May Lindstrom, CEO and founder of the cult LA-based indie beauty brand that carries her name, mother of two young children and partner in business with her CFO husband, joined us for a remarkable episode of Green Beauty Conversations.
If you know May Lindstrom, the chances are it is through her brand’s fabulously coloured Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm Concentrate; a product that has seen many a copy-cat. This episode of Green Beauty Conversations only touches on this hero product because it is the truly unique, quiet and mindful way May Lindstrom has built her business that caught our attention.
In some ways, May’s personal journey to starting ‘May Lindstrom the brand’ resonates with many founders in the indie, natural beauty space. She has hypersensitive skin and spent her childhood to early twenties desperately seeking ways to alleviate a raft of skin problems triggered by using synthetic ingredients in mainstream personal care.
But, this is where May Lindstrom’s backstory parts ways with other indie beauty founders. A childhood amidst nature and parents who taught her to see magic in the great outdoors, gave May her lasting sense of responsibility to humanity and nature. Her formative experiences and deeply-rooted personal philosophies drove the brand at start up, and still do today even as it has reached iconic status.
Interestingly, May, ever a creative child, became an art student, model and make-up artist and had once even set her sights on becoming a chef with her own restaurant. May is not called ‘The Skin Chef’ for nothing. Her products are renowned for their high-quality, ethically- and sustainably-sourced ingredients. May takes obsessive care in sourcing natural, botanical cosmetic ingredients directly from trusted, vetted farmers and other suppliers just as if she were cooking with them and nourishing her own family from within.
In this podcast, host and Formula Botanica CEO Lorraine Dallmeier reveals the May Lindstom behind her now celebrity status to discover a truly atypical, indie beauty brand founder. May puts sourcing the highest quality ingredients before growth and people most certainly before profit, and is unphased by copy-cat products. She will pull out of big retailers even when profitable if they can’t support her brand in line with her exacting standards.
As she says, with each product having her name on it, May Lindstrom is still a very personal business with all the good times and the difficulties that come with keeping things relatively small in a very big, profit-driven industry.
Listen in for a chance to hear how May Lindstrom, founder and brand, thrive by bucking the beauty industry normal.May Lindstrom in Green Beauty Conversation on the @FormulaBotanica podcast. Revealing the ethical, mindful founder behind the cult status indie beauty brand. @MayLindstrom #maylindstromskin #indiebeauty Click To Tweet
In this episode with May Lindstrom, you will hear:
- How formulating for her own skin issues and for individual clients with severe skin problems gave May her expertise in ingredients and how to make products effective. But May stresses that apart from its efficacy, skincare needs also to be sensorial, magical and beautiful and take you to a different space.
- Why May deliberately formulated a capsule collection beauty range rather than felt pressured to continually release new products. “Choice can be paralysing”, May says. A multitasking, smaller range is also in line with the current minimalism trend in skincare.
- Why your customer’s opinion comes first. Listen directly to clients about what they like or don’t in a formula and reformulate to respond to their needs. Do this rather than pump out new stock to suit retailers (who often don’t have the systems in place to sell your current stock well before its Best Before dates anyway!).
- How May Lindstrom retains complete control over her company to ensure they own the entire manufacturing process. ‘Ingredient integrity’ is of paramount importance to indie beauty brands if they wish to differentiate. Outsourcing means you often lose control over the provenance of your ingredients and you won’t know how they went from seed to skincare.
- Why May doesn’t like to focus on categories such as ‘green’, ‘clean’ beauty. Her philosophy is to make skincare with kindness that connects people to themselves and helps them find their own kind of beautiful. This approach underpins all her formulations.
Key take-outs include:
- If you think of sustainability as just packaging, you are so far behind. May Lindstrom ensures every aspect of the company seeks to operate sustainably; by paying a living wage (and in line Los Angeles rates); hand selecting ingredient suppliers and farmers who run ethical, sustainable businesses; and drilling down into the provenance of every component in their operations.
- A successful beauty business needs to change lives, not just turn a profit. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and if it lifts others up either changing their skin and/or changing their relationship with their skin.
- Any brand can create good skincare, but to differentiate itself it needs compassion, commitment and courage to think differently. May Lindstrom is growing direct-to-consumer business in preference to expanding into more retailers as she wishes to keep greater control of the company’s values and product quality at the point of sale.
- Copycat brands and products are unlikely to be a threat if you work to establish your credentials as an ethical brand. Products may be copied but you alone own your founding philosophy as an indie beauty brand.
Discover May Lindstrom:
Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Formula Botanica: Green Beauty Conversations podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, you might also like to listen to our episode discussing the top sustainability challenges and concerns for the beauty industry. Please share, subscribe and review this episode on iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher so that more people can enjoy the show. Don’t forget to follow and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.