The Accidental Beauty Entrepreneur

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How “Horror Movie” Hair Inspired her Award-Winning Line

When you discover beauty products named “Suga Suga Woo! Woo!” or “Hooray for Brallywood Butta,” you just have to hear more about the creative mind behind them. In this case, the brains behind the brand is Blaire Kessler, a former model and Miss Winston Cup.

It’s no wonder that the creator of such giggle-inducing names is the same woman who faced breast cancer with an unbeatable optimism and sense of humor. At 31 years old, shortly after giving birth to a baby girl, Blaire received the diagnosis. She opted for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery.

Despite facing tough times, it seems nothing could bring down Blaire’s glaringly bright outlook. Her reaction to the surgery was, “Hey, I’ve always wanted breast implants!”

The year was 2005. In the following months, her cancer treatment wreaked havoc on her skin and hair. Chemotherapy turned her hair into a dry, brittle mess—or as she describes it, “a wig from a horror movie.” The surgery scarred her chest. And as a result of inducing menopause to prevent cancer from coming back, her skin became extremely dry.CoreGiftBagt2011

“I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me,” she says. She often had to reassure people that she was okay. But seeing their worried faces reminded her that her appearance had deteriorated since her modeling days.

“That’s the weird thing about cancer,” she said. “It could be killing you, but you feel fine. I just looked like shit.”

In her search for toxin-free, all-natural solutions to her beauty problems, she learned about the harmful chemicals commonly found in cosmetics. So she set out to create her own solutions. And four years later, Pristine Beauty was born.

How did you develop your products?

I just had my baby girl and I wasn’t working, so I had more time on my hands. So I started going to the library and checking out ancient cultures, including African, Native American, Egyptian, Asian, Sanskrit Indian, Greek and European people. I researched what they used to do back in the day for scarring and hair issues. And from the information that I found, I made a table. I figured out that people from different cultures used some of the same ingredients and got the same results. For example, when I found that Africans and Native Americans used a particular oil for hair growth, I thought, “I’ve got to use this!”

So I went online, shopped at Whole Foods and started making things. I bought a book on how to make your own skin cream, and I started making things with a blender. I couldn’t even cook! But I was desperate to look normal again. So after much trial and error, I made the hair serum first. I made “No Scary Hairy” in my kitchen without a chemist. Now, of course, none of my products are made in my kitchen.

What made you decide to turn your products into a business?

When I was making this stuff, I never told my husband. I felt kind of guilty because I was taking money from our weekly budget and keeping it a secret. My husband noticed the huge difference in my hair and when I told him I made it, he said, “Oh my gosh, you made this stuff?!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll I wanted was good hair and skin. I was just making it out of vanity, I guess. It was for myself. It wasn’t until I talked to my husband that I thought it could be a business. He said, “I think there’s probably more people out there that have gross hair.” I said, “Oh really—gross hair?”

It was probably about 10 months after I started making my products that I really started looking good. I was still in treatment—still getting my shots, still taking the pills. And I thought, “Hmm, my hair should still be looking gross.” My face wasn’t dry and flaky anymore. My scars on my chest from my mastectomy were fading.

That’s when I started brainstorming. This was right as people were starting to get more cognizant of chemicals in beauty products. I really hit it at a good time.

What makes Pristine Beauty different from other skincare lines on the market, especially since all-natural is becoming more popular?

My line is very different— not only in how I came into this business by having these issues myself. I don’t just put my name on a product or put the Pristine Beauty name without being completely involved in every aspect of it and knowing if something’s going to work.

Even a lot of “natural” companies put phenoxyethanol in their products because it extends their shelf life. If you use a face cream, each time you put your fingers in there, air is getting in there and you’re oxidizing all of the vitamins.

My stuff is housed in an airtight glass bottle because I’m very conscious of estrogen receptors and chemicals that could seep into the product. Whatever I could put in glass, I did, like with Hooray for Brallywood Butta and No Scary Hairy. If I have to put something in plastic, I’ll make sure it’s BPA-free.

I could get a cheap old plastic jar for a quarter, throw my product in there and say it’s going to be good forever. But I want the vitamins to work.

So what makes us different? The integrity of what we put into our product.

You mentioned that even so-called “natural” products use phenoxyethanol as a preservative. What are some other ingredients in beauty products that people should avoid?

Phthalates, parabens, aluminum, propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a huge toxin. You can Google that all day long, and you’ll find it in deodorants and toothpastes. To find it in so many deodorants—ugh, that was terrible! Also, when you use deodorant with aluminum, you’re clogging up your pores and not allowing your skin to breathe.

What have been some of your greatest successes so far?

We’re sold in a ton of stores already. I get a lot of e-mails from people saying what a great thing I’m doing. Our products are selling in Australia now, so we’re really growing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another thing that makes me happy: With every purchase of our product, I give a percentage of the proceeds to the Young Survival Coalition and the Cancer Prevention Coalition. They helped me through a tough time and I really believe wholeheartedly in spreading awareness on carcinogens in cosmetics.

What have been the biggest challenges to growing your business?

We don’t have the monetary means to become a household name. We’re in our fourth year and finally, we’re not in the red, which is a really big deal. We’re lucky that we survived. The reason that we have is because of word of mouth. It’s been a huge struggle. Now we’re seeing a profit, but we were still donating to our charities even when we were in the red.

Do you have plans to expand the brand? How so?

I have a seventh product now, a facial cleanser, and we’re planning on a baby line. I’m planning on coming up with the sunscreen next. I want us to always be a problem-solving line—not have five different deodorants and millions of things where people are standing in the aisle wondering what to buy.

Do you have specific tips to consumers on the best way to get the most out of your product?

You can use my products in different ways. I give these tips in my videos posted on my YouTube channel Pristine Beauty Tips. You can use No Scary Hairy underneath the eyes because it’s got anti-aging oils.

Less is more with my products. Apply No Scary Hairy from tips to root instead of root to tip.

With the deodorant, more and more people tell me that the more you use it, the less you have to use it. I wear deodorant twice a week—if that.

Read the Reviews of Suga Suga Woo Woo.

Read the Reviews of Brallywood.

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