Alright, let's talk about skincare for a moment? I can remember the first time I ever stepped foot into a Sephora. I was mesmermized. Too romantic? Yeah, probably. Because here's the deal: my love affair with Sephora fizzled fast. Because I found something better. And it's local. Lowen's Natural Skincare is an incredible company that makes a line of incredible, natural skincare and cosmetic products. What makes them so awesome is their commitment to sourcing local ingredients and ensuring that the products you use are safe and effective. And they have a level of sassiness that might rival my own! Be sure to give them a follow on social media and find out what these guys are all about.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?
Ughh! I am working at being better at this but struggle with these questions. As one might assume, I am an introvert pushing the extroversion boundaries – which I see as lending to my eccentricities as a ‘maker’ and business owner. Getting into the detail, I am a Saskatchewan immigrant, having moved to Calgary in 2001 to start my career as a Pharmacist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. For the most part, I have been in Calgary ever since.
I met my wife Lindsay in 2005 (at the Crowfoot BPs LOL) and we’ve been together ever since. In 2010, our 1st daughter, Lowen, entered our lives and her diaper rash was the inspiration for me to start formulating a ‘better mouse trap’ or rather diaper balm back in the day. Having recently completed my MBA and feeling less than useful with a newborn, Lowen’s rash presented a problem that I was happy to apply myself in solving and work with Lindsay to arrive at the most effective formula for us (and others as it happened). Having tried pretty much most of what was out there at the time, I set out to create a formula that had the research to back its efficacy, which was new at the time as you had either pharmaceutical-grade remedies or ‘natural’ ones of questionable repute. I started out trying to marry the two and take the center line – a tough sell for those on either side of the spectrum as the medical community poo-pooed the ‘natural’ industry and I found the holistic community suspected my products based upon my pharmaceutical background. As you can see, we’ve thankfully come a long way in getting people on-side.
For me, I always had an interest in entrepreneurship and thankfully Lowen’s Natural Skincare evolved into a constructive outlet for that. I see the company also creating an environment of business and financial literacy for our girls to grow up in. Lately, I have been working to set our brand as more than just one that makes natural, safe and effective products but also as a brand that advocates – advocates for transparency in the industry, brings awareness to unsung causes, increases the profile of charitable endeavors of interest, etc.
What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?
I think that is partially covered in Q1 – but I love creating. As a Kid, I used to combine chemicals and be fascinated with the final product. What is even more gratifying is to create something that others see value in, appreciate, purchase and the best of them actually advocate for you. This is the magic.
What inspires you most about your community?
Right now the concept of ‘social enterprises’ really inspired me but maybe mostly as the term puts a label on what I see as the best in business.
A lot of friends/colleagues have businesses and have been doing things differently since inception. When I say differently, I mean that they are not operating as profit machines. Again, these endeavors are called ‘social’ business, enterprises, etc. but really I just see these as a community of businesses – ones that are personified as benevolent beings and not psychopathic capitalists (à la the Corporation). As a community, we are interdependent so to operate most effectively (and this just doesn’t speak to profit but of customer satisfaction, social impact, minimized environmental impact, etc) we work to operate our business from a betterment approach. This is much more than the ‘social’ washing approach that we are seeing in the CRS programs of some of the larger corporations. Not to fault them as perhaps once a business reaches a critical mass, it becomes really hard to maintain that human perspective.
If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t start out as trying to prove something. A lot of the time I have (and still do) operated with a have a chip on my shoulder and a level of entitlement. This will not help you other than perhaps fuel some stubbornness, which in and of itself can be useful but does quickly hit a diminishing turn threshold.
As well, with Lowen’s I’ve gotten a lot of help along the way. You will need help. When it is offered, listen and remember people generally have a hard time offering it to assholes LOL. Be nice. (another area where I have, at times, fallen by the wayside)
Tell me three fun facts about yourself or your organization.
- Lowen’s Natural Skincare is named after our daughter. This was suggested by my cousin way back when and initially I wasn’t too keen on the idea but I ruminated on it for a while. In the end, I arrived at the realization that naming the company after my daughter would serve as a constant reminder not to ‘sell out.’
- Lowen, now 6, is not thrilled with her name being on all of these products. I may have to work with her and Lindsay on a rebranding effort that also included our youngest, Simone Zelensky, into the brand.
- We recently got accepted into the EWG Verified Program. The EWG is an NGO based in Washington that advocates for environmental causes, one of which is centered on safety in skincare products. Through their Skin Deep Database, you can search ingredients, finished formulations and even brands for their safety profile. I have been using this database ever since I began formulating and when they asked if I wanted to go through the extra rigor to become verified, I saw this as being right on track with what Lowen’s is all about. So, in short, EWG Verification means that our products are ‘verified’ by a third party as being safe (along with being unique and effective). To this day, safety in the cosmetic industry seems to be an afterthought…
How can people get in touch?
Facebook: Lowens Skincare - Calgary
Google +: +LowensCa
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