Klean & Simple
While the beauty industry grows, it's easy to get confused by ingredients you can't pronounce and products that clutter up both your vanity and the environment. With the multitude of moisturizers, serums, mists, and more, it's important to become more conscience not just about the health of our skin, but our planet as well. As we take a clean break from beauty, there's a sustainable brand that provides a solution. Klei Beauty recently began, debuting a collection of simplistic skincare that features clay-based masks and scrubs. Based in Brooklyn, this brand is here to keep both you and the world clean, making face-time fresh and fun. Read more to see our interview with founder, Valerie Smith, as she discusses her process, philosophy, and how Klei Beauty is benefiting the planet.
Klei Beauty's small-batch approach allows for each product to be carefully composed of 100% all-natural ingredients. With coconut milk to soothe, essential oils to nourish, and fruit extracts to refresh, the uniquely organic blend of components help improve not just your skin's appearance but it's overall health. Each product is made with zero fillers and is highly concentrated, so you only need to combine a small amount with warm water. Once mixed, apply the paste to your face and reap in the benefits. The collection includes the Nourish mask, the Clarify mask, the Polish scrub, and the Smooth scrub. Whether your skin tends to be more dry or oily, there's a mask and scrub for your type.
TCBC: When did you begin developing your company?
SMITH: This past May, in 2017, though the majority of my products launched in October. The whole process is still so new to me, and it’s really enlightening and exciting. I feel like I’ve already learned so much in the past few months.
TCBC: What inspired you to start Klei Beauty?
SMITH: I’ve always loved to create beauty concoctions in my kitchen, and would often gift them to friends and family. I just finally decided to take the next step, and offer my creations for sale.
My products are inspired by this obsession that I had as a kid with my mom’s Dr. Hauschka clay mask. I loved the DIY aspect of it, and that’s the experience I want to give people when they buy a Klei product. Because the customer has to add water to activate my clay masks and scrubs, they’re able to customize it however they want. This also allows me to create a truly preservative-free product, and make it out of 100% natural ingredients. Clay is such a tricky ingredient once you add water – you either need to use it immediately, or add a massive amount of chemical preservatives if you don’t want any bacterial growth.
TCBC: What's behind your name?
SMITH: I wanted something that conveyed the down-to-earth nature of my brand, and just loved the way “clay” is spelled in Dutch. Some people have actually asked me if I am Dutch after seeing my brand name – who knows, part of me might be!
TCBC: Who is your brand geared towards?
SMITH: Everyone and anyone who loves their skin and loves the planet. In addition to only using natural ingredients, I want to make sure that I use the best and most-sustainable practices possible. I use glass to package my products whenever possible, and if plastic is needed, I make sure to use only plastic that is recyclable. Everything – from my packaging to the packing material – is all recyclable.
TCBC: What 3 words would you use to describe your brand and why?
SMITH: Down-to-earth – I refuse to make any bs claims about the benefits of my products, and I am committed to being open and real about everything that goes into each product.
Sustainable – I’m trying to use the most sustainable practices possible, and challenge myself to
always evolve and improve in order to reduce the carbon footprint of my products.
Concentrated – All of my products are made with the best ingredients possible, with zero fillers.
TCBC: How do you select the ingredients that are used in your products?
SMITH: Lots of research, and lots of trial and error. I test the products myself, and have my friends try them out before I make them available to the public.
TCBC: What is your background in the beauty industry and sustainability?
SMITH: I was first introduced to the beauty industry through my position as the head buyer at Folica, a now-closed beauty e-retailer. I came to that job from a luxury fashion background, and I really enjoyed how much more relaxed and kind the beauty industry was (at least, the part of the industry that I experienced). I’m back in fashion now (I currently work full-time as a Planner, while building and growing Klei), and I miss the beauty industry! My goal for 2018 is to grow Klei into a profitable small business, and be able to dive head-first into running my business full-time.
TCBC: Who are some of your role models?
SMITH: My mom is my #1 role model, without a doubt. She has helped so many domestic violence and rape victims in her life as a social worker, and now runs her own business as a psychotherapist. I don’t know anyone who works harder than her, and still manages to be the best mom ever. She is who I aspire to be, as a business owner, as a woman, as a mother. I truly hope to be able to leave a positive mark on people's lives, the way she has.
TCBC: What's your creative process?
SMITH: I first like to think about the product I want to make, and then I research every possible
ingredient that could make that vision possible. I think of new products all of the time - during my morning runs, walking to the subway, settling in bed for the night. I jot down all of my ideas and notes, and work through it until the product is complete. It’s so exciting to think of new products and how to bring them to life.
TCBC: How is Klei Beauty changing the beauty industry?
SMITH: My dream is to be able to grow Klei into a brand that can be a vocal supporter of sustainable and eco-friendly business practices. I worry constantly about the state of our environment, and the fact that we are not only one of the top global polluters, we are also represented by a president and a fair amount of politicians who truly do not care to make any significant changes to our impact on global carbon emissions. As a citizen, I can recycle and compost all I want, but real and impactful change needs to come from businesses and governments.
With a collection of natural products and a mission of sustainability, Klei Beauty is changing the skincare industry with a positive approach that helps us refresh our routine by keeping it clean and simple.
Special thank you to Valerie Smith and Klei Beauty for making our vanities and the world a better place.