While Laura Xiao was traveling and living abroad, she was forced to declutter and only keep essentials at hand.
She cultivated an appreciation for reliable basics, which may explain why when she launched Henné, her luxury lip care line, she began with just two products: a lip balm and a lip exfoliator. Both products are, however, rigorously developed and USDA certified organic—no small feat to achieve when it comes to personal care products.
Laura has recently expanded her offerings to include 2 more flavors of lip exfoliator (the Lavender Mint is beyond) and she's introduced a lip tint in 4 lovely shades. We're happy to offer her entire collection online and in store. We sat down with Laura to discuss her background and the development of her brand.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and how Henné was born?
Well I can't say the journey has spanned over many decades as I'm still in my late 20s, but it did start relatively early. Growing up I was raised in a household where health and wellness were extremely important. Unhealthy snacks at our house were a rare sighting, which is why as a teenager I'd have to go to friends' houses if I wanted to sneak in some junk food.
My interest in green beauty started in college. I was studying Broadcast Journalism and I ended up on the Health beat while working at an NBC affiliate. One of the stories led me to discover just how many chemicals were in consumer products. It was definitely a wakeup call. I started replacing as many products as possible in my bathroom and makeup bag with natural alternatives.
It wasn't until early 2015 that I decided to launch Henné Organics. Looking back, I think 2015 was the right time for Henné, as I needed those previous years to develop the knowledge to feel comfortable with starting my own lip care brand.
I read that you competed, quite successfully, in professional table tennis when you were younger. What effect, if at all, has that experience had on launching and running your own business?
Wow, that feels like a century ago! Great memories always come to mind whenever I think about my table tennis years. I love sports because of the discipline and work ethic it instills. The sport taught me the power of visualization and staying calm under pressure. I'm not perfect and like any normal human being, I falter at times. But overall I believe those years of training and competing have really helped mold me into the person I am today.
How do you spend your days off?
You can usually find me at a cafe during my work days and my days off. I'm trying to drink less coffee these days, but even just being around the smell of coffee can be enough to jumpstart my creativity and productivity. In general, I love working out of different spaces for inspiration and a change of scenery.
When my schedule allows it, I love catching up with loved ones/friends over a few drinks. Cozy nights in with the hubby are always perfect on any given night of the week. Right now Henné takes up almost of all my time, so I don't travel abroad as much as I used to, but my husband and I aim to go on mini-trips at least once every month or so.
Who are your role models?
It's hard to narrow it down to only a few people! I've been blessed to have developed wonderful business and personal relationships with individuals who have taught me so much and have inspired me tremendously. Anyone who is willing to put himself or herself out there and be relentless in pursuing a dream or passion is a role model in my book.
All of your products are USDA Certified Organic — not an easy feat to achieve. Can you speak about the importance of that qualification and standard?
Even before Henné's inception, I know that we would have to work our way up from being completely unknown to a household name in the natural beauty space (something we're currently still striving for!), as I don't come from the beauty industry and there were no shortcuts available. I wanted to start things off on the right foot, and I felt that having organic certification was important to show prospective customers and retailers that we're serious about the integrity of our products. USDA is tricky though, as a lot of natural and organic ingredients are not allowed simply because the USDA organic certification was created based on the agricultural industry, not personal care. This is something we're constantly keeping in mind and sometimes battling with.
If you could be transported anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, where would it be?
I would be relaxing with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. I definitely miss living there, especially during our winters/their summers.