Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in skin care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lina Gearity, Chief Marketing Officer of LightWater, located in Boston, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the CMO of LightWater skincare. We were inspired by the food industry to create skincare that's as fresh as a salad ... instead of being jarred and preserved. LightWater products are made, packed, and sent so that they are fresh with every single use! We do it because it is both more effective (the active ingredients are at their peak efficacy) and better for skin health (we can exclude all additives that aren't good for the skin, such as preservatives). So all LightWater products are incredibly pure and potent. We partnered with Harvard dermatologists to create and patent the only preservative-free moisturizers, and we can do it safely and hygienically because of our multiple innovations in the way we source, formulate, manufacture, and package our skincare.
This is a huge need in the category because it solves three problems: (1) conventional skincare becomes ineffective while people are using it since the active ingredients degrade and oxidize quickly, and (2) it can safely exclude the main causes of skin irritations and sensitivities since we don't need to use additives such as preservatives (which are proven skin irritants), and we also choose to exclude all other allergens such as fragrances, phthalates, silicones, sulfates, PEGs, etc. and (3) reduces beauty waste because our daily dose packaging format is actually much more efficient way to hold product, using 75% less material than jars or bottles, and all our packaging is fully recyclable or compostable.
LightWater moisturizers are for anyone who cares about their skin health and appearance or who wants more sustainable and clean beauty. They're also excellent for anybody who suffers from skin sensitivities, dryness, or allergies. Women and men of all ages and skin types love using our products and have seen amazing results as their skin becomes healthier.
Tell us about yourself
Immediately prior to coming to LightWater I worked for a seafood company … and that certainly seems like a big leap to beauty. But surprisingly, there is more in common than one might think. Being in the food industry was insightful because people first gravitated to clean ingredients and less processed food products, and those expectations have also shifted over to the beauty and personal care products. In a way, beauty products feed our skin every time we apply them, and as the skin is our largest living organ, what we use makes an important impact on its functions and our overall health. I find that connection to be quite interesting.
What motivates me is the impact I hope we make across several areas: human health, people's quality of life, the beauty industry as a whole, and the environmentally. When it comes to human health, it's worth considering that the average person layers on 12 products a day for years in a row. When those products contain ingredients linked to negative effects – such as allergic reactions, systemic toxicity, endocrine disruption, or cancers – they take a toll on our bodies and our health. I'm proud that LightWater is making skincare that's as clean and pure as possible, excluding all suspicious ingredients, even preservatives that disrupt our skin microbiome. Through the ingenuity of our founders, LightWater has created 100% preservative-free lotions and creams – this is a first in the industry. I am confident our products can make a long-lasting positive impact on skin and human health.
Better health is certainly linked to a better quality of life. Furthermore, a stunning 70% of Americans consider themselves to possess the characteristics of sensitive skin, and this number has grown notably over the last couple of decades. LightWater's fresh, effective, and gentle formulations have no unnecessary irritants, so they are truly healthy for all skin, not just "tolerated" by the skin. This enables us to serve those who struggle to find products that won't irritate their skin, including people with allergies or contact dermatitis. They don't need to go through the hassle of slowly eliminating ingredients to try to figure out what they are reacting to; they can simply get our high-quality, effective skincare that is kind to their skin, making their life easier.
Environmentally, we are tackling the waste created by the industry while also reducing the materials used. All our packaging is either recyclable or compostable. Plus, it's highly efficient, using up to 75% less packaging materials than typical skincare jars and bottles to hold the same amount of product, reducing energy and carbon footprint. And because we are only making fresh, small batches and delivering them fresh to our users, we are eliminating wasted, stale, expired products. Lastly, our clean formulas and high standards mean our products are not just microbiome-friendly; they are earth biomes-friendly. We exclude commonly used ingredients such as silicones, microbeads, endocrine disruptors, and preservatives – all of which have been shown to seep into the environment from personal care products and damage marine and plant life. I believe our innovative, fresh approach can usher in a new segment of the beauty industry. It's ultimately more effective, better for consumer health, and better for the environment, so I would love to see more of the industry move in that direction.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment at LightWater is creating and launching this brand into the world. If you think about it, a brand starts as just an idea, a concept, and then we are tasked with bringing it to life - giving it a face, a personality, and a voice. And LightWater's is a complex one too - a fresh mix of science and beauty that goes against the grain and typical industry processes that have existed for decades. The founders have literally rethought every single part of bringing a beauty product to market and reinvented it to be able to bring truly fresh products to people that are better for their skin health. That's a lot to undertake as a small, new brand with limited resources. But we've done it. We've convinced partners to go on this journey with us, using data to prove that our way really is better. Now comes the next challenge of getting more people to try LightWater products and see the healthy difference it makes for their skin.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things is to consistently maintain tenacity, focus, and positivity, even when faced with many challenges. Breaking into such a competitive and crowded industry and facing established giants with budgets and resources astronomically larger than ours can feel overwhelming if you let it. That's precisely the time to remind myself about why I am even doing this. I care so much about this company, the brand we are building, the impact it can make on people's health and confidence, and even the beauty industry shifts it can create that it feels like a passion project and a calling, not a mere job. I let that inspiration propel me.
And it is much easier when I'm surrounded by the incredible team we have. The founder and CEO Soo-Young Kang, Ph.D., is incredible to work with every day, and I feel lucky to have crossed paths with her and to get to learn from her. The entire team of co-founders, board members, and interns we work with are top-notch: brilliant, supportive, and genuinely good people. Our mission is inspiring, and the culture is what makes it fun and possible.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Follow your gut.
- Be honest with yourself about what you're good at and when you need some help, and then ask for or hire the help you need.
- Especially with start-ups, it can feel like you are stretched in every direction, and literally, everything needs to be done, so remember to celebrate the successes, find the joy or moment you can be grateful for every day, and just focus on doing the next right thing.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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