Today we’re featuring the behind-the-scenes story of Crambé Face Forward Rejuvenating Facial oil. In full disclosure, it’s a passion project launched by our longtime friends and colleagues and to celebrate Mother’s Day, they’re gifting us with an exclusive promo code, MOM15, worth 15% off and free shipping. Visit their website to learn more and shop now.
Prince Edward Island possesses more than the lore of Anne of Green of Gables and the throng of tourists who visit to get a glimpse of the legendary heroine’s oceanside playground. Recently, it has become home to a collective of Taiwanese monks called the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society who are sharing their wisdom and prosperity with their new Canadian neighbours. Equally surprising, the tiny island is exploring resources such as soy beans and mustard, the latter of which potato farmers are relying on to protect and bump their crops.
The resulting surplus of mustard seeds harness Abyssinian oil, also known as crambe seed oil, which is at the core of Crambé Skincare launched by art directors and skincare junkies Daniel MacKinnon and Benjamin Macdonald. Sustainable, renewable and extracted from non-GMO mustard crops, this ingredient is packed with vitamins, minerals and Omega fatty acids that inspired them to bottle it up and launch Face Forward Rejuvenating Facial Oil. A seriously multi-talented worker, it can lessen everything from fine lines and wrinkles, overactive sebum, pesky psoriasis, irritating eczema and good ‘ol dry skin. Today, they tell us the story of this powered-up ingredient and its journey from curiosity to a full-fledged start-up.
When did you discover crambe seed oil?
“A few years ago, when [Daniel] was working at a beauty magazine, I was designing a story about Canadian-sourced beauty ingredients. One of the ingredients was Abyssinian oil and I was amazed to learn that it was grown in my home province of Prince Edward Island and the oil—bursting with so many great benefits—was being under utilized and underestimated just like the tiny island I grew up on.”
How did you come to trust its wow-factor?
“We first shared Abyssinian oil with our friends; many of them work in the fashion and beauty industry like us. We had the unique opportunity to gather invaluable and professional feedback from our friends who are beauty editors and makeup artists. From the very start the feedback was wonderful. Nobody had heard of or even used Abyssinian oil before. Many loved how rich it felt, yet it still absorbed quickly. This allowed them to apply the oil prior to a moisturizer or even mix it with a primer before applying makeup. The other thing they loved was the fact that it was a sustainable product, 100% natural, full of fatty acids and grown right here in Canada.”
What happened next?
“We investigated a producer and ordered a sample. We both used the oil for a few months and loved the results so we booked a flight to Prince Edward Island. Daniel’s parents, of course, welcomed our impromptu stay. A site visit was really important to us because we wanted to make sure we were delivering a high quality ingredient. It was extremely important for us to know exactly where the oil was being grown and processed. How else could we honestly talk about a product without fully understanding and believing in it? We learned so much on that initial trip. We visited the actual fields where the crop was being grown. And yes, the scenery is something out of Anne of Green Gables. We learned that the Crambe Abyssinica plant is a very sustainable crop. It’s drought resistant rotation crop; any left over parts of the plant, after harvest, are plowed back into the soil as fertilizer. The husks, from the seeds, are also used as livestock feed. One of the things we love about our product is that we are supporting farmers and processors in a province where employment can be a challenge. Every bottle we sell helps contribute to that economy and that makes us feel wonderful.”
Why do you love the skincare business?
“Skincare is very egalitarian, that is why we love it. We all have skin regardless of sex, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We need to take care of it. We feel it is the very foundation of how we present ourselves to the world, perhaps even the baseline of where we should begin with self-care. We believe in putting your best face forward, hence the name of our facial oil.”
What’s your vision for Crambé moving forward?
“We really want to utilize Abyssinian oil in the development of future products for skin and hair. It’s a very versatile ingredient that’s extremely powerful in it’s pure form but also works very well combined with other ingredients.”
What have you learned about launching a skincare startup?
“Launching an online-only business was a challenge. Lucky for us, my brother and fellow co-founder, Matt, has a background in e-com marketing. He helped us navigate much of the online marketing landscape, which sometimes can be a sea of endless acronyms and algorithms. Benjamin leads all the brand creative from logo to packaging to design elements ensuring that the brand feels cohesive, current and fresh. I handle a majority of the brand’s PR and content strategy. One large challenge is making sure we stay focused. We want to grow the brand, we have so many ideas and we have to stay on track. The best part of the process is when we hear from our customers who have had a wonderful experience with Crambé. Having a loyal customer and getting positive feedback has been so much more rewarding than we could have ever imagined.”
What’s your advice for others considering a side hustle?
“Research and educate yourself about what you’re selling. You need to LOVE what you’re doing because it’s a lot more work than you could ever imagine. There’s a reason why they call it ‘building a business’. It needs a good foundation.”