Most of us never get to know the people behind the skincare products that we use. In fact, most of us wouldn’t think that it matters! That is, until one meets the founders of Fresh, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg. To say that they are passionate is an understatement – they are one of the rare business owners who are still intricately involved with the brand even after decades in operation. To say that they are offering a lifestyle, not a product, may sound cliché, but it cannot ring any truer with anyone else.
We sit down with the couple to talk about their latest release, the painstaking processes that go into every product, and of course, what it’s like working together.
Fresh has been around for close to 3 decades now, and you were pioneers in what many of us consider to be cosmetic staples today – using natural ingredients in your products and going back to traditional beauty regimes. How do you continue to set yourself apart from all the other brands who position themselves in a similar space today?
Lev: Back in the 80s, we spent time in department stores and spent time with beauty editors, and they’ll be talking about creams and lotions and toners and using terms in technology that’s very difficult to understand and to relate to. There’s no mention of natural ingredients, and no mention of the background of the ingredient or the product. It’s a science. I don’t really connect to it, I don’t fully understand what it is.
What we felt that there was so much that natural ingredients can offer. Beauty is a luxury that anybody can afford, but it’s also has to be truly feel-good. You really wanna know what you’re putting on your face. So, we’re really more of pioneers in explaining to people in a more simple way, things about beauty and what’s important. When we introduced sugar in body polish, people know what [sugar] is and what it tastes like. Sugar attracts moisture into your skin and it’s also a natural disinfectant. People can relate to that. So this was something that we started in the beginning. We were pushing the story of beauty and its history.
It’s our attention to detail and generosity with our ingredients that sets us apart from others. Our products are very effective, safe, and you get a sensorial experience like nothing else.
How do you discover new ingredients?
Lev: All of the products are created by me. I work together with chemists and scientists and we formulate products together based on my vision and ideas that I have. Discovering ingredients is cultural – lotus for example has been used for so many generations. People drink it, eat it, make clothes out of it, make preparations for skin ailments. There’s no question about getting curious and wanting to find out why it works so well. Science gives us the ability to find out.
Alina: The reason 17 years ago we partnered with LVMH was to have access to a laboratory that can do a lot more for the ideas that we have. You can be inspired by raw materials but they’re not ingredients yet. In order to make them into ingredients, it can take a long time. In Fresh, when you hear sometimes that it takes 6 years to create a product, it doesn’t mean it takes 6 years to create a jar. It takes a long time to create a natural ingredient that can be formulated. All these sensorial experiences besides the texture and aroma is the full experience of Fresh.
Tell us a bit about the thought and process behind your packaging.
Alina: In the last 2 years, we collaborated with artists on certain iconic products. Last year we celebrated our Umbrian clay masks and we worked with ceramicists in Umbria, Italy to create a visual for the clay jar. Prior to that, we worked with an artist in London – Jo Ratcliffe who’s actually a fashion illustrator. But it’s kind of interesting to turn things around. We love art. It’s a great way to be involved with artists.
When you look at the classic Fresh packaging, the idea is to always be timeless. I remember when we launched our first skin care product, the rose and sugar face polish, we brought the white opal glass jars in, which reminded me of this jar my grandmother used to have. When we started looking for that, there’s literally one factory in Europe that was still making white opal glass. It just felt like it would be classic and beautiful to keep something that isn’t sprayed or painted on.
Whatever’s on the outside leads you subliminally to enjoy the product inside.
Fresh has an international presence – in Malaysia specifically, via Sephora. Any plans for brick-and-mortar expansion?
Alina: We want to be on Petaling Street (laughs).
Lev: We’re looking at interesting opportunities with retail and how we can express our lifestyle.
Lastly, what is it like being partners both at work and outside? Juicy details are welcome 🙂
Lev: What works for me and Alina is that we are equally passionate in what we do. We have a great sensitivity and understanding of each other. We listen to each other and we each do what we’re strong at. We collaborate on everything. If I’m working on a product, the most important opinion for me is Alina’s. It’s the same thing with packaging. Our opinions are important. We may debate and see things differently but we end up trusting each other. That’s a great thing – being with somebody you’re close to, living in the same world. It’s rare, but it’s not always easy. It’s been awesome working together.
Alina: You have to respect each other’s space. You grow up, you mature, you know what’s important for you and what’s important for the other person. Sometimes there are mutual passions and sometimes there aren’t. It’s great to start a business with a partner. You have another bouncing board, whether it’s a personal partner or a business partner. If you have to cry that day, there is somebody else who isn’t. That’s really important.
1. Provides anti-pollution & antioxidant protection
2. Immediately improved luminosity by 31%, and after 4 weeks by 52%
3. 97% of testers said it immediately smoothed the look of fine lines
4. 98% reported it immediately refined the look of pores
5. 98% noticed it improved skin elasticity
6. 100% reported it immediately refined skin texture
7. 97% reported their skin was healthier-looking
8. Provides 24-hour moisture
But don’t take their word for it – the Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence is retailing on Sephora at RM310. Before you gawk at the slightly steep pricing, the essence is actually rather luxurious and potent, so a couple of drops to start off your skincare routine is sufficient!
Read next: Chic Tips: 5 Steps for Long Lasting Make-up