Growing, Growing, Growing

There have been many big developments at Follain over the past few months!  We had a successful second pop-up store in Washington, DC last April…we just opened a store on Nantucket…we’ve brought some incredible new team members on board…and we’re about to launch an e-commerce store!  Many friends and followers have asked to learn more about our thought process and staging of these moves, so here's an explanation!

As you know from an earlier post on the background of Follain, this concept has been in the making for 5+ years.  The idea was born in a previous life—when I was living in NYC, working a corporate job, and trying to get healthy...then learned about all the nasty chemicals in my beloved beauty products.  After years of hard work—in business school, skincare manufacturing, and lavender farming, of all places—the first Follain store was brought to life in Boston’s South End, last July 2013.  I always had the goal of changing the gigantic, detritus beauty industry for the better, and I always knew this change was not—and would never be—an easy task.  The task was daunting, to say the least, yet the moment I opened the store, I was overwhelmed by the number of supporters, customers and new friends that emerged!  I immediately knew that there were enough people out there who might be willing to embrace Follain, and help us change the beauty industry for good!

So, as my favorite Winnie the Pooh quote goes:

“You can’t stand in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes.”  

We’re trying to reach people, and trying to make a big change in the beauty industry.  This can't be done with just one store alone.

So, with only our earnings from the South End store to support us, we decided that the best way to introduce Follain to more people was through pop-up shops.  We began in DC, because the customers there are similar to our beloved Bostonians—highly educated, passionate, and ready to embrace change!  I'm also from DC originally, so it was fun to visit (and convert) friends and family members in that city.  Now we are two successful DC pop-ups in, and incredibly excited about the prospect of opening a full-time store there one day.

Then, I began thinking back to last summer—when I was jealous of every other Bostonian’s travel plans.  Weekends, weeks...many of our Boston customers even spend the entire summer outside of the city!  So we decided to join them—with the hopes of meeting some interesting new friends along the way, too!  This is when the idea for Follain Nantucket was born.  The store is open now, and will be through Columbus Day.  We hope to introduce many newbies to healthy beauty this summer, and maybe—just maybe—they will continue to follow us on our soon-to-launch e-commerce website!

This new e-commerce website was a real challenge for me at first.  I had always resisted opening an e-commerce store, due to my passion for in-store education and product experience, yet once the phone orders started rolling into the store daily…I knew we were being presented with another big opportunity to serve people healthy products.  Just like our brick & mortar stores, our e-commerce site will be basic and beautiful.  It will help you find the best healthy beauty products available, customized for your skin. 

I don't know exactly what developments will come next, but I will tell you this:  NONE of our progress to date would have been possible without amazing friends, supporters, and team members...like YOU!  Please keep the store ideas, product suggestions, and visits coming!  I so appreciate your love and support, and always love hearing from you.  

Until next time!


U.S.-Made Beauty Is Here To Stay

All thirty of Follain’s clean, pure, and effective beauty product brands are made in the U.S…for reasons you may not expect.

There’s no getting around it: when it comes to skincare, Europe has higher regulatory standards than the U.S.  There are 1,000+ toxic ingredients banned from beauty products in the E.U., and just 10 banned in the U.S.  Because our lack of regulation, most mass-manufactured U.S. skincare products are chock-full of cheap, toxic chemical ingredients that wear down our skin in the short term, and accumulate in our systems to make us sick in the long term.  This is one of the reasons why – for years – us Americans looked to Europe (mainly Germany and France) for the only truly healthy and effective products.  I’m VERY happy to say that this is no longer necessary!

The U.S. skincare industry is undergoing the same change already experienced by the food industry.  American brands have taken matters into their own hands, and created impeccable ingredient standards.  In fact, now many of the MOST effective and clean products are actually made here in the U.S.  

Before opening Follain, I did not have to make the choice of whether to sell brands from all over the world—or from the U.S., but I still chose to stick with the U.S.  Here’s why:
  1. The closer products are made to Follain, the less of a need there is for the nasty chemical preservatives necessary for shipping, and shelf life extension.
  2.  The closer products are made to Follain, the less of a carbon footprint there is in getting the products onto our shelves. 
  3. When given the choice of two equally awesome products, why wouldn’t we support U.S. jobs and manufacturing?
  4. U.S.-made brands are obviously uncompromising with their manufacturing.  We know for sure that they’re not employing any unethical low-cost overseas labor. 

It’s 2013, ladies and gents.  Almost 2014.  We no longer need to rely on other countries to set the trend for healthy beauty products.  We’ve caught up—and even exceeded—our friends across the pond in the skincare department.  And we should take pride in this!

Until next time, what's your favorite U.S.-made brand?


Believe In Toner

I receive tons—TONS!—of questions about toner daily: “when am I supposed to use it?”…“I thought it was an unnecessary fluff product?”…"didn’t someone tell me I wasn’t supposed to use it?”

Toner is a quick, easy, and often-overlooked step in many skincare regimes.  Basically, it’s silly to apply beautiful serums and creams to your skin without properly cleansing and toning first.  

A great skincare regimen includes the following: 1) CLEANSER(S); 2) TONER; 3) SERUM / TARGETED TREATMENT; and 4) MOISTURIZER / SPF...in THAT order!  

Apply toner with a (preferably unbleached, organic) cotton pad, cotton ball, or spray diffuser--whatever you like best--and then allow it to soak into your skin a few seconds.  Your face should still be "dew-y" (not wet) with toner when you apply your serum or moisturizer.

Here’s why toners are so important to the process:
  •    Toners balance skin, preparing it to absorb serums and moisturizers better (cleansing is necessary, but also leaves skin unbalanced);
  •    Toners remove any cleanser, dirt, or impurities left on your skin (serums and moisturizers cannot penetrate skin and do their best “work” if there’s still residue there);
  •    Toners can also sometimes tighten pores.  Just make sure they are using something like lavender or green tea caffeine (not alcohol!) to do this.

If you still think the idea is "fluff", I challenge you to use toner for one month, and then try going without it for 3 or 4 days.  You’ll see what I mean…HUGE difference in your skin!  

Please remember—a healthy, chemical-free, and alcohol-free toner is NOTHING like the astringent toners of your adolescence.  Those products strip skin, leaving it red, irritated, and helpless.  "Avoid alcohol" is another good mantra...for toner, at least!

Currently at Follain, you can choose from Shamanuti’s Seaweed Toner, Herbivore Botanicals’ Balance Toner, and SW Basics’ Toner. 

Beth Hopkins, founder of Shamanuti, describes her Seaweed Toner as “rich with minerals and antioxidants that scavenge free radicals and improve skin cell structure and performance.”  It also has a vegan hyaluronic that “encapsulates mineral rich hydration into the dermis before it evaporates off.” 

Julia Wills from Herbivore Botanicals says that she created the Balance Toner to “restore pH balance to combination or oily skin after cleansing. Additionally, it removes any impurities remaining after cleansing, tightens pores and prepares your face for better moisturizer absorption."

According to SW Basics, their toner “evens skin tone and neutralizes pH, meaning we wake up both less oily AND less dry.”

If you’re wondering which of these (or other) toners is best for your skin type, feel free to reach out and ask me! 


Happy to Join Boston’s Health Movement!

Once I committed to launch Follain, the next big decision was: WHERE.  Many people advised against Boston, because it's apparently very tough on new retailers.  They also mentioned that “healthier” cities would warm to my Follain concept faster than Boston might. On the healthy front, at least, these people were wrong, wrong, wrong!

I'm so happy with the decision to launch Follain in Boston.  I really couldn’t have picked a better time to enter Boston’s health + wellness scene – which has been popping over the past year, and is truly thriving now.  Boston has recently welcomed the following, INDEPENDENT, BOSTON-BASED health+wellness businesses and concepts with open arms:

  • November Project – 500+ people ("the tribe") voluntarily climb 37 sections of stadium steps at 5:00 and 6:00 Wednesday mornings and do other free workouts together up hills and in parks on Mondays and Fridays.
  • Spinning - ReCycle Studio did so well that it opened a second location, on Newbury.  There was enough demand in the city for Handle Bar to open too!
  • Brooklyn Boulders - The NY success story chose Somerville for its second location, and is getting tons of hype already.
  • Hubway – there was always a love of the back roads and PanMass Challenge, but now everybody’s doing it!



  • Follain – Now Bostoners can round out their healthy lifestyles with the first truly healthy beauty store! 25+ brands of spa-grade, U.S.-made products, free of any synthetic chemicals whatsoever.

If that's not enough proof for you, others have measured the cold hard facts - including fitness indices - and Boston still lands on top for healthiest US cities. Boston popped up on the following top 10 healthiest US city lists: Huffington Post (#1); Forbes (#3), Travel Channel (#3); Daily Mail (#6), and others.  

Looks to me like this is the exact right time to join Boston's burgeoning health scene.  People are eating healthier, exercising more often, and now they can find the last piece of wellness, through healthy skincare, at Follain.  

Plus, being the stubborn woman I am, I really just want to prove those skeptics wrong.  Wish me luck!  


Follain Before & After; Great Friends Hard At Work

Happy July, everyone!  Hope your summers are off to a good start, and that you have some fun, patriotic plans for the holiday.

Well, Follain officially began “soft opening” mode last week, and we’ve been doing really well thus far—much better than expected, actually.  Without telling anyone about the launch (besides friends, family, and NA followers like you), I simply raised the blinds and opened the front door, wondering if a single soul would walk into the store.  Much to my surprise—and delight—the neighbors have been streaming in steadily!  We've even had repeat customers in the mere 5 days we've been open!  

Neighbors are stopping in because they’re interested in the concept, yes, but also because they "love what I’ve done with the space.”  In the spirit of full disclosure, you must know that I NEVER would have been able to pull this space off without the help of great, great friends.  Read on to meet these incredible people, and to see before and after pictures of their hard work that brought Follain to life.  

Step into my new office...


I'm so grateful to all of my friends and family members who put in time to make this space look GREAT.  Many, many people contributed to the effort, but a very special thanks go out to the following...

Thank you for painting, Lockwood
An ad-man by day, Lockwood recently left the mountains of New Zealand to come climb around the Follain store instead.  He began his painting "career" at the Holderness School in New Hampshire, where he learned the trade from a mysterious man with a handlebar mustache.  Lockwood's funny stories, jam sessions, and early morning wake-up calls were all vital to Follain's progress during renovations.  Sadly, Lockwood has left us for bigger and better things.  He can now be found on a boat launch in Nantucket, but he'll always be remembered for his meticulous attention to detail, his ability to paint to ceilings without a ladder, and his knack for covering up purple paint.

Thank you for building everything, Johnny
Lucky me, my great friend Johnny had the "summer off" before B-school, and was willing to learn a new trade...carpentry.  Johnny quickly befriended the local lumber yard, hardware store, and wood shop.  Days later I had beautiful shelving, display pedestals, and a custom point of sale station!  VERY lucky me!  Whether it was picking the best wood, trialing different finishes, or building the best cubbies this side of the Charles, Vandy never missed a beat in the carpentry department.  I'd grant him that forestry degree if I could.

LOOK at those pedestals!

Thanks for the expert advice and equipment, Sam
Whenever there was a question about placement, materials, or equipment, Sam was the man with a solution.  When I first met Sam he had just built a cabin in Maine...by himself.  Fast forward a decade (including many years in the construction and real estate businesses) Sam is now our resident expert on all things building-related.  We were lucky enough to tear him away from thesis-writing every now and then, and we always listened closely when he came in and dropped great advice bombs.

Thank you for absolutely everything, James!
A special thanks goes out to James for spending his single week of vacation working on the store, and for spending his weekends here too.  Not as a dutiful husband (no...couldn't be!) but as the biggest Follain supporter of them all!  More importantly, for providing tons of support at home, for believing in me, and for lending all the amazing advice.  I dare say that the consulting internship is already paying off nicely!  This man looks just as good in a suit as he does in a dirty jerzy t-shirt with his own face on it!

Worker Bees!



Coming Soon: FOLLAIN

Photo: Kat Rodenhiser
Well, friends…here begins another new chapter.  The exciting news is: I started a retail business.  Here's the story...

A few years back I made the decision to go to business school, with the sole motivation of starting a healthy skincare business “one day.”  I wanted to fill the market need for a retail store that sold healthy beauty products ONLY.  As followers know, I promptly quit my job in NYC, embarked on a lavender farming adventure in France, and then did some skin care manufacturing research in Maine.  I continued researching the space and meeting with brand founders, aestheticians, dermatologists—everyone—along the way.  At b-school, the goal was to secure a marketing job, and do that for 5 or 6 years after graduation before starting my business.  

Plans changed this spring.  

I had written a business plan for an entrepreneurship class at school, and, on a whim, submitted the plan to a national competition.  My concept WON.  Soon after, mentors, friends, family, and others came out of the wood work to support me in taking the real plunge.  So…the time is NOW!

This summer, I will pilot FOLLAIN (Gaelic for ‘healthy, wholesome, and sound’) in a brick & mortar storefront in Boston’s South End.  While I have some big long-term goals, immediately I hope to convince Bostonians of everything YOU already know—the impact of skincare products on beauty, health, and the environment! 

Here's the general gist of FOLLAIN:
  • A curated mix of the healthiest, most effective, and—when possible, local—products from 25+ skin care, hair care, and cosmetic brands
  • A refill system for the fastest-moving products (starting with liquid body soap)
  • Education stations to learn about ingredient benefits, brand stories, and product offerings
  • A sample sink to test all products in store
  • And more...

I invite you to follow Follain’s progress here on the blog, via other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, and, of course, in person, at 53 Dartmouth Street in Boston.  I’ve so appreciated your commitment and support up until now!  Please spread the word!!!

And of course, please also check back here for pictures and updates on our progress…including, but not limited to: before & after construction pics; real estate woes; POS (that is, point of sale) pains; and the many other fun and not-so-fun sides of starting a retail business.

More soon!



Earth Day Beauty Is Everyday Beauty for Most Models and Celebrities

April is a great month.  The sun is out.  It finally feels like spring.  It’s my birthday month.  And, of course, it’s Earth Day month!!  

To fashion magazines, Earth Day month equates to natural beauty month.  I’m not sure when the mags began spotlighting natural products each April, but I love the tradition and obviously have a lot to say about it.  For instance, do these Earth Day beauty spotlights mean that magazines recognize healthy skincare is better for BOTH our bodies AND the environment???

Not sure if you noticed this in the April issues, but I thought the juxtaposition of Town & Country’s Earth Day beauty review (first below) to InStyle's (second) was fascinating.  InStyle asks: do natural products really work?  Then T&C just goes ahead and lists beautiful celebrities’ healthy beauty product favorites—noting that these products have “become less the exception than the rule.”  HELL YES, Town & Country!!!  Who knew you’d be the most progressive of them all?!?!?

While InStyle, Women's Health, Elle, and others reviewed healthy products in their April Earth Day spotlights, they still tiptoed around these products like they might not be effective.  The unhealthy mass-market brands wouldn't want you to know it, but the reality is that natural skincare is not only effective…many (dare I say most?!?) models and celebrities use natural products ONLY!  In addition to those featured in the T&C spotlight, we know that Giselle Bundchen, Miranda Kerr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and others are on board with natural because they either make or license their own healthy product brands (check out the name links to see their brands).  The list goes on...  Natalie Portman, Carolyn Murphy, Emma Stone, Zooey Deschanel...!

If the women who are in the public eye most, and who MUST care for their skin and appearances (because they're paid to do so!) all use healthy, natural skincare products ONLY--how are we still questioning whether these products work?  How do we only get reviews of these products in April for Earth Day?  Let's join the models, celebrities, and women with the most impeccable skin.  In the wise words of the folks at Refinery29, let's make every day Earth Day...with our beauty products, and the rest of our lifestyles!  

Town & Country Earth Day Beauty Spotlight.

InStyle Earth Day Beauty Spotlight.

Womens Health April Earth Day Spotlight.

Elle Spotlight.

Beautiful spring day at the Boston Common!