The upper echelon of high-end skincare has two distinct camps: those who staunchily vouch for luxurious old school brands and the diehard advocates (and new converts) who are on the naturals train. As green brands continue to vie for their place with those seeking the creme de la creme, detractors and the uninformed still question if these new naturals can compete on performance. True Botanicals, a upscale science driven green brand, has addressed this by directly publishing the results of clinical studies comparing their oil to La Mer’s iconic moisturizer.
Even as we find more of our products taken over by new green formulas, there is an undeniable allure with the stately presence of the old guard prestige brands that we can’t shake. Anyone who has a jar of LA PRAIRIE’s Skin Caviar sitting on their counter knows this feeling.
Enter, WELL WITHIN BEAUTY, a wellness oriented brand with a skincare collection called Planted In Beauty that features plant based ingredients that are certified organic, EWG verified, vegan and cruelty-free. What makes this brand particularly compelling in the crowded natural space is the fact that they’re helmed by two former LA PRAIRIE executives.
If anyone would know how to take on the traditional luxury brands, it would be Lynne Florio and Renee Tavoularis, the ladies behind WELL WITHIN BEAUTY. Their accumulated 20 plus years of experience include extensive executive level positions at La Prairie, which is unquestionably one of the most prestigious brands in existence.
We were thrilled to get an exclusive interview with Lynne Florio and Renee Tavoularis to learn more about this beautiful line.
On their extensive beauty industry experience
Lynne: In the late 70s and throughout the 80s, I held various positions in Marketing, Finance and Operations at Parfums Stern, a designer fragrance company. I then spent 26 years with La Prairie from 1989-2015. I functioned as Global Brand President of La Prairie, which meant I developed and executed the global marketing and positioning of all La Prairie products, including treatment, color and fragrance, within the 90+ countries where the brand had presence. I oversaw the Global Communications team, which included Creative Development, Marketing, Merchandising, Online, Public Relations and Training.
Renee: I started my beauty career in the beauty advisor training department at Yves Saint Laurent Beaute before moving to La Prairie in 1993, working in North America Sales Development, working with our department store partners, as well as overseeing our e-commerce business. In 2013, I became Global Vice President E-Commerce and Digital Marketing, where my team and I redesigned and launched the brand website with new imagery and content, in 19 countries and 17 languages. In addition, I helped to develop the integrated digital strategy and oversee the day-to-day execution of digital marketing initiatives.
How it all came together
Lynne: The idea to partner with Renee on our own business had been germinating for years – but the specifics of the business itself really came about late 2015. We knew if / when we branched out on our own, the business had to fulfill a passion and a purpose and speak to where we were in our lives at this current moment – and that very much included self-care and wellness – something we had put on the back burner during our corporate company years.
It was obvious that skincare would play a large part – that’s our background, our pedigree. But we felt it had to be more than that – to showcase our holistic approach to beauty wellness, inclusive of nutrition and lifestyle elements as well. So we decided that holistic living was the business and set out to create an integrated beauty and wellness site with a plant-based focus that offered support, content and products to help you on your wellness journey, no matter where you are on that journey. Our site would also function as the online marketplace for our PLANTED IN BEAUTY skincare rang.
WELL WITHIN is indicative of where we are right now in our lives and our wellness journeys – and it’s inclusive of all of the touch points that are important to us: beauty, nutrition, lifestyle wellness.
How working at La Prairie informed their vision for Well Within Beauty
Lynne: There was a few guiding principles at La Prairie, and high performance, efficacious products was certainly one of them. We’ve applied that same mindset – the same high standards, stringent performance testing and attention to every detail – to what we’ve created with PLANTED IN BEAUTY. We have always been consumer-centric – giving our consumers what she needs, desires and cares about – with the intention of over-exceeding her expectations. Truthfully, we strive to go even further and give her what she dreams about!
Renee: Beauty is certainly more than skin deep. Of course, skincare is thought of as a topical application, but 60% – or more – of the products we apply topically onto our skin have the potential to be absorbed in the bloodstream and circulated to our cells. With that said, it was paramount that we developed a brand that was always natural, always safe. That means 100% of our ingredients were from natural origin – that includes plants, plant-derived ingredients, minerals, vitamins and water. As well as top level, high functioning organic ingredients that nourish the skin with the healthiest available ingredients free from toxic pesticides and chemicals.
Organic plant matter is made up of the same vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, enzymes and amino acids as the human body, and our skin absorbs them readily and circulates them to the rest of the body. Once absorbed, they can help with everything from increasing collagen production and improving circulation to restoring discoloration and diminishing visible signs of aging, leaving skin looking vibrant and healthy.
For PLANTED IN BEAUTY, we sought out the experts in the natural ingredient industry, chose ingredients that have been sustainably grown and harvested and tested for performance and efficacy to ensure we were offering consumers the absolute best in plant-based skincare. In addition, our products have two 3rd party certifications that provide our consumer complete transparency and assurance.
The Planted in Beauty customer versus the La Prairie customer
Lynne: In terms of who our customer is, she’s a health-conscious consumer who is concerned with her well-being. She’s intrigued by and / or committed to the notions of natural, organic, chemical-free, holistic living. She’s on her wellness journey and seeking to discover new products that help her skin health and wellness.
In terms of our approach to reach said consumers, we opted to launch in the direct to consumer route for PLANTED IN BEAUTY skincare range [via wellwithinbeauty.com], but we certainly haven’t ruled out a multi-channel approach in the future.
WELL WITHIN is not just a skincare brand thought; it’s a lifestyle brand offering consumers support, services and products to help them become WELL WITHIN their skin, mind and body – an integrated approach in beauty, nutrition and lifestyle for optimal skin health and wellness.
As a niche brand start-up, our B2C platform allows us to present our brand philosophy and brand messaging exactly as we intend our consumers to experience it. As I said earlier, over the course of our careers, we have always been consumer-centric; I truly believe the consumer is the center of our universe, and selling straight to her allows us to stay hyper connected to her wants, needs, likes, dislikes, etc.
On creating natural skincare
Lynne: When we decided to create a skincare line in the natural/organic world, we set the bar high: No compromises in ingredients; sourcing the best of what the ingredient and packaging suppliers had to offer to ensure a line that is clean and pure, sustainable and organic, offering our customers optimal results.
Credibility was crucial, so we sought out several third party certifications (Ecocert for the Cosmos Organic Standard, Leaping Bunny, The Certified Vegan Trademark and EWG Verified) to ensure an ethos of transparency to our consumers.
We also wanted to forgo the usual marketing jargon and make everything crystal clear to our consumers, so our product names clearly define the benefits of each product, and the packaging illustrations on our PLANTED IN BEAUTY products clearly showcase the key ingredients within the product.
The challenges of formulating with 100% natural ingredients
Lynne: The entire collection was difficult to develop because we were uncompromising in our criteria- 100% natural ingredients, highest possible level certified organic materials (if an organic certified grade existed, we wanted it, regardless of the cost), natural preservatives and not alcohol and natural fragrances. We insisted on a 30-month shelf life, sensual textures and pleasant fragrances. So, you can see that we were a consumer’s dream and a chemist’s nightmare!
The next challenge was that we were developing a regimen and not a single product. Products need to be applied seamlessly and absorbed synergistically for an immediate experience and long term benefits.
The one skincare product that everyone should try
Renee: Lynne and I often joke that products are like children – it’s impossible to have a favorite…especially when you have created a line of seven must haves for optimal skin health. But if I had to say just one ~ the Detox Exfoliant is my go-to for when I need a deep clean – after hours of traipsing around the city or post-a particularly trying workout, when I feel like I need to scrub the day off of my face. It’s gentle but effective at detoxifying skin, thanks to Raspberry and Papaya, and leaves skin glowing (c/o Pineapple).
My favorite product is your eye cream. It’s so moisturizing and feels rich without suffocating. Can you tell me a little bit about the formula and what makes it work so well?
Renee: We’re thrilled to hear you’re enjoying the eye product. It’s a personal favorite of mine, too.
I used to need copious amounts of concealer to cover my under eye darkness, but after using our Eye Firming Complex consistently, I feel comfortable and confident in going concealer-free.
As the claims in the name state, we created a multi-tasking product with high performing ingredients to address puffiness and dark under eye circles in the delicate eye area.
Apricot and Sunflower, combined with an organic plant extract, Beech Tree Bud, helps improve skins moisturization and help diminish appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. We added antioxidants Ginkgo, Yerba Mate, Vitamin E and Tea Plant to protect against free radical damage. There are also fruit, seaweed and plant seed extracts to help address under eye darkness.
On the future of Well Within Beauty
Renee: Come early 2018, we will be entering the nutritional supplement arena as the first step in the nutrition category. Since we preach beauty from the outside in and inside out, we developed a plant-based, clean and sustainable nutritional supplement that promotes skin health from the inside out. More information to come on wellwithinbeauty.com.
In the meantime..
Renee: In terms of three things to for better health, here’s what we recommend:
Prioritize plants and whole foods. We truly believe that a whole food and plant-centric diet — meaning a diet comprised mostly of whole, unrefined (or minimally refined) plants, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, lays the best foundation for healthy skin and overall good health. Fruit and vegetables are the foundation / take center stage in our diets; everything else comes secondary. Not only does this approach make sense for a healthy body, but also incredible skin.
Move with intention. Lynne and I both spent decades in a corporate environment where your days are extremely sedentary – short of going from meeting to meeting – and that’s very much the norm of the daily grind for anyone working in an office. It matters little what activity or sport you choose, just be sure you step away from your desk or computer to move intentionally.
Breathe in, breathe out…and keep your stress in check. While some amount of stress in life is unavoidable, there are certainly ways to minimize it, and practices to help manage it. I personally love the headspace app for a meditation session – no matter where I am. It helps me recalibrate and refocus ~ so I continue to think positively and make positive choices.
As told to: Garçon’s World | Photo Credits : Ana Gambuto