Hi Terri, Can you tell us a bit about your background and past experience?
I come from a pretty eclectic background, especially for a natural beauty retailer - the two jobs that really inspired me to what I do now have nothing directly to do with the environment, chemicals, or beauty! I was a licensed clinical psychologist working part-time for two different organizations. In one, I was conducting assessment and providing counseling for gastric bypass surgery patients, both before and after surgery. Through this work, I saw the devastating health effects our environment was having on so, so many women. It wasn't just that these women were "lazy" or lacked willpower. Their environment was clearly set up to promote the destruction of their bodies, and I suspected there was more to it than just cheap, fatty foods. My other job was as a consultant for a human resources consulting firm, where I helped companies like Target hire their higher-level corporate employees, for jobs like Buyer, Merchandise Planner, Marketing Director, and so forth. It was through this work that I developed an understanding of retail strategy and business. I really enjoyed it, too, much to my surprise. When I learned about the chemicals in the environment - and in beauty products - that interfere with estrogen, I knew I had found one of the missing links between women and the health problems that were so prevalent with my gastric bypass surgery patients. I decided to start my own business in order to not just educate women about these chemicals, but also to offer them beautiful, high-performing alternatives to what they were using.
How do you define beauty?
I think about this a lot. I don't know as I have a definition, or maybe I differentiate between "beautiful" and "attractive." I can look at a celebrity like Megan Fox or Jessica Alba and recognize that these are beautiful women. But I'm not necessarily attracted to them. I can definitely say that I have yet to find any woman attractive who has clearly had the various anti-aging procedures done. They look like plastic people, with no character, nothing interesting about them to draw me in. Kate Blanchett wouldn't have necessarily been on the covers of magazines or on the boxes of perfume had it not been for the way she carries herself, as well as her presence, her confidence, and her talent. She is beautiful because of who she is, and I think that is what defines beauty for me. It's not the features on someone's face. It is how she or he uses those features, the warmth in their eyes, the ability to accept and work with their features, not fight them.
What inspired you to start Nature of Beauty?
I knew that for many women, if their only options for safer beauty products were grocery stores and health food markets, they wouldn't make the switch, so my hope was that if I created an inviting retail space, with a staff of beauty experts, and lots of make-up and skin care to try, they would likely be more inclined to give it a try. I had learned from my gastric bypass surgery work that just educating wasn't enough: If women were going to change what they had been doing for years and years, it had to be a fairly easy process. Make it too complicated, and they'll give up.
What do people love about The Nature of Beauty?
Well, when talking about my storefront, my customers love that I am the one place they can do in Minneapolis/St. Paul and find the non-toxic beauty brands that they read about in the magazines. We have a ton of co-ops and Whole Foods, but as I suspected, women want to try new makeup and skin care in a boutique, somewhere they can play with the products, sit down and have a makeover, or ask questions and get knowledgeable answers from women who loves makeup and skin care as much as they do!
With the website and the store, I think customers appreciate our efforts to maintain a balance between luxurious and accessible. Yes, it's lovely to look at high-end products and get packages wrapped in pretty papers and bows and fancy cards and all of that, but we also want to make sure that every single woman who wants to buy safe, high-quality, beautiful products can find what they need, at a price they can afford. I don't want The Nature of Beauty to be exclusive. I don't want it to appeal only to women who would otherwise shop at Nordstrom or Barney's. I think we get a lot of customers who appreciate that about our store and our website.
What are the other 'don't miss' gems in your neighborhood?
Grand Avenue in St. Paul is one of the primary boutique streets in the Twin Cities! It's about two miles of mostly locally owned businesses, and many of those are owned by women. Picky Girl is a great store for hard-to-find designer brands that are unique and fashion-forward. Next door to me is Shu Global Footwear, where they carry shoes, sandals and boots that are very fashionable, but also good for your feet (many of them are European brands you rarely find elsewhere). And I can't leave out Wuollet's bakery, a dangerous little pastry and cake shop right across the street, where they make the most amazing cinnamon rolls I've ever add. Oh, and they also happen to be the top location for chic wedding cakes in the region.
Anything else you'd like to share?
As the industry changes, and women become more aware of what is going on with beauty products and their health, I think The Nature of Beauty will continue to evolve as well. Case in point: This fall we plan to move our store a couple of miles south to expand the business and include spa treatments! Now that women realize that getting rid of chemicals does not mean sacrificing effectiveness, I think they want to replace as much of their beauty regimen as possible, including their facials, with healthier options. The spa was meant to be a place where women can go to detoxify, relax, re-energize and renew their bodies. It just makes sense that the products used to impart this sense of health and well-being should also be healthy and pure. Plus, there are just so many gorgeous spa treatment lines now that use primarily organic ingredients, adding a spa was perhaps of the easiest decisions I've made so far!