Farmaesthetics is a full line of 100% natural skincare products for the face and body. Farmaesthetics is based on an herbal tradition of pure, elegant skincare made with organically grown herbs, flower, oils and grains from American family farms. There are no artificial preservatives, no petroleum products, synthetic fragrances, dyes, fillers, or talcs.
Farmaesthetics products are used and sold in the finest spas and retailers in the world. Clients include Four Seasons Resorts, Macy’s, Urban Outfitter’s terrain, as well as in their award-winning flagship boutique on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI. The full line is also offered at www.farmaesthetics.com and through their distributor, Universal Companies, the number one spa distributor in the USA.
The natural beauty behind the natural products
Brenda Brock, Farmaesthetics’ Founder, Formulator and CEO, is the daughter of a 7th generation farming family from Texas, with roots steeped in herbal traditions.
Her technical background in chemistry stems from her studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Her love of folklore, storytelling and writing led to a change of majors and a move to New York City where she studied and enjoyed a 10-year career as a produced playwright and actress.
Following four years on the ABC Daytime Drama, One Life to Live, and two Daytime Award nominations for Best Actress, Ms. Brock longed to return to her rural roots. She moved to Rhode Island, restored an old Victorian farmhouse and began growing herbs and flowers and making her skincare preparations, utilizing the rural traditions of American “kitchen chemistry,” which has been a life-long passion.
Ms. Brock first made her herbal products available to customers during the summer of 1999 at her friend’s organic farm stand in Portsmouth, RI. She created her seasonal line using pristine organic harvests from ocean-side farms. To meet growing year-round demand, she took her “recipes” to dermatological laboratories and successfully re-formulated her products for large batch production while retaining their 100% natural status and achieving a certified two-year shelf life.
In keeping with her commitment to all things natural and her high standards for ethics in manufacturing, labeling and marketing of natural and organic products, Brenda was invited to serve as a founding steering committee member, advising The Natural Product Association in developing the first-ever US standard for natural personal care products.
She is also known for her considerable contributions as a consultant and collaborator with destination spas as they move toward sustainability and LEEDS certification. Clients include Urban Outfitter’s terrain, The Mayflower Spa, OH! Spa at Ocean House and Tree Spa at Hidden Pond to name a few.
A noted trailblazer in the industry of “green” cosmetic manufacturing, Ms. Brock is a sought after speaker. She has addressed the Cosmeceutical Conference in New York City and Luxe Pack in Monte Carlo, Monaco, speaking on behalf of the “green” luxury skincare category. Brenda has been invited to be a guest faculty member at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY in September 2013, for a two-day workshop on “Sustainable Beauty from the Farm.”
Ms. Brock’s achievements include being named Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People & Ideas Behind Green Design in Beauty” and one of the "Five Entrepreneurs at the Forefront of the Natural Beauty Revolution” by Luxury Spafinder. Farmaesthetics products made the cover of Cosmetic/Personal Care Packaging Magazine for their leadership position in “green” packaging design. Farmaesthetics has also been named to Women’s Wear Daily’s “It List” of “The Green Brands Defining Organic Skincare.” Brenda Brock has been a repeat guest on “The Martha Stewart Show” and named one of Martha’s “Natural Beauty Guru’s”.
Building a foundation
While the aforementioned awards and monikers are glowing and quite impressive, this doesn’t mean that creating a business from a passion was easy.
In 1999, there was no such channel as green luxury cosmetics or sustainable skincare in the premium beauty industry (Farmaesthetics holds the registered trademark for the term Sustainable Beauty). Brenda knew she had a truly natural herbal product that was 100% natural and comparable in efficacy to pharmaceutical grade cosmetic lines on the market. She also saw that modern women were interested in wellness and health as beauty, and that resonated with an upscale audience who had few to no natural choices in upscale channels.
But as Brenda admitted, “I didn’t go to business school and I didn’t have a manufacturing background; I knew there was an opening in the market, and I needed help to realize my vision.” Brenda started making calls, asking questions, meeting with business contacts; finally she met with a well-known dermatological laboratory that saw the value and opportunity and agreed to work with her to reformulate her traditional herbal recipes into formulations for large scale production. The process took investment of time and money from friends and family investors, and at the end of the nine month process she had a refined line of 100% natural products with a certified extended shelf life. As a result of this successful reformulation, she was inducted into the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, in which she is a member in good standing today.
Brenda shared, “I had no preconceived notions. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know how to figure out the costs, where to store goods, how the cosmetic business worked .…I needed information and help. People recommended the Small Business Development Center-RI. I walked into their offices, and boy, I’m glad I did!”
The SBDC sent consultant Bill Nash to meet with Brenda and her husband, Paul, Farmaesthetics’ CFO. Bill, who has a manufacturing background, helped build Farmaesthetics’ first business plan. By the end of 2000, Brenda had a business plan in place for Farmaesthetics--a plan she continues to use today.
Brenda explained that Bill was a patient teacher; never sounding too technical, he led her through the cost of goods and financial projections. With a solid business plan in hand, Brenda was able to meet with potential angel investors to execute the growth plan in place for her brand.
From 2000-2003 the fast growth start-up expectations of the 1990s were giving way to more organic business models which suited Farmaesthetics branding strategy perfectly. In the early years, it was a lot of education and selling -- to potential investors, spas and resort clients. Brenda continued to grow the line from twelve to twenty products in three years, market them, deliver on time, and hire a small workforce.
Then in 2003, Brenda submitted her business plan to Springboard Enterprises, a nationwide business plan competition where a very few female entrepreneurs are chosen and then fast-tracked with advisors, professionals and tutors from various fields, Babson and Harvard, in preparation for their pitch to the Boston VC community. The experience was a turning point for Brenda, “It was CEO boot camp for sure. I earned my wings to run my company when I left that three week intensive.”
Brenda shared, “I am the accidental business person. I was already well into my business before I even knew I had one, and then RISBDC came in time and again to provide foundation as needed. It helped me move from my kitchen into a warehouse/office space and retail outlet, and it is helping me move my brand and company to the next level.”
Over the next decade, Farmaesthetics continued to grow and weather the recession. This past year, Brenda connected with RISBDC marketing consultant, Catherine Bowen Brophy, who encouraged Brenda to get back in touch with the SBDC due to the Center’s considerable resources and counselors. Soon after, Brenda met with Stacey Carter, RISBDC’s Regional Director for Newport County/East Bay.
Brenda said, “I had been moving so fast for so long. I was in the soup. The meeting with Stacey provided me with the opportunity to lift my head up and tell my story.” Stacey recognized that Brenda was at a crossroads in growth with several different exciting avenues to choose while at the same time wearing many hats, weighing decisions and running the day to day operation.
Stacey was able to see where Brenda needed assistance and she provided Farmaesthetics with a series of advisors, to make up an informal advisory board. These consultants steered Brenda onto a focused path enabling her to hire a financial manager and delegate more work to others so she would be able to look to the future and continue to grow the company efficiently and effectively. They included a patent attorney, manufacturing professional, business owner, and marketing consultant.
The RISBDC has also been able to recommend several types of student engagement through Salve Regina University. A marketing student had reached out to Stacey, and she connected her with Farmaesthetics for a market research project. The student will get credit for the 120 hours she put into the work, and Brenda will receive a report with the data collected. A communications class offered two English majors who conducted a social media analysis earlier this year, and a market research class is working on a report that includes a survey of potential clients. Brenda also hired a marketing student who had been working with the RISBDC as an intern over the summer and plans to offer her a position upon graduation.
Brenda stated, “I am building a brand. Stacey sees this. She matched me up with advisors who are a good fit for my company. Now my business has grown to the next level. That’s in no small part to the Small Business Development Center. The SBDC was a game changer for me!”
Where to find Farmaesthetics products
Farmaesthetics’ full line is offered at www.farmaesthetics.com. Products, as well as facials and massage are available at their award-winning flagship store, Farmaesthetics Skincare Apothecary & Treatment Boutique, located at 144 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI, 401.619.4199. Farmaesthetics products are also available at terrain in Westport, CT and Glen Mills, PA.