It’s safe to say that at Love, Mom we’re obsessed with good-for-you beauty brands, especially ones created by like-minded mamas. With the focus on using plant-based ingredients such as broccoli, cranberry and kale, Toronto-based Graydon Moffat created Graydon Skincare, a luxury beauty brand whose message is about making healthier choices — inside and out. (So while we’re pleading/nagging/talking sternly to our kids to eat their fruits and veggies, it’s nice to know that at least someone is not letting them go to waste).
After working in the holistic culinary world as a chef for a macrobiotic home delivery business in Southern California, and in the kitchen at Real Food Daily, Santa Monica’s premier organic, plant-based restaurant, Graydon began studying superfoods (20 years ago, and before it was trendy) . “As my knowledge and consumption of healing foods increased I noticed that many of my own health issues virtually disappeared, including rosacea, IBD as well as the relationship I had to my own body,” she says.
Eventually Graydon realized that there’s no point in eating healthy if you’re slathering products with unpronounceable ingredients all over our body so she experimented with making beeswax and olive-oil based salves infused with lavender and rosemary that she grew in her own kitchen. “I used to package them in vintage tin boxes I found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and give them away to friends as hostess and birthday gifts,” says Graydon.
Tin boxes aside, Graydon Skincare has come a long way since its kitchen-made roots and nabbed a coveted spot at the recently opened Broadview Hotel in Toronto, running their amenity program. “We were flattered that they wanted their amenities to be locally sourced,” says Graydon, who created some new products for the collaboration like the Matcha Mint Shampoo (below). “It all worked out and we’re truly proud to be working with such an amazing place and team of people.”
SHOP TALK WITH GRAYDON
What was your a-ha moment with Graydon Skincare?
I had been teaching private yoga for quite a few years but I was coming home after driving all around the city to see clients when I realized that my joy of teaching was becoming encroached with fatigue and burnout. I realized I needed to find a way to reinvent a career for myself that was more sustainable than using my physical body as my only source of income. As a single parent, I was tired of schlepping around , often at night and on the weekends missing all the precious after-school time, extracurricular activities, dinner and worst of all, not being home to tuck my son into bed. It was at this point I started to make my skincare products for my yoga clients — out of my kitchen at the time — and I had the a-ha moment of wondering if I could turn this side-hustle into an actual business.
How has living in France affected the way you view food, plants, and even well- being?
When we first moved to France I remember being terrified because I couldn’t speak the language but after a few trips to the local patisserie and local markets I started to enjoy myself. It is not difficult to be romanced by French food and I loved the unusual sharp tastes (of dark chocolate and strong café au lait) and aromas (stinky cheese and the nose of a good burgundy) that were new to me. Luckily, I had progressive parents who didn’t feed me chicken fingers. I ate what they ate and on the weekends they’d ‘throw’ me in the back of their little MG and off we’d go wine tasting. I have really primal memories of sitting in lavender and rosemary fields, getting earth under my nails, ‘playing’ with the escargot and picking truffles in the forest. Artisanal food is a lifestyle is France and even though we eventually ended moving back to Toronto, the connection that food comes from real live plants (and animals) never left me.
You’ve overcome eating issues, anxiety and panic attacks thanks to revamping your diet and creating a healthy relationship with food. Can you describe what changes you made and how that affected you?
I battled anorexia on and off since I was a teenager. It was not so much that I thought I was overweight, it had more to do with not feeling adequate and connected to my body. Starving myself didn’t exactly help to foster good mental health and my naturally anxious self. I went to a myriad of therapists and nothing really helped get me into my body until I started practicing yoga in Los Angeles. That is when my relationship with my body started to shift. I began to actually connect with how I felt, learned how to ‘follow my breath’ and slowly began to make healthier choices for myself because I actually wanted to feel better – not because someone was telling me to eat and gain weight. The yoga community became a very healing place for me and opening my world to the new ‘whole food’ community which was vibrant and an actively growing lifestyle, especially in Southern California!
What has been the hardest part about running your own business?
I can’t lie that maintaining a positive attitude in the context of the uncertainty of cash flow is very stressful. My priority is to make payroll, launch new products that really help to make people well and to spread the word about our business. Paying myself is last on the list and that is super stressful given that I don’t have a partner with whom I can share living expenses.
Who or what are your inspirations for Graydon Skincare?
I am such a foodie so I love reading food blogs and listening to natural health pod casts. The food and holistic healing world inspire me to create new products. For example, our Keto Cleanse was inspired from learning about and making ‘bulletproof’ coffee, and our Green Cream was after I attended a ‘Health Breast Workshop’ run by a local ND (Sat Dharam Kaur) who taught me about me the lymphatic benefits of sulphorafane in broccoli seed sprouts.
Do you have a certain business philosophy or mantra that you live by?
Well I have a lot of sayings that regularly stream through my head but our biggest one is ‘Beauty Lies Within’. True outer beauty is always brought out with inner beauty so for me finding that balance is key. It’s not just how I look at others; it’s also how I run my business. We don’t just sell skincare, I very much believe in helping our customers and social followers learn that true beauty is connected to our inner spiritual health not to mention the food we eat and lifestyle you embrace. I’d like to think that when I eventually leave this world that I will have helped thousands of people make better, more healthful choices for themselves, their families and ultimately this incredible planet we’re blessed to live upon.
Can you share some tips to having healthy-looking skin?
Besides basic tips like washing your face every night before your go to bed, doing your best to get a good sleep, moving your body at least a little everyday, and not using toxic products, the best beauty tip I have to nourish your skin from within, which for me means eating real food. I go out of my way to steer clear of refined foods as they really mess up my digestion, and when that happens, my face will nearly always have a flare up.
Were there any ingredients from the kitchen that you thought would be great for the skin, but found out that they weren’t? And if so, what were the results?
You will see a lot of DIY skincare recipes for scrubs that use coffee grains. Used on the rough spots (think cellulite) coffee scrubs can be good, but I find them too aggressive and inflammatory for the face!
How do you balance work and motherhood? Any advice for other working moms?
Despite my yoga, meditation and holistic health background, I am not always good at practicing what I preach. I have just dropped my son off at university and in a mess of tears I lamented working so much all these years and not being able to be the classic mom, and do all the field trips and volunteering. When you need to work… and there’s no paycheque coming in every 2 weeks… and you’re involved in a business you’re really passionate about… it can definitely lead to being a workaholic.
On a positive note (as I was saying goodbye to my son in Montreal this past weekend), he actually thanked me for pushing him to be so independent and ‘making’ him do a lot of challenging academic and extracurricular activities (while I was always busy working at night and on the weekends, I needed to keep him entertained) because now he’s really happy to have an amazingly diverse resumé and he got all his top picks at university. I think he resented me a bit when I was occasionally a bit of a tiger mother when he was younger but I always balanced the intensity of pushing him by clearly communicating that all that mattered at the end of the was my unconditional love and acceptance of him.
What have been your biggest accomplishments so far?
Besides just sending a happy, healthy son off to a great university, I actually amaze myself that I started this business from scratch without any business background. Many people cautioned me to do anything but start a skincare business but I feel like I was lucky to be naive (ignorant – lol) thinking I could do it. I was just overcome by the passion of my vision to create a plant powered skincare line utilizing the superfoods I loved in the holistic culinary world and spinning them into fuel for your skin.
And as much as the process of getting divorced was absolutely dreadful and healing myself from an eating disorder, I also know that I would not have come this far without a more than a little pain and suffering. As I am known to say, ‘I am grateful for the problems I have and the ones I don’t’!
P.S. If you’re in Toronto, come Meet Graydon and score free samples of her products on Thursday, September 28th where she’ll be with 20 other amazing green beauty brands at Creeds Coffee Bar from 12pm-7pm.