MĀSK Founder Sarah Mirsini Talks Cannabis, Acne and Self-Love
After years of trying seemingly every skin-care product, spot treatment and prescription out there, Sarah Mirsini was beginning to think clear, cyst-free skin was out of the question. But after taking up a more holistic lifestyle (think: yoga, ayurvedic eating and energy medicine) and using cannabis oil both topically and sublingually, she began to notice a huge shift in her skin. A holistic certification and tons of research on cannabis later, Mirsini launched an acne-friendly, cannabis-centric skin-care line called MĀSK. The brand, which heroes anti-aging, glow-boosting and acne-fighting sheet masks, promotes self-acceptance, self-love and self-care. Ahead, we’re chatting with Mirsini about everything from her personal skin journey and inspiration for starting MĀSK to what’s next for the brand.
Can you give a little background on your career before starting MĀSK?
I have always been a visual person, but I never had the patience or the skill set to go the graphic design route. Digital marketing was the most natural option for me. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism from the UK and got my graduate degree in digital marketing from New York Tech. My first job after my undergrad was a digital planner at MediaCom where I had clients like H&M, HBO, Audi and Nikon. It was during that job that I decided to move to New York to pursue more school. I ended up getting a marketing job in the beauty industry during my last semester. I worked for a smaller cosmetics brand until I had a turning point in my life.
What factors led you to start your own line?
I wasn’t feeling whole for a while — and I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t know who I was. I quit my job in the beauty industry and started freelancing for a magazine where my friend worked. At that time my acne had started to flare up again. I was feeling insecure and frustrated. I had been struggling with acne since I was 12, and approaching my 30th birthday, I was starting to give up on having clear skin. After trying countless products, antibiotics and changes in diet, nothing seemed to help.
My first piece at the magazine was to cover the re-opening of the Ash Center on the Upper East Side, New York. That’s where I met my mentor, Maureen Dodd. She introduced me to cannabis and guided me through a holistic way of living. She taught me yoga, ayurvedic eating, energy medicine and meditation. A combination of this completely cleared my skin. I could not believe it. I got my holistic wellness coaching certification and I started reading more about cannabis. I was using the oil sublingually and topically, and the difference in my mood and skin was beyond what I expected. At the time I was also working to open up CBD dispensaries in Manhattan. One night I told my now partner about the idea of a skin-care line focused on cannabis. I knew I wanted to incorporate my teachings on holistic living and make the brand more spiritual and meaningful.
When I started reading about cannabis I kept seeing the same sentence over and over: CBD is only one out of over 100 cannabinoids. I kept thinking, What about the others? After some digging, I found out about CBG and CBN. I remember getting so excited...I knew this was something we had to include. From a personal and consumer standpoint, making someone switch their face wash or cream is not easy. And especially because MĀSK would be one of the first CBD skin-care lines on the market, people might be sceptical. We wanted to focus on one hero product where everything from formula to design was perfect. Face masks are less intimidating to add into your routine, so we decided to launch with that.
How did you come up with the name for the line?
A lot of people think because it’s a sheet mask, it’s called MĀSK, but it goes deeper than that. Each of us wear masks to move through the world. From how we present ourselves at the office to time spent with our loved ones, we exhibit to the world a mere version of our genuine selves. At night, we wash the day away and lay bare our truth. It is this moment when we discard the facades. That’s where MĀSK draws its inspiration. For me, the mask I took off at the end of the day was the one I was struggling with. I did not like what I saw, and my one mission with starting this brand was to try and change that for someone.
What's next for MĀSK?
We have learned one thing: Don’t rush things. We have been in business for one year, with one product, and done incredibly well with it! But I can reveal that a serum is coming in a few months. We’re also working on more multi-cannabinoid-focused products. We are also talking about a professional line for the esthetician industry. But simplicity is key, so we will never be a brand with a bunch of products. We want to perfect the ones we come out with.
If you could tell your 20-year-old self anything, what would it be?
OMG, stop worrying! I am a worrier by nature and I had anxiety about everything. Now that I look back on it, I laugh. In our 20s we think we know it all and we are merely finding our way. I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything because it shaped me to who I am today, but I wish I had discovered CBD sooner so I could chill more, haha.
What's been the biggest lesson you've learned throughout this process?
I learned who is truly there for me and who is not. There are people who cheer for you only when you do well, but not when you don’t. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, but you also find a type of strength you might not have known you have. I think being your own boss can also make you a little crazy. Mood swings, anyone? But following your dream and knowing in your gut this is where you’re supposed to be triumphs all of that. If anyone is reading this and wants to go the entrepreneur route, do it! It’s worth every single up and down.
What's been your biggest pinch-me moment?
Wow, there have been a few! I think the biggest, though, was when Bloomingdale’s reached out four days after we launched and wanted us in their clean beauty section. I had to read the email five times before I completely comprehended it. Seeing your product on shelves anywhere does something to you. You made that. You did that.
What keeps you motivated?
All our customers! I said the day we launched that if only one person says that this helped their skin, I would be happy. And I still get emotional to this day when someone DMs us on Instagram or gives us feedback. There is one girl in particular, though. She started buying the Spotless mask right after we launched and she said it completely changed her skin journey. This is what gets me up in the morning and gets me going.
Fill in the blanks.
My three desert-island beauty products are:
The best part about being my own boss is:
I don’t have to set the alarm or attend meetings I don’t feel like going to. I am not a routine person and I absolutely hate waking up before 7AM!
A beauty trend I regret trying is:
Plucked eyebrows and glitter eyeshadow.
My first memory of beauty is:
When my grandmother, who lives in Greece, used natural remedies for our skin. She would put olive oil on us when we were dry, Greek yogurt when we were sunburnt and vinegar on our mosquito bites. She never wore makeup and her skin was flawless.
To me, beauty means:
Owning who you are. I think the word beauty has gotten such a superficial meaning. Poreless skin, perfect teeth, contoured face. Let’s delete the Facetune apps and relax. Life is too short.