Angela Turovskaya wants to take beauty back to basics. After working in the industry for over a decade she decided to launch her own platform to offer the region ethical products and unique fragrances without scrimping on the luxury. Enter Balmessence. Beginning as an e-boutique, the brand now has a pop up in Mall of the Emirates in Dubai to showcase some of its most exciting finds. Here Turovskaya shares her story and advice for women looking to follow in her footsteps.
What drew you to the world of beauty?
My first job right after university was as a personal assistant to the Head Representative of an oil and gas company, completely unrelated to the beauty and fragrance world. The turning point for me was when I completed my first course in holistic beauty therapy, I felt that the beauty world was for me. I was running a beauty salon in a 5-star hotel and was also interested to explore the world of spa business combined with strong retail, so I got myself a job at Paris Gallery, where I got the opportunity to launch the new concept of a boutique spa.
From there, I literally dived into the world of luxury beauty and perfumes. I was back then running the boutique spa and personally consulted most VIP clients coming through the doors, in order to advise them on the most suitable face and body treatments targeting their concerns and demands. At that time, I also noticed that many of them were loyal towards certain items or brands and wouldn’t easily move to new products. Many things have changed since then, today customers are more receptive to novelties and they are always on the lookout for something exceptional.
What does clean and ethical beauty mean to you?
Clean and ethical beauty to me is a rather simple concept. It is as important as eating healthy, working out and taking care of your body. The skin is our largest organ and it absorbs the products you put on it, this is what most people tend to forget. The more you get educated about toxins, harmful ingredients and preservatives, the more you understand their risks, and the more care you take in becoming body health-conscious.
It is especially important for women, as we are passing this onto the next generation. Studies have proven that pollutants and toxins are transferred from mother to fetus. To me, toxins mean ageing. Therefore, the so-called anti-aging creams, no matter how revolutionary they may be, cannot really help your skin appear younger with the toxic compounds they actually contain. By using products that have natural and organic ingredients, essential oils, vitamins and minerals, you are feeding your skin exactly what it needs to regenerate and stay healthy.
Why did you decide to launch BALMESSENCE?
At the time, I had my twin girls, I felt a bit tired and started looking for quality products for my skin. I was overwhelmed by all the amazing brands and products that already existed in the market and started learning about products and how they were produced, using amazing natural and organic and high-quality ingredients.
Most of these brands were quite popular in their respective regions in Europe, North America, and Australia, but they were not available in the UAE yet. This is when I decided to set up the distribution company Wellness United Inc, in order to supply business customers like spas, salons in the UAE. A year and a half later, I launched Balmessence to bring those amazing beauty products directly to the customers; men and women looking for special and clean beauty brands and fragrances.
What is the process for you choosing which brands to stock?
The process of choosing differs significantly from one brand to another. For example, skincare brands are very different from makeup brands. What’s most important to me is ensuring the brand ethos matches the Balmessence / Wellness United values.
First and foremost, having the right certifications is vital. If they are natural and certified organic, they will have the logos of BDIH, ECOCERT, NATRUE or COSMOS on their packaging. Some brands are not certified “natural” and “organic”, but are ethical, as part of their philosophy by minimizing the use of toxic ingredients and preservatives.
Secondly, I look for not only clean beauty brands (as the aspect of being ethical and clean goes without saying), but for innovative and results-driven beauty brands. They need to combine the best of two worlds – be clean as much as it is acceptable and innovative while being scientific and result-driven.
Thirdly, I see what the brand range offers, whether it is skincare, makeup, haircare or nailcare and whether their range fills a gap in our distribution and boutique selection. Lastly, myself as well as my team try all products and assess whether they fit in the high performance and luxury beauty category we are striving towards or not.
What are the three main characteristics you look for in a brand?
Brand Heritage – the founder, their story, how the brand was born and how it is developing.
Product Range – how many of their products are ethical, clean or vegan, what concerns do they target.
Product efficacy – does it actually work and do what it claims to do?
Packaging – The quality of the packaging, as it gives the first impression of the brand.
Why do you think more consumers are turning to clean beauty?
Before, consumers weren’t educated on toxic ingredients in cosmetic products, nor on the huge benefits of natural or organic ingredients for the skin, but the latest demands of the customers show that they have been realizing the importance of what they put onto their skin, especially those who have moved to healthy eating habits.
This awareness has already spread across Europe, due to a large number of emerging clean beauty brands. In the US there is a very strong awareness and a change of lifestyle as many consumers want everything authentic and clean. Professional beauty and customer preferences in the GCC is a little behind compared to the rest of the world in regards to ethical and clean philosophy but has been showing a consistent growth of demand for such products. Probably, people are becoming aware of this also due to the recent growing shift to health and fitness in the region.
Talk to us about some of your favorite brands that you stock?
We are proud soon to launch a truly mineral makeup brand – Lilly Lolo from England. This is hands down my favorite makeup brand, it is vegan and clean, and I have been using their mineral foundations, mascara, lip glosses, and bronzers for years. I love the brand so much that I was adamant about having it available in Balmessence boutiques offline and online. I spent a lot of time in securing the brand, and it will be available with us online very soon!
Skincare- Codage Paris. I love that there is a wide range of products from makeup remover to cleanser, moisturizers and especially serums. The brand believes in serums can be mixed with one another to target specific skin concerns. For example, serums for different skin types, weather conditions, specific seasons, specific concerns like pigmentation, firmness, special sensitivity, fragile capillaries, all those serums can be layered. There is something for every skin type and can be customized for each individual!
Nailcare – Fedua, the color range is fantastic, it goes hand in hand with fashion, and the packaging is superb even as a gift idea.
Haircare- Tabitha James Karaan, is an “organic” certified luxury brand. Their Amber Rose range is pure indulgence and it is our bestselling collection. Also, the dry shampoo is a lifesaver for someone with a busy schedule like me who is balancing both, a career and a family.
What advice would you give to upcoming beauty entrepreneurs?
I would like to inspire, but unfortunately, inspiration is not enough, be prepared to work hard and not only alone, surround yourself with people with the same vision, passion, and dedication. You need a “Can Do” attitude from yourself and others. In short: Belief, Passion, Persistence and a Proactive attitude. And always look at what you do from your customer’s point of view.