If you read here regularly, then you know I’m a little bit of a beauty product obsessive, especially when it comes to the natural product scene. During my trip to Hawaii in September, I met Jen Conforti at my friend Jackie’s wedding. We instantly hit it off as we have similar backgrounds… but when I found out that on the side (she consults for fashion/ecommerce brands by day) she runs the natural beauty ecommerce shop Jackson | Brooke, I had to know more. What an amazing side hustle!
I was lucky enough to sit down with Jen and her friend/business partner Holly Machacek. I asked them some questions about the world of natural beauty… and for some of their favorite product recommendations. Here’s what they had to say. You’re going to want to read the whole post… it’s full of useful information, especially if you are considering switching to an all-natural beauty routine. (Right now I’m at about 80% natural – I can’t give up a few of my “dirty” products just yet… though I’m inspired to make the switch.)
Grace: What made you decide to adopt a natural beauty routine?
Holly: In your late twenties and early thirties, you start to notice the environment taking a toll on your skin, especially your face. A few years ago, I started noticing some premature signs of aging like dark spots and fine lines around my eyes. Up until that point I had used a mix of high end (think Peter Thomas Roth) products with drug store skincare (like the St. Ives apricot scrub). Since I was already showing signs of aging, these products had obviously not done me justice, and I felt like I had wasted so much money on a lot of higher end products I had been using.
At that point, I knew I needed to try something different. I took to the internet and came across hundreds of articles about some pretty scary stuff that goes into skincare products, the cycle of abuse we put our skin through, and the lack of regulations in the US beauty industry. It was a pretty big wake-up call. I had already shifted towards eating more organic and natural foods and staying away from processed foods a much as possible so for me changing my routine towards natural skincare was an easy evolution, especially knowing that whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body.
I first started by replacing my moisturizer with a homemade combination of natural oils. Within a couple weeks I started noticing how amazing my skin felt and looked and even my longstanding hormonal breakouts subsided. After a while, I got annoyed with making my own concoctions, I had a full time career and little patience or experience in making beauty products, no room in my tiny apartment, and I found it nearly impossible to keep my batches consistent. I gave up on homemade skincare pretty quickly and took to the Internet again to find companies that I could trust that used ingredients I could pronounce. I came across a lot of amazing brands that are making natural beauty products so I started ordering things from each brands own website. I want my sunscreen from Lather, my face oil from Indie Lee, my facewash from Earth Tu Face, why can’t I order them all from the same store? That’s when the idea for Jackson | Brooke was born. We’ll do all the research, test out the products from a variety of brands, and curate the best of the best natural beauty products all in one easy to shop website.
Jen: Holly started experimenting with all natural beauty products and had given me some of the homemade concoctions she’d make and I started to notice major improvements in my skin as well, especially with the elasticity and how much younger and fresher my face looked. My skin felt so much softer after using natural products that only had a few pronounceable ingredients. Over the last few years I had really started to put focus in eating a healthy organic diet. So, after becoming more educated about how the skin absorbs what you put on it, and the results from just switching out one product, the next obvious step for me was to switch completely to all natural beauty products.
Grace: Tell me about your background. What led you to starting Jackson | Brooke?
Holly: We (Holly Brooke Machacek & Jennifer Conforti) have been long time coworkers and friends. We’ve worked together mostly in the fashion industry, specifically e-commerce for years and we love working with each other. Our work styles compliment each other and we both have specific areas of expertise, so with our knowledge combined, we can do just about anything. We had talked about the idea of a natural beauty store for about a year after we made the switch when we decided to commit to building the brand. We have no investors or financial assistance, we’re completely self funded and it was important to us to have another partner who can manage the numbers and the administrative aspect of the business so we brought in my (Holly) soon to be husband, Bradley Jackson, a CPA to be our 3rd partner and Jackson | Brooke was born. While he manages as the boring business stuff, Jen and I focus on the website, marketing, product research, customer service, & fulfillment.
Jen: After making the switch our selves and the successful results we had in combination with our background in ecommerce that made us want to pursue staring our own business. We felt that there was a need for a place where conscious consumers could shop and trust that all of the products were natural and cruelty free. We also want to educate people on the importance of it what you put on your skin. There are reports and studies coming out, what seems like daily, that are saying this ingredient is bad for the environment, this other ingredient causes cancer, this ingredient is banned in the UK for this reason…. it’s extremely difficult to keep track of what we can and cannot use. Our mindset for Jackson | Brooke is getting back to the basics – Natural ingredients, simple products, effective results. You can’t go wrong with using natural products.
Grace: What advice do you have for others looking to make the switch to a natural routine?
Holly: Don’t be afraid to try new things. I had been using the same products for years before I switched and my skin has never looked better.
Jen: Start reading labels! Reading labels will help you get educated about products you’re using. There are some pretty harmful products with toxic chemicals, and the toxic chemicals are being absorbed by your body – gross!
Grace: Tell me about each of the products you told me to try, and why you love them so much.
Brightening Facial Cleanser – We LOVE Indie Lee products and if you have never tried them this is the best place to start. The Brightening Cleanser leaves your skin feeling clean, but not dry… and it smells so fresh. It’s a great makeup remover as well and I even use it to clean my makeup brushes. Indie Lee’s story is inspiring and we love working with this brand.
Coconut Body Butter – This is really thick body butter so a little bit goes a long way. It’s packed with natural virgin coconut oil and highly concentrated fatty acids, which provide amazing benefits to your skin. Hydration is key for skin and this butter keeps your skin feeling hydrated all day. I love using it on my legs after I shave, they feel so soft and luxurious, it’s an addicting product.
Bamboo Charcoal Soap – The Bamboo Charcoal Soap is so versatile. It can be used as a body wash or facial cleanser and it is great for pretty much any skin type. We’re going to see more and more products made with charcoal. It is an amazing de-toxifier.
Phoenix Facial Oil – All the Herbivore facial oils are amazing, but this one in particular is our favorite. Facial oils work so well in keeping your skin hydrated, and this product absorbs easily to retain moisture and it has a healthy dose of antioxidants. It’s made with Jojoba Oil that is super close to your skins natural oils, which makes it great even for oily skin as the oil actually prevents your skin from over producing sebum. Not to mention, it smells amazing and is made with 100% natural ingredients.
Daily Defense Sunscreen – It is so important to wear sunscreen everyday, even if it’s overcast or cloudy. The sun can do some major damage to your skin and your face is exposed every time you walk out side. Using sunscreen daily, especially on your face, can do wonders to prevent signs of aging like dark spots. We like this one because it’s natural, and doesn’t feel tacky and thick like more commercial brands sunscreen.
Sensitive Skin Natural Deodorant – This is our best selling product. A lot of consumers are switching to all natural deodorant because they don’t want to put aluminum on their skin every day. This one is a fabulous all natural option because it comes in a stick form, instead of cream, it smells great and it really does work!
Grace: What’s the best beauty advice you ever received?
Holly + Jen: “Sunscreen – all day, every day!” Words to live by.
A big thanks to Holly and Jen – I hope you guys found their interview to be helpful – I know I did!