To honor Mother’s Day, we’re journeying to a rugged little island off the coast of Maine for a Behind-the-Brand with Laura Serino of Island Apothecary. A new mom who works full-time and runs her own beauty business, Laura is one busy lady. We spent a morning chatting with her about starting her skincare line, balancing business with parenthood, and how she makes time for self-care as a mom.
So let’s start at the beginning. What inspired you to start Island Apothecary? How did it all happen?
Well, I had really bad skin growing up. I did all the approaches they tell you to do – the Proactiv, the creams, some home remedies, and dermatologist offices that put me on different pills and stuff. Every trick that anyone told me to do, I tried, from diets to medication. But nothing ever worked and it was this really frustrating thing I had to live with.
It all changed when I started educating myself about different skincare remedies and discovered Argan oil. It was really early on in the organic beauty craze, like way, way back before natural skincare became this huge thing. I was getting into reading about organic products in general, and I discovered this simple ingredient – Argan oil – that promised magical results. I thought, what do I have to lose? And it completely changed my skin.
About three or four years ago now, I started playing around with different oils and making my own mixtures and giving them to friends as gifts. These were the mixtures I had been experimenting with ever since I had discovered Argan oil and more natural skincare remedies. My friends raved about them and for a while it was just a fun thing I did. Then one day, my friend who owns this small shop in Maine asked if she could sell some of my products in her store, and I said, “Sure! Why not?”. And they couldn’t keep it on the shelves. I couldn’t make it fast enough. And that’s how Island Apothecary was born!
I can definitely understand the endlessness of trying every cure for problem skin. It must’ve been so refreshing to streamline your routine around these simple, natural solutions.
Definitely. And a simple approach really is not just my approach to skincare, it’s my approach to everything now. Because it’s effective. Simple, natural approaches to things just tend to work better. And it’s amazing how we’ve lost sight of this, and how far back these remedies go.
On a trip I took to Athens, there was a really cool exhibit on ancient beauty rituals, and it’s basically the same oil-based approach we’re seeing today. Literally some of the things these ancient Grecian women were doing – making their own makeup from berries and pigments, using herbal extracts and oils for skincare – are exactly what’s coming back on trend today. There’s a reason these ingredients have stuck around for thousands of years – they’re simple and they work!
Speaking of beauty treatments that are simple and effective, what is your personal favorite product from your line?
Definitely our Rose Serum. It’s a one ounce bottle, but it does so much. I panic when I run out of it, and a lot of customers say the same thing; that they order two at a time so they don’t worry about running out. I use it to moisturize my face twice a day, and I use a little bit extra at night under my eyes. There are so many other uses for it, too – I use it on the tips of my hair, and on any rough spots on my body like my elbows, knees, and hands. It’s meant to be a face serum, but it’s an all-purpose miracle in a bottle.
I love how all of your products – down to the logo – all incorporate this rustic Maine lifestyle. Can you tell me more about that?
Well, I live in such a unique place. On one hand, it’s very a male-centric lobster community, but there also happens to be this community of women who are very entrepreneurial. Life is very simple here. We have one grocery store, one gas pump. I’ve really streamlined how I’ve lived in general, so this streamlined approach is what I’ve applied to my skincare line. That applies to sustainability, too. We use glass bottles as much as we can, we are conscious of the ingredients we use and their source, and we make our products in small amounts. I chose the name “Island Apothecary” for a reason. Our products are hand made by women using traditional techniques and working in small batches. Then these little concoctions get packaged up and flown on a tiny plane from the island to the main land, where they make their way to you. You’re not just getting a great skincare product; you’re getting a bottle that represents our amazing community on this island.
That’s so unique. Let’s switch gears a bit in honor of Mother’s Day. I’m curious: how did your thoughts about skincare change when you became a mom?
It actually became a little more important, because I am so short on time. I was really glad I developed the products I did before I had my son, because I don’t have the time to experiment with my different concoctions now! I need to rely on products that take less time and do more. I’m also glad that I developed products that are all natural and that I can feel good about, because I have a baby who is touching my face all the time. Actually, sometimes he licks my face too!
Well, it’s good everything is all natural, then! I wonder, as a new mom who also owns her own skincare business, what are your thoughts on making time for self-care? A lot of moms – new and veteran – struggle with finding time for self care, and can feel pretty guilty focusing on themselves.
Self-care is important for me because it’s a practice my son can see growing up. I want him to see that caring for yourself is good for everyone. My life revolves around my son, but there are a lot of other important things in my life. I want him to be a multi-faceted person, who understands it’s important to be a part of your community, to make time for your family, your friends, and yourself. I think it would actually be harmful for my son and me if I didn’t do those little things to relieve stress. For moms, it’s important to have these little self-care moments to simply make themselves happier. Any little thing we can do as moms to make ourselves happier while we’re momming is going to benefit the whole family. Like yesterday, my baby was asleep, I was ahead of work, so I took a shower and put a face mask. It was in the middle of the afternoon, so it’s not something I would’ve done usually, but I had to seize the moment for myself.
Has your relationship with yourself and your outer/inner beauty changed since you became a mother?
Becoming a mom and giving birth has really made me appreciate my body so much more because of how amazing it is. I grew and gave birth to a human! I don’t worry about a pimple on my chin or a little extra weight on my tummy. I’m so proud of my body, and it makes me even more committed to what I’m putting on it. Seriously, becoming a mom makes you a badass.
How DO you do it all, though? You’re a new mom, an entrepreneur, you work full time, you have a house, husband, and a dog – and you’re on this little island in Maine. How do you piece it all together?
I’m still figuring that out. I think first, is I’m not afraid to ask for help. If I need help with my baby, I’m not afraid to call his grandma or our sitter. It’s why I hired an employee for Island Apothecary, because I felt like I couldn’t give my all to my son or my skincare line on my own anymore. I’ve also learned to say no to things. I’m a freelance writer, and sometimes there are projects that come across my desks that I would love to do, but I just can’t with everything else going on.
That’s such good advice. So, what’s up next for Island Apothecary?
Well, a group of local women and I are opening up a store that sells island-made products, and my whole line will be there, so that’s exciting. We have this really awesome group of artisans here, and it’s very unique considering we’re such a small community. I’m also coming out with a lip and cheek tint, so that’s my first kind-of makeup thing. It’s really in keeping with our other products, though, in that it is multi functional, simple, and effective. It’s like getting a beautiful face in one little tube – you can use it on your cheeks, lips, and even eyelids. We’re also coming up with a night serum, which has been over a year in the works to get it perfect. We’re hoping to roll that out sooner rather than later at the end of May.
Any plans to branch out to products for the whole family?
I think right now my focus is still on women. But certainly that’s something I wouldn’t rule out. Our products are something men and children can use, but I can’t leave anything off the table. I made my own belly cream when I was pregnant that I loved, so I’ve always thought about bringing that back, and making some more products for moms to be.
What are you most proud of with Island Apothecary?
Definitely when I get an email from someone that is like “Thank you so much, my skin has never looked better and I’m so excited for finding you guys.” A satisfied customer is the best thing ever. I didn’t realize that was going to be such a gratifying aspect of the business. I respond to all the emails, and it doesn’t matter how big we get, I will always respond to them. I love seeing people who tell me they feel good about what they’re putting on their skin, and how their skin has improved. It makes it all worthwhile. I mean, without happy customers, what is the point of doing all this? Satisfied customers are what I’m most proud of for sure.
Well, I’m a happy customer for sure! Your products are amazing. With Mother’s Day coming up, what would you say to all the moms out there?
You’re doing such a good job. Even if you think you’re having moments when you’re not, you are. There’s no perfect way to mother, so whatever way you’re doing it is the right way. Follow your gut and your instincts, and it’s probably right one.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, from everyone at Around the World Beauty!
A special thank you to Laura Serino.
By: Mallory Huron
Photo Credit: Island Apothecary