Another wet and windy day here in central Manhattan. I wake up full of energy ready to start my day, glancing out the window at the rain on West 100th Street, dark clouds fill the sky and New York City is at peace.
I'm reminded of Christmas, thinking of my family and friends back home in Ireland and as I'm tucking into my usual breakfast of oatmeal, fruit and a cuppa joe I check my emails to see an appointment confirmation from Dominique Caron, Founder of organic skincare brand Caru. I glance at my watch and see the appointment is one hour from now and after what seems like no time at all I'm hopping onto the subway to make my way to Dominique's studio in Astoria. As I get off the train at 42nd St - Times Square to transfer lines, the feeling of peacefulness is gone and I'm surrounded by a fleet of dripping wet New Yorkers, all in a rush, each one with their own story to tell, each one with a plan for the day.
I finally arrive to Astoria, a neighbourhood unknown to me but surprisingly it's easy to navigate and I arrive to Dominique's quirky studio in the heart of the borough. As I open the door, I'm welcomed by the most incredible scents - I'm in heaven! Dominique peers over the antique wooden staircase and greets me with a smile.
A former film maker, Dominique always had a passion for skincare and soap making and finally launched Caru in New York two years ago. She saw a gap in the market for 100% natural and organic skincare, make honestly with recognisable and beneficial ingredients.
When it comes to skincare, especially facial care, I have my products of choice and rarely experiment with others on the market but I'm drawn to Caru due to the whole and natural ingredients used, each one with a purpose. What I like about this brand is that we don't see that usual 'and other ingredients' added onto the end of the ingredients list - I recognise everything that has gone into the making of this product. Dominique takes pride in listing everything in the bottle therefore making it easier to find the product best suited for your skin type.
All ingredients are sourced from the best suppliers on the market, Dominique firmly believes in quality over quantity and produces her product in small batches and what surprised me was that she could tell me exactly where each ingredient comes from and by exactly, I mean she was able to tell me which country, which farm, the farmer and when it was grown which I found fascinating. For me this is what makes this brand stand out, the attention to detail and attention to the customer which many beauty brands seem to be missing today. People today are more cautious when applying oils and skincare, they are more aware of the ingredients and are interested in how the product is produced and packaged and speaking of packaging - Caru is packaged in seed paper, which interestingly can be re-used and planted for the growth of beautiful flowers.
An extremely appealing product with charming packaging, I'm curious to know more so I sit down with the lovely Dominique in the relaxing surroundings of her workshop.
You previously worked in the film industry, why did you make the change to soaps & skincare?
My first love was filmmaking, which is what brought me to NYC. I worked in the industry for almost a decade before making the decision to change careers. I decided to start my own business for several reasons. One was that the film industry is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Long hours and crazy schedules leave little time for a family, friends, or for self care. The other reason was that I wanted to create something that I felt brought something good to this world. I wanted to make something that would be part of the change I would like to see happen.
Where did your passion come from?
My passion for herbs and natural skincare came to me from both curiosity and from personal need. I have extremely sensitive skin that tends to be dry and breaks out easily. I also try to be conscious about what I eat and put on my skin. Finding truly all natural skincare that was safe, effective, and eco friendly proved challenging so I started making my own. I started studying herbology, aromatherapy, and other schools of alternative medicine. I found working with herbs not only fascinating but also empowering and fulfilling!
What 3 ingredients are essential when producing your products?
It totally depends on the product. The item's purpose drives the ingredient choices. For my soaps, I always use olive oil and coconut oil. These two oils create a really wonderful soap that is both moisturizing and lathers really well. I also love jojoba oil, which is such a wonderful choice for skincare. Jojoba is chemically close to our skin's sebum so it absorbs quickly while moisturizing your skin. It is great for all skin types and is high is vitamin E (an antioxidant). I use it in almost all my facial care products.
Organic to me means that the products I produce are not only safe for you, but are also friendly to our planet and to the farmers that grow the raw ingredients.
Who are your main competitors and how do you differ from them?
The skincare industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world. There are so many brands and types of products, I could list my competitors for days! What I think sets my products apart is that they are suitable for sensitive skin, truly 100% natural, sustainably packaged, and are made with care in small batches. We put a lot of care and love into our products, using only the purest and freshest botanical and mineral ingredients.
Where can I expect to see Caru 5 years from now?
I have no idea. I have my plans and my dreams, but I can't make any promises! My goal is to expand the line to offer a full array of 100% natural and sustainable skincare products that will include facial, body, personal and hair care products, as well as aromatherapy home and cleaning products.