T.L. Robinson is a woman to admire for many reasons. She started a green, uni-sex skincare line called MASS EDEN. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her since I have been a writer for the MASS EDEN Blog since last year. Not only is she intelligent, but she also cares for people’s well-being. Her story and the story behind MASS EDEN are anything but ordinary. Coming from a finance background, TL successfully launched MASS EDEN. TL has kindly answered a few questions for my blog and I am so excited for everyone to get to know the woman behind MASS EDEN.
What is your background prior to starting MASS EDEN, and did you always want to start your own body care line?
I was working in management in the finance industry for a Fortune 500 company when I started my research for creating MASS EDEN. I’d been in the industry for almost 15 years before taking my leap of faith into the green beauty space. The skills gained during this time have definitely helped me get the company up and running and gain strong footing early on.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would own a body care line. When I was younger, I actually wanted to be buyer for a clothing or home brand – this has always been a dream job for me. So, I thought my next “professional life” would be in textiles. But, life threw me a major curve ball with a health issue. I stepped up to the plate and swung by starting MASS EDEN.
Do you recall the moment you decided to start MASS EDEN?
Getting seriously ill a few years back changed the focus and priorities for my life. I don’t remember saying to myself that I wanted to start a company. It was more in the space of doing lots of research on the potential effects of ingredients in food and body care products and becoming angry with what I was learning. I wanted to help myself and as many people as possible live healthy lives. The best way to do that was provide green body care products and sharing information through the MASS EDEN Blog. Starting MASS EDEN was more a natural evolution of my efforts and less about starting a for- profit company.
What are your passions?
My passions are around learning about different cultures – art, food, travel, architecture, etc; I’m a hyphenated American. My mother is West Indian and my daddy is American. I was born in Antigua and Barbuda but raised in the states. So, I’ve grown up understanding and appreciating cultural differences within my own family. This has fueled deep needs and wants to understand other cultures. The seed was planted for me to transition into the green beauty space during a trip to Cuba in 2015.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
All people inspire me. Since starting MASS EDEN, I’ve had the great opportunity to chat with 500+ people about their body care habits, products and rituals. I pay attention to what people like and don’t like and use that information to make decisions about the brand. I’ve learned so much and am excited to learn more from new people that I’ll meet on this journey.
What makes MASS EDEN so different than other brands?
MASS EDEN is a green unisex brand specifically for people with sensitive skin; I look for simple ingredients. Many brands declare that they are safe for sensitive skin but contain ingredients that are widely known to cause negative skin reactions. Some of these same brands have packaging and messaging for only a specific segment of the market. Sensitive skin does not discriminate. It affects men and women from all backgrounds and lifestyles – very active to the inactive. So it’s important to me to have a brand that is both inclusive and effective.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about natural beauty products?
In speaking with people, there are two big misconceptions about green beauty. The first is one is that green beauty products are not as effective as mainstream products. The second is based on stereotypes. I consistently hear that green beauty is only for hippies who live in the hills/mountains or people with health issues. I do understand why people believe these things. Historically, they were true. But, technological advancements is improving the efficacy of green products and the shift to health living is widening the scope of the types of people using green beauty.
These misconceptions are the reason for the MASS EDEN tag line “Changing the face of organic beauty.TM” For me, it’s about promoting healthier options that don’t force people to settle on quality or compromise their self identity. So, part of my effort is to help change the perception of the green beauty community.
In the age of the digital world, how important is social media to brands like MASS EDEN?
Social media is critical to MASS EDEN. As a start up, it’s the best way to reach a large audience to create awareness and develop relationships in a short amount of time. Social media platforms remove the veil of secrecy and a lot of the obstacles that historically prevented conversations between brands and consumers. Because of social media, my team can quickly understand the needs and wants of consumers and respond to consumer feedback. This ultimately, speeds up the development and design of both marketing efforts and new product creation. But, most importantly, we’re communicating directly with them and creating solid relationships through words and meaningful images.
The MASS EDEN blog is such a great source for information; why was it important to you to launch a blog with your line?
For me, the blog was really important to start because it’s another way to connect with and satisfy the needs of consumers. Very early in the BETA launch for MASS EDEN, people were sending questions asking about green beauty, the best routines, remedies for problem skin, etc. Answering those questions individually and sending the response to only one person didn’t feel right. I felt that for every one person who asked the question, there are possibly thousands of people in need of this particular answer. So, I quickly started the blog to get the information out to as many people as possible. There was really only about three hours between the thought of starting the blog and launching it. . . the blog has a simple name “MASS EDEN Blog” and simple web address “www.masseden.blog”.
The blog definitely could have been developed and socialized using marketing tactics to create buzz and hype. But, that would have taken a lot of time – I wasn’t interested in having such a delay. My concern was more about informing the consumers than hyping up the brand. I believe this approach paid off because in the seven months that the blog has been published, it now has thousands of readers across sixty-two countries. I’m truly thankful for each reader and their sharing of the blog with others.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date with MASS EDEN?
Outside of launching the (BETA) for the brand, my biggest accomplishment is going back to school to get an education in cosmetic chemistry. Information learned in this program helps me to have a stronger seat at the product development table and truly understand the ingredients that are in MASS EDEN finished products. Without a background in cosmetic chemistry, I’d be 100% dependent on outside formulators to develop the products. Unfortunately, this can lead to information gaps, misalignment between product and brand ethos and additional homogenous products on the market. I don’t want that for my brand.
As the Founder & Owner for MASS EDEN, it’s important that each finished product has my fingerprint in its DNA. My education makes this “stamp” possible. Pushing myself and broadening the scope of my education (from economics and business) has made the product development process so much more intimate and personal for me.
Do you plan to expand the MASS EDEN line in the future? If so, can you give us any hints at what’s to come?
Absolutely! Right now, MASS EDEN is preparing to close BETA phase later this year. The end of BETA will initiate three things: 1) the re-launch of some of our products with fresher formulations; 2) the phased launch of amazing [unisex] products that will hopefully get people excited about caring for their bodies; and 3) products options that align with the ethos of vegan consumers.
I don’t want to give away too much information. But. . .it’s definitely going to be fun.
Where would you like to see yourself and MASS EDEN at in the next five years?
I have many hopes for me and the brand in the next five years. The first would be to have retail footprint similar to that of the brand blog. I would like for MASS EDEN to be available in large international markets as a means to promote good health and wellness. The second would be to have a fully functional lab facility where we could grow and harvest and engineer a majority of our own ingredients. Product innovation has recently moved in-house so initial development and testing takes place on-site while mass production occurs at an external facility. Having a larger fully functional lab facility would allow for all product functions to be under the MASS EDEN umbrella in one place. The third is for me to continue to be afforded the opportunity to increase awareness about the relationship between our body care (products) and our health. Good health is very important. Quality of life is very important. We take for granted until we don’t have anymore. Sharing my story can be an eye-opener that we have to truly be involved and invested in what’s going on with our bodies. My wish is for less people to be negatively impacted by environmental factors.
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