Welcome to #THRIVEup ! In this series with Thrive Global, I share stories of incredible humans that remind us to ‘Trust the Process’. Madina is a shining!
Former fashion veteran, Madina Baxandall, founded Essentialist after seeing a white space in the market for simple products and routines with clean ingredients and multi-action functionality. All Essentialist products are completely natural, organic, and preservative free, with no chemicals, fillers, or toxic ingredients. Concepted from the idea that beauty products and beauty regimens should be simplified to only the essentials, Essentialist presents multifunctional products with the optimal concentration of each ingredient rather than minimal concentrations of many extraneous ingredients.
Additionally, Essentialist is working to actively reduce their environmental impact as much as possible, their packaging is glass and 100% recyclable, and they have partnered with One Tree Planted, making a pledge to plant one tree for every single product sold.
Canadian born Madina Baxandall moved to NYC at 25 to attend Parsons for Fashion Design.
Upon graduation, she worked in the fashion industry for a decade. She fell in love with the rush and energy of NYC, but she found it wreaked havoc on her skin. For the first time she found herself battling acne- stress and pollution the main culprits. Actively starting to treat her skin, it became a game of trial and error trying to prevent the breakouts. This is when she really started to pay attention to her products, what was in them, what worked, and what didn’t. Most fell short of the promises and left her feeling helpless in her struggle.
As she became more devoted to a life of wellness, she wanted to create something that could not only make a difference for people like her dealing with skin issues, but also formulate a product with the cleanest, purest ingredients on the market; thus Essentialist was born.
CB: Madina, thank you for taking part in the #THRIVEUP series! Can you tell us a little bit about your mission and what you’re trying to build?
MB: I’ve recently launched Essentialist, a clean skin care brand focused on simplifying both the products we use as well as our skincare routines. Our team has formulated with three primary concerns in mind; anti-aging, sensitive skin, and acne prone skin. Every formula targets these concerns together so think multi-functional vs. single use products. Our mission has been to pare everything down to the “essentials only” in a sophisticated, elevated, and of course effective way. The care of skin shouldn’t be complex, we’ve eliminated the excess to give you a straightforward path to healthier skin.
Beyond the products we’re building a community of seekers; those who want to know more and do better. Our aim is to empower individuals with the knowledge required to better care for their skin and health in general. You can’t separate skin care from healthcare or well being so, as a brand it’s important that we serve as an open, honest reference point for information. As a founder this is the most rewarding part of what we’re doing and the fact that it’s resonating with our followers shows me we’re on the right path. There’s a real hunger for information and we’re here if you don’t know where to look or who to trust.
CB: 2020 was a tough year for a lot of people. Can you share how this affected you and how did you pivot?
MB: I had been working for nearly a decade in fashion and about two years ago I began to plant the seeds for what would become Essentialist. I had intended to remain in the industry, at least until the company was launched, but of course with the pandemic everything changed. The company I worked for shut down temporarily and the entire staff was furloughed. We all went into lockdown with no idea of what would happen next.
I went home to ride out the storm with my husband, I fought the urge to “awfulize” and tried to focus instead on taking everything one day at a time. That’s all anyone could do, right?! My husband and I live in the West Village which is usually so vibrant, overnight it became a ghost town, it was eerily quiet and so bizarre. One week, became one month, and here we are eleven months later…no one could have imagined this.
I saw people acting and reacting in every way possible, some in healthier and more productive ways than others. I didn’t compare or judge, I simply made a point of treating this new found free time as a gift. I did some serious self check-ins and spent a lot of time meditating, reflecting, journaling- it was precious to have this unhurried opportunity to sit with my thoughts. I knew this was a rare chance to get focused and clear about how I wanted my future to unfold. What I kept returning to was this vision of Essentialist, it was so consistent and strong I had to honor it. Time and energy were no longer an excuse, it was one of those now or never things- when the opportunity presents itself you can’t waste it!
I put the finishing touches on the brand and took the final steps to getting my product market ready. Of course my plans for the launch had to be adjusted significantly but, given some perspective on the scale of adjustments people have had to make this past year, it was all so minor. I’ve learned to see the opportunities rather than the obstacles, believe me, that in itself makes all the difference.
There were a bunch of other changes I had to accept which were hard at the time but again, perspective is everything. I had a big wedding planned this summer that was cancelled. Instead of postponing indefinitely, we opted for an intimate ceremony with immediate family on zoom. Was it everything I had dreamed of since I was a little girl, No! But was it magical and special in ways I could not have imagined, absolutely. Now I’m seven months pregnant and expecting a baby boy in April, I mean the number of life changes that have happened this past year are remarkable.
CB: Wow these are some big leaps! In this series we always touch on ‘Trusting the Process’. Especially being in New York, how did you manage all of these big changes?
MB: I should tell you how much I LOVE that you focus on this angle. The process is so often overlooked and it’s really the key. With the focus being on where people end up, and not on how they got there, we’re missing the true magic of the journey.
To me life is about constant change, and accepting change is integral to the process. In order to continue evolving and avoid stagnation you have to be open and receptive to it! The problem is usually that change comes with challenges and the timing rarely ever seems right. I struggled with that for a long time and was the queen of excuses- “I can’t because”, “it won’t work because”- the obstacle was me! The more intune I became with my authentic self and vision for my life, the more clearly I could see the signs. You have to recognize when to adapt, pivot, restructure plans, whatever it may be, you simply have to trust yourself and the process. That’s really the start and finish of it all, trusting yourself.
The lesson for me was that sometimes you’re given the chance to take a leap and make a change. I feel grateful to have been given this chance and to have recognized it when it came (as you say) sweeping through! It can take your life in an entirely new direction which is terrifying, powerful, and transformative all at once. I think these chances arise every so often and you have to train yourself to first recognize them and second, be brave enough to risk taking them. It won’t always make sense logically but it’s intuitive, you’ll know when it’s happening. How things will unfold is rarely clear so do yourself a favor let go of trying to control the future, be nimble and adapt as you go.
CB: What are your ‘Go To’ words of encouragement you can share with our readers?
MB: People will ask “why you”??? The better question is why not you?! Believe in yourself. Don’t be so afraid of judgement that you never put yourself out there. What’s the real risk you face? Criticism, failure, a negative response? Ok, there’s that risk I suppose in everything but, if you let the fear of haters and critics determine your path, can you ever lead a full, rich, and authentic life? Do everything in your power to make sure you don’t spend a moment of your life sitting with questions of “what if” and regret.
CB: So obviously you need to dig into this! Can you share some of you Daily Skin Tips to help our readers stay vibrant and glowing!
MB: Well….it just so happens that we’ve created a wellness blog on our website with great info, how-to’s, ingredient highlights, even guided meditations and a sound bath. We want people to use this as a source of knowledge, inspiration, and self care. Our goal is to arm individuals with knowledge to better care for themselves because at the end of the day that will allow you to live your best life. Click on the wellness tab in our search bar et voila. We’re posting weekly so there’s always something new!
My first rule, and probably the most fundamental, is using quality products. Quality makes all the difference. Take some time to learn about the toxins, chemicals, and fillers used in most skincare products then do yourself a favor and eliminate the junk. If you educate yourself on clean skincare, beauty, and personal care products, you’ll realize there really is no viable alternative.
In general I would urge people to take the less is more approach with skincare. Especially when you have blemishes or problem spots, resist the temptation to go on the attack, it will only make things worse. On that note, we also hope people will learn harsher products rarely equate to better products. The skin is a delicate organ and its optimal functioning is based on a fine balance. Treat it gently and you will see it begin to stabilize and balance itself naturally.
Some daily tips would be to always double cleanse; the first round really just eliminates surface grime, make-up, and SPF. It’s the second round cleanse that actually gets to the skin itself. I would also emphasize the importance of making sure your products are both antioxidant and vitamin rich. Used regularly these ingredients will make a difference! Please also make sure you’re using a high quality moisturizer with ceramides, they’re essential to maintaining the integrity of our skin structure. Lastly, I always recommend finishing with facial oil. Ours is an antioxidant powerhouse blend designed to support optimal skin health. Whereas many oils have the simple function of improving the skins’ moisture content, ours is packed with vitamins, nutrients, phytochemicals, and essential fatty acids to also target deeper cellular level repair and regeneration.
CB: Can we get any upcoming sneak peaks of new products or promotions?
MB: We’ve got two more incredible products launching very soon- a gentle at home peel and a deep cleanse mask, both treatments make excellent additions to any home routine. The peel is gentle enough for sensitive skin, but also potent and effective enough to keep skin bright, clear, and decongested. We also have our weekly reset mask which, if all goes according to plan, should launch in March which is going to be a new cult favorite! It flips the script on what clay masks have been and opens an entirely new window into how they can benefit the skin!
CB: There is always someone cheering and supporting us along the way. Is there a particular person that has helped you THRIVE? Can you share a story?
MB: My husband has been AMAZING, my rock, my #1 supporter, I couldn’t have asked for a better man by my side. My mom has also been a huge source of support, she has always believed in me and something about that helps keep a person up when things get hard! Maybe all mama’s do this but mine seems to go the extra mile. I’m fortunate to have some really incredible people in my life, and many friends have supported and encouraged me throughout the process, they really make such a difference! One friend in particular Krystal Chong comes to mind because she was there to give me a big push when I needed it most. She took me with her to a retreat about two years ago that changed my life. She helped me overcome some of the mental blocks that were preventing me from realizing my dreams. She would give me little tasks like focusing on one thing that I could do today to work towards my goals. By helping me break down the process it felt more manageable and attainable.
Madina thank you again for sharing with us on Thrive Global and wish you the most amazing success with Essentialist!
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