In this month's video series by filmmaker Deva Blaisdell-Anderson, we highlight the cool eco-beauty brand Urb Apothecary, based in Santa Cruz, Calif. Get to know the story behind this beloved line and why everyone's talking about it.
A friend said, "It smells like your perfume in here," when she passed through my studio. Mission: accomplished. This year I discovered my go-to scent—Kai Fragrance, which is reminiscent of a bundle of gardenias. The perfume is a constant talking piece among friends and strangers who will literally stop me where I am and ask what I'm wearing. It's a delicate, fine scent, not at all over-powering, but absolutely beautiful.
So, when I found out that the line was offering a new reed diffuser for the home, I was smitten. I had to try it out. Selling for $78, it's well worth the price. It gently deposits a light Kai fragrance into your home, which is an idea I can really celebrate.
We're recommending it as one of our favorite gift items for the holidays and you can purchase it here.
I'm a huge believer in facial oils for all types of skin. Mine, in particular, is oily and acne-prone, so if I'm going to use a facial oil, it has to be formulated perfectly for my skin, which is hard to do. I haven't found many that excite me—until now. Wonderland Organics is a charming, whimsical facial oil brand out of San Jose, Calif., which was launched last year by Alice Lin.
I recently had a chance to try out one of Lin's oils that is specifically geared for my skin type: the Balance Serum. And, I'm sold. Moving forward, this is my go-to facial oil. I absolutely love its effective nature, hydrating properties, and delicate scent.
Below is an interview with Lin, the founder of the company.
How did you first get interested in skincare?
I was working abroad in Taiwan as a marketing associate and when I moved to Asia, my skin became inflamed, and did not acclimate to the environment. As a result, I became interested in skincare ingredients, and spent a year reading skincare product labels after work.
Why did you launch Wonderland Organics?
Wonderland Organics started last year as a result of my passion for skincare. When I was familiarizing myself with ingredients on labels in Asia, I noticed that many companies used the word “fragrance." Through market research, I learned that this ingredient could be 1,000 different types of chemicals and consumers would never know which ones the company used. This could be problematic for people who have extremely sensitive skin, so I started thinking about what ingredients could work for customers with this particular skin type.
Initially, I feared oils like many people with oily and combination skin. I used to invest in oil-free products, but my skin never improved. When I started my research in Taiwan, I tried organic coconut oil and argan oil. When I didn't break out, I became more curious about how different types of oils could actually be beneficial to our skin. For example, organic apricot kernel oil is a light oil with a slight tightening property, which is perfect for most skin types. To this day, I still use organic coconut oil as a hair mask, to combat frizz, and to moisturize. The best part about facial oils is that they are effective in small amounts. To use the Wonderland Organics facial oils, wash your face, spritz on a toner, and use two to three drops for your face and neck. Keep them away from direct sunlight, and use them within four months.
What was the process for creating the several oils for your line?
When I moved back to California, I took many skincare classes to further my knowledge. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to perfect facial oils, specifically for oil-prone and combination skin types. During the classes, I would jot down notes about potential oils that I was interested in, and compare notes on suppliers. I also joined a professional trade organization, the Indie Business Network, which is made up of entrepreneurs. If I have questions regarding skincare, many skincare professionals are always willing to help out new entrepreneurs like myself.
How did the experimenting unfold?
It wasn’t easy when I first started experimenting. I remember the first facial oils that I had concocted: the scents were too strong, and the products were incredibly oily. But after fine tuning the ingredients and percentages, I was able to settle upon the perfect balance for different skin types.
How did you settle upon these specific ingredients?
I knew right away I wanted to use organic jojoba oil, as this liquid wax ester has an incredibly long shelf life. Because jojoba oil is extremely similar to the skin’s sebum, most skin types are able to adapt to this oil with no issues. I also love organic pomegranate oil because of its high polyphenol content, which means it has plenty of antioxidants. Organic kukui oil is found in Hawaii, and is an incredibly soothing oil for sensitive skin. Organic argan oil is a non-greasy oil, and is constituted of vitamin E, fatty acids, squalene, sterols, etc. In terms of essential oils, organic lavender and geranium oils are balancing for all skin types, and have pleasing scents.
What do you love about what you do?
Finding a job that I love and am passionate about makes it all worthwhile, especially when I work until 1 a.m. The best part about running Wonderland Organics is that I know exactly what goes into each product. Because I use GRAS (generally regarded as safe) ingredients, I have no problem recommending the Wonderland Organice facial oils and lotion to people with more sensitive skin. I’m happy to say that the product line I’ve created is natural, healthy, and eco-friendly. In terms of ingredients, I source organic, wild-harvested, and fair trade when possible. For packaging, I use violet miron glass, which is recyclable, and helps protect the products from light.
We all have a go-to dress up outfit. Something that fits and flatters no matter the occasion. Usually it's a little black dress, black trousers or something along those lines. Black, flattering, classic, and versatile.
The perfect opportunity to flaunt some wow shoes, here are my picks to dress up the tried and true.
Clockwise from top left: Modern and chic, these textural T-straps will fit any mood and be a forever favorite. Artistic and fun is what comes to mind for these crystal embellished, floral print d'orsay pumps. Gorgeous gold, T-strap heels are covered in crystals. Glamour goes with everything. Feathers and glitter. What could be more festive? Flats can party too. Cut outs with crystal accents work the room and won't have you limping home.
Click on the photo to shop the look.
Clothing: Shoes, Coclico, Natali, $461, Jade / Jeans, DL1961, Florence, Riker, $178, Cameron Marks / Top, Maison Scotch, Boudoir Tank, $136, Cameron Marks / Wood Kimono and Scarf, Just Female, Blue/Plaid, $270, Cameron Marks / Maybelle Tote, $294, Corral Made, Corralmadeusa.com and Stripe / Deva Necklace, $175, Blank Verse Jewelry / Brass Rings, $28 each; Silver Rings $40 each; Rose Gold Filled Rings, $55 each; all Blank Verse Jewelry / Penelope Cuff, $37, Blank Verse Jewelry X The Penny Rose.
As temperatures dip, layers start to pile on. But Santa Cruz weather is moody, even in the winter, and that's why our model, Stephanie, is dressed for the season in Surf City. Here’s how to get her look.
Start from the shoes up. Wear a new kind of rain boot. This sleek and sophisticated, black leather heeled pair from Coclico is found at Jade. These daring boots elongate legs, are remarkably comfortable, and can be worn with all kinds of outfits, especially black skinny jeans to create a long silhouette.
These DL1961 jeans from Cameron Marks have a perfect, stretchy fit. Tuck them into boots, or for a fashionable twist, roll a tiny hem above the boots.
Now, add some color. While it’s the holiday season, this doesn't mean you have to fully embrace red and green. Do so in unconventional ways with this dark green, embossed-looking tank by Maison Scotch from Cameron Marks and this red-fiber/metal Deva Necklace from Blank Verse Jewelry. If the weather heats up (as it’s been known to do on random winter days in Santa Cruz), just toss off that big jacket and your look is still in place.
The statement piece: a bold jacket by Just Female. Plaid is big this season. But take it up another notch—go monochromatic and pile it on. This jacket comes with a bold, matching scarf that can be twisted in myriad ways to create a sculptural, fashion forward look.
Finally, your accessories: to complement this one-of-a-kind necklace from Blank Verse Jewelry, keep the rest of your baubles minimal but still eye-catching. The Penelope Cuff is a structural, minimalistic brass piece that grounds the look and a stack of brass, silver and rose gold-filled rings make everything playful. To round out the look, add a striking, sturdy, hand-made leather bag from Santa Cruz line Corral Made, which can store your iPad, holiday shopping finds and even a bottle of wine for the New Year.
About the shoot: Santa Cruz Waves magazine teamed up with The Penny Rose (a Santa Cruz fashion blog) to create this winter editorial fashion spread. Photographer Nick Chao captured these images during a photo shoot on West Cliff near Natural Bridges State Park, while Christa Martin styled and produced the project.
Crew: Photographer, Nick Chao / Stylist, Creative Director, Christa Martin / Model, Stephanie Armstrong / Makeup, Jillian Wilkey for Salon on the Square / Hair, Sheryle Pettet for Salon on the Square.