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Photo Credit: Mario Kimball with his wife Takako


Posted by 04.06.14

Living in Japan and learning about the traditional Japanese healthy and conscious lifestyle inspired Mario Kimball to create Valia Skincare, a brand that combines natural topical ingredients and supplements to promote beauty. The line’s premise is that skincare is not just about what you put on your skin, it’s about living your best life. Valia products use alternative ingredients like enzymes and minimal chemical agents to reduce their environmental impact. Here, Mario tells Beauty in the Bag about his experience in Japan and his product philosophy.

The origin of Valia has a very interesting story beginning with you living in Japan. Where are you originally from and how did you come to live in Japan.

If you have a pleasant experience eating something you have never tasted before, your life will be lengthened by seventy five days. Better than a feast elsewhere is a meal at home of tea and rice. I remember in college, I had the opportunity to work with a classmate at her house, she was Asian. We were working on our college thesis together and her family offered me dinner. I had never had a home cooked Japanese meal before, the food was so different then what I usually eat on a daily basis. I felt a cleansing in my body, from that point, I was always interested in Asia.

I had an opportunity to work in Japan, so I moved there and was able to truly experience the culture. Their way of eating was totally healthy and their thinking was completely opposite to what I thought.

To make a long story short, I met a beautiful Japanese lady, who became my wife. We talked a lot about health, beauty, and fashion. The idea of Valia started developing through the stories she told me about her family; her grandparents were farmers. They had a love for everything natural and also I was taught the secret of their beauty and what they use to maintain their beauty. We wanted to incorporate these ideas into something we could share with people. We wanted to bring those ideas to the US through health and beauty so we created Valia.

We also collaborate with Marc Ching, our founding herbalist; he oversees all our supplements and helps carry out some of our skincare preparation.

What is the beauty philosophy behind Valia Skincare?

There is an aesthetic definition of beauty in terms of ideals and proportions that most people agree upon. We believe in subtle but significant improvement in each person’s unique appearance. Our Founding Herbalist Marc Chin incorporates this idea using ingredients from the mountains, the oceans, and the earth that are inspired from Japan.

Is Valia a natural or organic skincare line? How does it differ from other skincare lines in its category?

The plant and mineral substances used to make Valia skincare products are 100% natural and carefully chosen based on several factors, including effectiveness and ecological impact. Extra care is taken to ensure that each product supports your skin’s natural balance and function. Later this year, we will be extending our line of products to cover masks, body washes, eye creams, hand and foot creams, shampoos and conditioners, and also baby lotions and baby body washes, each made with the finest ingredients.

The difference between Valia and other brands is identified in our tagline: Beauty in Bloom. We believe in nurturing our bodies from the inside out as a lifestyle, and in developing natural skin care as well as supplements for total health, beautiful skin, and weight management. Our supplements are free from wheat, gluten, soy, synthetic colors, flavors and sugar.

Can the Valia 3-step regimen be used with more aggressive anti-aging products, like ones that contain retinol?

Retinol is a component of vitamin A and is known for its ability to dramatically improve the appearance of skin by smoothing away wrinkles, decreasing fine lines, even out rough spots, and bringing back a natural color and tone to the skin. Based on a person’s skin, if it is oily or dry, and the seaso, retinol can be used with the Valia regime. Layering the products can be helpful to ease dryness and using them once in the morning and at night before bed will better balance the skin.

How is your mission of sustainability represented in the range?

In order to ensure environmental sustainability, we strive to protect ecological systems, encourage economic development, and maintain community wellbeing.

Our products are inspired by traditional Japanese remedies that focus on holistic healing. We believe beautiful skin is created from the inside out. We carefully craft our formulas using these remedies and back them up with scientific research. As a result, our product development includes only the purest, plant-based ingredients and essential oils that promote radiant, youthful, and healthy skin. Our formulas are free from GMO ingredients, alcohol, artificial colors, fragrances, and animal by-products. We believe every person has the potential for naturally healthy, beautiful skin.

Our packaging is made with only low-impact recyclable materials. Our bottles are 100% recyclable and manufactured with an amber color to protect products from direct sunlight and extend their shelf life. Our boxes are made from environmental folding board that is FSC certified with 100% post-consumer fiber and free from chlorine. Packaging and labels are printed with vegetable-based ink.

We believe in the ethical treatment of animals and use only 100% natural, plant-based ingredients. Our products do not contain parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, phthalates, MEA/DEA/TEA (ammonia compounds), artificial colors, fillers, alcohol, or fragrances.

What’s next for Valia? What would you like to be doing in 5 years?

In the next few months, we’ll be extending our supplement line and will have 10 more natural health supplements. Later in the year, our skincare line will increase—caring for the body, face, and hair. We will also launch a baby line, mid to late 2015, which will increase our premium supplement line. We are hoping to open our first Valia store in late 2015/2016.

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Posted by 03.23.14

At the age of 40, Karen Behnke had built a very successful career as a fitness and wellness entrepreneur, but when she happily became pregnant with her first child, her eyes were opened anew. The combination of hormonal changes and the emergence of signs of aging drove her to seek healthy skincare solutions that delivered visible results. She was astounded to learn that, although the skin absorbs over 60% of what is placed on it, there were very few available healthy personal care products that worked well. Relying on her executive expertise, she set out to change the beauty industry and Juice Beauty, “a clinically validated yet authentically organic beauty” line was born and is now sold in over 20 countries, including Australia. Given the brand’s successful trajectory, Karen has big plans for Juice Beauty and claims that in five years it will be the leader in organic skincare and makeup.

Here Karen shares her insights into the organic beauty sector and her inspiration to create Juice Beauty.

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into the beauty business?

I have always been in the wellness industry, having built one of the first corporate wellness companies in the country, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child at age 40 that I began to experience hormonal changes and lines in my skin. I was hard pressed to find healthy skincare solutions that delivered visible results. I was astounded to learn that although the skin absorbs over 60% of what is placed on it, there were very few available healthy personal care products that worked well. So I set out to create Juice Beauty. We are an organic beauty solutions company, passionate about healthy lifestyles and organic products. Our products offer clinically validated yet authentically organic results, and they really work.

What is the philosophy of Juice Beauty? How does it differ from other cosmetic brands?

We go beyond “natural” and certainly beyond “conventional chemical.” Our formulations have an antioxidant and vitamin-rich organic juice base rather than water (which dilutes) or petroleum derivatives (which suffocate the skin and are often laced with harmful chemicals), combined with powerful, organic age defying and blemish clearing ingredients. They definitely deliver better results than conventional products. It’s led to breakthroughs like our Stem Cellular Collection, which is formulated with a blend of fruit stem cells and vitamin C infused into an organic, resveratrol-rich juice base, and our patented, bestselling, and award-winning, Green Apple Peel.

The category of organic beauty can be very confusing. What should a consumer look for to make sure her products are healthy and truly organic?

Everyone should look for products with the COPA seal; The California Organic Products Act is one of the most rigorous standards in the world. Having it shows that the brands buys the majority of its ingredients from USDA certified organic farmers. Any product that does not meet COPA requirements cannot legally be sold as “organic” in the State of California. Consumers should also look for the USDA seal (U.S. Department of Agriculture), which may be carried on products that have 95 to 98% total organic content excluding water. We are proud to say that we have both on our products.

Creating new products is a blend of artistry and technology. What has been the biggest challenge for getting the formulations you want?

Patience! It takes great patience to achieve the highest efficacy yet most pure products. It takes years and years of scientific trials.

Does Juice Beauty have a hero product? Why do you think it is so popular?

Without a doubt, Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel is our award-winning best seller, it is the most popular in our portfolio. We call this our ‘brighten, lighten, tighten’ wonder in a jar. It’s popular because you see instant results but also cumulative long term results. Our Green Apple Peel has shown beauty editors that organic products can work as well as or better than conventional chemical products.

What’s next for Juice Beauty? What would you like to be doing in five years.

Juice Beauty will be the leader in organic skincare and makeup. We just started in the makeup world but watch out…we have some fun innovation up our sleeves.

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Posted by 02.09.14

The love of classic eau de cologne brought together Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel in business and in life. The founders of Atelier Cologne, this husband and wife team is of Italian descent but grew up in France using and adoring traditional citrus-based colognes. Following separate professional paths in the fragrance industry, the two ultimately came together to establish Atelier Cologne, a fragrance brand and retailer dedicated to reinventing and celebrating the classic cologne composition. The results are astoundingly original, inspiring, and entirely wearable. Here Sylvie and Christophe share their fragrance story with Beauty in the Bag.

Atelier Cologne is founded on a great love of perfume and fragrance. Can you share with us an olfactive memory that epitomizes the power of scent?

Each scent of Atelier Cologne has a very nice story.

Orange Sanguine is probably the most appreciated story because it is the one that speaks to all of us: be with the people you love in a beautiful and sunny morning, nearby the beach (for us this is the Mediterranean sea but we let every client imagine where the scene actually takes place) and share a nice breakfast, full of blood oranges that make the air smell so delicious. And not only our clients love this story but when they actually discover the perfume, they have a great reaction to it because this is exactly what they had in their mind. Maybe this is why it is our best seller!

Another story, so different is the one of Oolang Infini: we like it because this story is about a writer actually facing difficulties in his life. Not all our stories are necessarily positive, they talk about life, the good and more difficult moments. But as in life, because this writer is taking the decision to change something in his life, he will actually over pass difficulty and become an even better writer. For that he decides to leave the city where he usually writes, for a more natural place, where he will have the time to meditate on his past, present, and future life. Like with Orange Sanguine, the perfume in the air is a key element that will help him to actually enjoy this moment of loneliness, peace, and tranquility: notes are oolang tea, tobacco flower, leather notes, gin, and jasmine, which are all perfumes coming from the inside of the house. Very naturally, all this atmosphere will little by little help him to “find his way back to the ink.”

We understand that classic cologne fragrances serve as inspiration for Cologne Atelier creations. What is a cologne exactly and why do you love it so much?

The original eau de cologne was created 300 years ago by an Italian perfumer established in Cologne, Germany. His fresh blend of citrus oils captured the memory of his homeland. It offered a revolutionary alternative to the heavy scents of the times and inspired a new way to wear personal fragrance.

Christophe and I have only worn “cologne” type of scents our entire life.

In the past, I found myself in the permanent search of different types of cologne, that would have different personalities and that would last on the skin. The idea grew naturally and organically from there. When I first met Christophe, we discovered that we had the same passion for the category and we were engaged in the same on-going search. Atelier Cologne was born a few years later and we created the Cologne Absolue—a cologne of character.

How do Cologne Atelier fragrances differ from classic colognes?

Atelier Cologne is the first Maison de Parfum dedicated entirely to Cologne, the legendary fragrance classic.

We gave birth to a new olfactive family—“Cologne Absolue,” which celebrates the elegance of citruses, the traditional ingredients of a cologne. For the first time, citruses are blended with the most precious raw materials in perfumery for perfectly balanced creations with outstanding lasting power thanks to very high concentrations of essential oils.

It is interesting that now more brands are launching eau de colognes. It reinforces the consumer education about the category.

Our concentrations of essential oils are much above the ones of traditional eau de cologne. We use between 15% and 20% while a typical eau de cologne tends to be less than 5%. From a concentration standpoint, our formulas compare to eau de parfum and pure perfume.

What is your creation process for developing a new fragrance? How do you become inspired?

Since the creation of Atelier Cologne, we have been working with three perfumers: Ralf Schwieger, Jérome Epinette and Cécile Krakower. For me, it was very important to work with Mane and Robertet, two family-owned companies based in Grasse since 1871 and 1850, respectively. Their craftsmanship and creativity is fuelled by their emphasis on natural essential oils.

When I first met Frédéric Jacques, with Mane at the time, and Lorène Broc from Robertet, they were both passionate about the concept of the brand. We immediately started working with their New York perfumers: Ralf and Cécile at Mane and Jérome at Robertet. All were challenged creatively and technically by the idea of re-inventing the cologne concept 300 years after the original one. Creating citrus-based scents with personality and lasting power was a fun and enriching process for all of us.

We constantly challenge ourselves to create our own interpretation of mythical essences of the perfume world.

For example, we blend familiar notes of vanilla, amber, rose, vetiver, and patchouli with fresh citruses to give them a new and unexpected personality.

Our secret: the combination of the finest natural materials with a very high concentration of essential oils.

We have used the best of the best ingredients, and in extremely high concentrations. The cost per kilo was never a discussion. We developed the scents the way we envisioned then, at the concentration that suited best the result we wanted to obtain with the most incredible raw materials.

Our rule: Both Christophe and I need to be in love with a scent to launch it!

Why do you think fragrance is so transportive?

Fragrances have always been very important in my life. My first olfactive memory is my mum taking me to a perfumery, and the salesperson giving me a miniature Eau de Cologne, Hermes (now called Eau d’orange Verte). I was probably seven or eight at the time. The scent was fresh and clean, and that has always been what a Sylvie scent smells like.

What’s next for Cologne Atelier? Where would you like to be in five years?

More boutiques!

In December 2012, we opened our first boutique in Paris, at 8 rue Saint-Florentin in the 1st arrondissement. Paris was the second city where we opened a workshop. In August 2011, we had opened our first store, in New York, at 247 Elizabeth Street, right in the heart of Nolita.

September 2013 marks the opening of Atelier Cologne’s third store in chic downtown Brooklyn and just this past December, we opened a new boutique in the trendy Marais district in Paris. More openings are planned in 2014 and for the next 20 years. Future store openings are planned, including: Shanghai, Dubai, andLos Angeles.

All Atelier Cologne boutiques are unique: they are furnished with industrial worktables, lamps, stools, and engraving machines sourced from vintage French and American factories.

These unique spaces set the stage for individual consultations. Clients can take time to discover the Colognes Absolues and their stories. The engraving workshop offers clients a unique experience to personalize the leather case of the perfume bottles by engraving your name, initials, or a special message on the leather case of your 30 ml travel spray. As you can see, we are very different from the competition as we offer a unique experience to all our customers.

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