” Everything I do or create has a purpose. It is so gratifying to help someone on their personal journey. It opens up a whole new world of self discovery. “
-Jillian Wright, Founder of Jillian Wright Skincare & Indie Beauty Expo
I am so thrilled to bring you an interview with a multi-passionate green beauty, super woman entrepreneur and safe beauty maven. Jillian Wright has spent the last ten years building her aesthetic business based on a trilogy combining her heart, mind and hands. She has performed facials on Tea Leoni, Kristen Wiig, Alicia Silverstone, Ivana Trump, Kim Kardashian, Virginia Madsen, Jill Hennessy and Elijah Wood among many others.
Jillian’s the founder of her own natural beauty line, Jillian Wright Skincare. Her day spa in NYC is a beloved go-to for those seeking the very best from their skincare. We were thrilled to get to know more about Jillian’s inspiring story!
TOL: Can you tell us a bit more about your background in skincare?
JW: I became an Aesthetician in 1999. I started my business in NYC in the storage room of a doctors office. I didn’t work for them, but they gave me chance and a space to start my career.
I had to get my own clients, and fortuitously became friends with a girl who happened to work as a bathroom attendant in a well-known strip club in the city. I gave her a facial and she told EVERYONE it was the best she’d ever had. All the dancers started getting their facials from me. They needed to look flawless, that was their business, and I needed clients, that was my business. It was very serendipity.
Nine months later I was out of the storage closet and in my own space next to the doctors office. I named my business Glow Skin Spa and contacted DailyCandy.com and asked if someone would like to come in for a free facial. They did and three weeks later I was featured on their site. I booked over 100 facials in 24 hours. Needless to say, DailyCandy put me on the map and I haven’t stopped since!
I was in that space for five years until I outgrew it. I moved to another space on 60th between Park and Madison, but five years later I outgrew that too. In 2009, I moved to a townhouse on 66th and renamed my spa Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa. Sixteen years later, that bathroom attendant is one of my closest friends. If it wasn’t for her rave reviews, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She gave me the confidence to grow my business.
TOL: What were you doing before Jillian Wright Skincare?
JW: I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Fine Art and thought I was going to move to San Francisco and go to the culinary institute. But three months after I graduated I spontaneously decided to move to Hawaii. I had a friend who lived there so I crashed with her. It’s funny how certain decisions unexpectedly change the trajectory of our lives.
I did odd jobs for a while and then met “a guy.” He owned a restaurant and night club and lived an exciting life. We began dating and I went back and forth from Oahu and Maui for a year. It was the best year in so many ways because, even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was in the current on the path of my journey. There was something pulling me and after the year was over I decided to move to Vegas.
Honestly, I thought it was going to be a lot like Tucson, AZ, but it wasn’t. According to Time magazine in 1995, it was the fastest growing city in the nation. I lived in Summerlin. My best friend from high school (I grew up in CT) moved out there too. I ended up opening a small espresso cafe in a 6,000 square foot salon and spa (with a new boyfriend) and called it Something’s Brewing.
I kept gravitating towards the spa to get facials and buy products. It turned out latte’s and cappuccinos weren’t my thing, but facials and creams were. The spa industry excited me!
TOL: What inspired you to create Jillian Wright Skincare?
JW: After becoming an Aesthetician, I knew that was my passion. I enjoy the one-on-one with people and working on their skin. It’s my canvas. My specialty is acne. I love improving and correcting skin that is behaving badly and watching the transformation of a person who goes from lacking confidence and hope, to one who sees themselves as beautiful and can conquer the world. It is so gratifying to help someone on their personal journey. It opens up a whole new world of self discovery. I started to develop Jillian Wright Skincare 10 years into my career. After performing 10,000 facials, I was ready.
TOL: What makes Jillian Wright Skincare different?
JW: Jillian Wright Skincare is results-oriented, regimen-based and embodies all my experience as a professional. I have hands-on experience that gives me a unique perspective on skin and the affect it has on someones self-esteem. My career has been one big focus group. I feel honored and privileged that I have been trusted by so many people to improve and maintain the health of their skin.
Aside from aging, people want to minimize erroneous breakouts and redness. My skincare line addresses both along with helping to prevent premature aging. I also wanted to create line that was science driven because science makes nature work harder and more efficiently.
TOL: What are some of the most powerful ingredients in your products and how did you choose them?
JW: I’m all about results. I choose ingredients that work synergistically to achieve healthy skin without stripping the skin of it’s natural lipid barrier, or leaving it too greasy and not clean. It’s all about balance, lifestyle, skin issues and their varying characteristics. I also wanted a line that was easy to understand, use, and wasn’t trendy, but tried and true.
I picked ingredients from nature to help with redness and oil control, but also combined them with ingredients made in a lab. This is called green chemistry and chiral technology. Green chemistry goes beyond organic. It is the bio-identical of what you would find in nature. For example, the lilac stem cells that I use in my Mattefying Moisture lotion and gel help to control yeast. Very important if you are acne prone. The lilac is created in a lab directly from nature. Follow me here, because is it made in a controlled environment we use less resources like water, electricity, soil and absolutely 100% no pesticides. It’s brilliant.
Not only are the ingredients good for your skin, they are good for the environment. Less is more. Reduce, reuse, recycle. My line has to go one step further. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite and create something wonderful for the skin yet harm the land and our resources. I would feel very guilty, especially as the company grows and we produce more.
Some of the ingredients I use, both natural and green are cranberry, acai berry, lilac stem cells, apple stem cells, echinacea stem cells, ginkgo biloba, olive extract, Indian ginseng, shea butter, poppyseeds, vitamin C, blackberrry extract, amla, kombucha, bamboo stem beads, and chlorophyll to name a few. Chiral is when the lab takes the best part of the ingredient and uses that in the formula. You are getting the creme de la creme of that ingredient.
My packaging is also plantable. My boxes are tree-free, made from 100% post consumer recycled material and are embedded with wild flower seeds. There is absolutely 100% no guilt in throwing the box away. I wanted the box to be useful and what is better than growing flowers?
TOL: I couldn’t agree more! That’s a great philosophy! You’re so multi-passionate and you also have your own spa in NYC. What inspired the journey to open a spa like this? What can customers expect from their spa experience?
JW: We specialize in results-oriented skincare. Someone can expect a passionate, dedicated staff, all of whom have been trained by me and have been working at the spa for many years. Unless your skin is perfect or you have unrealistic expectations, you can expect a positive change and improvement in your skin over time.
There are no quick fixes and it is a partnership. Everyone has to do their part. If someone smokes, stays up late, is stressed and eats poorly, it will reflect in their skin. If you chip away at the bad habits and implement healthy, positive habits, then you will see an improvement in your skin. Getting professional facials is like going to the gym, it is something that you have to do on a regular basis. Your skin is like a child, it likes routine and stability. It also likes to be nurtured. If you do that, your skin will respond in a positive way.
TOL: You’ve curated and created the first ever Indie Beauty Expo on August 27th! So exciting! Can you tell us a bit about the expo, what the message is, and how people can attend?
JW: We started iBE because we fundamentally believe in Indie Brands. The entrepreneurs behind these brands are delivering some of the most creative innovations in the beauty industry today. They are pioneering green beauty that is good for the environment, clean beauty that is free of chemicals, niche beauty that caters to highly specific skincare needs, and design beauty that presents products in such breathtaking packaging that it looks like art.
Most importantly, the people behind these brands are truly passionate in pursuing their mission. They are doing what they are doing because they honestly believe they can make a difference. And that is why we wanted to create an expo that was focused solely on showcasing and celebrating the best in Indie Beauty. We wanted people to see and experience the amazing innovations coming from Indie Brands.
There was an unmet need. Broadly speaking, up until now there were two kinds of beauty shows. First were the big professional trade shows that run for 3-5 days, have 1,000+ exhibitors, 10,000+ attendees and cover every conceivable part of the beauty market, from lashes to lasers. These shows are just too big and too expensive for the average Indie brand. Even if a brand could afford to attend, they would struggle to get any meaningful attention.
The second kind of shows were small local events that typically run for an afternoon, involve a dozen brands and are often more focused on Indie brands. While these are more intimate and affordable, they’re just not of a scale to attract the best brands or buyers. So iBE fills the gap in the “big middle.” We wanted to create a show that was highly focused on Indie Beauty, professionally curated and of a scale that would attract the best brands and a diverse range of buyers.
Moreover, we thought why shouldn’t actual consumers, arguably the most important constituent, also have access to this great gathering? After all, we all work to serve the consumer, so let us open a portion of the show to allow consumers and the brands to directly interact with each other. We added a consumer shopping event to the show from 5-8pm.
TOL: What kind of speakers, brands and specials can we expect from Indie Beauty Expo?
JW: Here is the speaker schedule…
5:30-6pm: Topic: How Models Stay Gorgeous: Backstage secrets from a celebrity eco makeup artist. Kristen Arnett, founder and makeup artist, Green Beauty Team
Kristen Arnett has been immersed in the world of beauty for over 15 years, with roles ranging from product development to high-profile fashion work. She is both an international makeup artist and the founder and editor-in-chief of GreenBeautyTeam.com. Kristen is respected in fashion circles for her skill at enhancing beauty without the need for harmful chemicals and has been featured as a “green expert” by ELLE , Style.com, Town & Country Weddings, Parents, DailyCandy and Martha Stewart’s Whole Living.
Green isn’t just another shade in her palette nor is it a limiting factor in her work, but rather a defining one. Kristen is sought after for her skill at creating stunning, fashion-forward looks – whether it be working on photo shoots, runway shows, celebrities, top models, editorials, advertising or TV/video. Based in New York City, Kristen frequently travels the globe to cities such as Los Angeles, Milan, Paris and beyond focusing her talents and personal ethics on educating people about sustainable beauty, a topic she believes leads to true vitality and happiness in life.
6-7pm: Topic: The Natural Beauty Explosion: Trends, Myths, Facts and other cool stuff
Natural beauty has become a mega category. For this panel, you’ll meet indie beauty innovators behind some of the top skin, hair, nails, and makeup brands on the scene. We’ll discuss trends in natural beauty, myths/facts, ingredients and integrity and sexiness, how to use natural products—in other words, really cool stuff. Followed by a Q&A. Bring your questions!
Moderator: Melisse Gelula, natural beauty expert and co-founder Well+Good
Gina Carney, founder of RGB (nail polish)
Adina Grigore, founder SW Basics (affordable skin care)
Tata Harper, founder, Tata Harper (luxe skin care)
Fabian Lliguin, co-founder of Rahua (hair care)
Shirley Pinkson, co-founder of W3LL PEOPLE (makeup)
Tracie Martyn, founder Tracie Martyn (spa beauty)
Brands: There will be 80 brands exhibiting including Tracie Martyn, Trilogy, Skin Owl, Essence of Vali, Ritual de Fille, London Brush Company, AquaReveal, Kahina Giving Beauty, Lotus Wei, Cecilia Wong, PriVai, Potty Mints, Kypris, Vapour, Gold Label Cosmetics, Modern Minerals Make Up, Nerd Skincare, Phace Bioactive and many more.
TOL: Describe your every day beauty routine. What are some of your favorite products?
JW: AM: Wash with Jillian Wright Gentle Peptide Cleanser
Apply appropriate serum. Either JW MitoEnergy Peptide Serum mixed with the JW Complexion Booster Powder
Apply Bioelements SPF 50 sunscreen everyday over Mitoenergy Moisturizer
PM: Wash with JW Gentle Peptide Cleanser
I’m working on an at-home peel pad you let absorb. I’m experimenting with the different percentages now. Last night I used a 30% chiral peel, but I will most likely bring 10% and 20% to market.
Depending on my mood and how hot or cold it is outside, I go between my encapsulated Vitamin A Dream Cream or JW Premium Reserve. My night creams do not require a serum to go underneath so it is super simple and quick.
If I do not have to take off makeup in the shower, I will use my JW Double Surface exfoliator. It’s easier to let the bamboo beads wash down the drain than rinsing them off.
TOL: What has been the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
JW: When it is your business, you have all the financial responsibility, no matter what. You have to be extremely disciplined and realize that most of your profit goes right back into the brand. It is important to have a support system of family and friends who believe in you and give you encouragement.
It’s also important to think about unforeseen costs like promoting your business after you have created it. You can come up with a great product or service, but what are you going to do to market your great thing? You have to tell a story and keep it alive. You cannot be lazy or think it’s going to grow on it’s own. It’s a lot of hard work, time and perseverance. Always listen to your customer or client.
TOL: Besides Jillian Wright Skincare and Indie Beauty Expo, do you have any new products, projects or special events happening you’d like to share?
JW: I’m redesigning my labels and packaging and adding some new retail products, including the peel pads! I’m also working on professional sizes and products so other aestheticians can successfully improve their clients skin and feel confident about what they are using.
Everything I do or create, has a purpose. It’s been a wild ride, but I couldn’t be happier, more grateful or optimistic about the future. My small business story is just one of 80 that will be on display at the Indie Beauty Expo. Even if you’re not into products, the event will be inspiring for anyone who loves an underdog story.