SHE Spotlight: Kristy Alexander of Apple Rose Beauty
One of the most consistent and intimate routines a woman has is her skin care and makeup. It’s something most of us engage in daily. It is also one of the least regulated areas. Like many areas of our lives, overhauling it to be more #sustainable, #healthy, and #ethical can be a crazy journey.
Here are SHE, we’re all on our own unique journeys with finding new skincare routines. We’ve each been in the varying stages of being frustrated by the lack of options, letting go of the emotional ties we have to brands we’ve “always used” or our mother’s used, or initially excited but then disappointed by the performance of the brands we do try. Trying to find a company that gives back too? Good luck.
So it was absolutely exciting when we met Kristy Alexander and got to talk to her about her natural and organic skincare brand, Apple Rose Beauty. She’s passionate, smart, ambitious, and has a huge heart. In fact, her title is “Chief Big Heart.” We think you’ll be inspired by her journey, her vision for skincare, and her fight against human trafficking. Enjoy our conversation below.
What’s the story behind the name of your company?
Apple Rose Beauty is actually named after two victims of human trafficking — Apple and Rose who I met in the red light district in Bangkok, Thailand.
At the peak of my decade-long career in engineering, business and management I felt like something was missing. So I left my job, sold my home and embarked on an 11-month mission to 11 countries working with some of the most marginalized communities in Central America, Asia and Africa. It changed the course of my life.
In Thailand I lived with women who were rescued from human trafficking and taught them English. I also went into bars and befriended victims of trafficking. That's when I met Apple. She was trapped. Her mother had cancer and she had very little education or opportunity to do meaningful work that she could be proud of to support her family.
My team met Rose later on in the trip and I was responsible for following up with Apple and Rose before we left Thailand. When I called Apple she told me she had built up enough courage to leave the bars. When I called Rose, she didn't answer. My heart was broken for the cause of human trafficking then and I knew I would spend the rest of my life helping to bring freedom and opportunity to its victims.
When I returned to the United States, I founded Apple Rose Beauty — a premium skincare company that would provide opportunities for human trafficking survivors by employing them in sales, marketing, and customer service, as well as donating to organizations that rescue and rehabilitate them.
What have you learned about skincare that might surprise women?
I know many women who are serious about what goes into their bodies through the food they consume, but many of my customers are at first surprised to learn that more than 60% of what we put on our skin through our skin care products gets absorbed into our blood stream. It's an area we need to be just as diligent about as our diet. Read Kristy's simple tips for making shifts in skin care products here.
What is the one skincare ingredient that works for all skin types?
Aloe Vera – it's one of those tried and true ingredients that has been around forever. It has more than 20 amino acids and penetrates quickly and deeply to provide a host of nourishment to the deeper layers of skin.
Where did you get your passion for skin care?
When I was 15 years old we analyzed face powder in my chemistry class and I was hooked. I knew in that moment I wanted to be involved in creating products for the skin.
What are your “must have” skin care products?
A really good cleanser and a protecting moisturizer. I think these are the basics to any healthy skin care regimen. Everyone needs these. Finding a cleanser that truly cleans and a moisturizer that nourishes the skin as well as protects it is fundamental. Of course I am biased towards our Nourish Naturally Moisturizing treatment. My love for this product is bordering on a major crush :)
In fact, I had a customer call just this morning to rave about how her makeup just glides on so well over this and we swooned for a good half hour about how much we love it.
How did you develop the formulas in your products?
I have always had an interest in natural formulations for healthy skin and hair and often mixed concoctions in my kitchen for myself and friends who struggled with breakouts, dry skin, acne, or signs of aging. I am an avid label reader and during my trip around the world I sought out and tried natural ingredients across three continents. I took the knowledge I had amassed over the years to top-of-the-line chemists and manufacturers who produce products for high-end spas in the United States.
In addition to ethical sourcing, I had two goals in mind: to make sure that my products were as natural and organic as possible and that they worked for real skin issues.
You have a unique childhood. Can you talk about how that set your love for organic, natural products?
I was born and raised in the Caribbean twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. We used natural solutions for everything. When we had a cough growing up, my Dad would mix honey and lime for us to drink; we rarely drank cough syrup. When I had a headache, my mom would mix aloe with cold water and pat my head with the mixture. When we had digestive issues, my grandmother mixed aloe, molasses and lime juice and gave it to us to drink. She fancied herself combating the horrible taste by giving us a grapefruit to munch on afterwards! Fun times!
The first resort in my home growing up was always the natural and organic one, not meds and toxic chemicals. I grew up with an appreciation for the fact that nature provides us with many of the solutions we need. This is the foundation for Apple Rose Beauty products.
What are wildcrafted ingredients? What makes them different from organic and natural ingredients?
Wildcrafted refers to plants that have been grown wild in nature without human intervention.
Organic refers to ingredients that have been certified by the USDA as being grown and handled under organic conditions, free of fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
Natural ingredients are those that have grown organically, but haven't gone through the rigorous process of getting organic certification, often because the farmers are too small to afford all the certification costs.
What are your favorite sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) brands?
I truly admire the Rethreaded brand of accessories produced from recycled t-shirts by survivors of human-trafficking. They are also one of the organizations we support with proceeds from Apple Rose Beauty. The Shea Moisture brand of hair products is another brand that I admire because of its long legacy (over 100 years!) of fair trade and sustainable sourcing.
We heard you're launching a project called Beauty for Freedom. Can you tell us more about that?
Of course! Our goal with our Beauty for Freedom project is to employ two survivors of human trafficking full time this year and donate to five organizations that rescue and rehabilitate victims.
Our official project launch date is April 6, 2016 (Today! Hurray!). One hundred percent of proceeds from purchases made between April 6th and our company anniversary on July 7th will go towards this goal. I’m so excited to be able to kick it off with SHE!
What is your favorite, healthiest guilty pleasure when the going gets tough?
Mango chow! It's a popular snack in Trinidad of half-ripened mangoes seasoned with garlic, lemon, shado beni (a variant of cilantro), scotch bonnet peppers and salt and pepper to taste. It's a tart, spicy dish that I tend to overdose on a bit when I make it. But hey, mangoes are packed with vitamins A and C, both great for moisturized skin and building and maintaining collagen, so apart from my sad farewell when I eat the last piece, it's not too bad of a guilty pleasure, right?
This was fun! Thank you ladies for all you're doing with SHE. You are indeed my newfound soul sisters!
Celebrating big hearts,