Steeping Some Self-Care

 

I work as the buyer at a fairly bumping New York City health food store, and some days it seems like everyone and their sister wants our shelf space. There are days when I tell four or five small business owners no for one reason or another.

Sometimes the product is boring. Sometimes the product is redundant. Sometimes, the person selling it grates on my nerves for some minuscule reason and I just tell them to go away.

But once in a while, I get the chance to see a really eye catching product occupying a unique niche being peddled by a truly charming entrepreneur. When that happens, I remember how much I love my job.

Beauty Steep is the result of Sal Barone being worn out from the holidays, and desperate for a little under-eye rejuvenation before a party. I mean there is more to it than that obviously, but at the root of this amazing self care product that is taking Manhattan by storm, there was just one small problem that needed fixing. (That’s something every entrepreneur would do well to remember.)

“I’ve always been a fan of using natural ingredients for beauty tricks, (mother nature is the best beauty influencer, after all)” Sal says, so upon remembering that the caffeine and antioxidants in black tea can reduce under eye puffiness, he brewed himself a quick cup of tea and put those bags on his face. “It really worked! The only problem was that the experience wasn’t very relaxing—I had to sit perfectly still, hoping the tea bags wouldn’t fall off my face. And that’s when the light bulb when off.”

After a thorough google search, Sal could hardly believe that this idea hadn’t already been had, and he knew he had to pursue it.

Beauty Steep is a face mask, stuffed with the most aromatic Rose and Jasmine tea blends you’ve ever smelled and styled to perfection with a delicate spray of closed eye lashes over each eye. You steep the face mask in hot water and allow it to cool down to a comfortable temperature and then affix it to your puffy face with the elastic band. I like to apply it warm and let it cool down. But you could also prepare your mask in the morning and stick it in the fridge to come home to after a hot day.

All too often, taking the chemicals out of a beauty care routine, means adding a little bit of either hard work or frustration on the part of the consumer. But with Beauty Steep, Sal has merchandised an incredibly natural fix to a common problem and made it so easy to use.

Before setting out on this entrepreneurial journey, Sal worked as creative director at an advertising agency for all the major beauty brands: Maybelline, Garnier, L’Oreal and Dove. After that, creating his own beauty product felt like a natural evolution.

Despite the sweet smelling nature of the product, Sal will admit the process isn’t all roses. Making a product in New York is expensive and finding a manufacturer is difficult. But demand is growing steadily so growth needs to happen.

The transition from making his prototypes and first few batches of product by hand to now considering factories and bulk materials has been a lot to handle, not only logistically but also emotionally.

As a business owner, you’re aware that moving to an automated process is the best way to go, but it’s scary. Do you go overseas? If so, will the quality be as good? Our mission is not only to remove dark circles and puffy eyes but we want people to have a relaxing, spa-like experience. So the masks have to be well-made. Buying our own tea-filling machine will keep the manufacturing and quality control in NYC, but that can be a costly move. We want to re-invest in the business but at the same time we want to make sure we have the money to continue servicing customers/stores/etc. This has been the most stressful part of running Beauty Steep.

Sal was super honest and admitted he never dreamed that his product would take off so quickly. Among the factors that have propelled Beauty Steep to such heights so quickly, was a huge amount of what Sal says was completely organic PR that just started happening. He attributes it to the way the beauty trends are changing. The people in charge of finding ‘the new hot thing’ are on the lookout for more natural products.

He does credit some of his positive press to a domino effect, that all tipped off with the Indie Beauty Expo, (the only trade show he’s shown at so far). Beauty Steep was nominated for the best in show award and not long after that totalbeauty.com named them one of 2018’s best indie beauty brands. On the heels of that came a ranking in NY Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide. “I’ve always dreamed that one day my product would be on that list. When I saw it in the magazine, I got a little teary-eyed.”

He does credit some of his positive press to a domino effect, that all tipped off with the Indie Beauty Expo, (the only trade show he’s shown at so far). Beauty Steep was nominated for the best in show award and not long after that totalbeauty.com named them one of 2018’s best indie beauty brands. On the heels of that came a ranking in NY Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide. “I’ve always dreamed that one day my product would be on that list. When I saw it in the magazine, I got a little teary-eyed.”

For Beauty Steep, the marriage of old school self care and nuevo-cute packaging means that their demographic for individual consumers is huge and spans generational gaps.

[Our Customers] are well informed about products that use synthetic preservatives, parabens etc. Sheet masks and under eye patches are very popular but they’re sometimes loaded with ingredients we can’t even pronounce. So I think we attract people who want a more natural solution.

Their buyer demographic however, is what  they are focusing on expanding right now. After getting picked up by several health food stores (Hand raised emoji), Spas and boutique hotels are the next and possibly more profitable avenue to head down. “[We’d love] to be in boutique hotels where there’s a mask waiting for you in a basket or by the tub. People tell me they steep the mask in the tub all the time (makes the bath smell like roses/jasmine).”

Once this amazing period of growth evens out for Beauty Steep and the opportunity to be creative comes back around, Sal is looking forward to expanding the selection of scents in their signature products, but also concocting some face masks using superfoods like Spirulina, orange peel, and matcha green tea. “We’re also working on a black tea and rose geranium face serum!”

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