Welcome to our entrepreneurial series where we delightfully share with you essays thoughtfully written by brave entrepreneurs with inspiring careers and businesses that are reshaping our economy and the way we consume.
I grew up in the very small town of New Ipswich, New Hampshire and met my business partner when I was in High School. We didn’t really get to know each other though, until we went to college in Massachusetts. My time spent there was extremely rewarding, exposing myself to knowledge and ideas that developed my business mindset. I was lucky to meet professors who still to this day support my entrepreneurial endeavors. I don’t know where I would be had I not attended that quaint little university on the hill because it shaped and pruned my confidence in becoming an entrepreneur.
I distinctly remember the day when I received a text from Sophia, (my co-founder for Phenic Skincare) asking for advice on the seedling of an idea of that would eventually blossom into Phenic Skincare. At that point, I was volunteering at Boston Business Women, a community for female entrepreneurs and helping them put a large scale conference that empowered women. I was supporting Anna Tsui, a respected life and business coach and was fortunate enough to build a relationship with her where I received valuable mentorship. Sophia was excited to work with me and was pleased with my responses to all her business questions so she immediately proposed that I become her business partner. I was thrilled and thought this would be such a brilliantopportunity.
Things Falling into Place
A month later Sophia flew to Lebanon to visit her family. Her grandmother Marta took Sophia out and shared with her an age-old family recipe for a moisturizer that her ancestors used to make and sell all over the Middle East. Marta was looking for someone within the family to pass down the recipe and had faith that Sophia was the right person and that she would be interested. The funny part was that Sophia had not announced our venture to her family by then. So now we had an heirloom of a recipe practically fall into our lap – and inspire our product line. The word Phenic is actually derived from the word Phoenician, in a nod to her Phoenician ancestry.
I was excited to work on a skincare line that was rooted in so much history. The story behind the brand held so much value for me. It also deeply bothered me how simple, common ingredients found in US skincare products were banned worldwide. I’m not talking about 50 or a 100 ingredients but 1,328 – banned in Europe alone! That number in the United States is 11. It always made me uncomfortable that a lot of these products aren’t tested for their long term exposure effects. We wanted to be able to create a line that was easy to understand and was free of harsh chemicals that we trust their negative effects longterm. I am proud to be able to bring our market a line of skincare products that truly work, while remaining natural, clean and pure.
I wasn’t the only one who saw value in our products and brand. While still in the pre-market phase, we applied to join Start-Up Worcester, which gave a year of free lab space, office space, mentors and networking events and won one of the coveted 12 spots two years in a row! This grant really accelerated our brand, especially with the seasoned mentorship. They gave us the confidence and expertise we needed to apply and exhibit at major trade shows and conventions. We were accepted into both Beautycon and Indie Beauty Expo our very first year. We actually launched our company officially at Beautycon, and were received extremely well- so well that we almost sold out of everything on our first day. Since then we have been featured in several subscription boxes including Think Dirty’s, Brownstone and Main’s which has built our customer base and social media following.
I think the biggest challenge in starting a skincare company is the competition- it’s a saturated market. Right from the beginning I knew that we needed to differentiate ourselves from the competition so that people felt comfortable buying from us when they had not tried our products in stores. We’ve managed to get our products out on most large retailers such as Amazon, and Beauty Bridge as well as our website. We needed to be able to build confidence with our audience that our products are not only premium but they are one of the best in the market. It has been very important for us to deliver on our promise and perfect our product, by making sure it’s backed by science and ensure its effectiveness. I can’t tell you the number of times I have ordered natural products that either didn’t work or caused breakouts. I am glad we’ve spent a lot of time in research and testing to deliver a decent product with minimal ingredients. I also wanted to mention that as an entrepreneur, we took the phase for coming up with pricing important- we wanted to make our products of premium luxury value yet affordable, cutting out massive margins. Right from the beginning we wanted to shrink the gap of products that work vs. products that Millennials and Gen Z can afford, and we are delighted to be able to bring a product like ours to a younger demographic. But don’t forget- we also have a pretty great origin story!
Alexandra Haigis is the Co-Founder of Phenic Skincare. With an extensive background in sales and marketing, she is excited to share her groundbreaking skincare company with the world. She is currently living in Miami, Florida pursuing her MBA in Marketing at Florida International University so she can learn the most up-to-date practices with retail and consumer goods marketing. She currently holds a BA in International Business from Assumption College and is Lean Six Sigma Certified.