In the last 72 hours, I’ve had the most fascinating conversations about beauty with several experts ranging from a holistic doctor to another brand founder to a customer at today’s Dose Market. These conversations feel different than the ones we typically have with a new retailer or an email we may receive by a curious blogger. There’s a change in the air and the way people are purchasing and why they are purchasing natural beauty products is more prominent than ever before. As a woman I met earlier today simply stated, “quality over presence.” Hmm, that’s an interesting statement and of course I asked what that meant to her, which she explained, most of her life she purchased products because they were advertised to her in some form or another. She never paid any mind to the quality, but rather was influenced over claims, “the number one mascara” via this magazine or the product her favorite celebrity said she used. It was one big influence over another without her own investigation about quality and that is the word that changes it all for most consumers of natural beauty products…quality.
I have a penchant for quality much like my grandmother before me had that was observed as “regal” or snotty or above-it-all. I was made fun about it growing up, which was both ironic and amusing since I grew up in a modest household and access for finer living was nonexistent, except through food and imagination. This is where my grandmother comes in. Her eye for quality usually revolved around the quality of her ingredients in cooking and she would explain that you can prepare a simple peasant influenced meal with the heart of a Parisian chef by taking pride in how you made your dish and focused on using the best, freshest, most flavorful ingredients you could find. Sometimes that meant growing things yourself. If she was making cod stew, the simplest of simplest Spanish dishes then her red peppers would be flawless and her cod would be perfectly salted, dense and hearty. She instilled that super basic principle from early on in me and it stuck. You pay in one form or another for quality.
So here I am many years later as the co-founder, CEO and “sourcing and research specialist” of my own beauty line and quality is at the heart of my brand. So much so that we still source our Barbary Fig Seed Oil from a smaller producer in Tunisia, which often is painfully slow to come home to us than a large manufacturer from Morocco who can “Fed Ex in two days.” I’ve tried those batches of BFSO and needless to say it didn’t cut it for me in the form of quality so we stick with a producer who grows organic barbary figs, hand collects the seeds, washes them carefully and upon inspection cold presses rich, golden oil to our order good enough to meet my expectations of quality. When it’s good enough for me my inclination is to share with others. When I discover something so magical or wonderful I want to share that with those I care about. This is how La Bella Figura came about, this is how we still function and why I believe we have experienced an uprise in growth and customer loyalty.
I had the good fortune today to meet new fans here in Chicago as LBF presented at the most wonderful and artisanal Dose Market at SoHo House. A woman stopped by to say how much she admired our frank attitude about the beauty business. She explained that she came from the crowd that believed the most expensive product at the department store was the best until one day she decided to learn what exactly made those products so expensive. She said she was shocked to learn of all the terrible ingredients and went on a year long journey to educate herself about ingredients and all of the unnecessary chemicals and additives included to fluff up creams so they felt right to customers and could withstand years on a shelf with bright lights blasting above those products. She said she went cold turkey until she could find products with more naturally derived ingredients that also felt good to use. This is what we’re hearing time and time again. More quality, less fluff. Who we’re hearing this from these days is the difference. It used to be a certain demographic, but nowadays it’s the Nordstrom customer or the ladies at Neiman Marcus or the fashionable upscale shopper at Barneys. They seek quality that makes a difference in their beauty regimens over advertised jars of volumized mineral oil. It’s no longer embarrassing to admit (or a secret be to be ashamed of) that natural products most often than not outperform the fancy department store creams with the beautiful celebrity advertising it. And while not all natural products are created alike most are at least suggesting we all go back to basics. Fresher products made with natural elements. We’ve been covering up far too long with products that don’t solve your combination skin problem or protect you from free radicals or calm inflammation and offer a glow of health to your skin. No, no, that’s not why those products are made at all. They are made to last for years on a shelf, smell good to fool you into thinking they are good for you and the most problematic reason of all, cheaply with low quality ingredients that do not aid in the nourishment your skin. The truth has been exposed.
For LBF our love for quality stands out not only through our passion, but in our groundbreaking formulas, which cater to those seeking better experiences in skincare. Our unrefined ingredients are carefully tested by our number one quality expert, me. If I like it I pass it on to Karen who also has excellent standards for quality. When we both agree we bring it into our ingredient family. Sometimes this process is painful and sometimes lengthy. We’ve waited quite a while for a new ingredient for our nighttime face cream launching this Fall. We think it’s going to be transformative therefore it’s been worth it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to wait to put it in your hands. The right time will be the right time. Doubtful you’ll ever hear that from a conglomerate brand.
The shift is changing and you’re about to see it unfold soon. One of our favorite beauty bloggers, The Hermes Hippie wrote a great post about it, which you can read here. It’s been an arduous journey for many of us, but as all truly good things, well worth the wait. Speaking of waiting, a fresh shipment of Barbary Fig Seed Oil is on its way. We had a little snafu happen, which I won’t bore you with, but this summer’s bounty should arrive any day now. We know you can’t wait to get your hands on it as do we.