It's a rainy, gloomy Friday in Brooklyn, but a quick trip into an industrial lobby, through a courtyard, and up the oldest working elevator in NYC leads to the bright home base of Soapwalla skin care, the antithesis of a stereotypical production line. The space is calm, joyful, and deliciously scented.
"I feel very lucky that this is where we get to hang out," says founder Rachel Winard, who started the company after being diagnosed with lupus at a young age. Winard was desperate to find products that didn't aggravate her extremely sensitive skin, so she began experimenting with mixing and matching food-grade ingredients in her own kitchen.
Now, Lupus symptoms managed, she's still working in a kitchen full of natural, skin-soothing ingredients—albeit a slightly larger one. Run out of a converted artist studio in Gowanus, Soapwalla (or "soap master" in Hindi) seeks to add next-level transparency to the skin care market. We caught up with the ex-law-firm associate and Juilliard-trained violinist to snag her top tips for running a successful business, staying sane under pressure, and crafting natural beauty products that really work. Here are the highlights: