Maya Ivanjesku has been working in beauty for nearly 30 years and teamed up with the company behind LaFlore to develop and launch a skin care line that takes advantage of the growing body of research on skin’s own microflora. Microbiome-friendly skin care is an emerging category at this point; but cross-industry research, a breadth of product innovation, and consumer interest suggest it will be very big business in the nor so distant future.
Here beauty innovator Maya Ivanjesku shares a profile of herself and the LaFlore brand.
Name: Maya Ivanjesku, Chief Scientific Officer
Indie Beauty Company: LaFlore Probiotic Skincare
Launched: October 2017
Headquarters: LaFlore Probiotic Skincare is headquartered at Dakota Biotech in Sarasota Florida
Cash flow: LaFlore is privately owned by Stephen R. Buckley, chairman and owner of Dakota Biotech. I am a partner.
Indie how? To me, creating an independent beauty brand means having the freedom to incorporate a truly meaningful percentage of active ingredients into the formula so the product delivers real benefits. Indie beauty brands are ones driven by performance, not profit margins.
Team work: We have 6 full-time and 5 part-time team members.
Distribution: Our primary channel for sales is our website. Here we provide education on the benefits of topical probiotic skincare and encourage community involvement through our lifestyle blog and reviews. In Q3 and Q4 of 2018, we started a real push for placement in prestige retail, spa, and physicians’ offices and are now in the process of registering for global distribution.
Years in beauty: 27
Years at LaFlore Probiotic Skincare: 3
Entrepreneurial experience: Before LaFlore, I owned a private label formulation lab called Herbacare where I developed numerous formulas for small private label projects such as doctors’ offices and compounding pharmacies. Prior to that, I was a consultant for numerous pharmaceutical and biotech companies where I provided expertise for topical prescription and medical device applications.
The business: We are fortunate to have our own manufacturing and R&D Labs based in the US in Florida, through our parent company Dakota Biotech. This allows us control of every aspect of the process from sustainable ingredient sourcing to the ability to apply strict green manufacturing policies in every step of our production and distribution. There are three primary areas in the company: manufacturing, sales, and marketing. Every day, each member of our team wears many hats and we are all extremely passionate about how our work furthers the probiotic movement.
The wow-factor: Our goal is to offer consumers an alternative to the ‘shop by age and skin type culture’ and aligns them instead with a simple-to-use brand they can love for life.
What makes LaFlore unique is that our live probiotic formulas deliver the same results as traditional actives (think vitamins C, A, and alpha hydroxy acids) with none of the irritating side effects. This means that our three products can be used to continuously correct a multitude of skin concerns even as the skin continues to change through time and circumstance.
The consumer: LaFlore provides benefits to all skin types; so we consistently see sales across the board to all genders and age groups. As of late, our fastest growing age group is 35-44, but the 25-34 and 44-54 categories are not far behind.
Milestone moment: In the last year, LaFlore has gained over 300,000,000+ social media and press impressions. Our social channels are showing consistent and steady growth and have been a key component in helping us catch the eye of retailers and prestigious media outlets. We are also starting to see weekly earned posts from micro and mid-size influencers which is very helpful in raising brand awareness to new social communities.
We have a very unique product, to say the least, so many of our milestones are moving targets. Beauty consumers are not yet used to hearing about topical probiotics so we find we need to provide consistent educational content for both B to B and B to C markets in order to help our audience better understand the benefits of what we offer.
And from an industry and personal perspective, I’ve been asked to speak and present at several microbiome conferences nationally and internationally. It’s a huge honor for me as these conferences include my peers from the scientific community and key industry players from around the world.
Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: Focus on branding even before the formulas are complete so you can tease the market and consumers with your products before you launch. We were so focused on not missing the launch date that we didn’t focus on our sales channels and marketing strategy enough and thus did not promote our brand effectively in the months before we launched.
Just one: Of course, I am going to be biased and say LaFlore but the only reason I say that is because I know exactly what goes into the products, where each ingredient comes from comes from and why it’s there.
Curious to learn more about microbiome skin care? Cosmetics Design is hosting an event this summer with all the experts and insights you need. Find out more and register HERE to join us at the Cosmetics Design Summit 2019: Skin Microbiome Innovation, which is sponsored by DSM and Givaudan (Diamond sponsors); Solabia, and Sabinsa (Platinum sponsors); Mibelle Biochemistry and Atlantia (Gold sponsors), and Indena (supporter).
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.