Our latest #BossBabe interview is with Summer Leigh from Nature’sRepair
It has been a 10 year development of producing, testing and making beautiful natural skin care products since 2009 that has led to today’s organic skin care company Nature’sRepair, owned and run by Summer Leigh.
Summer’s skin care line is completely toxin-free, chemical-free, additive-free, and is 100% natural. She is dedicated to ethical sourcing, working with women cooperatives and other organisations that align with her beliefs and her personal mission, which is being devoted to people over profit.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of skin care with Summer.
HOC. We heard on the grapevine that you are not only a skin care specialist, but you are a fully qualified pilot with a number of years working within the field of aviation, how did you end up sourcing natural products and making skin care when your background is flying planes?
Summer. Yes, I work as a pilot during the summers fighting fire. I absolutely love what I do, the people I work with, and enjoy contributing back to the community. Winters and slow periods during fire season affords me plenty of time to study, research, experiment and test products in extreme and unusual real world environments. How I began my journey is a long story, so I will keep it short.
Creating a skincare business evolved over time as it became a priority for me to share a truly natural option to people. Some of my family members and friends began developing a variety health and memory problems, as I am sure we can all relate in some way. I began researching what preventive lifestyle and eating habit changes I needed to make and what could be done, if anything, to reverse or lessen any of their problems. That eventually developed into wanting to eliminate as many toxins as possible from entering my body. Every lotion, cream, moisturizer, etc. available on the market has some ingredient that cannot be consumed. If you can’t eat it, why put it on your body? I had decided to start making my own lotions without putting much thought into it, no different than your average DIY person. Being a pilot flying at high altitudes for up to 8 hours a day, my exposure to UV rays is greater than the average person, plus I am usually outside all day. I had no idea at the time, but the first batch of homemade lotion I had created was actually doing severe damage to my skin. It caused serious patchy pigment discoloration all over my face. I went to a dermatologist and was told that it was permanent and nothing could ever reverse it. The high altitudes I both lived and worked at were amplifying the problem. I would have the different colour pigment patchwork on my face for the rest of my life. We had a long talk about skin regarding a wide variety of topics.
That’s when I began narrowing my research. When I was in my late teens, I had worked for a micro-biologist for a short time who did case studies for a large well-known pharmaceutical company. During that time I had discovered that so many cures stem from nature in the pharmaceutical world. I had also learned what serious impacts, both positive and negative, that lifestyles and foods could have on health – I knew I could fix my skin naturally. There was a way and I was going to figure it out! I began studying and researching non-stop about what the skin needed from the inside, the outside, how what we put on it affected it, including what the effects of the air we breathe had on it. I then began experimenting and eventually developed the current formula that is used today. This precise combination healed the pigment discoloration permanently and also began reducing the fine lines and wrinkles I had. I have two scars from surgeries from when I was a child and they began to look better as well. When a friend, who owns a small shop in Colorado, had major surgery on her elbow, I gave her a bunch to put on her fresh scar to help it heal. She said she absolutely loved it, it helped tremendously and she wanted to sell it in her store.
By that time I was eating a lot of superfoods and was only interested in purchasing the cleanest, purist foods available worldwide. I had previously done my research and found one company with strong ethics that took the time to visit and to get to know each of their farmers. As a regular customer, I knew I already had my source for the highest quality and purist ingredients available. When I called looking for bulk pricing, they asked me why I wanted these strange ingredients in bulk. When I told them, they asked me to send some samples over to see if it is a product they might want to carry and would get back to me within a few months. Within less than 24 hours of them receiving my package, the CEO called me, on a Saturday morning, and said he wanted to sell it under his private label exclusively. Which they did for a number of years. Since our exclusive agreement recently expired and all of my products did so well for them under their private label, I decided to sell it under my own brand name. That is how it all started.
HOC. When you set up Nature’sRepair did you have one specific skincare product in mind that you wanted to get off the ground first, before embarking on the full collection you have today?
Summer. I intentionally launched with a tightly curated product line. These are the most important products to be offered for their own unique reasons.
Healing and Young are everyday moisturizers that provide nutrition for the skin. To see what amazing affects these natural products made only from food can have, is astonishing.
Defense & Nourish gives extra protection from the elements especially during the winter months and for people with exceptionally dry skin or who have skin conditions. I use Defense in dry climates religiously. I also drench myself in it when I am near the equator because I use it as my sunscreen until my skin adjusts.
Soft was created to provide a less expensive alternative because a healthy option should be available to people of all walks of life. I believe everyone should have the ability to control the toxins that enter their body.
Gone was originally developed for my mom. She wears make-up every day and used such toxic products to remove it every night. She is not the “health freak” I am, but she absolutely loves the make-up remover because it works so well and helps her nightly process go much faster. It is vital for men and women to put non-toxic food in their body and non-toxic products on their body.
HOC. You have been creating natural beauty products for 10 years, when did it become a serious business proposition to run your own company?
Summer. It became serious when I discovered that there was a demand for safe, natural products. I want people to know that there are products available that don’t just come close to being natural, but are natural. People should know there are products available that have amazing benefits to help the skin be healthy without any toxic ingredients. Big business in the U.S. has fed people the wrong information for a long time because all they care about is their bottom line. My priority is to do what is right for people by sharing these incredible products that have helped my loved ones.
HOC. Do you have a ‘hero’ product that is a best selling product from Nature’sRepair, and do you use it yourself?
Summer. Healing, Defense and Young are in constant competition for the #1 spot. I use Defense down in the tropics, out snowboarding or in a snowball fight with my nephews. Young or Healing I use all over my body every morning as well as a leave in hair conditioner after washing.
HOC. Do you have any plans to release any new skincare products for the Nature’sRepair collection in the coming months?
Summer. Yes I do. In the next few months I will be launching a deodorant that works amazingly. I’ve gone five days before having to reapply even with running and working out every morning. I will also be adding my favourite skin conditioner that includes a unique ingredient. This special plant oil has been held in high regard by Peruvian women for centuries due to its anti-aging properties. I’ve also been asked to develop an antiperspirant for the feet by quite a few people.
HOC. Being a skincare producer isn’t something that everyone can do – did you take any special courses or go to college to learn about the skin and cosmetics?
Summer. I am self-taught. My extreme attention to detail coupled with almost 20 years in aviation successfully running two Air Carrier companies simultaneously, owning my own aviation consulting business, and having worked for the micro-biologist taught me how to do proper research. It has been a valuable skill that I have been able to apply in many aspects of my life. I am a very determined and self-motivated individual.
HOC. From a business perspective did you come across any obstacles that you had to overcome before being able to launch Nature’sRepair?
Summer. There was really only one obstacle. Being 100% food and having to be combined in a very unique way, it proved very difficult to find a manufacturer. The manufacturer I eventually found was perfect! Not only did they have strong ethics in wanting to help people, they also met my stringent criteria of certifications and were very excited to be a part of such an innovative process.
HOC. Did anyone offer you any excellent business advice before launching, something that you still follow to this day?
Summer. Yes, the most valuable advice was from my grandmother. She drove it into my head as a little kid to learn from my mistakes and other people’s mistakes. It was not intended as business advice, but it is has always served as the best piece of advice I have ever received and can be applied to all aspects of life.
HOC. Have you made any mistakes that turned into a great learning curve since starting your skin care business?
Summer. Oh my yes, mistakes were made. Taking the time to really understand a mistake gives a better learning opportunity and a better understanding that will help in other areas. My biggest mistake was social media. I have never participated in social media prior to launching Nature’sRepair so my understanding of it was non-existent…still is. I did not have a clear understanding of how social media worked for brand awareness and why it should not be a main marketing tool for sale conversion. There was definitely a learning curve while trying to “figure out” social media, how it works and why it works the way it does. I should have spent the time before the launch learning to understand it.
HOC. If you were to offer one piece of advice to someone who wants to get into the beauty industry what would it be?
Summer. This advice goes for everyone really. Understanding how to and doing proper research is key, especially when it comes to chemistry. It is important to realize that just because an ingredient has amazing properties on its own, does not mean that it will maintain those properties when combined with other ingredients. Chemistry is dynamic and can make drastic changes, both positive and negative.
For example, jojoba oil has great properties that are wonderful for the skin when it stands alone. Let’s call one of those properties “Benefit A”. When you mix jojoba oil with other ingredients, the value of the “Benefit A” changes. Let’s say you mix it with shea butter, also high in “Benefit A”, you don’t just add the “Benefit A” components together and assume you are delivering that much “Benefit A” in the product. That is simply not how chemistry works. There are many other factors and properties of those two ingredients that could in fact almost cancel out the “Benefit A” value all together.
It is intuitive to assume mixing together a bunch of ingredients that are great for the skin on their own makes them even better when combined. For as much as we want to believe that is the way it works, it is just not true. As I said in the beginning of this interview, the first homemade lotion I made actually caused skin damage. It consisted of cacao butter, coconut oil and grapeseed oil, which I think everyone can agree those are all great for the skin. However, when I combined them together, they became damaging as I quickly discovered. That event was why I started researching the chemistry behind combining different ingredients. Make sure you really understand what a huge roll chemistry has and understand the chemistry that takes place in your product when you mix ingredients.
Thank you for taking the time to answer all our #BossBabe questions for House of Coco Magazine.
Visit Nature’sRepair online for more information.