Career Diaries: Natalia Bednarek, Founder of Herla Beauty, Talks About Starting a Business With Her Grandmother
When most people take a vacation, they come back with glowing skin, happy memories and a dozen new posts on their Instagram commemorating their trip. When Natalia Bednarek’s grandmother Krystyna traveled, though, she would come back with beauty secrets, techniques and ingredients that women from around the world told her they used to keep their skin clear and beautiful. Inspired by those world travels, Bednarek and her grandmother decided to share those secrets with women everywhere through their skin-care line Herla Beauty. Read on to learn more about the brand, Bednarek’s story and more about her inspiration.
When did you discover your passion for skin care?
Growing up, I was surrounded by women who took great care of their skin — my grandmother, my mother, my sister. All three took me shopping when they were buying skin care and makeup, so every time we went to Sephora I ended up with a new product in my cosmetics collection, too. My grandmother was especially passionate about her skin because she didn’t wear much makeup. So, since a very early age I had a skin-care routine that I strictly followed. It was something all women in my family paid attention to. As my skin was changing throughout the different stages of my teenage years, I started to realize how important it was to use the right products and define what your skin truly needs. It always gave me a boost of confidence when my skin felt and looked well taken care of, and it still does.
What’s the story behind Herla Beauty?
Herla Beauty was inspired by my grandmother’s travels. She’s a world traveler with a passion for nature and beauty. She loves to explore different cultures and has always been curious about the lifestyles of women in different countries. Over many years of traveling, she explored ingredients and techniques that women around the world developed to take care of their skin. We have a “secret beauty book” that contains all the notes my grandmother took. Oftentimes, these beauty secrets had been passed down from generations of women, just as my grandmother brought them home to share with me. This is the foundation of our formulations.
Our goal at Herla is to democratize natural skin-care and ensure that these beauty secrets from around the world are accessible to all. We want all women to love their skin, regardless of age. We want to help women achieve their best skin ever in a natural and smart way.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve learned from your grandmother?
That’s a tough one. I’ve learned so many things from her. I guess the most valuable are determination, fearlessness and an open mind. This woman rocks. She has been through a lot in her life. From succeeding in a corporate male environment to struggling with a severe back problem, she has achieved a lot. She co-founded a skin-care brand in her mid 60s. Every single day she shows me that anything is possible when you work hard and cultivate your motivation. It’s important to believe in yourself and overcome the obstacles that may come your way. Women are warriors and we can accomplish much more than we think we can. I repeat it to myself every day.
Can you tell us about the ingredients in your products and why being “clean” was important to you?
Before we started Herla, my grandmother already had a business supplying natural ingredients to beauty companies in Europe. Over the years, she built great relationships with different plantations and ingredient suppliers around the world. It felt like a natural next step to create a business following our passion for skin care and beauty. We created Herla on the belief that it would be the most authentic to focus the brand around ingredients and beauty secrets found around the world and leverage the repository of clean ingredients to which we already had ready access. By bringing Herla to life, my grandmother was finally able to take advantage of the knowledge she gathered throughout her travels. Being “clean” was especially important to me because there are so many chemicals used in skin care that could impact our health in the long-term. Herla contributes to the “clean movement” and helps educate people about ingredient safety by being completely transparent about the source and benefits of each ingredient.
What’s your daily skin-care regimen?
My skin-care regimen changes depending on the time of year and condition of my skin. I typically start my day by cleansing my face with a micellar water, followed by a toner. After that, I apply my moisturizer (which recently has been the Kakadu Plum Hydrating Antioxidant Multivitamin Cream) and an eye cream.
At night, after removing my makeup with a micellar water, I use our Gentle Brightening Scrub to remove all the impurities. That way my skin is ready to absorb all the goodness from my recent go-to, the Revitalizing Mask with 24k Gold Flakes. I use it three to four times a week. I end my nighttime routine with our Damask Rose Night Treatment Cream and Cooling and Tightening Eye Gel with 24k Gold Flakes. I don’t like overdoing skin care or following too many steps. I believe in efficient and multidisciplinary products.
What’s your favorite Herla Beauty product?
Recently, I’ve been obsessed with our Gold Supreme Revitalizing and Detoxifying Mask with 24k Gold Flakes. I’ve been using it throughout my pregnancy to prevent hyperpigmentation, which is common in pregnant women, and to help renew my skin during colder months. The mask ensures a proper level of moisturization and improves elasticity of your skin. I like pampering myself with its 24k gold flakes — it feels festive every time I apply it.
What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Keep at it! And remember that whatever you do is right. Think of any action as a learning experience. Most of the time you’ll learn by trial and error and truthfully you have to be patient while going through ups and downs. Talk to as many people as you can because such conversations can bring hands-on knowledge and can help you achieve your goals faster. Other people have been through the things you’re about to go through, so leverage that.
What’s next for you and the brand?
We will continue to serve the best natural skin care to all generations. We’re currently working on new product launches that I’m very excited about, one of them being an acne collection. It takes a long time to formulate and test new products, so we’re already thinking a few years ahead when considering Herla’s innovation pipeline. We create products that empower women to be their best selves and reduce overdependence on makeup in favor of skin care. Our immediate goal for 2020 is to continue to strengthen our existing retail partnerships, as well as to focus on a thoughtful distribution expansion.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is individual, and what I love about it is that there are so many definitions and expressions of it. To me, beauty means feeling confident in your own skin and body. It’s being the best version of yourself.
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