Q + A with Founder, Karen Behnke
We sat down with Karen Behnke, founder of Juice Beauty, a skincare and cosmetics company specializing in beauty products made with Certified Organic Ingredients.
Read on to learn more about what inspired Karen to start her own business and more about the organic beauty industry.
by CHLOE.: How did you come up with the idea for Juice Beauty?
Karen Behnke: I had been an entrepreneur in the health and wellness field for 18 years when I became pregnant with my first baby at 40. I had never paid attention to the ingredients in the beauty products that I was putting all over my face and body despite my professional and personal passion for wellness, fitness and beauty. So when I became pregnant at 40, it was the first time I actually read a beauty product label, and I couldn’t believe it. There were as many potentially harmful ingredients in both high-end and low-end beauty products as well as some ingredients that had been banned from our food. I was astounded to learn that although the skin can absorb over 60% of what is placed on it, there were very few available organic personal care products that worked well. My entrepreneurial “juices” kicked in and I thought, I can do this better! Years later, I bought the name “Juice Beauty” and started the company from scratch.
bC: Have you always been passionate about health and wellness?
KB: Actually, my wellness and fitness background inspired Juice Beauty! Having dedicated my personal and professional life to eco-chic beauty/wellness/organic living. This is my third business. My first business was a fitness business, my second was a corporate wellness company, and now I run Juice Beauty. I have dedicated my personal and professional life to this sustainable/healthy lifestyle mission. Of course, we all have areas we are working on (sleep!), but my wellness lifestyle has really worked for me and it’s pretty simple… Try to exercise almost every day for an hour, drink lots of filtered water and eat healthful organic nutrition such as whole grains, organic fruits and vegetables.
bC: How did your past experiences help build Juice Beauty into a success?
KB: My goal has always been to consistently marry my passion for helping people enjoy healthier lifestyles with my ability to build financially successful businesses that are mission driven. I founded Execu-Fit (later named PacifiCare Wellness Company) in San Francisco, one of the first corporate wellness companies in the country. The company delivered worksite medical fitness screenings, health risk appraisals, and fitness programs for major corporations. The Wellness Company grew to provide services to over 2 million members in six states staffed with 300 health care professional employees. Building my wellness company really reinforced perseverance for early stage ideas as “corporate wellness” really didn’t much exist when I started the company and “organic beauty” really didn’t much exist when I started Juice Beauty. Building my first companies also gave me a solid business network that allowed me to raise my initial Juice Beauty funding within a few days.
bC: What were some of the challenges you faced starting a skincare and makeup business?
KB: It takes great patience to achieve the highest efficacy yet most pure products. It takes years and years of scientific formulations and experiments as we have radically transformed the chemistry of beauty. Entrepreneurs are not known for their patience, so I sure have become frustrated along the way, but that frustration pushed us forward. Getting a great and world class team takes a bit of scale and notoriety to recruit amazing leaders. This was very hard in the beginning. At the start of 2011, Juice Beauty really began to escalate when we recruited a professional product development and in-house chemist team as well our first top executive. Our Juice Beauty employees amaze me every day!
bC: What are the benefits of an all-natural skincare regiment vs organic?
KB: First of all, it’s important to know the difference, as it can be confusing. Many ‘natural’ products can range from not-natural-at-all to some pretty great naturals, but since there are no real regulations in the natural arena, it’s tough for consumers to understand and sift through all the marketing hype. The label, ‘organic’ on the other hand, is extremely hard to obtain. The United States (California Organic Products Act) has one of the few most rigorous standards for organic products in the world, requiring that the total organic content exceed 70% or greater to be considered organic (excluding water fillers). Farming organically means limiting synthetic pesticides, chemicals and fertilizers. Organically farmed ingredients should not have all those chemicals and pesticide residue living on and in the products you’re using. There are very few national organic brands that meet the 70% or greater “made with certified organic ingredients” government regulations. Juice Beauty’s goal has always been to pass natural efficacy and to meet or exceed conventional chemical beauty efficacy.
bC: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
KB: Someone once told me to follow my passion. I can’t remember who said it to me first but that’s what I’ve done and that’s what I tell everyone to do, as it’s served me well. Start a company in which you are passionate, as this drive will get you through all the ups and downs. Then surround yourself with fabulous people that share and reinforce this passion.
bC: What can we expect from Juice Beauty in the future?
KB: Continuing to revolutionize the chemistry of beauty! Expect more certified organic makeup products heading your way, all with the help of our fabulous Creative Director, Gwyneth Paltrow.
bC: What’s your favorite dish at by CHLOE.
KB: The brunch menu is my favorite! I love the cinnamon rolls.
bC: What does “Eat well. Eat with purpose” mean to you?
KB: It means don’t bother with junk food, take the time to eat wholesome unprocessed foods that actually taste like food should taste. Enjoy your meals and enjoy them with people that are a positive influence.
1. Favorite place on earth? The farms where we source our organic ingredients.
2. Sweet or savory? Sweet.
3. Cocktail of choice? Freshly squeezed organic lemonade with Tito’s vodka.
4. Personal mantra? Listen and trust your gut feelings.
5. Go to workout? Run, bike, swim—rotate it.
6. Your last meal would be? A rich almond-milk chocolate shake!
7. Emoji that best describes you: The Green Apple (malic acid from organic green apples inspired our first real collection: Green Apple Brightening Collection)
8. Stranded on an island, what 3 things do you bring?
1. My family. They could get me out of the situation as both my husband and our kids are much more clever than me.
2. Good shoes for hiking.
3. Our Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC SPF 30. Taking care of your skin is so important, whether you’re trapped on an island or hitting the slopes.
9. Juice or smoothie? Juice—of course. freshly squeezed organic!
10. Early bird or night owl? I am not naturally an early riser, but to make my workouts happen and get triathlon training in, my husband and I get up at 5:45 a.m. and we’re out the door by 6:00 a.m.