I’m really, really excited about this week’s interview. If you read this site regularly, I talk about Tata Harper‘s products constantly. They are some of the best products on the market… and the best all natural, non-toxic products I’ve ever tried, period. It’s all because of the brand’s principles, which center around technology and being absolutely ruthless about the quality of their ingredients.
I’m lucky enough to have met Tata a few times at press events, and I’m always mesmerized by her. She has the most incredible energy and the most beautiful, luminous skin. She’s a walking representation of the brand (and the importance of taking good care of your skin.) I was always a little bit fearful of switching to an all-natural skincare routine because well, I thought of Whole Foods and the health store products my mom would try to get us to use when I was a kid. I mean, I wanted to be mindful about what I was putting on my skin, but I also wanted to look good. Tata’s got me sold and now I almost exclusively use her products on my face. Tata proves that you really can have the best of both words… radiant, glowy skin (and anti-aging ingredients) without putting chemicals on your skin. PS – Gwyneth is a fan, too!
Grace: Tell me a little bit about how you got your start in the industry. What was your first job?
Tata: Honestly, my first job in the beauty industry has been as the founder and CEO of this company! Before that, I was working in real estate development – a totally different world. But once I realized how badly I wanted to change the world of skincare, and to create the line that I wished existed, I was hooked, and I’ve been focused on that ever since.
Grace: Describe your typical day.
Tata: A typical work day for me involves waking up early with the kids and getting them ready for school, making a big fruit smoothie and having breakfast all together, and then heading to the office, which is just down the road. When I’m here at our headquarters, my day is full of meetings, touching base with everyone on everything from graphic design to formulations to operations and product development. I try to stay as tight as I can to my planned calendar, as I have so many things happening every day that staying organized is super important. Then, it’s back home, to be with the kids when they get home from school, and it’s just play time until dinner. Then, I love to take aromatherapy baths with the kids, to wind them all down.
Grace: What was your first product launch?
Tata: Our first launch was in 2010, and we actually launched 12 products all at once! It was a huge coordination effort and also so exciting. We launched one cleanser, two moisturizers, one serum, a toner, an eye creme, a mask, face oil and body oil – plus three aromatherapies – all at once, and those are still our core products.
Grace: One of the things I love most about your line is that the products are all natural but also high-tech. Tell me a little bit about what goes into developing a new beauty product?
Tata: For us, it’s a really complicated process because we have so many strict standards about our ingredients: they have to be totally natural and totally nontoxic, so we have to ask a lot of questions and get many steps about their production validated before we can consider them for use. Then, once they’ve passed the test, we start working with those raw materials, which we decide on depending on the results we want for a given product. Those ingredients drive the performance, and we sometimes spend years perfecting the formula, working on the smell, feel, texture, preservatives, etc.
Grace: Let’s pretend that you are traveling for the next month and can only take along three beauty products… what would they be?
Grace: Let’s talk personal style… what are your essentials?
Tata: It definitely depends on where I am. When I’m at the farm, working in our office, I’m typically wearing sweaters or a flannel with jeans – lots of layers, and boots, or Toms if it’s summertime. If I’m traveling, and going to meetings or events, I tap into the other half of my wardrobe, which is a lot more fun. I’d say my essentials are bright colors (I love wearing red, rich blues, and burgundy), items with some interesting design element (like ribbons or a chiffon layer), and a look that combines vintage with current. I have a lot of antique finds, whether jewelry or dresses, that I’ve discovered in my travels.
Grace: Who are your favorite designers?
Grace: And besides your line, what other beauty brands do you love?
Grace: Who are your style icons?
Tata: Kate Middleton and Ricky Anne Loew-Beer, Ralph Lauren’s wife. Both are so stylish, all the time!
Grace: What are your best-selling products?
Grace: And along those lines, is there any “unsung hero” in the product lineup? A product you wish your customers knew a little bit more about?
Tata: I’ve always felt that our Replenishing Nutrient Complex is an unsung hero. It’s an amazing product – it literally helps with every issue. We call it the “problem solver for problematic skin.” It’s hydrating, softening, healing, nourishing, etc etc. It’s great for helping with oiliness, rosacea, sensitivity, healing, balancing – plus, it’s packed with antioxidants so it’s great to use as a last layer in your skincare regimen, to lock in hydration and keep out environmental toxins.
Grace: Are there any products you’ve tried to develop but just didn’t make the cut?
Tata: Anything that I’ve ever started trying to develop but hasn’t been finished is still being tinkered with! I haven’t given up on a single idea.
Grace: You just broke out into color cosmetics with the lip & cheek tints (I’m obsessed with them.) Tell me a little bit more about that.
Tata: Makeup and color products have been one of the main items requested by our customers, because of course a natural skincare customer is going to be looking for an equally natural makeup product, to follow their skincare regimen. We wanted to jump into color with products that still contributed to healthy skin and anti aging results, so we put ingredients in these Lip and Cheeks that help plump and volumize, so you’re getting makeup and the latest in anti aging technology with each swipe. (note from Grace: you can read my review of these here.)
Grace: Tell me more about your new Open Lab.
Tata: I spend so much time in stores and at events, talking to our customers, and it became obvious to us that the fact that we manufacture our own products by hand in Vermont is really special and unique, and is really valued by our clients. It’s one thing to create your own products behind a screen and keep it all hidden, and it’s another to open up your world to your customers, to share and celebrate the amazing ingredients, technology and people behind these products. So much hard work and craftsmanship goes into these formulas, which we’re batching fresh every day. This program really helps hit home the fact that we’re not just a brand. At our heart, we’re a company that invents and manufactures skincare, which is our greatest passion. Open Lab is the way we share that passion and process with the world.
Grace: What’s next for the brand?
Tata: Next, we’re working on expanding our SuperNatural collection, with more eye products and some amazing masks as well. We’re also working on a double-peel system, new body treatments, and of course, SPF! Lots of exciting products are coming down the pike for us.
Thank you (so, so much) to Tata for participating in this series! Read last week’s Stripe Talk here.