50% women and ensure they receive a fair salary that allows them to be independent. We have a number of other community initiatives, like free health and childcare, education, and retirement planning guidance for all our staff members –because we want to empower women to be able to get out of their homes and remain viably employed, and realize that sometimes this infrastructure is critical to truly enabling them to become and remain financially independent.
Q: UMA’s wellness oils have an unusual and almost ceremonious application process. Can you explain a little more about the ritual of applying them to your body?
It’s definitely unique, which is why it is a patent-pending ritual. Basically, it’s structured to maximally trigger the transdermal (through the skin) and the olfactory (through the sense of smell which is directly connected to the limbic brain) effects of essential oils. Our expert team spent years perfecting this ritual to harness the most power from essential oils in the shortest amount of time – knowing all too well how busy many of our wonderful customers are!
The ritual starts by massaging the oil between the toes (where the skin is very thin) and onto the bottom of the feet, then moves to the wrists, forehead and behind the ears and finally ends on five deep inhales with your hands cupped over your nose, while the aromas still linger on your hands.
Q: What’s next for UMA? Any exciting new launches coming up?
We have several very exciting launches coming up! We are launching several face masks in June and a body oil. Stay tuned!
Q: First and foremost, we’d love to hear how Aurelia Probiotic Skincare came to launch.
I had always been passionate about skincare and, having discovered how the power of probiotics can help to balance the skin during my career in pharmaceuticals, I set about creating a scientifically proven skincare range for all skin types that would focus on using the latest technology to encourage radiance, glow and to help with age prevention. I started to develop ideas for the products back in 2011, and worked hard to create a small range of products with the perfect textures, blends and results. I felt there was so much to be done to help educate women about their skin but also to provide a new effective, BioOrganic, luxury and ethical solution for them and finally launched Aurelia Probiotic Skincare in January 2013.
Q: Aurelia is one of the first brands to focus on probiotic skincare. Can you share with us the philosophy behind probiotics? What does is mean to have probiotics on your skin and what is it doing for your skin?
The probiotic technology used within the products is designed to work at a deep, cellular level rather than on skin surface bacteria. We use a non-live probiotic which stabilises the skin by supporting its natural defence system and protecting skin from environmental stresses such as sun damage and pollution. Probiotics also offer on-going support against cellular inflammation, which occurs in every one of us especially as we age. I discovered the efficacy of probiotics while working in pharmaceuticals and wanted to make it our main approach to restoring and maintaining balanced, healthy and glowing skin.
Q: Our customers constantly comment on how great Aurelia products smells. How did you get that signature Aurelia scent?
I have always been a fan of aromatherapy and took a course in the techniques before launching Aurelia. I knew I wanted to use essential oils to fragrance the products from day one and part of the ingredients philosophy of Aurelia is that we never use synthetic fragrances. It took a long time to get the blends absolutely perfect and I am so pleased that the blends are one of the first things that customers comment on! We recently launched the Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream with a new blend of Vetiver, Ylang ylang, Lavender and Patchouli which is one of my absolute favourites at the moment!
Q: Shen’s number one cleanser is your Miracle cleanser. We use it in all our facials and our clients love it. Tell us the best way to use it at home in our bathrooms.
The Miracle Cleanser is wonderful because it suits so many skin types and helps keep skin radiant and balanced from the first use. For best results use it morning and evening as a first step to your routine. Take a healthy sized scoop or pump (from the new Deluxe Miracle Cleanser) and massage straight on to dry skin. Focus on firm massaging techniques to stimulate circulation for radiant skin. To aid lymphatic drainage and the removal of toxins, work the product outwards towards your jaw and ears and then remove with the antibacterial bamboo muslin cloth. Rinse the cloth under warm water, squeeze out some excess and remove the Miracle Cleanser in circular motions. You’ll find that skin is left feeling beautifully clean but not tight or stripped, allowing you to follow with your favourite serum or moisturiser.
Q: Who are your products for; Are they anti-aging, do they clear up acne, or are they for all skin types? What are your three “can’t live without” products?
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare is a line of products for all skin types and ages and can be used to calm and balance young, problematic skin all the way to helping to prevent premature skin-ageing and keeping mature and ageing skin glowing and healthy. We like to talk about the benefits of layering products, and to encourage people to really assess what their skin needs at certain times of the year, and not to feel restricted by one ‘skin-type’.
My three hero products are the Miracle Cleanser which is the ultimate first step, the Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser which feels so velvety and the Refine & Polish Miracle Balm for soft, smooth skin. I love using it as a mask three times a week. It’s so easy to use and the results are instant!
Q: We are so excited Aurelia has a new hand cream, can you tell us more about it?
The Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream was something I had been thinking about for a long time. I wanted a hand cream that would deeply nourish and hydrate the skin but also to work on treating pigmentation. Age spots and pigmentation are so common on hands so I wanted to create a luxury product that would work to reduce the appearance of age spots but that felt like a joy to use. The uniquely powerful Sea Daffodil Pigmentation Complex helps to diminish the size and density of age spots by up to 61% while rich botanicals like Red algae and Cassia senna protect and nourish skin while retaining moisture. It’s perfect for anyone with dry, chapped skin and also works to strengthen nails and soften cuticles. I developed the fragrance blend to offer a Moment of Mindfulness to help relieve daily stresses, and find that taking three deep breaths inhaling the fragrance helps to calm and ground me, and support a feeling of relaxation.
Q: Aurelia is one of our British imports and not everyone can get their hands on it in New York. What do you think the main difference is from a UK consumer and a USA customer?
Our products tick the box for any woman looking for luxury, natural skincare that will enhance radiance, boost glow and make her feel special. Whether from the UK or USA, our customers are always looking for the same thing; ethically-sourced ingredients, a Free-From ingredients policy and effective technology. All this alongside beautiful essential oil blends and textures! Stores like Shen allow like-minded customers to find gorgeous, niche skincare brands which is what we love!
Q: Aurelia truly sells itself. It’s gaining great popularity. What is on the horizon for Aurelia; Can you give us any sneak peaks?
I’m currently working on a whole portfolio of amazing new products. I wanted to create some more body products to complement the current range and I can’t wait for these to launch later this year. And we’ve got some seriously exciting skincare additions are on the horizon!