LOLI Box marks the convergence of three overarching consumer trends: natural and organics ingredients, subscription services and DIY. The subscription service delivers to consumer’s doorstep a box packed with food grade or raw ingredients that consumers blend at home into a hair or skin care product by following a simple, step-by-step recipe.
“We like to say that we are the “Blue Apron” of beauty,” Tina Hedges, the founder and creator of the subscription service, told Happi.
Hedges not just another entrepreneur who likes makeup; she has serious beauty business cred. Hedges’ resume includes 25-plus years of experience with firms like Estée Lauder, L’Oréal and LVMH, where she headed up global product innovation to launch category breakthroughs in fragrance, skin care and makeup.
Hedges told Happi that while she was working with those A-list companies, she “often pushed the envelope and asked ‘why’ – why did we need to use preservatives, why did we need to use formaldehyde, why did we want to extend a product’s shelf life to 2+ years?”
But her path to LOLI Box began with a personal issue. In 2004 at just 37 years old, she was diagnosed with early menopause. Motivated to go back to her roots and inspiration from her Cuban grandmother’s recipes, she began personalizing her own beauty rituals.
Through a series of “aha” moments and serendipitous encounters, which included shopping for beauty ingredients from the shelves at health food stores, LOLI —which stands for “living organic loving ingredients”—was born.
“I was advising a start-up brand in the face oil category, and sipping on a $12 juice smoothie while staring at the olive oil casks at a retail outpost in Chelsea Markets. All of a sudden, it hit me: I knew right then and there that my mission was to un-bottle beauty or reengineer personal care products—eliminate the excess packaging and marketing gimmicks and offer high quality blends...” Hedges told Happi.
She was familiar with the natural route; in 2005, she stepped into the start-up realm with Jonathan Product, a sulfate-free, vegan hair care brand.
“It was 2005 and green beauty was considered niche, and I remember getting push back from both retailers and industry leaders that women would never give up their beloved, foamy poo,” said Hedges. “Now, natural beauty is even has dedicated retailers like Credo and being free of sulfates, parabens and other “nasties” is almost a requirement given that 46% of consumers are concerned about chemicals in their personal care products.”
For Hedges, LOLI box isn’t just about eschewing certain chemicals.
“The provenance and purity of ingredients matter as well,” she said. “Prior to the emergence of the farm-to-table movement, we were so detached from the provenance of our food. In beauty, there still is a lack of transparency and authenticity surrounding ingredients—just look at the debate between The Honest Co and the Wall Street Jouranal surrounding CLS versus SLS,” she told Happi.
Each month, customers provide feedback on which recipe they liked the most. Standouts to date have included Whipped Souffle Soap with Ghee, Shikkai Hair Mask, Tamarind, Maple & Honey Peel Off Sheet Mask and a 2-phase Chamomile & Olive toner/makeup remover.
For Mother’s Day, the company has created rose-themed box in which subscribers will create a rose jelly salve.
While LOLI Box soft-launched less than a year ago, the brand has had success with Urban Outfitters. And it appears to be ahead of the curve.
According to Mintel, one of the four key trends set to impact the global beauty and personal care industry over the next decade includes “gastronomia.” The market analysis and research firm contends that a growing number of consumers will get their hands dirty, so to speak, by getting involved in the process of creating beauty products at home.
“A new focus on natural ingredients will inspire an increasing number of consumers to roll up their sleeves and create homemade beauty solutions with the help of brands,” Mintel penned in its report.
Hedges has a valuable roster of advisors that include the former business partner of Anita Roddick of The Body Shop, an expert aromatherapist and founder of the only accredited school of aromatherapy in NYC and a naturalist, vegan chef turned biochemist.
“I have been lucky to have been part of a few award-winning, record breaking start-up brands from beverage and biotech to personal care,” said Hedges. “Those experiences almost worked against me with LOLI Beauty, because most successful start-ups are largely based on an unwavering conviction-based naiveté. It can be quite daunting when you know all the potential pitfalls and stumbling blocks to launching a new beauty brand, but I also remain convinced that the world doesn’t need more “stuff” in bottles.”