on working for La Prairie, their wellness journeys and clean skincare
When I first learned about WELL WITHIN skincare, I was impressed, simply because it was so clean. Then, I had the pleasure of meeting Co-founders, Lynne Florio and Renee Tavoularis, and fell in love with their mission. As beauty industry veterans (they both worked for La Prairie for over 20 years), their wellness journeys lead them to take a leap of faith and run with a vision. As an entrepreneur myself, I understand what it takes to bring a passion to life. Here, Lynne (LF) and Renee (RT) talk about starting the company, the best advice they've ever gotten and their definitions of beauty.
If you were to start each morning with daily intentions, what would they be and why?
LF: Seek progress over perfection. It’s important to accept where you are, where you want to be, how far you’ve come already…and then set your mind to moving forward.
RT: Inhale, exhale, repeat. Yes, this is meant to apply to breathing – but being mindful of my breathing helps me keep life in balance and stress levels in check.
Congratulations on the launch of Well Within! What inspired you to start the line?
RT: Thank you so much. WELL WITHIN is deeply personal to us and indicative of and inspired by where we are right now in our lives and our wellness journeys.
Over our collective years at La Prairie (we worked side by side there for over 20 years), we had incredible milestones and successes in business, but that came at a price. We lacked balance; we lacked time for self-care and well-being (ironic considering we were in the beauty industry!).
So towards the end of 2015, after many, many discussions, Lynne and I decided to make the change, close the chapter on La Prairie and start a new beginning as entrepreneurs, with a new business which we named WELL WITHIN, that was symbolic of where we were in life.
Lynne and I strongly believe that everyone is on a wellness journey, and that journey is constantly shifting and evolving. So we wanted to create a comprehensive and credible integrated space specifically for natural, sustainable solutions for skin, mind and body, with something for everyone, whether you were beginning, continuing or sustaining your wellness journey.
We knew the crux of the business would be skincare – the sector we know best – but we wanted to create something bigger than that to showcase our holistic approach to beauty, so we set out to include nutrition and lifestyle elements as well.
A mere 15 months later (in April 2017), our site went live, functioning as an online destination for plant-based solutions for skin health (including our plant-based luxury skincare range, PLANTED IN BEAUTY) and wellness.
What were the biggest learnings you took from La Prairie?
LF: Never lose sight of the customer ~ she (or he) should remain the center of your world.
RT: Ensure your brand voice is clearly articulated and felt at every touchpoint and interface.
Well Within is EWG Verified, which is a huge deal. Why is that important to you?
RT: When we started WELL WITHIN, we made a commitment to never trade quality or the peace of mind of our customer for time or money saved. To that end, our ethos of transparency guided us through the voluntary processes taken, going above and beyond what is required to provide assurances and complete transparency to our customers.
We’re very proud to say that our skincare collection (PLANTED IN BEAUTY) is certified by several independent, third party experts. We hold four certifications – EWG verified being one of them. For the consumer, this means the product has passed strict criteria for transparency, healthfulness and safety. This includes the avoidance of ingredients that authoritative health bodies have flagged for potential health concerns and that there is full disclosure of ingredients within the product. We’re also certified By Ecocert for the Cosmos Organic Standard, Leaping Bunny, The Certified Vegan Trademark, and the newest U.S. certification, EWG Verified.
If I was to look through your vanities, what else would I find?
LF: Of course my vanity is covered in PLANTED IN BEAUTY skincare products and lab samples of what’s to come. You could probably shop in there as well. We are constantly testing competitor’s products – from masks to oils, shampoos to body washes and lotions, foundations and concealers…should I keep going? – to see what’s in the marketplace and what’s missing. You’d also find a collection of scented candles in various states of use – I like different scents for different moods. I also have a few pictures from when my children (Juliet and Jared) were younger – those of course make me smile every time I see those snapshots.
What are your favorite places in NYC to shop for beauty products and why?
LF: Knockout Beauty. Cayli Cavaco Reck has an incredible eye and showcases niche, high end lines – many in the natural beauty space. Cap Beauty is in my neighborhood, so I’ll often find myself strolling in – the store setting is chic, the employees are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. I also love how Follain curates safe beauty for the consumer.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten and who was it from?
LF: Aileen Rowland, the former President of La Prairie, a colleague, mentor and friend of mine told me, “You don’t have to know everything and have all the answers to be successful. Surround yourself with smart, passionate and caring individuals that do.”
Besides using clean skincare, how else do you live beautifully?
RT: To me, living beautifully is truly a holistic practice, outside in, and inside out. That’s why I subscribe to a whole food and plant-centric diet — meaning a diet comprised mostly of whole, unrefined (or minimally refined) plants, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains; they lay the best foundation for healthy skin and overall good health.
Trust me – as you start to add nutrient-rich foods that serve your body well, you will soon discover its benefits to the skin since those nutrient-rich foods provide a broad range of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help protect yourself against inflammation, chronic disease and the effects of aging.
I also try and keep stress in check. While some amount of stress in life is unavoidable, there are certainly ways to minimize it, and practices to help manage it. I personally love the headspace app for a meditation session - no matter where I am. It helps me recalibrate and refocus.
LF: I move with intention. After decades in a corporate environment where my days were extremely sedentary – short of going from meeting to meeting or office to office – I now know how important it is to take a breather from my desk and get moving.
I’ll try to “long” way home from the grocery store, squeeze in a Soul Cycle class with my daughter whenever she’s home during her college breaks or go for an evening walk in the neighborhood with my husband and our dog Jinx. Even five minutes of fresh air is incredibly beneficial and rejuvenating to the body and mind.
Beauty is ________.
LF: Beauty is…so much more than skin deep. More than ever, I believe that beauty and wellness are intertwined - inside out and outside in.
RT: Beauty is being the healthiest version of yourself.