The Brand We're Going Coconuts For
After obsessing over their playful packaging, we knew we had to reach out to the brand that makes clean beauty sexy. We are so excited to share this exclusive interview with Connie Lo and Laura Burget, the two beauty entrepreneurs behind the natural skincare line, Niu Body. They dish on the beauty rituals that keep them sane, and how they cope with the vulnerabilities that come with starting a new business.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START NIU BODY?
Connie: I came up with the idea for the coconut makeup remover wipes about a year ago, when I had been using pure coconut oil to remove my makeup. At the time, I thought it was annoying to use because it came in a solid form, so, I had to dirty multiple towels to remove my makeup each time. I began a search to find a coconut-based makeup removing towel, but couldn’t find anything. This, ultimately, ended up inspiring me to create NIU Body and our first product was environmentally-friendly coconut oil wilpes. Fun fact: “Niu” means coconut in Hawaiian!
Laura: My journey was a little different. I’m an engineer by trade --- I have background in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto, and am incredibly process-driven.
I was first introduced to green beauty and DIY skincare through my sister. The two of us have always been very close, so when she got into beauty at a much younger age than I did, her passion really rubbed off on me. I found that a lot of the non-toxic products I loved were very expensive, which is why we try to make NIU Body an accessible clean brand.
What is the mission behind NIU Body?
Connie: We launched NIU Body on March 1st of this year with the mission to deliver skincare products that are truly natural. We know a lot of brands claim they’re natural and have a few hidden ingredients, but we are truly natural, and highly effective. Beautiful skin doesn’t have to be complicated!
I’m all about cruelty-free and natural products because in the past I’ve had bad reactions to products that have a lot of chemicals in them, so we really want to show people that natural ingredients can be just as, if not more, effective than their chemical counterparts. And as animal lovers, we are also cruelty-free.
We’ve also worked hard to make NIU Body accessible, both in terms of branding, and in terms of price. We found that a lot of the natural skincare brands are too stuffy and expensive.
Personally, what are your core values when it comes to skin care?
Connie: I’ve had a lot of bad reactions to products with a lot of chemicals in them. I’ve suffered from rashes and breakouts from using the wrong products. So now, I look for simple ingredients.
Laura: I listen to what it is my skin wants. I don’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” solution to my skin concerns. I change my products depending on the weather, my stress levels, and the amount of acne I’m experiencing. And I never buy a product before doing my homework! I sift through dozens of reviews across Amazon and Sephora before making a purchase.
What are your swear by, beauty tips?
Connie: My mom always told me that our skin is a result of our gut health. At first, I ignored her. But once I finally decided to cut out the food that I was sensitive to, I immediately saw drastic results. I’m pretty sure I’m lactose intolerant, which is really hard because I love my latte! But beauty is pain, right? I learned that cutting out dairy, refined sugar, and carbs really helps my skin. As always, I regret not listening to my mom earlier. If you haven’t watched the new Netflix documentary called “What the Health?,” you need to check it out. There’s a ton of interesting information on plant-based diets and the dairy industry as a whole.
Laura: I have combination skin. During the summer, I get oily in the T-zone, but in the winter, my skin gets drier. I don’t have any serious skin problems except for stress-related breakouts. I never fall asleep with makeup on, no matter how tired I am. I used to breakout around my hairline on my forehead but I realized that that was due to not having taken off all makeup before bed.
Also, I have red hair so my skin burns easily so wearing sunscreen is especially important for me. I apply sunscreen religiously!
What are some of the core challenges the two of you have faced while starting your company?
Connie: It’s challenging to be a team of two female entrepreneurs who have yet to fully establish themselves in the industry. There’s a level of insecurity that goes along with that. We are both perfectionists, and often feel scared of putting ourselves out there until we have everything figured out. But if we waited until everything was perfect, we would have never launched. With startups, time is very valuable.
What I’ve learned since launching our company is that people are very supportive. I always knew that, but didn’t really internalize it until I put myself out there. I was overwhelmed with the support we received from our friends, family, and social media. Coming from a more traditional Asian family, I felt as though my parents always had very high expectations of me. When they told me that they were really proud of me no matter what happens with NIU Body, it really meant the world to me.
Being a business owner can be stressful. How do you manage stress levels and what keeps you sane?
Connie: Finding a balance between starting a new company and a having personal life can get really hectic. My primary destresser is exercise. I work out 5 days a week, alternating between gym, barre, and yoga classes.
I also have a few rituals before bed. I’ve noticed that meditation helps me sleep a lot better so I’ve really started incorporating that into my routine. I also like to diffuse essential oils and read. Usually, I can only read around 3 pages or so before passing out! Nevertheless, I just finished the self-help book, “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. And right now, I’m about ¾ of the way through “Shoe Dog”, written by the founder of Nike.
I’m also really passionate about energy and healing. Before, I was like, “I don’t believe in any of this stuff.” But now, I really do. Everything is about energy. I believe that positive thoughts match you with people on the same wavelength. If you’re positive and caring, I believe you will attract someone similar because, chances are, that person appreciates those same qualities.
Laura: The easiest way for me to manage stress is by working out. I do a combination of weight training and cardio up to 6 times a week, no matter how much I have on my plate.
I also really enjoy talking to people that inspire me and who can bring positivity into my life. And to be honest, I rely a lot on Connie. Given that we launched our company only 5 months ago, I often get stressed about all the paperwork and costs involved in getting the company off the ground. Connie really calms me down by helping me reflect on all the accomplishments we’ve had to date.
What does the future hold for NIU Body?
Laura: We just launched our line of serums, which we’ve worked incredibly hard on. Our next product is a line of facial mists, and then a line of clay masks this fall (I’m the most excited for those!).