With National Boss's Day on October 16th, we wanted to profile two bosses we really love! Kayla Bertagna and Lisa Ballstaedt are the Co-Founders of Soon Skincare, a 100% women-owned skincare brand! They shared about their experiences starting a company from the ground up, how they've been able to overcome the challenges of start-up life, and advice for others looking to create their own business! They also revealed how they have navigated running a business together, and what has made their teamwork thrive as both co-founders and friends! Check out our special double feature on these two amazing entrepreneurs below!
Q: How did the two of you meet? And can you talk a bit about the early days when you both first started Soon Skincare - what was it like? How did it all come about?
Lisa: “We met through a mutual friend shortly after Kayla moved to Southern California, near where I was already living. We all went to Sprinkles Ice Cream to meet up for a treat; we hit it off and have been friends ever since. We should have met before because we were at the same university, living in the same place, and had mutual friends, but our paths didn't cross until that point.”
Kayla: “The idea for Soon came about after my friend and I bought Korean beauty masks to give to friends on a girls’ trip to Puerto Vallarta. We tried the masks, but we had a lot of questions about them, and we wanted to find a way to make the user experience better for women everywhere. After hours of measuring each other’s faces, countless trips to Korea to meet with skincare chemists, and countless nights testing products, we launched Soon in October of 2018.”
Q: How have you navigated running a business together, as co-founders and friends? And how do you divide or share your roles for the company? What makes your teamwork thrive?
Kayla: “We went into creating this company knowing that there would definitely be ups and downs all throughout this process. We’ve dealt with things taking much longer than expected, samples not turning out how we hoped, and being a company owned and run by two women— sometimes people underestimate us. We have big plans for Soon Skincare, so when things don’t go as planned, we reflect and figure out what we can learn from it and move forward from there. Also, we are big on helping others who reach out that are building their own businesses, especially other women!”
Lisa: “We are all in this together, and we can all help each other succeed. As far as how we share our roles, Kayla's background is in finance and business, and mine is more networking and PR, but we both share responsibilities to get things done. Open communication between the two of us is essential to both our friendship and our business.”
Q: Why are you passionate about Korean skincare?
Both: “To us, skincare isn’t just part of a routine: it’s an act of honoring your body. We're passionate about Korean skincare because it doesn't focus on instant results that only affect the surface of the skin without preventing or improving deeper skin issues. Korean products are all about penetrating the deeper levels of the skin to prevent damage and make your skin look younger and healthier over time.”
Q: What are each of your go-to skincare routines in the mornings and/or night?
Kayla: “I start my routine by washing my face with our Korean wash mitt. I have found that slightly exfoliating my skin everyday is more beneficial than deep exfoliating a couple times a week. I love to throw on a pair of eye patches and follow with our Vitamin C serum. I then apply Finacea—which I use to manage my rosacea—and then apply my chemical sunscreen. Because skin cancer runs in my family, sunscreen protection is incredibly important to me. At night, I first use a very gentle cleanser to remove any makeup, which I do with our makeup removal cloths, especially because they are so gentle on my skin and effective at preserving my eyelashes when removing my mascara. I then use our exfoliating mitt to wash my face with the same gentle cleanser. I lightly use the exfoliating mitt in a circular motion, which helps keep my skin clear of blemishes, then do a quick and short wash with my Clarisonic face brush to ensure that all my pores are clean. I then apply my toner and depending on the day I will use one of our masks (I like to mask three times a week), and then I add a special cream to my eyes and my rotating serum to my face. I rotate between our Mermaid Collagen Serum or the Niacinamide/VitaminB+ Serum we have been working on. As a final step, I sometimes finish with a tretinoin product.”
Lisa: “We are always testing out products that we have in development, so right now I’m trying out a cleanser we're perfecting followed by an eye cream, our Mermaid Collagen Serum, Camellia Leaf Cream (we're almost done with this one!), and then I top it off with sunscreen (ALWAYS!). At night, I have a love/hate relationship with washing my face at night; I hate doing it, but love it when it's done. I start with our makeup removing cloths, and then wash my face. After that I love exfoliating with our mitt, and I’ve worked up to doing that almost daily. Lately I've followed that up with a new serum and cream we're testing, and I have been loving it. Oh, and always eye cream at night as well. I also use one of our face masks 3-4 times per week, and love how they make my skin feel and look.”
Q: Is there a certain product you would consider to be an absolute essential? Do you have a favorite product from your brand?
Lisa: “We always joke that this is like asking us to pick a favorite child! I would say lately my favorite product is our Pomegranate Hydrogel Eye Patches with Collagen. I keep the jar in my fridge and they are an instant pick me up. When I look tired you can see it under my eyes for sure, and these help with any inflammation, and they also help with fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes. Also, they feel so cooling and refreshing when you put them on so they’re a nice way to treat myself.”
Kayla: “Because of all the research and work that goes into each product, it is hard to pick a favorite. I love our Biocellulose Face Masks and how unique they are. We spent so much time getting the shape just right and making sure that our masks would give results people would see, and they do! Our Mermaid Collagen Serum is another favorite of mine because of the results it gives.”
Q: How do you balance your positions as entrepreneurs and mothers? And why do you believe it is important for women to have equal leadership positions in our society today?
Both: “So we have become creative in how we schedule our time to work and our time with our kids so everything gets taken care of. It means that sometimes emails don’t get answered until after bedtime, and sometimes class projects don’t end up being the Pinterest-worthy version I envisioned, but at the end of the day the task always gets done. It's vital that women have equal leadership positions because we provide valuable insight. And we're smart and get stuff down.”
Q: What have been the most valuable lessons you have learned from running your own business? How have you overcome the challenges of the start-up life?
Both: “Our top business challenge would have to be the process of creating and perfecting our products. Working on formulas, researching the ingredients, making changes to the products, and testing each new version. All of this delays how soon you will receive and be able to start selling them. We have learned you need to be patient and know that the end goal is to come up with something amazing, knowing we were involved in every detail. We are proud that we have created products we can really stand behind, even though it took us longer than we originally planned.”
Q: What advice would you give to women who want to start their own business?
Both: “Like all good things you have to put the effort into it to get the results, and it's definitely worth it.”
Q: What do you each root your identity in?
Lisa: “I would say it all comes back to being a mother. Having children changed my focus on everything. I want to make sure they are taught what they need to walk well through this world, and a lot of that comes from leading by example. At the end of the day I want to be the kind of person that they will be proud to have as their mother.”
Kayla: “Mine would be my family, upbringing and my kids. At a young age I was taught how to work hard, be kind, have integrity, and strength. I know I can do hard things and I love that my kids get to see that. I know and love who I am and hope with my teachings they will know and love who they are too.”
Thanks so much for speaking with us! We are so excited to support Kayla & Lisa, and their women-run Korean skincare company! Check out their Instagram and website to stay updated on their latest products!
Photography by Soon Skincare
Story by Renée Lee