Mary Futher’s indie personal care brand began like many others, with a consumer disappointed by readily available, conventional products—in this case, the consumer was a beauty industry veteran and the products in question were facial cleaning wipes.
“As a busy executive,” Further tells Cosmetics Design, “I worked long hours and frequently travelled for work, so I found myself at the end of the day reaching for makeup wipes because they were so easy. The problem was that most of them burned my eyes.”
Long story short: her brand’s first and signature product is “juicy bamboo cleansing cloths…made with 100% cashmere-soft bamboo fibres and formulated with organic honey and nourishing oils to gently cleanse even the most sensitive skin and eyes," she says. "I also wanted to make sure they were environmentally friendly, so the cloths are compostable and will biodegrade in 60-70 days when buried in soil,” explains Futher.
Here, the beauty entrepreneur shares a profile of herself and the brand.
Name: Mary Futher, Founder and Product Developer
Indie Beauty Company: kaia naturals
Headquarters: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cash flow: kaia naturals is privately funded and at least 51% founder owned
In 2017, I was selected along with 9 other founders from the US, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil to be part of Sephora Accelerate. This exclusive mentorship program was created by Sephora to support [women] entrepreneurs in all areas of the beauty industry with a focus on social impact; and we received funding and over 6 months of mentorship from industry leaders.
Indie how? To me a beauty brand is independent if the company is owned and operated by the founder as the key stakeholder. I also believe that the founder’s beliefs and values need to be a part of the DNA of the company.
Team work: 5 full-time employees
Distribution: kaia naturals available throughout the US and Canada on our own ecommerce site kaianaturals.com and at select retailers like Anthropologie, Riley Rose, Neiman Marcus and Freepeople.com.
Years in beauty: 20+
I have worked as a marketing executive and product developer at several multinational cosmetic companies for over two decades, including Revlon, Yves Saint Laurent, and Shoppers Drug Mart (a Canadian drug retailer) developing Quo cosmetics.
Years at kaia naturals: 8
Entrepreneurial experience: kaia naturals is my first company after over 20 years of working in global beauty companies in Product Development and Marketing capacities.
The business: kaia naturals offers 'clean beauty for busy people'….I understandd that people are busy and do not necessarily have the time to study labels and research ingredients, so I vowed to do the work for them when I started kaia naturals.
Our clean beauty line currently consists of natural facial cleansing cloths, charcoal detox deodorants, detox hot baths, and overnight dry shampoos.
The wow-factor: Our mantra is minimalism. We don't make a lot of products but what we do make, we make sure we do it really well.
The customer: 25-40 year olds, who are busy, on-the-go, and active.
Milestone moment: After launching the takesumi detox charcoal deodorants we received a lot of attention from media, including features in The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Refinery29 and Elle.
Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: Stay agile and try to bootstrap as long as you can, as this ensures that the company can grow into something that you envisioned and controlled. I believe that although this method is difficult it will force you to look at your business very carefully and develop strategies that will ensure you can make it to the next level because it forces you to keep moving to the next level without the “strings” attached with investors.
Just one: Asked about her go-to product, Futher says, the most important skincare step I would never miss is cleansing. My desert island item would definitely be the juicy bamboo cleansing cloths, so that I can cleanse and hydrate my skin at the same time, without having to use water.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.