Interviews

This Skincare CEO Has Some Aging Advice We All Need to Hear

7 min read

This natural skincare CEO has a refreshing take on aging.
This natural skincare CEO has a refreshing take on aging.

Melissa Palmer is playing the long game.

Her brand is living proof: Palmer and her mother, Jenefer, founded the cult-beloved natural skincare line OSEA in 1996, setting a new, meaningful standard for sustainable beauty long before “clean” was the marketing designation du jour. And despite an approach that could certainly be argued as cutting edge, OSEA’s M.O. has always hinged more on timelessness over flash; a highly edited, quality-driven catalogue over a hamster wheel of new products driven by trend.

“We’re not interested in bringing something to market for the sake of having a new product,” Palmer says. “We are more concerned with creating one-of-a-kind experiences.” In other words, less is more—an MO we certainly share here at Ritual.

It’s fitting, then, that Palmer has a similar take on aging: one that seeks to embrace the years rather than erase them entirely. “I think there is beauty in every stage of life and it’s about celebrating and nurturing yourself, rather than turning back time,” she says—a mindset she credits to her mother.

Below, Palmer gives us a closer look inside her business—and her refreshing take on aging.

How has your perspective on aging evolved over the years—even as you continue to work in the beauty industry?

Aging is all about perception. For me, every year is a new opportunity to learn and evolve, which means I approach getting older with a completely different frame of reference.

How do you think OSEA inspires a different kind of narrative on beauty and aging?

For me, confidence is the most attractive thing. I feel confident when I accept my flaws and lean into my authentic self. OSEA embraces this philosophy completely—we aren’t about changing anyone because we are all perfect just as we are. We want to make space for people to take care of themselves and the planet, honoring the beauty in both.

Why is it important for you to maintain a very curated product offering?

We believe in quality over quantity. My Mom, Jenefer, still formulates all our products herself, which can sometimes take years. She’s a perfectionist and won’t sign off on a formulation until it exceeds her expectations.

Can you talk to us about your experience building a female-led company?

I feel incredibly blessed that I get to manifest OSEA into reality alongside my favourite woman, my Mom. We are a part of a broader community of female founders who are actively supporting each-other and our businesses. So while there are always challenges to overcome, I feel grateful to be a part of the tidal wave of women helming innovative businesses everywhere.

Sustainability was a priority for you and your brand well before the rest of the industry caught on. Are you happy with the progress you’ve started to see in the rest of the market?

For us, the only way to operate is sustainably. I was raised to respect nature (we literally grew up sleeping outside 300 nights a year) and while it’s amazing that sustainability is a buzzword now, it’s really a set of life-long choices that respect the ecosystem around us. I’m thrilled to see more brands embracing this idea as we true change will happen when we all band together and provide consumers with meaningful alternatives to the traditional model.

What are some of the rituals you rely on every day?

My favorite meditation practice is a dance practice called 5Rhythms. I read a book called Sweat Your Prayers by Gabrielle Roth and am now deeply inspired to sing. Cooking is also a very grounding part of my life and I’m looking to explore Tai Chi more in 2020.

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