Entrepreneurship And Our Origin Story

Hey internet, one of the founders of Nefaire, Michael here.

I realized that I never did a proper “origin” story post – how Nefaire started, why we’re doing what we’re doing, and what our vision is for the future. Part of it is because I like to stay extremely low key, but with the introduction of skinfoodmag, our new Nefaire products, and the testing that we’re doing with Clear Health, I think it’s important to provide context around our initiatives, starting with the story of how Nefaire was created.

My journey into skincare was completely unintentional. First all of I’m a dude. Now I get that with the rise of men’s grooming and what not being a thing, being a guy who starts a skincare + beauty startup shouldn’t be out of the norm (fun fact, some of the most successful skincare brands were actually started by guys, i.e. The Ordinary, Dr. Bronner, Lush, etc., and the CEOs of the largest beauty brands like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder are dudes).

However, I don’t think that on the surface, I look or act like one of the evangelists who build the successful skincare/beauty companies of today – think Kylie Jenner, Emily Weiss of Glossier, or Michelle Phan of Ipsy. I don’t really do Instagram, hate the camera, and in my past life, I was a finance dork.

So why start Nefaire? Why me? Why now?

Like every genesis of a business, it started with a problem: my skin. As someone who’s had chronic acne for over a decade, I have unconsciously been a power user of products and information consumption in the skincare community since I was a teenager. Having struggled with my skin so long, it was frustrating to me that getting clear and healthy looking skin was still so difficult.

Although my acne was mainly mild to moderate (never severe), I know what it’s like to feel helpless. I know what it’s like to avoid mirrors, try product after product, and occasionally get unsolicited advice like “why don’t you just wash your face?”

For my acne, I initially went through the gamut of OTC drugstore products, to then higher end department store brands, to then topical retinoids and oral antibiotics from the dermatologist. Most of these things barely did anything for my skin (in some instances, it actually made it worse due to how irritating some of these products were, and a lot of these things were really expensive).

I eventually went on Accutane, after thoroughly researching the pros and cons of taking it, and although it’s kept away my deeper hormonal breakouts I still got periodic flare ups. It wasn’t until I learned about the impact that dairy and high glycemic foods have on acne, and the irritating effects of certain ingredients that I finally figured out how to keep my flare ups to a minimum. Today, I keep my acne under control through:

  1. Vitamin B5 supplementation to reduce inflammation and control oil production
  2. Monthly facials + facial extractions to unclog pores
  3. Using gentle, oil-based cleansers and products that don’t strip the skin of natural oils (Product plug alert: I use our Skinfood 1.0 mask about every other day)
  4. Avoiding dairy COMPLETELY and being mindful of the Glycemic Index of my diet

A fundamental truth emerged from this process, which forms the basis of Nefaire’s existence: no single variable will lead to clear, glowing skin. It requires an interplay of several factors, from proper regimen, to diet, to lifestyle and even prescription medication.

It is with this insight that we create Nefaire.

Most of you know us to be a facial services based business, but our intention is not to merely build a better “spa” (which is why we don’t consider ourselves to be a spa).

Our objective lies at a much higher peak – to solve skincare itself. We want to solve the frustrations, trial/error, lack of transparency, and lack of empathy associated with skincare that we experienced as chronic acne sufferers.

These issues constitute the Mt. Everest of skincare problems and to climb Mt. Everest, we knew we first had to establish basecamp.  

Starting with a personalized facial experience was our way to build our unique brand voice in such a crowded space – with so many skincare and beauty brands vying for your attention on IG ads, we’ve felt that being in direct human contact with our customers IRL has allowed us to gain some invaluable insights into what’s needed in the skincare space, while allowing us to gain an initial audience to spread our message.

Our “basecamp” on Day 1: 

To accomplish our mission, our vision is to build a truly end-to-end skincare brand (a “full-stack” platform, taking cues from software engineering principles), that’s composed of three pillars:

1.) High quality skincare products that are devoid of false marketing bullshit, and more importantly, that are contextualized. A product for acne should also come with context on the things I should be doing for acne in terms of diet, regimen, lifestyle and more, instead of just saying “well here ya go, hope this works for you!” Our launch of our facemask line is our first step in this arena, and users can actually try out our products in our Westport showroom in a facial, where our professional estheticians can provide even more guidance and context.

2.) An online community, called skinfoodmagazine, where we discuss the full-range of skin influencing factors while reviewing what does work, and what doesn’t. Think interviews with gut-health experts, nutritionists, dermatologists and bloggers, all with a dose of #skinpositivity, because skincare is as much about mental health as it is about our complexion.

3.) A telehealth dermatologist visit and cloud-based pharmacy. This is down the line and in beta, and we initially plan on focusing this on acne prescription solutions (specifically Accutane) and making them easier to obtain. We believe dermatological solutions such as Accutane play a critical role in skincare, and unfortunately, it’s one of the most counterfeited drugs online. We believe medicine and a holistic approach don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and responsibly increasing access to the drug with the right information can help change the skin + lives of a lot of people. We’re currently gauging interest in the platform and chatting with potential users, so if this sounds like it’d be beneficial for you, we’d love to get in touch with you!

These three products work together in a way that covers all the bases needed to truly provide a full-stack solution for skin, namely products, information (which covers factors like diet/regimen/lifestyle), and medications.

The idea is that when somebody enters the ecosystem of our brand, whether that’s through a product, a facial, or through reading a blogpost, there’s a roadmap and a solution that they can take to get the best skin of their life. Less guesswork. Less unnecessary spending. More empathy and empowerment to make your skin the best it can be, while being comfortable with the natural beauty that you were gifted with, regardless of any perceived imperfections like acne or marks.

On a final note, as an entrepreneur, I realize that our path forward will always be uncertain. I’ll be completely honest. Starting something new, quitting a steady paycheck, risking failure and stomaching the humiliation (and very real risk of financial loss that goes with it) is tough.

When we created Nefaire, we had no experience working in a “traditional” skincare company, didn’t know how to sign a real estate lease, didn’t understand construction, didn’t understand formulations, and had no idea how to build a website. But we had our vision to change skincare. And we have you guys. When you guys show us pictures of how your skin has changed through Nefaire, or how it’s impacted your self-esteem and confidence, it lights a fire in us to figure things out, to keep going regardless of the obstacles we face.

I want to sincerely thank you for that.

Starting a company is hard. Dealing with the emotions of being dissatisfied with your skin is hard as well. But I’m confident that in both situations, if we just press on, with the right support and mindful thinking, we’ll get there.

One of the most compelling quotes ever IMO from Ray Kroc, the creator of the Mcdonald’s Empire:

Put another another way for the Gen Z’rs: