We are delighted to share with you features and essays written by super women with inspiring careers and businesses that are reshaping our economy and the way we consume. They share their journey, the process it took them to get to where they are now and what they’ve learnt along the way. Welcome to Modern Mentors.
I have been a nail technician since I was 19 years old. I’ve always been passionate about beauty and wellness but for me, the journey to where I’m at now is very personal. I’ve spent the majority of my career in this field and worked as a certified nail technician for more than 15 years. After only four years into my career as a nail technician however, I became sick from a lot of the products that I was using. When I went out to find healthier alternatives to these products, they didn’t exist. Suddenly, I found myself forced to choose between my health or my career. I dove headfirst into
researching ingredients, and spent years trying to figure out how to develop a truly safe salon experience.
Where it all began
In 2013, I opened Noktivo, which at the time was Chicago’s first and only non-toxic nail salon. Between openings, I traveled to Washington D.C. to share my personal story with legislators and to lobby for the Personal Care Products Safety Act in March 2016. The more I educated myself, the more passionate I became. Ultimately, this led me to create my second business baby, Lena Rose, which is named after my daughter.
Being a mother changes you in so many ways but for me, it was that this was no longer about me. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where the products she uses aren’t harmful to her well-being and create a business that really makes an impact. In Lena Rose, I wanted to create an environment where customers can shop worry free and know that the products they are buying are natural, non-toxic, and safe. So that’s what I did. Offering both spa services (facials, manicures/pedicures, hair removal) and a full retail experience (skincare, bath & body and wellness products), Lena Rose offers an assortment of goods for the conscious consumer.
The growth years
The past few years has been an extreme growth period for us. While the initial location has been amazing, the smaller space presented some issues in terms of larger activations and community centered events that have always been part of our brand vision. This past Fall we moved to a new location, one that nearly doubled the size of the first, including two treatment rooms, a dedicated classroom for workshops and events, a relaxation area complete with a cozy café and an expanded retail experience.
Being a small business presents its own unique challenges, generating awareness in a big city being a primary one. Clean beauty is becoming more mainstream which is great, but that also means more competition in the market. We’re constantly trying to evolve and stay ahead of the curve, especially when it comes to products and services offered. Unlike conventional retail, a big part of what we do has to do with education. We’re constantly trying to educate people on greener, cleaner options which has been an uphill battle as many customers are stuck in their beauty routines and regimens that may include products that are harmful to their health.
Clean beauty – understanding it and it’s impacts on your body and the environment – can be overwhelming. We want customers to choose what’s right for them, and be a resource to help them make informed and intentional buying decisions. Your skin is your largest organ and what you put on it is so important.
At the end of the day, I believe everyone should have access to healthy beauty products and I’m passionate about doing my part to make that happen. There are nearly 1,300 ingredients that have been banned from personal care products in Europe, yet only 11 are prohibited in the US. I’m so proud of the impact we’ve had on people lives to help them make better choices and at the risk of sounding cliché, I hope to continue to be the change we wish to see in the world.
Our work is far from over. After years of working on it, I’m very excited about launching a private label line early next year. In addition to the 300+ products currently available in store and online, I hope this helps to solidify Lena Rose as a destination for those looking for safer options in their self-care routine.
Lena Rose is Chicago’s first green beauty boutique and spa. From baby care to vegan makeup, owner Jenny Duranski offers a wide range of clean, healthy products for the entire family. Featuring a holistic spa, her team of skincare experts provides Farm to Facial™ treatments using the freshest and most beneficial ingredients for the skin.