BeautyBio Founder Jamie O’Banion on the Wonders of Microneedling and Pushing the Envelope in Skin Care
BeautyBio founder Jamie O’Banion grew up surrounded by skin-care and science. Her family owns a cosmetic lab and growing up, her refrigerator was stocked with skin-care formulas in the making and dinner table conversations revolved around chemistry. Fast forward years later and O’Banion, a former model, is armed with a wealth of insider beauty knowledge that helped her launch transparent and results-driven skin-care brand BeautyBio (shout out to my holy grail GloPRO® Facial Microneedling Tool). Ahead, we chatted with O’Banion about everything from what inspired her to launch the brand to how BeautyBio pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How did your early exposure to the beauty industry influence you when creating BeautyBio?
I believe life gives you clues — little gems — that point you towards what you can ultimately become if you simply pause to recognize them. Every piece of my past has helped me in some unique way to grow BeautyBio into the global brand it is today. Growing up surrounded by some of the most brilliant chemists and minds in the beauty industry (she worked alongside her father at their family-owned cosmetic lab), I was exposed at a very young age to the magic of science. In hindsight, my ‘normal’ was not so normal; dinner conversations centered around new raw materials, talking through ionic activity and Nano delivery systems. I remember opening up the refrigerator looking for some strawberry jam in the side door and shuffling through a dozen HGH growth factor lab glass bottles my father was storing to test a new formula at home. Before I was old enough to get a driver's license, I knew that a woman from Singapore leaned towards formulas that solved hyperpigmentation and brightening, while a woman in Munich was far more focused on texture and lines.
My years modeling helped me understand creative direction, brand imagery and campaign creation. I had the opportunity to interview some of the most renowned makeup and skin-care experts as I sat in their chairs, digging into what they liked, what they thought was missing and why.
I felt a sense of responsibility to speak out against the “dream in a bottle” rhetoric that has circulated for decades in the beauty industry and help educate on the basics of skin health. I felt it was wrong for a company to build a formula that had fairy dust amounts of ingredients and charge a small fortune for something that was never going to actually work.
You launched with just one hero product, an at-home micro-needling tool. What made you decide to start there?
Any dermatologist, skin expert or plastic surgeon will agree that in order to regenerate the skin, you have to injure the skin. Before GloPRO® microneedling, we were dependent on macro-injury methodologies like chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser. As science progresses, we typically refine processes and such is the same with skin-care technologies. Microneedling allows us to create a micro-injury, instead of a macro injury, so there is no downtime, results are consistent and we are not entering the dermis where pain and sterility issues become a challenge.. While vitamin C during the day and vitamin A at night are important active ingredients to apply topically, nothing can compete with our body’s natural engine, which makes GloPRO® the critical technology for volume, firming and collagen proliferation.
As your brand has grown, what is one message that has remained at the core of the brand's mission?
We have three words written in neon above our glass board in our conference room: Truth in Beauty. Those words guide every decision we make. If we are not educating and empowering our community then we will never be able to affect material, lasting change. From my R&D roots, every single product goes through rigorous clinical testing and has to earn its spot on our team. We are constantly pushing the envelope and that forward press has categorically elevated expectations across the entire industry. Clinical-grade skin care at home is actually real and it’s an incredible honor to get to lead that charge.
What's been the biggest challenge for you?
Any time a brand has high velocity growth, the greatest challenge is always prioritization. If everything is important, nothing is important. We have had to resist the temptation to action every opportunity in front of us and stay laser-focused on executing our growth strategy in a curated, meaningful way.
What's been your biggest pinch-me moment?
Just today I opened my inbox to see a massive image of our new Cryo tool in Nordstrom’s company-wide email — that’s a pinch-me moment.To receive the Allure Best of Beauty Award, WWD Beauty Inc Award and CEW Beauty Award — those were all incredible moments to me. Ranking right up there would also be inclusion in Forbes Most Successful Self-Made Women issue as one of four Female Entrepreneurs to Watch alongside women like Jennifer Aniston.
COVID-19 has thrown a huge curveball to many businesses. How has BeautyBio reacted to the pandemic?
When retail brick and mortar stores closed down, we pivoted and immediately leaned into digital and our television presence. I’ve been doing Instagram Live skin-care sessions from home, holding virtual master classes with Neiman Marcus and broadcasting on QVC from our guest house. I believe everyone should have a personal power statement, something that you can recite to yourself on the days you have to dig deep. Mine is Make It Happen. We have had to figure it out and make it happen during this time and I’m grateful for our incredible community and team. Remember this is just a chapter, it’s not the entire book.
What's next for the brand?
Our Cryo Skin Icing tool just launched and I got word that it’s almost sold out! Looking forward a few more months, we have a major, seriously ground-breaking launch coming this fall that I cannot wait to share. Stay tuned!
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To me, beauty means: In a word, respect. Having enough self-respect to take care of our inner and outer health. Beauty is respecting every single human with dignity, no matter someone’s color, age, size or shape.
What keeps me motivated is: Our community. Women and men who share deeply personal stories about how changing their skin has helped change their life. Amazing stories about having the confidence to find love again or apply for and nail a new job. I love seeing others succeed and it’s a gift to get to play a small part in that.
Advice I have for those entering the beauty industry: You will always make the right decision if you put your consumer hat on. Learn every single piece of your business, from supply chain to creative to finance. Become a sponge, let go of any ego and don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know. Fail quickly and learn from your mistakes. Above all, only start for the right reasons. Building a business is not for the faint of heart and only the right reasons will give you the fuel to power through the late nights, sacrifices and schedule.