We’re all in the process of “cleaning up our act” these days—whether it means making our day to day routines less wasteful and more sustainable, being mindful and more of what we say and do, and on a more personal level, cleaning-up our beauty routines. I have been really diligent in trying to rid my skincare and makeup arsenal of things that are toxic and someone who has really opened my eyes to a variety of new products and brands is Jazmin Alvarez, the founder of NY-based Pretty Well Beauty. Jazmin is a beauty industry veteran with serious chops who launched her curated online marketplace to make clean beauty accessible to everyone who seeks a more holistic approach to personal care and well-being.

MELISSA: We always start with the same question because during this time, everything is framed differently. Things are a little different right now and we’re in an unprecedented time…how have you shifted as a business and as an individual to accommodate this new normal?

JAZMIN: Wow, things are really unpredictable now more than ever both in my business and as a human.  In business, I’ve had to shift a lot in order to keep my business running.  Last year which was my first year in business, I did about 12 pop up events which was a great way to build organic brand awareness and for people to be able to get up close and personal with the brands and products I curate at Pretty Well Beauty. This year that shifted completely (but in a great way). It was my intention already to pull back on the number of events I was going to do this year and focus my efforts more digitally.  It’s an area I had no experience with, whatsoever, so It’s been a major learning curve for me to figure out how to connect, engage and keep people interested in what I’m building in a digital landscape.  And as a human, I’ve had to really prioritize my health and mental wellbeing in a way I never quite have before.  I was about 90% plant based before the beginning of this year and now I’m completely vegan, I’ve prioritized my mental health with daily meditations (2X per day) and my relationships.  Due to this time, I’ve noticed a surge in desire to be in nature which is totally not me as a born and bred city girl who needs that constant stimuli, but I’ve shifted so much.  I now want to move outside of the city (not too far) and live somewhere that I can grow my own food.  It’s so strange how much I’m evolved in the past year and how my very way of thinking and priorities have shifted alongside all of this but in a very organic and seemingly seamless way.  I’m excited to see how it all manifests itself.

 

MELISSA: As a veteran of “big beauty” (Calvin Klein, Condé Nast, and most recently Fenty Beauty), what prompted you to leave behind the corporate life and try something independent and more niche?

JAZMIN: I decided that I wanted to be in the driver’s seat of my life and have complete control of my financial future.  I felt that in my career I had plateaued in a way and had reached a level where I didn’t see where else I could go unless I did something totally different and on my own terms.  Entrepreneurship was always something I’d desired but never quite felt ready for.  I mean who’s ever 100% ready for life changes? But for me, it came down to deciding to make it a now or never moment.  And that’s exactly what I told myself.  If I don’t do this now, I’ll never do it and I didn’t want to live with any regrets of not trying someone outside my comfort zone. Beauty has always been my first love, it’s in my DNA. I grew up around it so for me taking this leap of faith was more of a homecoming than anything else.

MELISSA: Speaking of, the launch of Fenty was a real sea change in the cosmetics world. Can you tell us about the alchemy of that brand and how you think it prompted that vital shift?

JAZMIN: I knew this launch was going to be a conversation starter, I did not realize that it was going have the global and cultural impact that it has. Being attached to this project was something and is something I’m so proud and grateful for. The way it all happened was kismet. Fenty Beauty launched with 40 shades of foundation which was a huge statement that let existing brands and any emerging brands know and see what is possible. This is the new standard. For SO many years brands have claimed that darker shades of foundation just don’t sell. Fenty Beauty proved that to not only be wrong, but a massive missed opportunity on the part of these other brands because they did the opposite of what everyone else did. Most brands decide what their customers want instead of listening to them. The fact that Fenty Beauty’s darkest shades sold out in minutes was the clap back felt around the world. And now, I believe that any brand that thinks they can come out with just a dozen shades of foundation are purposely being ignorant.

 

Entrepreneurship was always something I’d desired but never quite felt ready for.  I mean who’s ever 100% ready for life changes?

MELISSA: We love how Pretty Well Beauty has such a wide array of offerings in terms of products, price points, as well as a diverse brand / founder assortment. How do you curate your mix?

JAZMIN: Thank you. That was always my goal from the onset, to have diversity across multiple check points. It was and is still something that is severely lacking amongst many of the larger retailers. It was a personal pain point for me when I was just a consumer so I’m always looking through the lens of a consumer when I’m curating the brands at PWB. I have a check list of what I’m looking for in a brand and it always starts with the ingredients. I also consider the sustainability impact, the packaging, supply chain, how and where materials are sourced as well as the founder’s story.  Is there a compelling reason why this product or brand needs to exist?  Is there a mission behind it?  And price point, does it make sense economically not only for PWB but for my customers?  There are a lot of questions and a lot of conversations that take place before a brand lands on the website. Building a relationship with the founders behind these brands is something very important to me as well.  This is a partnership that I hope allows everyone involved to get what they need in order to be successful.

MELISSA: Tell us about your service, The Clean Beauty Edit, where you do personalized consultations to help people clean up their routines. How did this concept come to life?

JAZMIN: So, the Clean Beauty Edit is a funny story. This service is something that was inspired by something I had already been doing for years long before I even thought about starting my company.  I used to go into my friend’s bathrooms cabinets (mostly uninvited, mind you) and tell them that they couldn’t use certain things because they contain harmful ingredients. They trusted me and let me (sometimes) throw away their toxic products and then I would take them to go find a replacement of something made with cleaner ingredients. Thinking back on this, it sounds so invasive and ridiculous but I did it because I care and so I wanted to bring that to other people who might be struggling with figuring out what’s safe and what isn’t and how they can start their new routine and which products to buy and which ones to never touch.

 

MELISSA: Take us through your shower / morning / evening skincare and beauty routine…

JAZMIN: So, I usually shower about once per day. Typically, in the evening because I sleep on all white bedding and there’s no better feeling than climbing into bed after a hot shower.  I love that moment. Sometimes I’ll do dry brushing before my shower if I remember and I’m feeling up for it. However, if I had a sweaty morning or afternoon workout, then I’ll also shower after that so it really depends on my day, but evening showers are non-negotiable.  I like to apply a body serum while my skin is still damp and let that sink in. My morning skincare routine is pretty simple. I cleanse with something very gentle and mild just to remove the products I slept in. Then I follow with a balancing toner, a serum, and moisturizer and that’s pretty much it.  I’m not really wearing makeup these days as I’m home most of the time.  In the evenings, I will cleanse again, I exfoliate and do a face mask twice a week and then use a facial steamer sometimes if I feel I need it. Then I’ll follow with a serum, moisturizer again and then some vitamin E oil and give myself a little face massage.

MELISSA: What are some of your daily particulars that you always put on (jewelry, accessories…etc.)?

JAZMIN: The accessories I wear I keep them on 24/7. I never take anything off.  My jewelry/accessories are all very simple. I wear baby-sized yellow gold hoop earrings and a yellow gold Cartier love bracelet that is stacked with a woven bracelet that my friend brought back from Hawaii for me a few years ago. I also wear a white gold and diamond ring on my left middle finger and a yellow gold and diamond ring on my right ring finger.  And I have a small hamza necklace in yellow gold and white sapphires that I got when I was in Greece a couple summers ago.  All these items are delicate and under-stated which is my style.

MELISSA: With fall here, what’s next?

JAZMIN: Hmmm good question, I have no idea really.  I’m hoping to begin the process of updating the website which will help improve and elevate the user experience. I also hope to begin pitching to investors as I would like to grow and start building my core team. Personally, I plan to get out to nature much more hopefully.  My boyfriend bought an Airstream, so we want to plan a few trips in that thing together which I’m looking forward to. I can’t even believe I’m saying this because a year ago I SO wasn’t the sleep outside type of person.  But here we are…

Fall Favorite Combo: Skirts & Sweaters

Skirts paired with a sweater, or better yet a turtleneck, just shout fall to me. The whisper of winter is on its way, but while the sun still feels relatively warm, we can still wear a chunky knit paired with a long skirt and no tights. To me, the recipe for a perfect Thanksgiving look is an oversized sweater + silky skirt + sensible shoe (low-mid heeled boot or mule / flat). It feels country and mature and down to earth.
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