We are beaming with excitement this month as we welcome S.W. Basics founder Adina Grigore as our August Guest Editor. As the founder of one of the fastest growing eco-beauty brands, she is on a mission to bring simplicity to skin care and transparency to the term ‘natural’ in the personal care industry. Before she was on her way to becoming a mega-mogul, she was a sensitive-skinned girl experimenting DIY-style to find a gentle and effective way to treat her skin. We connected with Adina recently to see what she’s been up to since publishing her first book, “Skin Cleanse,” and what she’s learned over the years.
We connect strongly with your mission to bring simplicity back to skincare. Tell us a little bit more about how S.W. Basics evolved from your kitchen to our bathrooms?
It all started with ridiculously sensitive skin, slight desperation, and a real trust in healthy food. I thought, “Well, if olive oil is so good for me why don't I marry it? I mean put it on my skin.” And so that's what I did, and it worked! I was shocked. My irritated, itchy, broken out skin became clear and glowy. When I started adding ingredients, I realized it didn't take much. These ingredients are amazing by themselves, they don't need to be watered down or hidden in fifty other things. So I kept it at five ingredients or less. I went out into the world to teach people my enlightened ways, and they requested these magical elixirs, so I started selling them. Today, I've gone back to my DIY roots a bit, but I also sell the products because I embrace laziness, and believe you should have access to products just as clean and simple as the ones you'd make yourself.
We love that your business is grounded in education and imagine that your skin care workshops are two-way streets in learning. What insights have you gathered from meeting with so many women (and men!) over the years?
Great question!! I've learned that women think they have horrible skin even if they look like dewy babies. It's an epidemic. Over and over and over women with perfectly clear skin will sit with me and say, “I don't know what to do, my skin is horrible.” I find myself searching for what they're talking about. I've learned that almost everyone is doing a way better job than they think they are--they work out, they eat healthy, they take care of themselves, and they're convinced it’s not enough. There's a lot of, “But what am I missing?!” when they do better than I ever will! Women are incredibly self-deprecating. Most of my job, while the girls in my DIY classes are stirring scrubs, is to go “You're really beautiful and really healthy. Did you know that?” I've learned that everyone is super smart and no one is buying the BS. People know when they're being lied to, and they're really good at figuring out the truth.
You absolutely radiate joy. Though, growing a business has to be a stressful endeavor at times. How do you keep focused and stay so positive?
Wow I am so glad! I am stressed out every minute of every day. I am actually not positive, at all. Maybe joyful, yes, but not positive. I have a terrible attitude, I'm full of sass and competitiveness, and I curse in a not-nice way a lot. And actually, this keeps me focused! I'm insanely driven, and I care so much about what I'm doing. Too much probably. I believe I'm doing the right thing, and I believe it's really important. I'm surrounded by people who agree and who inspire and motivate me to do better. So I'll have a bad attitude about something, look around at my team, and decide they deserve for me to be more focused...and maybe more positive. I'm working on it.
Industries are often competitive but the eco-beauty industry (small in comparison to the corporate guns) seems so supportive of one another – and it’s largely women running the ship! How has this community influenced S.W. Basics?
It's amazing. A lot of founders I admire are my friends now. We share contacts, we share information, and we share stories. It's so reassuring to hear that we all go through a lot of the same things, that we work in the same ways, that we believe in the same things. It's a really powerful group actually. They inspire me constantly. I wrote to Herbivore Botanicals the other day to complement their new tagline. I was actually mad it was so good. In a nice way, but still. Just so floored by how good it was. And Julia wrote back, “So is yours!” It's just really nice to admire people and to be patted on the back by those same people. You feel a lot less alone in what you're doing.
How do you approach formulating new recipes?
I start with an ingredient I'm obsessing over and then try to not complicate the formula. I try to only add the ingredients that will complement the first ingredient. Things that will work with it to make it even better. Then I make sure the consistency is user-friendly and there are no shelf-life issues. Then I'm done.
Is there a product you really want to bring to market? What’s on your punch list to make?
So many things! We have a full wall of ideas at the office. Right now I feel a little stuck, I have a bit of a block, because we have lots more people watching, and I want everything to be perfect. But, I want to do everything. Haircare, sunscreen, deodorant. There's nothing I'm not working on. Except makeup. For now.
We clung to every word in your book, Skin Cleanse. It was filled with authenticity, personality and tons of practical DIY lessons (thank you for sharing your secrets!) What is it like to be an author now?
Thank you!! It's...the best. I love it. It's a dream come true. I can't lie. I really, really love it. I mean, it contributes to how stressed I am, but it's really fulfilling to put all of your ideas into something and to turn to people and say, "Everything I think is right there. And I mean it. And I really stand by it." I guess you kind of worry you'll change your mind or something? But I worked my butt off. I was honest, I did my research, and I tried to be myself. I'm happy with it, and the response has been really amazing.
With your launch at Target with the Made to Matter series, it feels like you are on the cusp of something big and incredible. What do you envision S.W. Basics 2.0 as?
I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you. Or hire you.
p.s. Have you met The Globe Trotter?