"Our faces are so intrinsic to who we are as women," says Celeste Lee of Caire Beauty, yet the skincare sector and advertisers rarely talk about how hormone-related aging impacts skin. After years in the beauty and wellness sector and countless questions from their clients and friends, Celeste and her co-founder Lorrie King, decided to address how grown up women think about skincare. Their company, Caire Beauty, provides a growing line of products that help women over 35 keep healthy skin well into their later years.
TheWMarketplace caught up with Lorrie and Celeste at the Conscious Beauty Collective to ask them more about their business and why it is so important to take care of your skin.
And we are excited to let you know that Caire Beauty's skincare line is also available on TheWMarketplace. Read Lorrie and Celeste's story and shop women-owned!
Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?
We started our business because we saw that something was fundamentally missing or even suppressed. The lightbulb went off in our 40s. Lorrie and I had both already worked in every sector of beauty & wellness for over 15 years each and friends who used to ask us what fragrance to use were suddenly asking us A LOT: What should I do about underage bags or circles? The questions about eyes came up all the time. One day, Lorrie said, why is it we're always testing & recommending different concealers? What can we do to improve the skin around the eyes?
So we started interviewing doctors, scientists and skin experts. And what we discovered was so fundamental, which is that sex hormones -- estrogen most importantly, but all of it really -- directly influence and are necessary to daily skin cell generation. Then we find out that hormone decline actually starts for everyone around 30, but for women, the rate of decline has a vastly different trajectory than it has for men. Skin cell generation capability declines at 1% per year in our 30s and then doubles around 40. And women get another big slowdown hit at 50. Our society, even our doctors, are youth centric; menopause isn't something we learn about or get educated on. It's a flaw in society, to be honest.
Certainly the skincare sector doesn't talk about it. The "tradition" is to sell as much as you can to as many people as you can so skincare, whether at drugstore or luxury, is one-size-fits-all. We spent years with our science partners working on solutions and answers that would actually help restore the activity of what we call GROWN UP SKIN. We make consciously healthy and age-specific skincare that directly delays and fights the skin aging signs caused by INTERNAL aging. Sags & bags, lines & wrinkles, redness, dullness, adult acne, uneven skin tone and of course, dryness.
Most people just think dryness comes with getting older and that's true but women over 40 should know that the vast majority of skincare provides largely superficial moisture and doesn't do anything for the strength, structure and richness of the internal skin layers. What happens inside is what you'll see outside eventually. We take supplements for hair and bones and exercise our muscles but women don't know that they can improve how they will look not only right now but in a month's time, a year's time and ten year's time because aging is cumulative and how you manage skin today impacts how you will look & feel tomorrow.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?
I wish we had known how challenging it would be to talk to women about peri-menopause and menopausal aging. There is a very deep stigma associated with it. Even the Facebooks and Googles of the world don't "like" you to use the word "menopause." It's made it challenging for us to explain to women why Caire is so different and how it is so good for grown up women's midlife skin.
What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning your own business?
Almost every day, we get extraordinary and very honest letters from women whose skin we've helped improve. People who've resolved rosacea, redness, adult acne...women who are starting to get compliments on their skin again...women who simply feel better about themselves because their skin is glowing or has more youthful bounce. It is very humbling, and at the same time, so wonderful. It keeps us going!
How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?
We've been working on our Hormone Defying Science for four years and we launched our initial Defiance Science Duo - a Serum & Mask set at the beginning of 2021 - right in the middle of the Covid era! We thought we were going to launch four products last year, and because of Covid it really wasn't possible, but this year we're on track to start building out a fuller skincare regimen for midlife women.
What communities have been important for you as you grew/developed your business?
Both Lorrie and I are Wharton girls, I was there as an undergraduate, and she went to business school there, and we met thru a mutual friend afterwards. There has been a group of Wharton alums who are supporting our startup, offering advice and some pre-seed funding, and we're so grateful.
The clean beauty community is our other superpower community. Amy Liu, founder of Tower 28 cosmetics has been wonderful - she's also the creator of an annual bootcamp called Clean Beauty Summer School that we were in last summer. This led us to the entire Conscious Beauty Collective group, led by Lynn & Kristyn at Love Masami. The future, in our minds, has to be clean, and more and more brands are starting with that philosophy at the heart of their identities. And what we've found is that this community is generous too -- supportive and kind in helping other like-minded clean brands learn and grow.
I would be remiss if I didn't call out our brand ambassador - Carla Hall, the Chef, Actress & Cookbook Author who was at Howard University with Lorrie. She was one of our first product testers and was the first to tell us that our Defiance Science duo was truly worthwhile. She's had adult acne for ages; plus she's on set wearing tons of makeup and flying all the time, so her telling her community and her makeup artists that our Triple Lift Molecule Mask not only cleared her acne but also makes skin baby soft and smooth has been a real vote of confidence.
Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
Oh that's so hard! There's so much to learn but perhaps the hardest part is, simply put, just getting started. You have to commit a full weekend or week or whatever it is and figure out in a two page clearly written summary what you want to do, why you want to do it, and who or what will use your idea, product or service. Then articulate three reasons why your idea will fly, meaning what makes you special. And if it's a commercial enterprise, you need to have a plan as to how and where you will sell it, whatever it is. I would add turn off the cell phone, give it to a friend who will keep it away from you and focus on creating this document. Because if you do it right, it can jumpstart your future!
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Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.