Made in New York: nine natural products
If you are growing a baby in your body, we don’t blame you for wanting to read the fine print on everything you put on that body. And we also don’t blame you for being a little terrified after doing it. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of harmful chemicals and toxins in so many of our beauty and skin care products, sometimes even those that claim to be “natural”.
Grace Lee, the founder of Nine Naturals, felt the same when she was pregnant. And that’s how she founded Nine Naturals, a completely safe healthy skin care line for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Made from 100% plant-based ingredients, Nine Naturals is free from toxic substances such as sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, DEA and artificial preservatives. Even the scent is all natural and designed to help relieve pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue.
With baby # 2 on the way, Grace will finally test her own line from a pregnant woman’s perspective. We recently caught up with the New York mum at her Tribeca office to learn more about her favorite beauty brands, the entrepreneurial mum she admires the most, and how she balances business and babies.
Tell us how and why you started Nine Naturals.
When my friends and I were researching beauty products that were safe to use during pregnancy, we ran into two problems: 1) most of the products that claimed to be natural still had harmful ingredients, and 2) many natural products didn’t work everything. just not good; shampoos don’t lather well, and body products don’t do much for their skin. When I developed Nine Naturals, I focused on using natural, pure ingredients that are safe for pregnancy while maintaining a high level of beauty and performance.
What products have you launched with and what other products have you added along the way?
We launched Nine Naturals with 5 products to get started: Shampoo, Conditioner, Deep Conditioner, Shower Gel, and Tummy Butter. It was important for us to create a line that would easily replace the products women used on a daily basis to help them reduce their exposure to environmental toxins. Since then, we have added other popular products such as natural deodorant and sunscreen as well as body cream and lip balm. To date, we offer pregnant women the most diverse hair and body care offers on the market.
Which beauty brands do you personally like?
I recently discovered a line of 7 free nail polishes from Trust Fund Beauty, founded by Samara Granofsky, which was inspired to launch the line when her mother had cancer. Trust Fund Beauty offers a wide range of colors and the polishes are very durable (hard to find in 7 free polishes!). Best of all, they are free from parabens, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, xylene, camphor, formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin. The women in our company love the line so much that we started selling them on our website!
How do you think becoming a mom has improved you as a businesswoman?
Becoming a mom has made every minute of my day more and more precious. My work efficiency has probably increased tenfold because I don’t have the flexibility to let it spill too much outside the office when I’m at home.
How did you feel during your pregnancy and how is it different from the first one?
It’s more difficult when you already have a child! There is much less time to rest, which was especially difficult in the first trimester when I was exhausted and sick. Pregnancy is a time when you simply cannot ignore your body’s signals; you have to take good care of yourself. With everything I’m juggling already, this second pregnancy has forced me to focus on the most important priorities in my life right now. I had to delegate a lot more to my team and say no to work and social commitments just to stay sane and healthy!
Who are some entrepreneurial moms that you admire or want to emulate?
Dana Rubenstein, the co-founder of Dapple, has been a wonderful friend and mentor to me. She and her co-founder, Tamar, each have 4 children (!) And simultaneously created an amazing, safe and natural brand for families.
What’s on your to-do list for Nine Naturals next year?
We have just launched our Destination Maternity stores across the country and will expand our distribution to other retailers later this year. We want to continue to make our products more accessible to women who want products that are safer for pregnancy and beyond.
Is there a balance? What are you doing just for yourself?
I don’t really believe in balance. I always make sacrifices and difficult choices as a full time working mom in my personal and professional life. Finding time for myself is difficult but also important so that I can be a better and healthier person for my family and in my work. I train with a trainer twice a week and saw an acupuncturist once a week during my pregnancy. On the weekends I have a babysitter who comes in for a few hours so I can spend some quality time with my husband – it’s a luxury I’m very grateful for.
Explain to us a typical day of work and child. what’s your schedule like?
Mornings are the craziest for me. I wake up at 6am to get a head start on emails and mentally prepare myself for the day. Between 7am and 9am feeding my daughter and myself, getting dressed and going out to school / work is kinda crazy. Then I am at the office for the rest of the day. I have made a very conscious decision not to blur the lines between work and home. I am in the office with my team every day. It is a rare day that I work from home.
I come home from work around 6.30 p.m. I play with Charlotte, I make up for her day and I put her to sleep. Bedtime is a sacred ritual between the two of us. I try as much as possible not to miss it. Once she’s asleep I do any work I haven’t had a chance to complete and spend precious time alone with my husband!
When I’m at home with Charlotte in the morning and evening, I try to be as present as possible for her. There are times when work life will spill over into my family life and vice versa, but it’s much easier for me to isolate my work and family time when possible.
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Photograph by Lindsay May of Classic Kids.