Interview by Shirley Lau
From humble beginnings in her own kitchen to pushing her products on shelves at Patricia Field and Henri Bendels, Corene Hejl-Edgeworth makes pursuing a passion and finding success look easy. As the founder of all-natural skincare line feedmyskin, Corene chats about the process of turning an innovative idea of frozen products (think scrubs and aloe treatments) into a reality to the best marketing tactics.
Minted: When did you launch feedmyskin?
Corene: Feedmyskin was launched in April of 2010. I had been playing around with the idea in my head for about four months when I got a call from the legendary Patricia Field store—my first big break. When I got that call, all I had was an idea and I ran with it.
I spent 43 days working non-stop to create feedmyskin. I had to develop a product line, create labels, a website, a logo … everything. It was a crazy two months, but I did it and my efforts paid off—feedmyskin debuted on April 25, 2010 at Patricia Field. That phone call and showcase opened the door at Henri Bendels and the first dollar I ever made was on 5th Avenus. Things were off to an amazing start.
Minted: What spurred you to create not only a skincare line, but one that uses frozen products and uses organic ingredients?
Corene: Seven years ago, my parents and I opened The Body & Bath Café, a small shop in Pawleys Island, South Carolina where we make all of the products [for feedmyskin]. The shop is filled with items that are free of parabens, sulfates and icky ingredients. I’ve always been one to dream big and even though the store was doing well, I wanted more. During a trip to Cabo San Lucas I had experienced the most amazing spa treatment—a fresh mango, honey and sugar body scrub. My skin had that J. Lo glow … and it only set me back $180 dollars, not something I could afford on a regular basis.
As soon as I got home I started working on trying to recreate that experience. The most difficult part was cleaning out the food processor—this isn’t rocket science. I packed some up in a tub and left it in the fridge at work with a note asking my mom to give it a try. A few days later I got a call from her telling me that this was the “best thing I had ever made.” Those words told me that I had a winner—my mom is my biggest fan, but also my toughest critic. It hadn’t occurred to me to chill the scrub because it would make it work better. I had just thrown it in the fridge because it had fresh fruit in it. I didn’t come up with this concept—it found me.
Minted: What are the benefits of using frozen skincare products versus what readers may typically find in stores?
Corene: I know frozen skincare sounds a little weird, but all you have to do is give it a try to understand how cool it really is. Feedmyskin products were created to be an accompaniment to your regular skin care routine; to provide women with spa-quality treatments that won’t break the bank.
Freezing our products means we don’t have to use any preservatives, so we are 100% natural. It also means we can take advantage of all mother nature has to offer. Think about all the recipes you see in beauty magazines that call for fruits, vegetables, yogurt, etc. Fresh is best! Using chilly products really enhances the user experience—your skin reacts to temperature.
Minted: What was it like going from creating your company in your kitchen to being approached by big names like Victoria’s Secret and Procter & Gamble? Did any partnerships or projects come of it?
Corene: Scary. I am just one woman who has created all of this on my own, with zero business experience. In the beginning I was always worried that I was going to make a fool out of myself, but I got over that. There was a reason I had been so fortunate to have names like Patricia Field, Henri Bendel and Lucky magazine for street cred. It wasn’t because I had connections—I knew nobody. It’s because the products are exceptional.
Even though I had never been in a board room in my life, I had something no one in those chairs did—an amazing idea and the courage to do something about it.
So far my meetings have just been meetings. It seems that even though they love my products, the profit margin is incredible and the concept is great, [but] the idea of a 3-foot cubic display freezer is just a little too revolutionary. We have some really big opportunities on the table right now and we are excited to see what happens.
Minted: For companies with tangible products like yours, what have been effective marketing avenues for you to get your product in front of as many eyes as possible?
Corene: The best communication vehicles for me have been based in PR. I’ve found that the most effective press releases and media pitches have been the ones where I just tell my story and let the products speak for themselves, honestly. That’s what has garnered the most attention from both media and buyers. I approach my marketing efforts the exact same way I approached the making of feedmyskin—no fillers, no big beauty lingo, no hype and definitely no preservatives; just all-natural in everything I do. There’s something extra cool and transparent about a person and a product that can just be who and what they are and that’s the story that seems to resonate best with media, buyers, beauty execs, my Twitter followers or my friends on Facebook.
Minted: Describe a typical day in the life of being a working mother.
Corene: I think for any working mom there is no such thing as a typical day. Every day presents its own unique set of challenges and the key is to be flexible and multi-task. I fit my work into my life, not the other way around. I have tried to find a balance between building my company and having a life. If that means I am having a conference call while cooking dinner and helping with homework, so be it.
Having four kids around when it comes time to label 500 Scrub in a Tubs is a total time saver, and they love to be my product testers. Feedmyskin is truly a family affair.
If you are thinking about starting your own business, go for it. The best advice I can give you is to be realistic—dream big, start small. Money is always a concern so make sure you have a plan, but the most important investment to consider is your time. It’s the most valuable asset we have and it’s one you are never going to get back. Make the most of it.
Minted: If you could have one celebrity or well-known person love and rave about your products, who would it be?
Corene: For sure Bethenny Frankel. I happen to think she is a very cool woman—a big-dreaming, boot strapping entrepreneur just like me. Before she was a star she was a regular person, living on a budget and struggling to make her dreams come true. I feel like I’ve experienced some of the same challenges and heartbreaks. It inspires me to know that hard work, determination and, yes, an attitude will get you where you dream of going. There were lots of Negative Nellies who told her Skinnygirl Margarita was never going to happen, who didn’t have the insight to comprehend the enormity of the concept she was pitching. No matter how bizarre or unconventional a product may seem, if it makes us feel and look more beautiful, we are going to buy it. If it works, we are going to tell all our girlfriends and before you know, half the free world is buzzing about it.
(And Bethenny, if you’re reading this, I’d love to send you a box of goodies!)