We had the good fortune of connecting with Shiri Sarfati and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shiri, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs so being an entrepreneur is truly part of my DNA. I’m a second generation esthetician and my mother launched her line of professional spa treatments a year after I was born. Today her global brand, Repechage is in 50 countries worldwide exclusively used by professional estheticians at salons and spas. I got my first facial at the age of 3 and grew up going to and working at spas, experimenting with products, and traveling to over 25 countries meeting with and educating estheticians and beauty professionals all over the world. I later would earn a Masters in Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing from FIT and taught an undergraduate class as an adjunct professor for the beauty program there. I also am a practicing licensed esthetician and see clients at skin care clinics in Miami. I have spoken at skin care conferences around the world – Let’s just say, I live and breathe beauty. I grew frustrated with what was happening in the beauty industry. There is a lot of grey area in cosmetic product listings and a lot of “fairy dusting” of sexy ingredients. Just because a product is called a matcha mask or seaweed mask, it’s usually not the first few ingredients in the product listing, meaning it’s not a major percentage of the actual formula. In the spa, we mix high quality cosmetic raws with other actives and immediately apply on the client. I wanted to recreate this experience for people to do at home. As a working mother, even though I grew up in the spa industry, I never had time to get a facial. My esthetician would laugh when I came in for my yearly facial that I was like the shoe-makers daughter without any shoes. So I started creating my own spa facials and body treatments at home. Yes, of course, it has always been my dream to create my own skincare line, but I didn’t think the industry needed another moisturizer. With 23 Skin, I’m stripping down skincare to only the most potent and best sourced ingredients and allowing my clients to recreate spa facials and body treatments at home. My first products I launched 23 Skin with are powders and because there is no water, there is no need for preservatives. Most skincare products first ingredient is water. Well, the second you formulate with water you introduce the possibility for bacteria to grow. That’s why you need preservatives. And just because a product claims it’s paraben free does not mean there are not other, newer preservatives that have been added. Otherwise you would have mold growing in your favorite skincare product. Fragrance is another place that brands hide a lot of nasties like phthalates and synthetic ingredients. And at such small percentages they do not even legally need to claim what they are hiding. Lastly, how plants are processed and where they are sourced is important. Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it was grown in non-polluted areas or was handled and processed with care. That’s why I wanted to give clients raw ingredients that are well-sourced and high quality and have great results. In addition, I want people to know that there is a real person who has been immersed in the world of skin care and beauty since a young age – that has studied and practiced skin care. I’m not just a reviewer or someone who had an “a-ha” moment who decided to create her own beauty line. This is my life-long passion.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a daughter of a successful, female founded and owned US skincare manufacturer, I was very fortunate to have incredible, strong female mentors in my life including my mother and her close network of friends that included beauty editors, magazine publishers and business owners. I never felt that a woman could not achieve and realize the same amount of success as a man. I always was confident that if you worked hard you could make it. I’m a first generation American and grew up with a strong work ethic. Both my parents were entrepreneurs and work was never 9-5. Weekends were spent at one of my mother’s company booths at a trade show or event handing out sales material or at one of my father’s NYC retail stores organizing the merchandise on the shelves. After school, I would help at my mother’s office doing mailings, packing lipsticks or stuffing press kits. When I was in high school, I would work at my parents Manhattan spa, greeting clients, making appointments and selling retail. At University, I filled up my course load and worked or interned at every opportunity including at top public relation firms. Even during my study-abroad program in Tokyo, I worked at retailers doing in-store demos of health and wellness products. I would later be the first in my family to earn a Masters Degree. I was always very aware that I was living “the American dream” and that hard work would always pay off. I always say, give a busy person a job to do and they will always get it done. I enjoy when my plate is full and I do believe that my early ambition and great role models helped me become the business owner and executive that I am today.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Miami is such a great and vibrant city. There are so many wonderful places to discover. Because most people who come to visit are familiar with the South Beach area, I like to suggest places to discover off the beach as well like Wynwood, The Design District and Brickell. For a weeklong trip, eat brunch at Wynwood Diner and then stroll through Wynwood Walls. Window Shop in the Design District, check out a new exhibit at ICA Miami and have dinner at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. Food Halls are popping up everywhere in Miami and my favorites are St. Roch Market in The Design District and The Citadel Miami. For a fun casual meal and drinks on the beach check out 27 Restaurant and Bar and the Broken Shaker at Freehands Miami. There is also amazing shopping but I love the outdoor shopping centers at The Shops at Bal Harbour and Brikell City Center. For the perfect swimwear, visit Cristalina Swimwear for well-curated looks you won’t find anywhere else. A visit to Miami is not complete without a stroll on Lincoln Road. Refresh and revitalize at Spa E Miami with a seaweed facial by Repechage. Miami is also all about music and art. For an outdoor experience, Magic City Innovation District is the perfect outing to experience live concerts, pop-up art events, outdoor yoga and more.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As I was starting 23 SKIN, there were so many wonderful people that supported me early on and their support encouraged me to continue to grow the brand. Women of Today By Camila Alves McConaughey was such a great champion of 23 SKIN and I’m so grateful for their recognition in the press and collaboration on events and pop-ups. Camila’s mission to help other women is honest and real. Since then I have joined and been recognized by other women-led communities including Female Founder Collective, JoinDough and The Everyday Series. It’s wonderful to connect with other women that are truly creating collaborative and supportive spaces for female entrepreneurs.
Other: https://www.instagram.com/shirisarfati/ https://www.beautysomething.com/