Beauty is the business – and yes it is a HUGE business. Companies spend loads of money each year on advertising, marketing, and branding to convince us to buy specific products that will do wonders for our skin….or so they say. But do they really work and are they good for our skin? Not all are, which is why we readers are taking a look at an amazing store in Uptown Waterloo called The Truth Beauty Company where all the products really are good for your skin. This lovely lady takes the guess work out of shopping, providing products that are natural, clean, organic and free of parabens. As a long-time lover of all things natural, I can say without a doubt I will be shopping here on a regular basis.
Small business owner, environmentalist, mother of twins and yogi, this lady sure knows how to juggle. And she does so in style! With an eye for pretty packaging and picking effective products, she has certainly brought a gem to our community.
Read on for our interview:
So I’ve been using natural skincare products for a while. I would buy them at Holistic Nutrition. That was literally the only place I could find natural products. I was so happy to hear about your store opening up here.
That’s one of the reasons I opened the shop. When I moved back here from Toronto, I would still be buying my products at health food stores. They were clean but they weren’t working like I wanted them to work.
Plus you’re still shopping at a health food store which isn’t the nicest environment to shop beauty. I mean when half the store is vitamins and only a corner is beauty, there isn’t much selection. I’m in love with your store! The products are displayed beautifully!
All I do is beauty here and I would like to bring in more products… it’s just growing very organically. I mean when you’re a small business owner and you go into a bank it’s sort of impossible to start because the banks don’t really finance that, but for all small businesses if you have a passion for what you’re doing, you make it happen. You just need to roll with it. I mean a few years ago… and even last year I hardly had any of these brands here in the store. The selection of skincare was much less than it is now. People are seeking these types products.
They are. You’re right. I started to realize just how many toxins I was putting on my face and skin on a regular basis. Even those so called “natural” products had hidden ingredients which weren’t really good for you at all and I just worried in the long-run how that would affect me.
I think that’s the biggest thing people may not realize that these effects are long-term. I liken it to cigarette smoking. If you smoke a cigarette you’re going to be fine for the 5 years that you do, but it’s not until you’re 50 or 60 that you may end up with some kind of cancer. The effects are slow to manifest and really damaging.
I wonder what kind of research is out there on this kind of stuff. I haven’t really heard much on the long-term effects of these products.
There are quite a few studies out there and publications and books. Have you ever read Slow Death by Rubber Duck? I think that’s why were slowly seeing parabens being removed because there are actually published reports where parabens have been found intact in breast cancer tissue growth.
Wow! Oh my gosh!
And so many beauty products have parabens in them!
Well it’s a preservative so these major companies like L’Oreal or Estee Lauder use them to prolong the shelf life and their distribution. It is a lot more difficult to formulate a plant-based preservative…not only a lot more difficult but a lot more expensive. So for that reason they don’t do it. It’s not an excuse but a business decision.
It’s interesting too that different countries have different restrictions on what can and can’t be in beauty products. I know Europe is a lot more strict that here and in the States. People love a good deal.
Yes and that’s something I’ve had to be very conscious of since I’ve been open, especially because of the students. I want to be mindful of them and make space for them. So I try to stock products that are as local as possible to keep the price point fairly low. For example the brands I get from Toronto they are decently priced. Unfortunately with the American dollar right now it’s really not so great. But American products are still a much better value than if I were to bring in clean stuff from New Zealand or Australia. Amazing things are coming from there it’s just by the time you tack on duties, taxes, shipping its outrageous and cost-prohibitive. I want the skincare to be for everybody right? It’s not a luxury. I want it to be accessible.
That’s awesome! So did you grow up here in Waterloo Region?
I’m from here. I left Waterloo when I was 18. I went to U of T and spent 10 years living in Toronto. Then I lived in Brazil for a little bit and when I was having my children I came back here because it’s green, it’s close to my mother who still lives here. I have twins and I don’t really know how you would raise twins in Toronto. I remember going back to Toronto to visit girlfriends and I’d have my double stroller…hardly any stations have elevators so what do you do to get around? So I came back here to raise my daughters and when they were old enough for me to go back to work I knew I didn’t want to work a typical job again.
Oh ya! It must be so nice to do your own thing. So why did you decide to open the store?
I knew there was a need for a store like this in the city because I needed it and I assumed I wasn’t the only one and it turns out that was true. I’m not the only one haha! There’s actually quite a demand for it.
Haha. Did you use to work in the beauty industry when you were in Toronto?
No. In Toronto I was working at a law firm… that’s what I had actually intended to do. That’s why I went to university and afterwards I was going to go to law school but I decided not to because I worked with lawyers. I just realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I’ve always been very organic. In Toronto it was easy to buy fresh produce on your way home work and support independent bakeries, that’s just always something I’ve valued. So I wanted to make a little bit of that here. This is my home so I just wanted to foster that for our community as well.
Amazing! I value those things too hence the blog. So what do you think the lifestyle is like around here?
When you look at who is living here… they’re young. They’re young because they go to the universities or they’re young professionals who are working for these tech companies and they like sort of gentrification and being central and shopping local. That’s just sort of the lifestyle I think we’re going for. I think it’s a hot time to be in Waterloo. The proximity to Toronto, all the innovation, the tech. Lots of young entrepreneurs. I think we’re going to see a lot of growth in the next few years and I think there are a lot of holes to be filled so it’s an exciting time for people who want to do their own business.
Well I love to shop local so I’m glad there are becoming more options to find amazing things here. I think its great being able to meet the people who actually own the store.
That’s the best part right? You get the person who cares. They’re going to give you the best recommendations because they want you to come back. So much goes into it. I know how thoughtful one needs to be to own a store just in terms of merchandising, customer interaction and in choosing the products they stock or bring in. You really do factor in everything. I love it!
What’s the best part of your day?
Oh totally the shopping!
I don’t get to keep all the products obviously that I shop for but it’s kind of like Christmas when the boxes come in.
And the packages are so cute here!
So cute! I certainly love being here. The space itself is beautiful I think. It smells wonderful and like I said shopping is really fun. I also really enjoy the customer interaction. It’s never instantaneous but I will make good recommendations and then maybe get a follow-up email or comment on my Facebook page or the customer will come back in and tell me I’ve completely transformed their skin…that’s so amazing to me. It’s such a good feeling!
And even bigger that….and I guess maybe it’s only something I see because I know my numbers but at the end of the year I’ll see that I’ve sold X amount of dollars and I think to myself well I’ve just eliminated this massive amount of dollars’ worth of chemicals from entering our waterways. To me, as an environmentalist, that is the one thing that makes me the happiest. Because anything with antibacterial triclosan, that’s an ingredient that’s biocumulative and persistant and it’s all the way up to the North Pole and in polar bears and stuff. And so if I know I’m eliminating that on sort of a large scale then that’s something I feel really really good about.
Wow! And you know what the more people learn about the harm of these ingredients the more people who are going to come to the store right? And change their purchasing behaviours. What I love about natural products is that most of the time you can return the product bottles to the store and they will reuse them.
Totally. There’s actually a company out of New York, they do cleaning products, but they are sort of on my radar to get their stuff in and the bottles are refillable. But first things first right? I want to get more makeup. Women just love makeup so if I can offer them clean makeup then that’s what I want to do. I love the brand I stock (Sappho) but there are a few more I would like to bring in.
Well it just takes times right? You’re bringing in facials soon so that’s a step!
Oh yes. I think that will help with the brand awareness because then you will get to actually feel the products on your skin, smell them and see almost the instantaneous results. Then you may be more inclined to bring those products home with you. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.
So when did you open the store?
So technically I opened here last February. But I had been operating 2 years prior at The Shops in Waterloo Town Square. However I was operating under a different name, Olivier. I was acting as a licensee for one of the lines I stock. I just found that location didn’t work for me. I was on Willis Way sort of off King Street. The name Olivier was sort of “what does she sell,” that wasn’t clear. I should have also been exclusive to the brand which would never work. I think women like options, especially different price points, and women’s skin care needs are different. The Olivier line wasn’t complete enough. They don’t really do hair care or hand creams so I really needed to diversify. When I left there it just made sense to rebrand as my own company. And it was seamless. I closed there and I opened here a day later.
Wow! That’s quick! How did you think of the name for the company?
I sort of played with the idea of true beauty. I knew I wanted something along those lines. I worked with a graphic designer out of Toronto and he knew the look I was going for was rustic and organic. He thought it would be better if we threw the word company on it so we got The Truth Beauty Company. I think the designer has just done a wonderful job of embodying what I want. I sent him links to my favourite sites, and pictures of outfits I might like. He came up with 2 concept boards which were both perfect… but they almost needed to be blended together. He came up with this and I love it!
Well he definitely did a fantastic job! So how do you decide which brands to offer?
There are a bunch of protocols I follow. First of all it has to be clean and then the branding and packaging is important. For me, that’s important because if we’re going to have it sitting on our shelves for 6 months, it should look pretty. It’s a little bit tricky because not everyone’s taste is my taste so when shopping I try to go with an open mind. Even before the packaging, I think it efficacy is important – it has to work. The product has to do what it’s supposed to do. If it doesn’t you’re not going to want to use it so I need to stand behind the products I’m selling. They need to be quality, and they need to give you the colour and sort of diversity get shopping at The Bay or Sephora. Those are the three things I focus on.
Can you give me a few words to describe your store?
I would say organic, niche, effective, luxurious, natural. All of those things matter to me so I try to ensure they are embodied in everything and every product.
Who would you say is the target market for the store? What kind of person would shop here?
So my gravatar is probably someone mid 30’s , mom, has kids, kind of concerned about aging and takes care of herself…she’s a little bit fashionable but she’s a little bit organic. So she might drink some wheatgrass and have some Kombucha in the fridge and go to yoga, but at the same time she balances that out with wine and you know being a mom. Because moms need wine. Trust me hahaha. So that’s sort of my person.
But beyond that I am acutely aware that there are students in this region right. So I’m making sure that I have products that are available for them too.
Sounds great! Do you get a lot of students that come into the store then?
I do. Laurier has been an amazing client for me. There is a group there that does spa days for students and they exclusively buy their products from me. I think it’s great because it’s the generation that is coming so they really get to see how these products work and understand their value. So I am really grateful for their support and wanting to come back.
What are some of your favourite places in the city?
So I’m really big on things that are independently owned. I really love that. So Jane Bond, I’ve been going there since I was 15. Death Valley’s Little Brother which is another great spot. I love Patina Vintage, obviously I get first pick on everything but I think it’s really really great. Public which is a new restaurant I love. I’m excited to visit Ambrosia Pastry, I love their chocolates, so yumm!. Gloss is an amazing store for niche pieces or fun pieces. SASS when the budget allows. Thrive Juice Bar is great and Vincenzos, you know the little shops. I live in North Waterloo and I know there are amazing places in Kitchener…it’s just a bit of a trek with twin 5 year olds haha.
You know being a business owner is crazy. You wear so many different hats and it’s nonstop all day every day. For my daughter’s sake….I really believe in what I’m doing, I know it’s great for them. Not just in terms of the environmental impact but also in terms of their self-image. I know I sell beauty products but I’m also about being as natural as possible and just enhancing your natural beauty. A lot of that comes from the inside out. Not only emotionally and spiritually but also dietary. So it’s thinking about things holistically, understanding that and valuing that. It’s enhancing your best features. You must be acutely aware of your body. It’s knowing you can dress it to make everything perfect and then you feel so good about yourself.
That’s exactly how I feel! It helps so much with self-confidence. You feel like you can go out and take on the world. Do you have any favourite brands in the store?
I do love the makeup brand I stock Sappho. I think it’s a great brand. My particular favourite skincare line I stock is Fig and Yarrow. I think her formulations are really complex but really really clean. I think it’s fabulous and it’s effective. I can honestly say I do love everything in the store. I think the right product for the right individual is perfect so I do stand behind all the lines. I have tried to try them all so I can give recommendations or provide more information on the products. I have my favourites, like everyone should right?
Yes. Everyone has different skin and needs. So just to finish us off, do you have beauty tips for the readers?
Eat well. That’s the biggest one. Eat clean, unprocessed food. A lot of skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, acne, dry skin, a lot of that is related to our diet. So it’s understanding that and understanding that our skin is a complex organ and that what you’re putting on the inside is going to come out on the outside. So I think if we get that piece then the products we buy will just enhance and work with the other system.If the other system (body) is working well, then you will just glow even more.
I learned so much from Jennifer about the importance of natural skin care and taking care of your body. The store is absolutely stunning, a must visit readers. I know I loved the store, but I wasn’t the only one! See this video from beauty blogger Essie Button, born in Waterloo Region, now living in the London, England, as she shops with her mom in Waterloo Region. The Artisan Zone is featured as well as The Truth Beauty Company and Jennifer!