I grew up in a medical household. My father is a surgeon, and professor of medicine and my mother, a well-seasoned cook, instilled in us the Hypocratic axion "Let thy Food Be Thy Medicine". Both my mother and father engaged us in their perspectives on health, which included discussions on anatomy, medicine, and diet and led us outside to exercise, enjoy fresh air and natural surroundings. Such influences inspired my studies in nutrition, alternative medicine, green design and botany. In hommage to Carl Von Linné, the eminent Swedish botanist and physician, who made tremendous contributions to medicine and the classification of botanical species, I have named my brand LINNÉ.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR STUDIES?
I completed my undergraduate degree at Middlebury College in Vermont where I was influenced by the active outdoors lifestyle and culture of environmental stewardship. While there, I was involved in various sustainability and ecological initiatives, including campaigning for carbon reduction, maintaining the organic vegetable garden and studying plant-based remedies with a local herbal medicine doctor. Later on, while living in the Bay area, I completed a certification in California Native Plant botany and Herbal Medicine. I also explored alternate forms of healing through studies in anatomy, Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, massage therapy and yoga that took me to extraordinary places including the Amazon jungle and the Tibetan plateau. This explorative education contributed to my holistic approach to skincare that not only includes ingredients sourced the world-over but also incorporates techniques such as massage to promote product penetration, circulation and lymphatic drainage.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN SKINCARE LINE?
Even as a child I made homemade facial products from edible items in the kitchen. My mother often highlighted the benefits of the culinary ingredients she used and I began to take interest in how they could also be used topically. I would craft recipes from such simple household staples such as almonds, oats, apples, and honey and I would test the final products on my sister and my mother.
Post college, and throughout my certification course in California Native Plant Botany and Herbal Medicine, I continued to formulate skincare products, only this time, the ingredients included wild botanicals with potent chemical compounds. To start I created products to improve my dry, psoriasis-susceptible skin and moved on to develop treatments for my younger sister who struggled with dry, acne-prone skin. After several iterations and trials, I formulated BALANCE to harmonize her sebum production, reduce inflammation, fight bacteria, respect her microbiome, and reverse scaring and discoloration. I started to share the products with others in my community and expanded the line to support pervasive needs, namely breakouts and pre-mature aging. Incorporating extensive feedback, I was able to fine-tune my formulas to offer what has become LINNÉ. Today we continue to rely on the LINNÉ community as we develop new products.
HOW DO YOU SOURCE YOUR INGREDIENTS?
Like my mother, I love to cook and enjoy procuring the highest quality and freshest seasonal ingredients from artisanal producers. I particularly like to shop at farmer’s markets where I can select from heirloom organic varieties and learn from the vendors about their farming principals.
I apply the same principles of discrimination when sourcing my skincare ingredients. For better or worse, there are so many variables to natural products – species variety, growth location and conditions, whether or not pesticides and fertilizers are used, the time and means of harvesting, the process by which the plant is converted into an oil or extract, the conditions of storage and distribution, and the potential adulteration by secondary traders – so being natural alone isn’t good enough. I source only the finest ingredients from the most reputable suppliers. The majority of the ingredients I use are organic or sustainably wild-harvested. Sometimes, however, I choose ingredients that are not certified organic, but are safe, clean and responsibly farmed, to save consumers significant cost and support respectable suppliers. I also accept that there will be variation from harvest to harvest and we embrace the nuanced fluctuations in color and scent from season to season. With that said, each ingredient purchase is accompanied with a certificate of analysis to confirm that all our active levels meet our targets and provide functional consistency.
WHY DO YOU USE NATIVE PLANTS?
Native plants have evolved to survive their particular climate, whether subjected to extreme drought, strong sun, or fungus and bacteria-loving damp, dark jungle. Unlike plants that are tended carefully in a nursery, plants that grow in the wild have adapted strong defense mechanisms to protect themselves from their harsh environments. This struggle leads to a concentration of active compounds that we extract and employ to protect ourselves from environmental stresses and degradation.
We additionally support the maintenance and sustainable harvesting of wild plants as we promote species diversity and aim to protect traditional practices and wild places by giving them economic value.
WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR KEEPING SKIN HEALTHY ON A DAILY BASIS?
For me it’s all about balance. I take care of my skin by eating cleanly, exercising, getting enough sleep (which is easier said than done with a young child), and trying to keep stress to a minimum. Reducing stress isn’t always easy (especially when running an emerging business) but stress is a major contributor to premature aging, inside and out, so I value making time to relax by getting outside, laughing and dancing with friends, preparing nourishing meals, and pampering myself with wholesome products.
Just because I may share my green juice on social rather than my ice cream cone, I am not dogmatic about wellness or into deprivation. I was once told that the greatest sign of wellness is the ability to course correct. One should enjoy life and celebrate with indulgences. With that said what we ingest ultimately effects our skin (and our planet). After all, the skin is our largest organ; it is an incredible layer that connects our inner composition to the outer world. How we treat our bodies is expressed in the health of our skin and conversely what we put on our skin affects our inner health. I initially created these products as a nourishing, nature touch point for busy, ambitious friends and family members. Now as I share them with the greater world, I aim to provide everyone with clean, effective products and an experience that is restorative to the soul. LINNÉ is my opportunity to exponentiate my care for people and planet and bring joy into your self-care ritual. Thank you for making LINNÉ a part of your day!