Tell us about the founder of Hear Me Raw!
HEAR ME RAW was co-founded by me and my daughter Emma. I’m a 30+ year beauty veteran known for being a bit iconoclastic and have had the amazing good fortune to work in virtually all beauty categories in some of the best companies and brands like Unilever (Director, Pond’s and SVP, Calvin Klein Cosmetics), L’Oreal (VP, Maybelline and VP, Garnier), CMO, Burt’s Bees and CEO, Bliss. I was also part of the team that ultimately sold Burt’s Bees and Bliss to strategics. Emma is an operations guru who managed customer service at Burt’s Bees Baby and spent time in the wine and spirits industry before joining Mike on HEAR ME RAW.
What was the inspiration behind Hear Me Raw?
I thought after selling Bliss I’d be done with beauty. I was frustrated that after 30 years, companies are still selling products with ingredients that shouldn’t go in your skin, in packaging that isn’t sustainable, for prices that are too high for products you don’t need. We felt strongly that our great, powerful skincare should be plant-based, simple and refillable. In short, clean skincare that’s best for people and the planet.
“We felt strongly that our great, powerful skincare should be plant-based, simple and refillable. In short, clean skincare that’s best for people and the planet.”
Where did the brand name ‘Hear Me Raw’ come from?
We did a survey of 100 women around the country asking all sorts of questions and what came back was a sense of a lot of mistrust, dissatisfaction and confusion as it relates to brands and the industry in general. Reading between the lines, you could feel the frustration. I was feeling a strong need to be heard. And that Helen Reddy song, “I am Woman (Hear Me Roar)” popped into my head. But we changed “Roar” to “Raw” for two reasons. First, was because our line was going to be plant-based. Second, “Raw” has such a great attitude and sense of unrepentance. Being who you are as an individual.
Your story is so unique; the father-and-daughter skincare business is something that you do not see very often. Tell us more about it!
I never would have guessed it because Emma never had a deep desire to go into beauty and she seemed quite happy where she was. But as the idea started to gel, I needed her help and it’s been a duo since. And, in all honesty, we’re the closest we’ve ever been since she was a kid. In some sense, we share a brain. If we’re on a Zoom call with someone, we almost always know what the other is thinking and doing. Play a game against us, any other duo will lose. Yet, at the same time, we have various size disagreements on creative or strategic issues now and then and have created an environment where ego is checked at the door and we can respectfully “have it out” with the sole purpose of coming up with the best solution, not hers or mine. I learned a long time ago to “have strong opinions lightly held” and that latter part is what helps cultivate better thoughts and ideas.
Interestingly, we recently hired a new marketing member and at first, she was shocked that we’d challenge each other’s thinking and try to improve the other’s idea so much. Was she thinking, “What have I gotten into with this father/daughter thing?” But it wasn’t a father/daughter thing. It was employee and employee in a safe environment searching to do better. And when she realized that, she dove right in.
How important was your family's inspiration and support when it came to producing a skincare collection?
My family is the best. My erudite, historian dad was a bar owner in Harlem for 32 years. My mom had a clothing store. Neither could give strong guidance on what I should do, but to do whatever that is exceptionally well, and almost always gave their complete support, as they did on HEAR ME RAW. My dad still acts as my consigliere. My brother, sister-in-law, and niece are always 100% supportive and helpful.
What sets Hear Me Raw apart from the otter skincare brands out there?
First, we’re doing what’s best for people and the planet, not what’s best for profit. Our refillable packaging system was among the first of its kind with one refillable glass jar and lid for all 5 products. The refills, which sell for 33% less than the jars while having the same 75 ml fill, uses 86% less packaging materials, an even better carbon footprint and saves money. And when you open any HEAR ME RAW product, you KNOW it’s from nature. You can smell the ingredients, whether it’s the chlorophyll, spirulina and matcha green tea in The Brightener, or oyster, reishi, chaga and tremella mushrooms in Good Clean Fungi. And finally, you see results instantly. Not in 4 weeks or 8 weeks.
“First, we’re doing what’s best for people and the planet, not what’s best for profit.”
What are some of Hear Me Raw’s key ingredients?
In Good Clean Fungi gentle scrubbing cleansing balm, we use oyster mushrooms to cleanse and remove oil, reishi mushrooms to help build the dermis and epidermis, chaga to help build collagen and tremella mushrooms to hydrate the skin, along with jojoba beads to gently exfoliate skin and sunflower seed oil to hydrate for clean healthy skin.
In The Hydrator ultra-nourishing moisturizer, we use prickly pear (cactus flower) along with maqui berry and Mexican poppy stem cells as occlusives to moisturize the skin and coconut water, cucumber and watermelon seed oil as humectants to hydrate the skin
In The Brightener oxygenating rinse-off mask, we use chlorophyll, spirulina, and lemon peel to oxygenate the skin, lactic acid, phytic acid and bakuchiol to exfoliate and matcha green tea to protect the skin for youthful, radiant, younger-looking skin.
In The Clarifier oil-controlling rub-off mask, we use French green clay for its natural antibacterial qualities, to clean and absorb, Turmeric, Sea Kelp, and neem, leaf powder as anti-inflammatories, zinc oxide to heal and avocado oil and lavender to soothe skin for deep pore clean, healthy, clarified skin
In the Detoxifier purifying rub-off mask, we use charcoal and kaolin to absorb, jojoba beads to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells that prevent toxins from leaving the skin, Chinese ginseng and Irish moss to purify skin and coconut oil to soothe skin for radiant, polished, purified, detoxified skin.
Let's talk about the Hear Me Raw + Fred Segal and Quarterjade collaboration/collection!
As part of our mission, we need to share the fact that in our industry about 100 BILLION pieces of beauty packaging components wind up in landfills every year! And to think there are only 8 billion people on the planet. There are even “clean” beauty brands that use packaging that isn’t even recyclable. We believe that all beauty packaging must be fully sustainable. Our solution was our refillable packaging system. So, as part of the mission, we reach out to potential partners who have the same ethos, care deeply about the planet as we do, and share the initiative with their audience. We first banded together with iconic LA retailer Fred Segal where we took our first four products and designed the jars and caps to be like the Fred Segal brand and, I have to say, they’re gorgeous! We did the same thing just last week with culture-leader, gamer and creator Quarterjade, who designed the jar in her fantasy motif for this super cool jar for The Brightener. And part of the proceeds goes to 1% for the Planet.
“We believe that all beauty packaging must be fully sustainable. Our solution was our refillable packaging system.”
What is your go-to Hear Me Raw product?
That’s hard. Up until a few weeks ago I would have said The Brightener followed by The Hydrator. Honestly, use those two and you’ll get rid of all your other skincare. But we recently launched the quadruple-mushroom Good Clean Fungi gentle scrubbing cleaning balm and it’s amazing. Again, followed by The Hydrator your skin will be in the best, healthy, radiant state.
What do you envision for the future of Hear Me Raw?
Everything! First, we want to get deeper into retail. We want people to interact with the product in store. And slowly going international. We've got some exciting innovation and more collabs so the future's so bright.
Besides Hear Me Raw, what are you passionate about?
Music and food. I love music, play guitar (loud), sing (poorly), and I love listening to live music whether it’s the Gospel Tent at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, rock bands in dive bars, or house music at places like Brooklyn Mirage, I’m there *super excited to see LCD Soundsystem this week for the 12th time). Food is broad, I’d say more Japanese food. An amazing omakase is a sublime experience. I cook Japanese too. I tried to learn the language but language is not a talent of mine. Not even English.
What is the most important thing you want Hear Me Raw to be recognized for?
For doing what’s best for people and the planet. To show that you can have the best results with true natural ingredients and without that harmful, synthetic crap. And you can have gorgeous packaging that also happens to be sustainable.