Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Forget the Balancing Act, it's more like Juggling! Mompreneurs Meryl & Sonia on how they Survive and Thrive



In only two short years Hynt Beauty has become a leader in the clean beauty world. Each of its makeup and skincare products is a standout and has earned a place in almost every ingredient-conscious makeup kit. That’s a remarkable achievement by any standard but, on top of that, Meryl also happens to be a mom of three boys! 

As a former lawyer and now beauty entrepreneur myself, with two kids under the age of 8, I was eager to ask Meryl about her experience as a mompreneur. With her company and family both thriving, I was sure she would have valuable guidance for the rest of us working mothers.

By now we’ve all (hopefully) disabused ourselves of the notion that a perfect ‘work-life balance’. is possible. The best any of us can do is aim for a state of ‘almost’ balance, given the constant and unpredictable challenges of running a business while raising a family. In this interview, Meryl candidly shares her experience of building her business while raising her family. She’s honest and real, and her insights are a must-read for working moms everywhere.

Above: Contributing writer & fellow mompreneur Sonia Keu with her two little ones.

Here is my conversation with Meryl. I guarantee you’ll love it as much as I did!

Sonia Keu (SK): Have you been working since your children were born, or did you take time off and then return to the workforce?

Meryl Marshall (MM): I have been a working mother since my first born was only 7 months old. In those days, I was a gemologist working in the NYC Diamond District. My two stepsons were only 9 and 12 when we became a blended family in 2003 and I continued to work. My oldest, Corbin, is 27 years old, Jared is 25 and Jason is 22. I am very proud of these young men as they are all living on their own, independently. They have all graduated college, Jared is in medical school and Corbin and Jason are working in NYC. 

SK: It’s impossible to do it all - to be 100% committed to your career and 100% present in your children’s lives. Did you ever feel you were missing out on certain things? Like taking them to their activities, practices, etc.? 

Above: Meryl with her three boys and husband who is the CEO of Hynt Beauty, Craig Marshall

MM: It is very important to be organized and preparation is key to managing a household and raising children. It is vital to have a supportive partner that is willing to equally share in all the duties and responsibilities. It is also important to teach your kids to pitch in and know skills like how to cook, shop, clean and have structure in day-to-day living. They will thank you later on for this education!

As far as missing out, I never believed in over-scheduling activities. I believe that it stresses kids out and they really enjoy focusing on what they truly like. Kids don’t play outdoors with friends enough. There are too many scheduled activities in my opinion. Many families miss out on sit down family meals which I find very sad. The family meal is a very important part of life and one that kids really remember later on in years. Fast food eaten in the car while changing into a sports uniform is something that many of us encounter but it should not be a routine.

SK: Were your children and husband supportive from the beginning? Or did it take some time for them to adjust to the Hynt journey? When my mother went back to work, my brother and I really resented it for a long time. Looking back, I feel terrible about the guilt I made her feel. But children tend to think about their own needs first!

Above: Photograph by Ashton Bingh

MM: Children are focused on their own needs. It is important for parents to carve out time to connect and bond. The family unit to me is sacred. That is why I believe in the family meal so much. That is where everyone can connect, share and catch up on what is going on. Communication is key to all relationships. When children are made to feel part of a team, they don’t feel like they are missing out by being latchkey. They are contributing to making life ‘work.’ I was widowed at 42 years old. I missed my husband terribly and, additionally, I missed being that cohesive family unit. I liked having a partner to raise our sons and contributing to the day to day minutia. 

SK: What are some of the strategies that helped your triple balancing act of keeping your business growing, your family happy and yourself sane?

MM: One integrated ‘to do’ list is vital, compiling business and the household. Business tasks on the left and personal on the right. I like using a highlighter too. I like crossing off entries as it gives me a sense that things are getting accomplished. When the list has many things crossed off, I begin a fresh list with the ‘leftover’ tasks and the new ones. 

I preach to live by the calendar that the entire family can add to and consult with. I like to stock up on all kinds of supplies. I was always known to have extra typically-used school and project supplies in the house to minimize running out at the last minute. Same thing with groceries. Two freezers were always full and till this day, I keep a grocery list to consult before shopping. Cook double and sometimes even use a crock pot. Keep meals very simple. When I buy cleaning products etc., I buy extra when on sale and store them away, minimizing my shopping trips. These days, I purchase most of this stuff online.

Above: Meryl Marshall wearing her own clean & conscious Hynt products.

In a nutshell, all this home organization helps when running the business. It allows for complete focus on the business during the day. There is something to be said about doing nice things for yourself to keep yourself sane. It can be as simple as a 20 minute walk to clear your head, meditation, yoga, a gym workout or a mani/pedi. Whatever lifts you up is what you should plan into your week. 

SK: All entrepreneurs wear several hats, and mompreneurs add a few more on top of that. Can you recall the hardest thing about the balancing act of being a mompreneur? And also the most rewarding/joyous experience of it?

MM: It’s difficult when working for someone else as you have less options. You just can’t be in two places at once. I once sat down with my employer and had a heart-to-heart talk. He had three kids of his own so he could relate. I told him that once at work, I will always be focused and will apply my hard work ethic. However, there were going to be times where I’d have to take off in case of my child’s illness, class trip, class Mom duties, my kids’ activities…things like that. I explained that the quality of my work superseded my quantity of work and he really got it. We really had a terrific working relationship thereafter, and I worked very hard, but I had the opportunity to have flexibility in my schedule. You see, it’s all about communication. Say what you need and how you will go about making it happen. 

When my husband Craig and I started our first business, prior to Hynt, the kids were still home and we really felt that we had to juggle to get everything done but we were our own bosses and it provided more flexibility of when we could work. Now that we are empty nesters we still are up at 6am to start our workday. It allows us to get in some gym time during the day. 

Above: Sonia with her curated clean & green beauty favorites.

SK: As a mom of two little ones, I’m always looking for efficiency. Hynt helps streamline my skincare and beauty routine: I can close my eyes and pick any Hynt product, knowing it's safe for me to use and will look and feel beautiful. How much of your mission with Hynt was to cut through the clutter by offering products that simplify the decision-making process for women?

MM: I look at myself and Hynt Beauty as being somewhat of a beauty gatekeeper. I do all the research and the consumer gets to enjoy quality cosmetics with confidence knowing that all the ingredients are safe. They just need to focus on the beautiful textures, rich colors and professional quality. Hynt Beauty is a brand to trust and love.


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Sonia Keuroghlian is a corporate attorney turned green beauty + wellness influencer. She is the founder of KEU (soniakeu.com), a green beauty and wellness blog that aims to help you detoxify and optimize your beauty and wellness regimes with non-toxic products that do not compromise quality. Written from the perspective of a mom looking to fit her beauty and wellness routines within the demands of a busy family and work life, Keu combines her love for green beauty, passion for wellness, and her fine-tuned analytical and research skills to create a community centered around green knowledge and education. She is featured as an influencer on the Beauty Circle App, and hosts a twice-weekly live show on the YouCam Makeup App. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hynt CEO & Co-Founder Craig's New Fitness, Health & Wellness Column Vol.1: A Chemical That's Good for Weight Loss


We are constantly hearing, “Don’t eat anything with chemicals, don’t put anything that contains chemicals on your skin, chemicals are bad for you!...”

The truth is that not all chemicals are bad for you. The one chemical that first comes to mind is WATER. 

The dictionary will define water as a “tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers and rain, and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms.”  But, the reality is that water is a chemical made up of hydrogen and oxygen. Chemistry lesson over. Period. To make my point yes, but also because that is the extent of my chemistry knowledge...

I could continue to write about all the benefits of water but I am certain that you have all been inundated with all sorts of highly scientific stats and pro-water lists. So, I limit my thoughts to this very basic comment: Water fills you up.




Many of us typically think that when we get a craving it means we are hungry. Sometimes this is true but the reality is that many times we are just thirsty. 

Water is a great source to reach for to satisfy that urge to eat. Try it out. Drink a glass of water and wait about ten minutes to see if you are still hungry. If you are, then eat something. If not, get out of the kitchen already! 

Something that has worked for me in my journey to losing over 100 lbs and maintaining my fitness was to increase my water intake. Many of us feel that we alerady drink a lot of water but, most of us do not! I often get asked, “how much water should I drink each day?” My common response is to first get to the point where you are drinking one-half of your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 lbs. then try to drink 75 ounces of water daily.  That's about 9 - 10 cups of water.


This sounds like a lot and you might think I'm crazy for suggesting this but remember; you don't have to be at this point from day 1. Gradually increase your water intake a few ounces each day to get to that point and allow your body to adjust. It will happen surprisingly fast and you'll soon start to experience other benefits of water that were listed on those articles...that you never read anyway. 

If you have any medical or health concerns I strongly suggest seeking the advice of your health care practitioner to be certain that increased water intake will not cause you harm.  


P.S. You may find the need to go to the bathroom more frequently. Big deal. It's good to get up and walk once in a while! 


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With this post, we are launching an all new series of fitness, health & nutrition posts by Craig Marshall, Hynt Beauty's CEO, Co-Founder AND Meryl's husband! He is a certified personal trainer who also has a special certification in training older adults and is en route to getting another in nutrition. He's always giving us so many smart, easy-to-integrate advice that we had to give him a platform to share his best. 


VEGAN? 10 Animal Derived Ingredients that May Not Be Bad for You or the Animal but You Should Know


As we are all becoming more conscious of our health and environment, a lot of women are choosing to pursue a vegan-oriented lifestyle, rejecting animal-derived products from their diets and cosmetic cabinets, too. In an effort to help guide our animal-loving, eco-conscious and perhaps vegan clients navigate this aspect of the ingredient label, we've put together a list of 10 animal-derived ingredients commonly used in cosmetics so that you can make an informed purchasing decision the next time! 

Before we proceed however, we'd like to point out that these ingredients aren't always, if at all, harmful to your health and often, although not always, not harmful to the animals that provide them to us. The aim of this list is not to scare you away from these ingredients but to simply explain why they may be formulated into your lipstick or moisturizer and to give you a heads up in case you prefer to eliminate them from your makeup & skincare stash. 

Without further ado, here are the top 10 animal-derived ingredients that are common in the beauty industry:



1. Bee-Derived Ingredients 

Buzzing little bees are the most industrious members of the animal kingdom. Honey, propolis and royal jelly are just some of the delicacies they produce on a daily basis. To clarify on the three types: Honey is the ambery nectar they store away as a food source for times of need, Propolis is the sticky glue that keeps their hives together; and Royal Jelly is the highly nutritious nectar fed to larvae for the first three days of their lives. All these ingredients have powerful anti-microbial properties that make them an effective natural remedy for acne.  Beeswax, which is obtained by melting honeycombs with boiling water, is also commonly used to give your lipsticks and compacts their solid shapes. 


2. Carmine 

What if we told you, that gorgeous red lipstick you've been eyeing...? Well, it's made with crushed bugs! You might think twice about spending $58 on it. 

The vivid red dye is collected from the crushed bodies of female cochineal beetles, tiny little insects that feed on red berries produced by cactus plants in Central and South America. The extract derived from the bug's body and eggs is then mixed with aluminium or calcium salts to make carmine dye (also known as cochineal). 

It takes approximately 70,000 insects, bred just for this purpose of getting crushed, to produce just a pound of dye! Icky factor aside, there is a more personal reason to avoid carmine, too. This ingredient has been reported to cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals, a fact that has prompted the FDA to require its disclosure on food and cosmetic labels. While this is a welcome step, we believe carmine should be avoided altogether! Beauty shouldn't hurt neither humans nor animals and this one does both. 

3. Collagen 

Collagen is the handy protein that keeps your skin firm and prevents it from sagging. When you're young, collagen is found abundantly in your skin but sadly, its production significantly decreases as you age. Topical application in the form of a cream can't replenish the collagen you've naturally lost but used in moisturizers, they can help hydrate the skin and in lip glosses, they can help to pump up the volume. Nowadays, collagen is mostly made synthetically in the lab so you're not hurting any animals but not all companies have made that switch so it's good to be at least aware. 


4. Emu Oil 

Used for centuries by the Australian aborigines to treat their cuts and wounds, emu oil is now touted as a miracle ingredient that moisturizes skin, fights wrinkles and treats acne. The oil is derived from a thick pad of fat on the back of the flightless emu bird, which was provided by nature to protect it from the extreme temperatures of its homeland. After the animal is killed for its meat, the oil is collected and sold at high prices for its moisturizing and anti-aging properties. If you're switching to a cruelty-free beauty routine, emu oil is one of the first products you should ditch. 

5. Guanine 

Ever wondered what makes your eyeshadows, blushes and nail polishes sparkle so beautifully? The ingredient responsible for the shimmering effect is guanine, a crystalline, light-diffusing material found in fish scales. After the fish have died, their scales are scraped off their bodies and soaked in alcohol to give them a pearly glow. Although the idea of slathering crushed fish scales may not appeal to everyone, guanine is safe in terms of human health. Just not the fish. 


6. Lanolin 

Did you know that sheep can stay out in the cold and rain for hours without actually feeling the cold? That's because of lanolin, a thick and greasy yellow substance secreted by their sebaceous glands to waterproof their bodies. The waterproof properties of lanolin make it incredibly moisturizing for us humans, too. Lanolin creates a barrier on the skin that seals moisture in, helping to keep skin soft and supple even in harsher weather. 

Even more important, the collection of lanolin doesn't harm the animal in any way. Once the sheep are sheared, lanolin is extracted from their wool before it is washed and processed. The purifying process is a relatively recent step in the manufacturing of lanolin for the cosmetic industry. It became necessary after the introduction in farming of pesticides, which clung to the material and caused severe allergies and irritations to a large segment of the population. 

Unfortunately, the bad reputation as allergen still sticks to lanolin, but nowadays the likelihood of it causing serious problems is very low. Obviously not vegan but at least it is not cruel. 

7. Retinol 

A form of vitamin A, retinol is considered the gold standard in anti-aging by dermatologists. This powerful molecule accelerates cellular turnover, fights free radicals and even boosts the production of collagen, thus preventing and treating the appearance of wrinkles on several fronts.
Although retinol can be derived from foods of animal origin, most skincare companies have switched to the synthetic type for their formulations. Thank goodness. 


8. Shellac 

After performing their procreative duties, male lac beetles fly away while females stay behind to keep an eye on their larvae. To ensure they come to no harm, the larvae are further protected by a resin secreted by their parents. This resinous glaze is called Shellac and is often used to give nail polishes their lacquered finish. 

9. Squalene

Sharks have a bad rep for being rather cruel to all the other fish in the sea but that's no excuse for us to endanger their existence just for vanity purposes!  At least they do it to survive. Squalene is shark liver oil and yup, we get it by squeezing the oil out from their livers! It is commonly used in skincare to moisturize skin. Thankfully, the outrage caused by squalene has led to the development of vegetable squalene, which is made without harming these marine predators. 



10. Snail Extract 

How can snails slither all over twigs and rocks without cutting their tiny, squishy bodies? The answer lies in the slimy trail they leave behind, which is full of skin-healing and moisturizing proteins and glycolic acids. Snail slime (listed as snail secretion filtrate on labels) is currently all the rage in Korea for its ability to deeply moisturize skin and heal wounds, but the way it is collected is far from cruelty-free. 

In order to produce the enormous amount of snail extract needed to meet the demands of the cosmetic industry, snails are constantly stressed into releasing their slime. With all the plethora of moisturizing ingredients available to us today, why choose snail slime? 


We hope this list will help our vegan clients keep any undesirable animal-derived ingredients off their beauty stashes. Beauty is a pleasure that should never turn into pain for anyone, human or animal.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Interview with Dream-Manifesting Green Indie Beauty Queen: Jillian Wright



With more than 12,000 facials (and still counting!) under her belt, there is no doubt that Jillian Wright knows virtually all skin types. A quick glance is enough for this master skin expert to tell if her clients don't use sunscreen, haven't stopped smoking like they said, or are indulging in one hamburger too many. It's a skill she perfected (over 15 years!) at her eponymous spa in Manhattan where she helped celebrities and selective New Yorkers get their skin in their best shape ever.

Drawing from the know-how she gained as one of NYC's most sought-after facialists, the entrepreneurially-minded Wright decided to start her own skincare line in an effort to solve the skincare woes her clients were experiencing. Jillian Wright Skincare was born and Wright designed the collection around antioxidants, fruit enzymes and stem cells to naturally banish acne and keep premature aging at bay.  

As the creator of her own skincare line, Wright soon discovered that indie beauty brands lacked a place where they could showcase their products to buyers and other key beauty influencers so that they could take their business to the next level. Firmly believing that there is a solution for everything, Jillian quickly set out to fix the problem herself.

In 2015, she founded Indie Beauty Expo (IBE), a twice annual event in New York and Los Angeles that aims to level the playing field for small beauty businesses and give them a chance to be discovered in the overcrowded beauty space.

Hynt has exhibited at both the New York and Los Angeles events and loved them so we were thrilled when this (gorgeous) go-getter entrepreneur agreed to do an interview with us. During our chat, she shared what challenges she has encountered in building her green beauty empire and how she overcame them, what success means to her and what her secret beauty weapon is!  Read on: 

What was that decisive moment that led you to decide to focus on clean, green, ethical beauty? 

It was never an AHA moment. It was a way of life from an early age. When I was younger, I instinctively went for more natural choices in beauty. I didn’t like the feel of “chemicals” on my face. I immediately thought that I would breakout or become red - it wasn’t worth the risk. I don’t have sensitive skin, but I would experience a physical reaction to products that had intense smells. Other products would make me breakout or made my skin feel tight, inflamed and unhealthy. Knowing that my skin absorbs whatever I put on it, I've always questioned the purity of products.




As a celebrity aesthetician, spa and product business owner, and an advocate and “spokesperson" of the indie beauty market, what were some challenges you had to face to balance the three? 

I am very disciplined. I work 7 days a week, but I enjoy it because I know I’m doing something worthwhile. When I started my skincare line 10 years after entering the aesthetic field, my spa was already established and I had a full book of clients. This made it easier to develop my collection. My clients were my focus group and I knew exactly what they needed and demanded and what I wanted in the line to garner those results.

I’m not easily swayed by trends. I’m actually press discerning when it comes to products and their claims. This is why my line isn’t the “next best thing”, but it is a line- "Smart Skin Solutions" - that you can trust and use forever.
 
When I originally launched, I mostly sold it at my spa. I wanted to bring it to market but I simply didn't have the time for it. Performing facials took up a lot of time and energy, so I closed my spa February 29th 2016, and 8 months later, I stopped seeing clients. After 17 years in the treatment room, starting the Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) and redesigning my brand, it was time to let go of my security blanket and scale. There are always sacrifices, but ultimately they are moments of growth. These types of decisions should be embraced so you have no regrets. Finishing chapters and moving on, it's challenging but extremely healthy.

How did you overcome these challenges? 

By making sound, thoughtful decisions and taking the time to make sure it was the right direction to move through.

Do you have an ultimate “mission” or “philosophy” that fuels everything that you do? 

My drive is fueled by the desire to create something that benefits people on many different levels. Since I was young, I loved bringing good people together. I believe in experiences that are positive and make people happy. There is so much in life that brings us down. I always wanted to be the purveyor of a good time whether it was in the treatment room through a facial, or providing great skincare for home use or on a grander scale, creating something as massive as IBE so entrepreneurs could do serious business with buyers, press and consumers.

Before IBE, smaller brands were the wallflowers, the underdogs. We weren’t taken seriously and we were overlooked. Now we have a platform that takes small businesses seriously. There is a lot of power when something is motivated and fueled by a personal experience. 

What are some things that exhibitors and attendees have said to you that has really made all the hard work worth it? 

We survey the brands and the attendees after every show. We want to grow so we listen with big ears. We take praise and constructive criticism very seriously. We are going to Dallas because that is where the brands wanted us to go. We made the "Connect Indie" event a full day separate from the actual expo date because the brands wanted more thought-leadership and education. We also moved the presentation space on the floor plan because we received feedback that it wasn’t in the right place and they were right! 

You see, it is a collaboration. We are building a community that connects and takes everyone who wants to be involved. But the best feedback is when brands get picked up by their “dream” retailer or they have met someone meaningful that will help them grow their business. IBE isn’t an expo business, we are a platform and this means that we will continue to listen and tweak to provide the tools that the brands need along with catering to the press and retailers.




What's your personal secret beauty weapon? 

Sunscreen, water consumption, taking vitamins, very little to no gluten, exercise, travel, my happy marriage and family, moderation of all things pleasurable like salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, managing stress, not sweating the small stuff, following a skincare regimen day and night, and ultimately staying happy by balancing discipline and indulgence.


What is your vision of success?

When I was 16, I wanted to open a shoe boutique and transform it into an art gallery at night in Soho. It was my mind combining two things that I love, shoes and art. It showed my entrepreneurial spirit at a very young age. I went to the University of Arizona for Fine Art. I never went to a job fair, nor have I ever worked corporate. It wasn’t in my DNA. As my business partner Nader says, “Jillian, you are not employable.” FYI: This was his way of complimenting me.

Luckily, this has changed though! I was a free spirit, an artist, a traveler. But, reality speaking, I had to figure out a way to support myself. I had no help from home so I was on my own. I despised authority and anyone telling me what to do. This is a problem if you are looking for a career. I am very rebellious, but not destructive. There lies the answer. The answer lies within the negative space, the cracks and crevices of life. More often than not, you have to dig deep and think outside the norm.

For me, I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to do, but more so, on how I wanted to live. I wanted to be around women, I wanted to raise a family, I wanted to be in charge of my own schedule and do something meaningful. I chose aesthetics because it fit the type of life I wanted to live.

When I graduated aesthetic school, I had the opportunity to work for a multi million dollar spa, but I didn’t. I decided to open up my own business right from the start. I knew it would take me longer to establish, but I didn’t care. I had no fear. I just built and built and built until I had a steady clientele.

So this is where the discipline comes in. I knew the type of life I wanted to live. I knew how I wanted to spend my time and I didn’t fear the hard work it would take to establish myself. I also believe that if you believe in what you want, you can manifest it and it will happen. You have to say it out loud, write it down, share it with your best buddy. When you put something in the universe, it usually happens. When you set goals for yourself and accomplish them through hard work, dedication, professionalism, then you will achieve something meaningful, whether large or small.  This is what success is.

A lifestyle change or habit that has most affected your everyday well-being? 

We eat at home. We rarely eat out which means we control the ingredients and portions. Eating as a family is also helpful in raising kids. We have 4 kids between me and my husband (8, 13, 14, 18) and it provides them a safe, judgement-free place to share ideas and experiences that have happened to them. Providing stability for my family makes me happy.

What do you most admire in a woman and why? 

I admire strength, intelligence, solid work ethic, no fear attitude, kindness, compassion, security, no bull-&*#$ attitude, creativity, independence, and a sense of humor. I sound like I’m on Match.com! Why? Because a person who possesses these traits is really fun to talk to and be around.

Books that influenced your life? 

I love the book “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What's your motto?

There is a solution for everything.

If you could give one piece of advice to your 25 year old self, what would it be?

Save more money and don’t waste it on trivial stuff.

What makes you truly happy? 

When I make a difference in people’s lives ...and pedicures.