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A Candid Interview With Our Founder, Casey Georgeson and re•spin, An Online Wellness Community

THE WAY THIS “CLEAN” BEAUTY BRAND IS PUTTING WOMEN’S HEALING AND EMPOWERMENT FIRST
By: Jessica Ourisman
 

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once wrote. In the case of the indie beauty brand, Saint Jane, there is actually great depth and significance in their name. It references a historical figure and saint, Jane De Chantal, a French baroness who dedicated her life to healing and uplifting vulnerable women outcast by society in the 1500s. This healing legacy alludes to the root of the founder’s mission and ethos, whose philosophy aims to heal sensitive skin and to empower women — giving back to non-profits that empower girls and women.

But as the mother of three young daughters, CEO and founder Casey Georgeson’s business decisions to prioritize women’s health are deeply personal. As you’ll learn, she aims to support women’s health, healing, and wellness through critical moments of pause and self-care set aside to nourish and rē-connect the mind, body, skin, and spirit. Georgeson’s story also provides insight into the growing “clean” beauty niche, which is slowly but surely transforming the billion-dollar industry, rē-spinning the way consumers think about beauty and personal care products.

The Founder’s Journey to “Clean”

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once wrote. In the case of the indie beauty brand, Saint Jane, there is actually great depth and significance in their name. It references a historical figure and saint, Jane De Chantal, a French baroness who dedicated her life to healing and uplifting vulnerable women outcast by society in the 1500s. This healing legacy alludes to the root of the founder’s mission and ethos, whose philosophy aims to heal sensitive skin and to empower women — giving back to non-profits that empower girls and women.

But as the mother of three young daughters, CEO and founder Casey Georgeson’s business decisions to prioritize women’s health are deeply personal. As you’ll learn, she aims to support women’s health, healing, and wellness through critical moments of pause and self-care set aside to nourish and rē-connect the mind, body, skin, and spirit. Georgeson’s story also provides insight into the growing “clean” beauty niche, which is slowly but surely transforming the billion-dollar industry, rē-spinning the way consumers think about beauty and personal care products.

The Controversy Over “Clean”

Many deride the clean beauty industry, in part due to the fact that the term is still legally unregulated and thus can be used as a marketing ploy. Although a growing body of research exists, experts often disagree when it comes to what constitutes “safe” (with a major debate brewing over sunscreen), fueling discourse and continued research — but also divisive rhetoric among impassioned beauty consumers and commentators. If you’re one of the skeptics, simply try thinking of the push for “non-toxic” beauty in terms of consumer preference; just as some of us prefer organic, farm-to-table cuisine, opt to be vegetarians or flexitarians, or to practice yoga as opposed to pilates, it comes down to personal choice and sovereignty over one’s body — something that each of us is entitled to. After all, what makes a person feel safe is a highly personal decision. Even without industry regulations in place, you can trust that the products you purchase from Saint Jane adhere to Georgeson’s notion of “clean”; namely, “ingredients that are globally recognized to be less toxic.”

“For too many years, women didn’t know ingredients in their beauty products were toxic or dangerous, like Formaldehyde, which we now know is a carcinogen.” Talc is another common (and legal) ingredient that has been found to occasionally be contaminated with the carcinogen asbestos, and Johnson & Johnson has actually been ordered to pay billions of dollars in damages to cancer patients and their families due to suspected links between their talcum powder — yes, the same baby powder made for use on our babies — and the disease. (As recently as June 2021, J&J lost a Supreme Court appeal to overturn a $2 billion settlement awarded by a jury, after already having been ordered to pay $4.9 billion in damages for talc’s link to ovarian cancer back in 2018.)

Debates aside, growing consumer interest in personal care, fragrance, skincare, and cosmetic products that make their ethics part of their business models — from sustainability, to ingredient selection, to supply chain transparency — is apparent. “Brands are absolutely taking notice [of this growing consumer trend and] represents a significant shift that I believe will ultimately make the beauty industry safer and more regulated,” Georgeson says. She is not alone in her belief that beauty’s best practices should be aligned with wellness of the self, with that of the planet, animals, and the communities of people involved.

 

rē-Thinking Beauty and Wellness as One

Let’s not forget that the world of CBD is often stigmatized still, and that championing this anti-inflammatory, wellness ingredient is aligned with the original Saint Jane’s efforts to serve the marginalized and shunned. Mostly, it is the multi-dimensional, more comprehensive approach to wellness — of the skin, of the self, and also of the planet —  that is rē-spinning the way that we think about beauty brands.

But because the niche is unregulated, do not trust a label to tell you what adheres to these principles; it takes digging deeper to know what it is you’re investing in. “The wellness of our planet is integral to the brand,” Georgeson says. “We partner with companies and farmers around the world to support their diverse cultures and empower their rich traditions in a modern and sustainable way with environmentally sound practices.” Whether it occurs tomorrow or in the next 20 years, the industry is undergoing a shift that is being led by health-conscious entrepreneurs and brands like Saint Jane.

 

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Beauty, Botanicals and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

 

I’ve always been inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit. I must get it from my great grandmother, an extraordinary woman (and personal inspiration) who came to California as a mail-order bride from Italy where she became a mother of 7 and made a living growing grapes with my great-grandfather. She believed in achieving more, so she went to the bank, took out a $10,000 loan and started our family heritage in the wine business. She became one of our country's first female entrepreneurs seeding well-known wine brands Franzia and Gallo.

 

 

Growing up with such a deep family history in winemaking ignited my passion for botanicals and cultivation. I joined the industry myself (I developed Cupcake Vineyards and many others), and it was that journey that eventually led me to start Saint Jane. Infusing all of this knowledge of botanical ingredients and the power they hold, and channeling female empowerment from my great grandmother’s story. 

So where does beauty come into the mix? I’d always had a passion for cosmetics and had my eyes set on Sephora, the leader of innovation. I interviewed in 2007 and became Sephora’s 1st unpaid MBA intern. (I was paid in makeup, which was fine with me!) I learned the business, I soaked up every moment, I dove in head first. This eventually led to my role in Creative Marketing for Kendo. It was an incredible opportunity to build Sephora exclusives like Marc Jacobs, Disney, and Elizabeth and James. 

 

 

When I created Saint Jane, I wanted it to feel like a beautiful marriage between my two biggest passions, beauty and botanicals. The journey has led me here, to building Saint Jane and crafting botanical and nutrient-rich formulas that transform the skin. 

Seeing this brand in Sephora stores and on sephora.com is a dream come true. I got my start there 13 years ago and it's surreal to see my own brand on it’s shelves. They took a chance on me then, and now they are taking a chance on Saint Jane and our passion for CBD beauty. I couldn’t be more grateful. 

 

 

Every day I go to work and channel the fierce courage of my great grandmother. I think about all she accomplished when it wasn’t normal as a woman to pursue entrepreneurship. She had the guts to take the risk. I’d like to think that some of that spirit is in Saint Jane, inspiring women to be powerful, transformative, and to change the world.



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The Saint Series, Vol. 12: Renata Helfman

 

Meet Renata Helfman, a philanthropist, clean beauty advocate and an inspirational addition to our Saint Series. Always searching for ways to share her knowledge and help those around her, Renata began volunteering with cancer patients at Cedars Sinai in 2011 and was surprised to learn that the hospital did not have a beauty program in place. Specifically, she made it her mission to bring beauty, compassion and human touch to patients in need through offering complimentary, personalized, and oncology-sensitive beauty and skin care services. That’s when she founded Lipstick Angels. Renata shared her story with us, and we know you’ll find it just as inspiring as we do. 


Q: What inspired you to start Lipstick Angles?

A: I started Lipstick Angels because I was looking for a way to give back simply as a volunteer. I was a busy makeup artist working around the country and when I looked for an opportunity to work with cancer patients in a hospital setting I could not find one, so I took it upon myself to create it.  It definitely was not easy but the organization always had a life of its own from day one. I am so happy that now there is a venue for other makeup artists and aestheticians to give back in this capacity and of course an organization that is looking at people living with cancer with a mind, body and spirit connection.

 

Q: Because of the Pandemic, you’ve had to pivot and find new ways to reach cancer patients virtually.  Can you tell us about it? 

A: Yes, I am so incredibly excited that we have launched a virtual platform for our classes and private sessions. We can now send our patients a wonderful variety of skincare , make up and wellness products directly to their homes .We then set up a private Zoom call for them to work directly with a Lipstick Angel. We feel that this is a unique opportunity to expand our footprint and be able to reach more and more cancer patients in need. We are thrilled that we will be able to do this even when we go back into the hospital and have more options for patients to connect with us.


Q: Makeup and beauty can be transformative, especially for those who are going through Chemo. Can you share some of your favorite moments since starting Lipstick Angels?

A: Well, there are so many incredible moments. But I can remember one that always sticks out. I was actually working with this beautiful woman in the infusion center while she was getting her chemotherapy and tears came to her eyes after I showed her how she looked in the mirror. When I asked her if she was ok she just said that she was so happy that today she was not going to hide in the car when she picked her daughter up from school, she was going to go in and get her. This was a huge moment for our organization to understand how cancer affects the whole family and I always see that little girl’s face and how she must have felt seeing her mom come into the school and get her and feel like herself again.

 

Q: You are an advocate for clean beauty.  Why is using clean beauty/skincare important for you?

A: Clean beauty for me is very personal. When I discovered all of the chemicals in the personal care items almost 20 years ago my life really changed for the better. I was suffering from some health issues and I knew I had to clean up my act and learn what was really going into my body. Thinking about it now, who could have imagined how important it would be for my career now working with people living with cancer. There is no reason for anyone not to be educated about what they are putting on their skin ( it is your largest organ) but as a cancer patient you have to be even more careful about everything you do. Staying as healthy as you can imagine is vital to keep your immune system strong so you can get through the chemotherapy and or radiation.


Q: How can we support and get involved with Lipstick Angels?

A: There are lots of ways to support Lipstick Angels. If you are a makeup artist or aesthetician and you are interested in volunteering please visit our website Lipstickangles.org. You can also make a tax-deductible donation on our website - every dollar helps us deliver our programs around the country! Also, supporting brands like Saint Jane who we have partnerships with is such a beautiful way to show your support and receive the gift of beauty yourself.

 

Q: What are your secrets to self-care and balance?

A: I think that’s the key is definitely balance in everything in life. It is a hard lesson to learn but I will say if you can be kind to yourself and others and let yourself color outside of the lines once in a while it is a really good thing!


Q: If you were to be anointed into sainthood, what would it be for?

A: I hate to say it but I think I would be the Saint of Overworking! I don’t look at it as a negative at all, I just love what I do and get excited to get up every day and lead this organization with all my heart and soul. 

Bonus Q: What's your favorite SAINT JANE product and why do you love it?

A: My favorite product is hard to choose because they are all AMAZING!  But I, of course, must go with the exquisite lip cream in the shade “Ritual.” The color is divine and 100% of the proceeds are donated to Lipstick Angels. If that’s not love then what is? Continue reading