We're so happy to have you in our Spotlight this month. You give us a fresh perspective to all-natural beauty by growing up outside the United States. Please tell us about your background and how you first became interested in the field of all-natural beauty (and health), and why you started your company, Alpha Skin Care (Alpha Skin Care has since been changed to 'Jenulence').
I was born in the Ukraine. Both my parents were medical doctors and from the beginning of my life I was made aware of the importance of health issues. Back in the days of the Soviet Union consumer products were almost entirely unavailable. People often relied on folk remedies and tradition relating to medicine and self care products. I was always interested in herbal and old-fashioned recipes for skin care, health care and cooking (which are all connected). For example we used to treat colds and sinusitis with chamomile flower herbal inhalations and homemade nose drops made from fresh beet juice and honey.
At first making my own skincare became a hobby, and later what started as reading became a serious study.
When I arrived in America 14 years ago I was delighted if a bit overwhelmed at the abundance of available information and the variety of consumer products. At the same time I got distressed and lost in the huge lists of unknown ingredients, found in conventional health and skincare products. I always understood that our skin is a living, breathing, detoxifying organ. It absorbs a big portion of what we put on it.
I started making various products on my own for myself and my children and eventually for my friends. I made tooth and body powders, creams, salves and finally lotions. I even made my own soap. At the beginning I made lots of mistakes and quite a few batches of my creations went down the toilet. But after experimenting I managed to create a number of high quality products, which brought a lot of very positive feedback from everybody who used them. Eventually I decided to open my own company and make my products that are free of toxins and preservatives commercially available on the Internet. My whole family helps me with my business and everybody makes their contribution in their own way. My younger son who is 19 and still lives with us helps me the most by taking most of the photographs of my products, with web design and shipping.
The company motto is: “ If you can’t put it in your mouth, don’t use it on your skin
How did you come up with the name for your company and what does it mean? (Now 'Jenulence')
I was looking for a short name that people could easily remember. The "Skin Care" part of the name speaks for itself. "Alpha" is the first letter of Greek alphabet. It is also means "The First", "Superior" or just "The Best". I wanted the name of my company to reflect this concept, because I believe that all-natural skincare is in fact the best and superior.
Please tell us about your line of products and how you feel that they are different than other products on the market.
My products are very different. All the products I make are handmade in small batches from fresh and natural ingredients and whenever possible I use organic or wild-crafted oils and herbs. I always carefully check with my suppliers about their sources of the ingredients and the methods of extraction. There are no synthetic or artificial ingredients, preservatives, petroleum products, talc powder or fragrance oils in my products. Almost all of my products are fortified with pure essential oils of therapeutic quality.
Also I have to say that every product I make came to life after research, study and experimentation. At the same time I look for simple combinations of ingredients that are proved to benefit health and beauty and are tested by time and experience. For example sea buckthorn seed and berry oils are famous folk skin remedies in Russia. I try to use these wonderful oils in my skin preparations.
What lessons have you learned about manufacturing a truly all-natural line of products that you didn't know before you began?
I learned a lot and am continuing to learn more every day. I never would have imagined how much study and research are involved in the creation of a fine product. Everything I make is in response to the individual order. There is nothing standing on my shelves waiting to be bought.
Moreover, I can’t have any of the raw ingredients sitting around for too long either. Everything must be fresh and has to go to the customer "straight out of the pot". This is a challenge in itself. It is very demanding to keep an inventory of ingredients that are fresh and in supply at the same time.
Really all-natural raw ingredients differ from supplier to supplier and from batch to batch and this can cause light changes in the finished product, which is not really a welcome result.
Before I started to sell my products commercially I really didn’t realize how much studying I had to do. I constantly read and research new and old books on aromatherapy, chemistry of oils and herbs, folk medicine, etc. I had to buy a few new bookshelves to accommodate my constantly expanding collection of books and articles. In order to get an up to date education in aromatherapy I am in the process of enrolling in the Aromatherapy Certification Study Program with the Mississauga School of Aromatherapy & Canadian Holistic Therapists Training school.
Since my business came into existence I discovered that all-natural manufacturing doesn’t really bring profit. I also wasn’t aware of the really strong competition.
I also learned something about myself. I didn’t suspect that I can enjoy doing something so full-heartedly.
What do you want the average consumer of beauty products to know about using all-natural beauty products that they probably don't know?
I wish that everyone who uses beauty products would use them conscientiously and read the labels. Some people buy a beauty product just because they see pretty packaging or a famous brand name. I would like to see more and more customers who are aware of the harmful effects on our health of toxic ingredients that are so abundant in the conventional skincare products. It is a pity that so many people forget, or maybe they just don’t know, that treating our bodies badly and abusing our skin with chemicals will eventually cause us ill health. However, I noticed that people who use all-natural beauty products are a very educated and inquiring crowd.
Customers who use all-natural beauty products should be aware that freshness is critical. Even the best things loose their potency over time. Therefore one cannot leave natural skincare on the shelf indefinitely and expect that it will last forever. An all-natural product doesn’t contain preservatives and customers should remember that.
What do you see for the future of all-natural beauty products?
There are more and more health food stores opening everywhere. Their shelves are lined with different all natural and not-so-natural beauty products. If consumer interest and the market is there – the products will follow. I think that the future of all-natural beauty products is one of continued growth.