Now that MARA is in full swing and I am sort of getting the hang of everything, I wanted to finally tell you why I decided to develop my own line MARA and let you in on the journey thus far. For those who aren’t familiar, I launched my very own skincare line MARA just shy of four months ago and it has been a whirlwind experience. My brand launched with just one product–MARA Universal Face Oil and we’ve had amazing feedback. You can read for yourself on Refinery29, Bustle and POPSUGAR, as well as the 20+ reviews on the MARA website.
Creating a beauty brand has definitely been the biggest learning curve of my life. If you’re not familiar with my past–I had a lengthy career as a seasoned television and digital host, creating video content for six years on POPSUGAR which led to a plethora of opportunities. I hosted a daily entertainment tv show, POPSUGAR Now with Shenae Grimes; hosted my own series on fyi Network Midnight Style; appeared on the Today Show; co-hosted ABC’s On the Red Carpet for the Oscars; co-hosted an Emmy-winning Oscar pre-show; appeared countless times on KTLA, KNBC and as a guest expert on Dick Clark Productions at awards shows and so much more which ultimately led me to hosting and creating content for Refinery29 and ET Online. I can honestly say that I got to live out my dream career–I still remember being an intern for Catt Sadler at E! and the tenacity and hunger I had to fulfill my ambitions of hosting my own show one day. I worked so hard and I am so proud of my progress, I know how many people would have died to do what I got to do. And to this day I can kill it on a prompter, nail a live show, write a super buzzy video script, Emcee a 5,000+ person event, anchor a talk show and (hopefully) make you laugh. I tell you all of this because towards the end of my days full-time hosting, I had become less and less fulfilled with my day-to-day work. Being on-camera every single day is even harder than it sounds and it takes a toll on you physically (all the makeup, the hot tools, always being judged on how you look, how thin you are etc) and emotionally (any professional host will tell you how draining it is, a 5 hour live show is no joke; also internet trolls can be cruel.) I knew I wanted to pivot and oddly I knew exactly what I wanted to do–I wanted to create an amazing line of beauty products, and so the wheels started turning.
The concept for MARA fell into place so easily, it’s as if I was destined to do this. While the path to developing the line has been anything but a breeze–I’ve had a shockingly clear vision on what I wanted to create from the very start. It’s a bit too early for me to be dolling out entrepreneurial advice lol but I will say that having an air tight idea is fundamental for brand creation. From designing the logo to the box, selecting the bottle and writing all of the copy, fully designing the website with my web developer and working incredibly close with my lab, finding a manufacturer and getting everything you’d need to create a product in place, reaching out to influencers and media outlets – everything you see for MARA I created. There were no agencies involved (didn’t know those existed, would have been nice!) and in fact, no other people besides my dad who I call everyday to ask business questions because, um I went to journalism school and have no clue what I’m doing half the time. I also don’t have a fulfillment center, so MARA HQ is also taking care of every.single.order. It’s a lot of work, but I’m used to working hard for what I want. Enough of that boring stuff let’s talk about ideation.
I have always been obsessed with face oils long before they went mainstream and knew I wanted my first product to be everything I wanted in a face oil but had never found. It had to be: full of clean, natural ingredients, fast-absorbing, provide long-lasting hydration, help reduce the visible signs of aging, layer well with other products like treatment serums and retinol and deliver all necessary vitamins and minerals for glowing skin. My long history with face oils was integral for the creation of MARA’s niche formula, because I immediately established a no no list of ingredients I wanted to avoid, namely marula, argan, jojoba and coconut but the list had about 20+ items (PEGs, Parabens, Sulfates, Dimithecone and more dirty ingredients.) There is nothing wrong with the oils I mentioned, but I noticed they are the most common ingredients found in a majority of face oils and given the fact that I had yet to find my dream oil, I nixed them right off the bat.
I found the star of my Universal Face Oil in a BuzzFeed video. I was overwhelmed by the incredible nutrient profile and benefits of the moringa plant and immediately built it in as a key ingredient. It was also pretty cool that not many brands were / are using moringa in their formulas, so that was a plus. We then developed a stellar line up of superfoods that compliment each other so well–baobab, bilberry and kalahari melon. Simultaneously, per my direction my lab developed a truly incredible brown algae + plankton blend that is used throughout the entire line. It has so many wonderful benefits, like boosting hydration and visibly more youthful-looking skin–it’s a miracle worker.
The name for MARA floated my way too, almost literally. MARA happens to be the last four letters of my last name but oddly enough that’s not where I got it from. It was 2015 and I was in Istanbul, drifting down the Sea of Marmara. At this very time, I had been drumming up my exit from full time hosting and while floating on that very sea in Turkey gazing out at the haunting, dark blue waves, I unwaveringly landed on the name MARA. No other names were ever considered, it’s been MARA everyday since. In that very moment I still remember knowing that all of this was going to come to fruition–it was an eerily calm, sure feeling that I’ve never felt before, especially juxtaposed to the constant burden of fear and anxiety that I felt more times than not during my on-camera days. I knew this was my next step and each and every day I had to figure out how, but I’ll tell you nothing I’ve ever done has been this rewarding.
Flash forward 2+ years and we’ve developed three products and are currently working on four, five and six. MARA Universal Face Oil is not only for sale on www.themarabeauty.com but also at Credo Beauty, an amazing natural, clean beauty store that I respect so much, and at The Now boutiques in LA. I’m still doing everything myself, including working on getting our beautiful blue bottle to a pretty major retailer in Europe, so stay tuned for that. I want MARA everywhere, so you better believe we’ll be coming to a store near you as soon as we can. I am so proud of our MARA Algae + Moringa Universal Face Oil, I can’t live without it. I can truly say there is no other product on the market quite like it and I am blown away by the feedback. At the heart of all this I’m a beauty enthusiast, and I won’t ever create something just to create something–you’ll only see a MARA product made if I know I can make it better. If you made it this far, thank you for being apart of the journey. My goal is to make your skincare classics that you use for years to come and it’s such an honor seeing MARA in your #shelfies. To think I’ve created something that is apart of your sacred skincare routine is surreal; but my passion for skincare supersedes my first love, writing, so I guess it’s fitting. Let me know what products you’d like to see from MARA in the future and if you’d like more blog posts on the gritty details of the MARA journey.
You can shop MARA Universal Face Oil HERE.
*Photography by Tim & Co