With Baby #2 on the way, Grace Lee is finally test-driving her healthy skincare line from the pregnant perspective.
If you’re growing a baby in that body of yours, we don’t blame you for wanting to read the fine print on all the stuff you’re putting on to that body. And we also don’t blame you for being a little terrified after you do it. Sadly, there’s all sorts of harmful chemicals and toxins in so many of our beauty and skincare products, sometimes even those claiming to be “natural.”
Grace Lee, the founder of Nine Naturals, felt the same way when she was pregnant. And so she founded Nine Naturals, a healthy skincare line that’s totally safe for pregnancy and nursing. Made from 100% plant-based ingredients, Nine Naturals is free from the toxic biggies like sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, DEA, and artificial preservatives. Even the fragrance is all-natural--and designed to help ease pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue.
With baby #2 on the way, Grace is finally getting to test drive her own line from the pregnant perspective. We recently sat down with the NYC mama in her Tribeca offices to find out about her favorite beauty brands, the entrepreneurial mom she most admires, and how she balances business and babies.
Tell us about how and why you launched Nine Naturals.
When my friends and I were looking for safe beauty products to use during pregnancy, we kept running into two problems: 1) most products that claimed to be natural still contained harmful ingredients and 2) many natural products simply didn’t perform well; the shampoos didn’t lather well and the body products didn’t do much for their skin. When I developed Nine Naturals, I focused on using natural, pure ingredients safe for pregnancy while maintaining a high standard for beauty and performance.
What products did you launch with and what other products have you added along the way?
We launched Nine Naturals with 5 products to start - shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, body wash and belly butter. It was important for us to create a line that would be easy replacements for the products women were using everyday to help them reduce their environmental toxin exposures. Since then we've added other popular products such as a natural deodorant and sunscreen as well as body cream and lip balm. To-date we offer the most diverse haircare and bodycare offerings to pregnant women in the market.
What are some beauty brands you personally love?
I was recently introduced to a line of 7-free nail polishes from Trust Fund Beauty, founded by Samara Granofsky, who was inspired to start the line when her mother had cancer. Trust Fund Beauty has a great array of colors and the polishes are super long-lasting (hard to find in 7-free polishes!). Best of all, they are free from parabens, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, xylene, camphor, formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin. The women in our company love the line so much we started selling them on our website!
How do you think becoming a mom has enhanced you as a business woman?
Becoming a mom has made every minute of my day increasingly valuable. My efficiency at work has probably increased ten-fold since I don't have the flexibility for it to spillover too much outside of the office when I'm home.
How have you been feeling during your pregnancy and how is it different than the first one?
It's harder when you have one child already! There's much less rest time, which was especially difficult in the first trimester when I was exhausted and sick. Pregnancy is a time when you simply can't ignore your body signals; you have to take good care of yourself. With all that I'm juggling already, this second pregnancy has forced me to focus on the most important priorities in my life for the time being. I've had to delegate a lot more to my team and say no to work and social engagements just to stay sane and healthy!
Who are some entrepreneurial moms you admire or want to emulate?
Dana Rubenstein, the co-founder of Dapple, has been a wonderful friend and mentor to me. She and her co-founder, Tamar, each have 4 kids (!) and have simultaneously created an incredible, safe, natural brand for families.
What’s on your list of “to-dos” for Nine Naturals the next year?
We just launched into Destination Maternity stores nationwide and will be expanding our distribution into additional retailers later this year. We want to continue to make our products more accessible to women who want safer products for pregnancy and beyond.
Is there such a thing as balance? What do you do that’s just for you?
I don't really believe in balance. I am always making sacrifices and hard choices as a full-time working mother in both my personal and professional life. Finding time for myself is difficult but also important so that I can be a better, healthier person for my family and in my work. I work out with a trainer twice a week and I've been seeing an acupuncturist once a week during my pregnancy. On weekends, I have a babysitter who comes for a few hours so that I can spend quality time with my husband -- it's a luxury that I'm very thankful for.
Walk us through a typical day of work and kid. What’s your schedule like?
Mornings are the craziest for me. I wake up at 6am to get a head start on emails and mentally prepare for the day. Between 7am-9am getting my daughter and myself fed, dressed and out the door to school/work is a bit insane. Then I'm in the office for the rest of the day. I've made a very conscious decision to not blur lines between work and home. I'm in the office with my team everyday. It's a rare day that I work from home.
I get home from work around 6:30pm. I play with Charlotte, catch up on her day and then put her down to sleep. Bedtime is a sacred ritual between the two of us. I try as much as possible not to miss it. Once she's asleep, I do any work I haven't had a chance to finish up and spend precious alone time with my husband!
When I'm home with Charlotte in the mornings and evenings, I try to be as present as possible for her. There are times when work life will spill into my home life and vice versa, but it's much easier for me to isolate my work and family time when possible.
This post was brought to you by Newton, a brand new crib mattress made to give your baby a safer, healthier sleep. Tune into WRNY tomorrow to learn more about this innovative crib mattress, and sign up here to start earning perks!
Photography by Lindsay May of Classic Kids.