When Sina Zere moved from Toronto to Edmonton, she was shocked by how much the dry, cold weather dramatically affected her skin. Searching the body care and skin care marketplace for a remedy that truly worked for Canadian winters, she noticed a gap and thought to herself: “I’m pretty sure I can do better than this.” At this point, she already owned wax bar chain Buff Wax Spot, and with an MBA under her belt, she knew a thing or two about beauty entrepreneurship. With her husband Brandon, she launched her own skincare line 1’Lux Beauty, a capsule collection of clean lip and body products that put “fast food” drug store beauty products to shame.
Here, we chat with Sina about her career path, her tips for aspiring beauty bosses, and we get a peek into her own beauty regimen.
Can you walk us through your education and career path? How did you get to where you are today?
I was a perpetual student for most of my 20s; I have a B.Sc. specializing in Genetics, a Masters in Biotechnology, and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business. I never wanted to be a business owner but I’d also never really found something I was passionate about until I opened Buff Wax Spot and started 1’Lux Beauty with my husband, Brandon. It turns out that my love of learning and protocols has served me well in both endeavours!
Brandon is an Olympic-level Canadian gymnast. He’s trained competitively in gymnastics for 20 years and had biceps and a six-pack by the age of 10! He’s disciplined and pragmatic and knows how to weather a storm. We complement each other really well.
What inspired you to launch 1’Lux Beauty? What is the line all about?
Brandon and I had needs in our respective professions for superior and healthy skincare products for the body. Brandon was a competitive gymnast in his day and suffered from extremely dry, sensitive skin exacerbated by chalk. My move to Edmonton and its extremely dry and cold weather system triggered the same for me. It’s difficult to find clean skincare for the body and lips with high performance ingredients. Our skincare products are multi-taskers, have a clean and simple aesthetic, are beautifully (and eco-friendly) packaged, luxurious, generously sized, and are easily incorporated into your daily beauty routine. Brandon uses the entire line, and he’s a “guy’s guy”.
Why do you think that fast food beauty and fashion are problematic?
I think fast food beauty is problematic because in the rush to get new products into the marketplace, there’s a good chance that shortcuts are being taken with the quality of ingredients being used. Makeup and skincare that’s applied to the body is eventually absorbed by the body. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that your skin eats your beauty products. As a beauty brand, it’s important for us to be thoughtful about who we choose to work with and know that our ingredients of high-quality and coming from a quality supplier.
What are your favourite products from the 1’Lux Beauty line?
I mean, I love them all, of course, but there’s a special place in my heart for our RSVP Oui Lip Mask and the Velvet Blonde Emollient Body Oil. They’re both so healing and you can really see the difference in your skin. We hear a lot of comments from our customers about how our products have ‘fixed’ a skin issue for them. It’s really amazing.
What are some of the ingredients that you use?
We love nourishing botanicals such as aloe, apricot, calendula, camellia, chamomile, chia, green tea, jojoba, meadowfoam, rosehip, rosemary and sunflower. Fruit infusions include almond, avocado, blueberry, cocoa, coconut, cranberry, goji, grapeseed, mango, raspberry, shea, squalane, and strawberry.
What’s the process like as you develop something from just an idea in your head into an actual beauty product that you can sell?
I like to jot down ideas as they come to me and that often happens in the bathroom. I prefer my entire body care regimen to happen in the bathroom because I’m always rushing around, so I’ll think: ‘how can I create a multi-tasking product that works either in the shower or just outside the shower?’ I’ll then run the idea by Brandon and my lab to see how feasible it is. We aim to make sure the new product adds to our collection in a way that makes sense. It’s so tempting to create a bazillion products, but we’re pretty firm on our decision about quality vs. quantity. If it sounds like a go, I’ll start to look for components, size out the product, and play with names and fragrances. The longest part of this process is the sample testing. We test extensively between us and with friends and family to make sure we get it just right.
What is your personal beauty/skincare regime? What are your essentials?
My daily skincare regime can be summarized in five words: consistent cleansing, exfoliation, and moisture. I swear by our SRSLY Buffed Dry Brush to slough off dry scaly skin pre-shower and help with ingrown hairs post-wax. I use shower mitts in the shower to provide an extra hit of gentle exfoliation. Then I follow up with either our Velvet Drops Daily Botanical Body Lotion with a few drops of our Velvet Blonde Emollient Body Oil mixed in. Brandon uses the oil in his beard. If I’m showering at night, I use the Velvet Blonde Emollient Body Oil alone because it absorbs so quickly and is really lightweight. I get so many compliments on how soft my skin is, but it’s not rocket-science; it’s consistency with your regiment!
In what ways is this line specifically catered towards Canadian women? I believe one of the benefits is that it helps skin survive in the cold, is that right?
1’Lux Beauty is a Canadian brand and our definition of good body care encompasses not only helping skin survive, but also thrive in harsh weather conditions. My move to Edmonton six years ago meant I had to radically change and up my usage of body care products. Everything on my body was cracking and chapping! 1’Lux Beauty is meant to be a simple collection of intensely nourishing, thoughtful bath and body care.
What have been some of the challenges of running your own business? Have there been any roadblocks, and if so, how did you move past them?
In some ways, I’m an impatient person, especially if I see the end product or service clearly in my mind and know what I’m working towards. I want everything done yesterday! I remind myself often that the joy is actually in the process, not in the destination. Running a product-based business is also very cash-intensive; we are constantly juggling inventory needs with orders and frequently feel like we’re coming up short. There are many aspects of the business that we outsource and coordinating the outputs from our various partners can be difficult and nerve-racking.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day is checking in with Brandon on new orders received. We are active on social media and spend time monitoring our accounts and responding to queries. We have a fabulous PR team and work closely with them on assignments, etc. The best part of this stage of the business is the utter amazement of wins at so early a stage, like our Velvet Drops Daily Botanical Body Lotion winning a 2019 SELF Healthy Beauty Award!
What is your advice to other women who want to start their own business in the beauty industry?
Educate yourself as much as possible! Attend beauty trade shows, find online courses on how to create and launch beauty products, join Facebook groups focused specifically on this topic, etc. There’s a ton of resources out there for beauty entrepreneurs.
Who do you look to for beauty inspiration?
My staff at Buff Wax Spot! They’re estheticians from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. Many of them have their MUA designations so I get lots of ideas and pro tips from them.
Let’s talk about the green aspect of your beauty brand. Why was this a priority for you personally?
I’m very health-conscious and have learned over the years how proactive one must be in searching for good-quality products. My move to Alberta precipitated a dramatic increase in product usage. I started really looking at all the products I was buying and was shocked to see that nearly all the brands I had been using were the fast food equivalent of beauty products – cheap, toxic, and damaging! I don’t think I ever really knew what healthy skin looked or felt like. Be diligent with what you buy because you should never assume that what you purchase in-store or online is good for you. Read the ingredients, look to see what certifications are present, etc. Your health is your greatest gift; good sleep, good food, good exercise, a clean environment and good products nurture your physical temple.
What’s next for you?
We’d like to begin exploring bringing on more investments into the business so we can expand our lines. We are working with more retailers which gets us so excited; we love supporting local businesses and take pride in being supportive retail partners.