Inspired by the effects of autophagy, the body’s natural way of recycling damaged proteins into a fresh energy, the triathlete-developed brand HERB + FLORA offers clean beauty that mimics the anti-aging effects exercise has on skin, hair, and nails. This skin fitness brand offers clinically proven products that promote healthy, glowing skin from the inside out and outside in with their cell-protecting ingestible, copper thread pillowcase and topicals that are infused with the brand’s very own Exercise Mimic Youth™ Complex, which is a ground-breaking combination of actives with naturally derived ingredients.
HERB + FLORA holds itself to the highest standards of sustainability and ethical business practices. The company strives to make efficient use of natural resources and minimize the environmental impact of its activities and products. HERB + FLORA aims to drive sustainability through its operations and those of its suppliers. Most of the company’s product packaging is recyclable, refillable, or made of recycled material.
A Versatile Leader with Great Work Experience
Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora is the Founder of HERB + FLORA and this is her second experience as an entrepreneur. Formerly, she was the Founder and CEO of iluminage, inc., which is a beauty tech company funded by Unilever Ventures. Marie has spent her entire career in the luxury beauty industry and her experience spans from start-up creation to general management, global marketing, and product development for a diversified array of generalist, designer, and natural brands. She is a former L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, and Coty executive, where she also has had the honor to be the Stewart of iconic brands such as Kiehl’s, Philosophy, Estée Lauder, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Helena Rubinstein, and Ralph Lauren Beauty in different capacities throughout her career. She always says that working with brands that hold such strong and inspiring founding figures is what has prepared her to become a brand founder herself. By channeling these exceptional women and men, Marie has learned what makes a brand vision unique and lasting.
Learning Lessons from Real-Life Changes and Market Challenges
As Marie-Pierre often says, she has had some incredible mentors who took her under their wing and paved the way for her. They taught her when to rely on analytics and guided her to trust her instinct as a marketer and as a branding and product expert. Successes and failures shaped her journey as well, with the latter coming ahead as the best teacher if not the most enjoyable of experiences. And finally, several global crises, whether it was the uncertainty of an economic downturn or a global pandemic, mandate her to develop resilience and learn to pivot.
The Tenets of Success: Minimizing Environmental Footprint at the Forefront
Talking about how the journey was not a cakewalk, Marie mentions that one of the key objectives at the onset of the HERB + FLORA journey proved to be impossible to achieve for a self-funded beauty start-up and that was very disappointing.
“Our dream was to launch the brand with product packaging made from ocean plastic. However, we were prevented from doing so because of Minimum Order Quantities, costs, and delays linked to this type of packaging,” says Marie. Since then, she has spoken to other beauty start-up founders who had similar dreams and challenges. To satisfy the desire to do the right thing and minimize environmental footprint, Marie and her team pivoted and decided to make bottles of their topicals refillable and used 100% recycled board for their cartons which were teamed up with Terracycle to ensure their customers could fully recycle their empties and donate to 4ocean’s Pound+ Program to help them pull the plastic out of the oceans.
‘Passion and Vision to Transform’ at the Heart of Entrepreneurship
In Marie’s words, entrepreneurs should possess a passion for their business so powerful that it will convince everyone who comes in contact with them; the capacity to keep going no matter what happens and a very high level of tolerance for risk-taking whether it is financial, professional or even personal. She adds that entrepreneurs must understand the need to do things differently and to reinvent the category, the desire to positively impact the lives of their customers and inspire them, where she pinpoints that the capacity to identify and surround themselves with the right people whose skills are complementary to theirs results in a very high level of energy and daily self-motivation.
The Fusion of Beauty and Exercise
Marie expresses that the holistic approach to skincare is science-based and unique. She feels delighted to have had the great privilege to partner with Dr.Mark Tarnopolsky and his team of researchers at McMaster University in Toronto who clinically demonstrated that exercise has certain anti-aging effects on the skin. “We are the first and only brand to be able to bring together beauty and sport by mimicking these anti-aging effects with our skin fit regimen of topicals + ingestible + pillowcase. Our Exercise Mimic Youth Complex unlocks the life energy of the skin and reveals an after-exercise glow while minimizing signs of aging,” opines Marie.
Introducing New Global Wellness for a Better Future in Beauty Industry
Marie claims that she can predict how the beauty industry will become more and more holistic and integrated in the future. The industry is currently at the heart of a “restorative living” trend, inspiring the soul while treating the skin and protecting the environment. “Clean beauty, nutrition, physical exercise, mental health, and sustainability are all integral parts of a global wellness equilibrium that touch our lives as well as the environment that surrounds us,” articulates Marie. She believes that this is a gender and age-neutral dynamic and it will only become more center-stage in the coming months and years. In this context she observes HERB + FLORA playing a major role in defining this new global wellness category and bringing its growing number of customers the products they need to maintain their balance and improve their life journey.
Be Positive and Conquer Your Fears, Advice for Women Leaders
Marie’s advice for new women entrepreneurs is to never stop dreaming. “People tend to spend more time telling us why we can’t do the things we have envisioned rather than supporting our vision and helping us find solutions when we need them,” says Marie. She suggests that future entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people whose positive energy shall carry and give them the confidence to push their boundaries and move forward.
“Conquer your fears and do not let doubt interfere or slow you down. And finally, make peace with who you are and know what you don’t know. We all have strengths and weaknesses and need to find partners who keep us honest and have complementary skills to ours,” concludes Marie.