Once upon a time I was an Analog Electronics Engineer in the Semiconductor Sector of Silicon Valley. One day my wife Priscilla discovered her migraines were triggered by the synthetic, and largely toxic ingredients found in almost all commercially available, and many of the so called "hand crafted and natural" skincare products. Specifically and most egregious were the synthetic petrochemical fragrances. These nasties are everywhere and precipitating severe, day long migraine headaches. Even "unscented" products have a toxic synthetic fragrance called Masking Scent to cover all the nasty smells of the awful commercial ingredients (it's why most unscented products smell the same regardless of what's in them or who makes them).
Initially we explored "natural" products available commercially and those hand made by small companies and even single individuals. What we found was that regardless of claims and declarations of purity most products from companies large and small contain harmful synthetic ingredients ranging from synthetic fragrances and preservatives to a wide range of petrochemical derivative oils, synthetic vitamins, nano-particulate metals, paraffin wax emulsifiers, animal part derived gums, and glycerine binders. It really is a mess.
As the synthetic ingredients become less and less expensive they have become more and more pervasive. And the worst part is many are known carcinogens and remain completely unregulated by the FDA because they are not consumed orally.
We, on the other hand, maintain that if you put it on your skin you've eaten it, you just didn't have to chew and swallow first.
So what started as a pilgrimage to free Priscilla from severe migraines has turned into a passion to create the finest, cleanest skincare products in the world. And now the product line includes deeply moisturizing handmade soaps and skin care products that are organic, vegan and raw. Without anything synthetic. Toxic. Or harmful in any way. Every product is formulated and handmade by me.
So I was making all the products, shipping on line orders, selling both wholesale and in open air markets around the bay area and quite frankly working myself to extreme exhaustion. I needed help. Badly. The success of the business had become my greatest challenge. Priscilla was helping when and where she could, certainly emotionally, but she has a full time career as a University Financial Aid Director. Very committed and very busy.
So along comes Elena one fine day to my table at the Oakland Grand Lake Farmers Market and after 10 or 15 minutes of describing my products, I just up and gifted her the basics of Luminance to try if she agreed to put aside her Dr. Perricone Skincare Products for a week and try my products. As she walked away from the table I thought to myself "Very pleasant. Smart. Exceptionally smart. Savvy!". The following week she comes back with a big smile and tells me she loved the products. Elena became a customer.
A few months later I was able to hire Elena to represent my line to wholesale accounts. A short time after that she approached me with the notion that while wholesale is ok, we really need to develop social media and a stronger internet presence. A few months later she expressed an interest to buy into my company. And in one of the smartest decisions I have ever made, ever, I accepted her investment offer and now we're business partners and co-owners of the skincare business.
Since then, a little over a year ago the business has grown 500% to 600% online and we've trimmed down our wholesale exposure to a select few retailers. We still accept wholesale customers, we just don't go after them. And we only work with folks we like.
Currently, Elena handles all of the on line marketing, social media, bloggers and most of the day to day business interactions with our remaining wholesale accounts and the business finances.