Meet the Maker: Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare
I’m excited to share another installment of our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series. Here, we share morsels of business wisdom and a peek behind some of our favorite brands. This one is particularly special Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare.
Meet Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Leah: Realizing that my body was out of balance, I set out on a quest for healing. Fate led me to Spa Luna, a holistic esthetician school on the Island of Maui. With no prior knowledge of skincare and never having had a facial in my life, I felt a strong pull to trust my intuition… so off we went.
My husband and I packed all of our belongings and moved from Oahu to Maui to embark on this new journey. In life, we have so many defining moments… moments that change our very existence. My experience in the year I spent on Maui did just that, it changed my life.
For the next few years, I immersed myself in the world of holistic skincare and soaked in as much knowledge and advanced education as I could. I became a Spa Director at the Hilton Spa on Kauai and also had the privilege of having my own private esthetician practice. Working one on one with my clients during this time proved to be my most valuable education. I have had the honor of touching hundreds of precious faces over the course of years in my practice, each face told a story of skin longing to be heard and longing to be healed. I quickly learned how valuable my hands truly are, and what powerful healing tools they make.
There was a common thread intertwined within all of my clients, it was that everyone was searching for a way to learn to love and care for their skin. Inspired, inspirited and intent; I set off to create a line of skincare that would transform a “routine” into a “ritual”. Leahlani Skincare would not only heal my skin, it has expanded my heart in more ways then I can ever begin to interpret; connecting me to people all over the world through my precious potions.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Leah: Dreamy, tropical skincare treasures. Leahlani Skincare is a Hawaii based artisanal skincare line made from fresh Hawaiian nectars, potent and vibrant botanical actives and luxurious, tropical beauty oils. We blend our products fresh weekly in intimate batches in our private studio on the lush North Shore of Kauai Island. Not only will using Leahlani help to unveil a balanced and vibrant complexion, it will also transform your skincare routine into a ritual of beauty that you will love and look forward to every day.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Leah: We sell our products on our website and you can find our tropical treasures in brick and mortars (as well as online shops) throughout the U.S and throughout the world.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Leah: When I first started, there was no reference point for me to really define my business. It’s hard to explain to those who have not been to Kaua’i, but its a teeny tiny island in the middle of the sea- we are extremely isolated. I wasn’t on social media at the time- and I am pretty sure I am one of the last people I knew to get an iPhone.
There wasn’t anyone doing exactly what I was doing, we didn’t have a business plan and to this day, we have never taken a loan out for our business. Our growth was slow and steady for the first few years before we had saved enough money to do a complete rebrand and launched our first official website in January of 2016, which I actually created myself. What I did know is that there weren’t any product lines out there that blew me away, I wanted to love using the products on my clients as much as they enjoyed them in the treatment room. All of the natural lines of skincare that I had tried had more of a medicinal aroma, and the results were not impressive. I wanted fresh, vibrant, tropical and effective skincare products that were an absolute joy to use- so that is what I set out to create.
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.
Leah: I wake up between 6-7am and make coffee and check my emails. I hop on Slack (a virtual workspace) to connect with my team. Our creative director is based in LA and our product specialist is based in Singapore- so Slack allows us to be in the same place at once, even though we are across the world from each other.
I head into the studio around 10am, and check in with our Client Concierge and Wholesale Manager. We will spend the morning touching base and discussing whatever we have going on for that specific week. Our “skincare chef” comes in twice a week, and so do our studio assistants- and together, we take a look at inventory and decide which products need to be made. Every day is a little different- but there is generally one day a week where I am alone in the studio, and that is my time to play with new formulations, go over my calendar, jump on a Skype call, brainstorm ideas and goals we have for the month and work on really clearing my inboxes.
No matter what I have going on, I always try to get out of the studio at 4:30 to go to a hot yoga class- and I pick up whatever else needs to get done before dinner. Unless it is around the Holiday time, I stay out of the studio on the weekends and relax and recharge.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
1) First, I would think about the why. What brought you to want to start your business? If there isn’t a deep passion and love for what you are doing at the very root of it, then I would take a moment and sit back before you take the plunge. It is that deep love and passion that will be the glue that holds you together through the journey of entrepreneurship- and believe me, you gotta have it to stay intact.
2) Define your goals and be prepared. This is something that we initially didn’t have. When we launched our official website in January of 2016- we didn’t really think anyone was watching and we were in no way prepared for what would happen next. We woke up to hundreds of orders, and had to call family and friends to come help us fulfill them all.
Within 15 days, we completely outgrew the studio space attached to our house- and by the end of the month, we had moved our entire business into a studio ten minutes down the road. There is no way I can even begin to explain the stress of not being prepared, and I so wish I had been better prepared at the time. We spent 2016-2018 trying to catch up and get everything organized. We missed out on amazing opportunities because we were not prepared. So much of starting a business is absolute uncertainty- but it is best to really be prepared or at least have a plan of attack for any and all outcomes.
3) Honestly, take care of yourself. I worked 80 hour weeks for the first couple of years and did very little for myself, and I rarely left the island. So now, even when my schedule is grueling, I always make sure to take that one hour for myself and get to yoga class- because that one hour will make all the hours in my day that much more productive.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Leah: It depends on what it is that is overwhelming me. If it is something that I need to talk out, I call Hali (our creative director), talk to my husband and family- or meet with my best girlfriends for happy hour to unload over a glass of wine. If I am feeling overall completely overwhelmed and tapped out in general, I take a break and try to get off the island for a few days. Even hopping islands and being in a different environment can do wonders. And I always look forward to my 5:15 pm yoga class because I know I will have that hour to completely unplug from life and just melt in the moment- the class is also heated with infrared, so I sweat a ton and I know this helps my stress levels to dissipate. And if I am being completely honest- I am overwhelmed a lot, so I do all of the above quite often.
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date
Leah: stepping out of my comfort zone. I know that this is not the typical answer- but for me, this is probably the most important personal decisions I have made in my personal life and my business. Almost every single situation I have been in as a business owner has been completely outside of my comfort zone. I was so terrified to be seen, to share my creations with the world, to take chances- even to succeed.
At first, I waded in the waters of discomfort very slowly and at my own pace- dipping my toes in and then quickly retreating once again. Then, I found myself thrown into the depths of discomfort- and the only choice I had was to deal with the situation at hand and do my very best. There are going to be so many uncomfortable situations, uncomfortable conversations and scary decisions that you will have to make- but you can do it, and you will. And even if the choices you make don’t end up being the best ones- ultimately you will learn from them, and they will make you a stronger person and business owner.
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Leah: It’s is hard for me to put my finger on just one, but I will have to say the hardest for me personally is having our brand copied in almost every way possible. From product names, formulations, trademarks, – my personal story and even my voice. It requires building a strong backbone, and having a good lawyer on hand. It is so hard for me to not take this personally because my business is so much an extension of myself.
What I have learned is that this happens, and will probably continue to happen. As much as you would hope that every business would be rooted with authenticity and integrity, this just isn’t always the case. It will always sting- but at the end of the day, you just have to keep moving forward. I have the most amazing clients in the world, and the connection with them is one of the greatest blessings of my life. It is that gratitude that keeps me going when these things are really bringing me down. Also, having a network of amazing people in your life who you can lean on when times get tough makes a world of difference. I have an amazing family and friend group who have been so incredible and supportive- and that is everything you can hope for.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Leah: Slack, my iPhone, and a fridge full of La Croix in the office – Slack allows our entire team to be in the same place at once, this keeps us up to date on every aspect of the business. My iPhone is my saving grace to remind me of upcoming deadlines, manage social media channels and have access to any files and information I need on iCloud no matter where I am in the world. And La Croix because it makes drinking water enjoyable.
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Leah: We will have finally launched our spa and esthetician line, so that you can get a signature Leahlani Facial around the globe. This is such a huge dream of mine because my time as an esthetician was such an important part of my journey. I would love to open a holistic esthetic school as well- the one I went to changed my life. I forsee Leahlani being very similar to how it is now- just on a larger scale perhaps. Still blending fresh batches weekly, and spreading the aloha around the world. I would also love to host women wellness retreats on the island.
LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?
Leah: Lela is incredible. We took her GMP class before beginning the exhausting journey of becoming EU compliant- and it was life-changing. She really breaks everything down for you, and holds your hand through it all. What I love about her courses is that she outlines everything for you. In business, so much of it is linear- you have a vision of where you want to be, but no idea of how the heck you are going to get there. She leads you through it so that all you have to do is take one baby step at a time. I have taken several of her workshops, each one is full of golden nuggets that will save you a ton of time and a ton of money that you would spend of Excedrin Migraine medicine.
LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?
Leah: All of the above are so important, the hardest part is finding the time to do them. You can never learn “too much.” Taking classes is great because you just have to sit back and absorb the information, and then implement what you learned into different aspects of your business. I just got back from attending a women’s CEO retreat off island, and it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Running a business takes a lot out of you, and can feel really isolating and lonely. I had no idea how much I was craving finding a community of like minded women to bounce ideas off on, and to share my personal experiences in my business. I felt so refreshed and supported after that retreat- and I look forward to continuing to build my community.
LBC: If you were given a million dollars, but you weren’t allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends, or family, how would you give it away?
Leah: I would love to just pay it forward daily at any chance I could, anonymously. Buy meals for people, donate to help rescue animals, pay for someone’s groceries, pay off someones credit card. This is a life goal of mine, to be in a position where I could do this.
LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you loathe doing, what would it be?
Leah: Clean my house! OMG goals
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
Leah: It is all over the place, I like to listen to really loud rap music when I drive, French music when I cook, and Hawaiian music when I am answering emails or working from my desk.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Leah: Kale salad with macadamia nuts and freshly chopped veggies. It’s my absolute favorite food in the world. Or cooked spaghetti squash with butter and capers.
Thank you, Leah, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Leahlani Skincare. We look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!