Beauty without secrets. A simple concept that entrepreneur Andrea Pierce-Naymon believes in and has modeled her own line of beauty products after. Her brand, OY-L, is an independent line of 100% natural luxury skin care with plant derived formulations. Read more below about this Akron based, zero chemical skin care brand that is catching attention from industry players such as Vogue, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Allure.
WRiTTEN BY: Janaye Bullock
JB: What was your career before OY-L?
APN: I actually started out in the pharmaceutical industry, then sold medical equipment. When I got married my husband owned a clothing store in Cleveland, and he needed someone to buy for him so for 20 years I’ve been a buyer at Kilgore Trout. We even offer a scholarship to the Kent State Fashion School. It’s also interesting being an entrepreneur at my age. It’s different when you’re in your 20’s and 30’s and come up with a great thing, but to change careers like I did and to give up my buying like I did, it’s been very interesting. I don’t even care, though, because I’m so passionate about this. It’s so fun to watch something grow.
JB: How did you come to begin your own brand?
APN: It actually started through my daughter being sick. I entered this Indie Beauty Expo, and that’s what catapulted me nationally.
JB: What’s your take on social media and the marketing role that it plays?
APN: It’s mind blowing what I get out of social media, but it hasn’t turned into that many sales yet. Ultimately, I want to drive people to the website for sales.
JB: How has the OY-L brand been received by retailers?
APN: I’m in negotiation with retailers like Saks. They called me after the indie beauty expo I mentioned earlier, because they loved my packaging. I talked to the buyer, but I figured I was never going to hear back from Saks.Then, they called me two weeks later! I’m also talking to Urban Outfitters, and American Eagle too.
JB: What were you feeling in that moment?
APN: Disbelief. I was like “really?” 18 of their stores have apothecaries, and my product will be one of their featured apothecary products. It’s not going to sit next to Clarins or Chanel, because natural beauty products are a little different. My line is oil based, with no toxins or anything like that. I was just thrilled! I wanted to be in Barney’s, but Saks has more stores than Barney’s.
JB: Tell us about your beautiful packaging.
OY-L: I was amazed the impact that it had. I wanted black and white, because they love how they look together. My friend who does the marketing at Kilgore Trout came up with the the old label. When I met with my investor, one company in Akron suggested I take the money and really consider changing my brand image. It was very humbling, and I was a little pissed. But when I saw the new (current) labels, I went to market with it and people were drawn to the packaging. In the beauty industry, it matters what your product looks like. I didn’t want plastic, because it’s not recyclable, I only wanted glass. I wanted a product that could be sustainable and wouldn’t have a bad impact on the environment. The containers I use now can be reused for other purposes, or crushed and recycled.
JB: Why do you have such a passion for natural skin care?
APN: My daughter was misdiagnosed two years ago with an unknown illness. We were spending weeks at the Cleveland Clinic. She was so sick, but we didn’t know what was wrong with her. The doctors were trying to convince her she had a heart problem and surgically implanted a heart monitor. All it showed was a rapid heartbeat, but at night it would go really low. Luckily I have somewhat of a medical background, since I used to sell pharmaceuticals. I did not believe this was a heart problem. Eventually, my daughter was diagnosed with POTS, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. That means that when you stand up, your body makes the blood volume come up to your heart and head. When she stood up that didn’t happen, because her blood volume was lower, so she had to take a lot of salt. POTS is not a skin disorder, but it made me start looking at everything we put into our bodies.
During those two years, we were looking at what was going into her body like vitamins, foods, and I even started looking at my makeup. After a closer look, I was like, “OMG what are all these words I can’t pronounce?!” Parabens, ethyl-, glycol, poly-. All these names I can’t pronounce. Sometimes, they put anywhere between 3-5 different kinds of parabens in makeup to preserve the product’s shelf life. You want things that are non comedogenic, meaning they don’t clog pores. After further research, I found that they find the parabens in the breast tissue when they do breast biopsies. I asked myself, “is this why breast canc
er is so prevalent?” it wasn’t when I was growing up. If they’re actually finding these parabens in the breast tissue, OMG. I talked to the chemist downstairs and he said, every day women put on 2-3 hundred different chemicals in their body: makeup, skincare, household products. Anything you come in contact with has all these chemicals like cans, jars, and bottles; they even put this stuff in the food.
JB: What natural ingredients did you find to be beneficial for your daughter’s condition?
APN: Pink Himalayan salt is the only salt that we use in our house. I didn’t want her taking regular white table salt, because it’s bleached, processed, and burnt. I started making my scrubs with pink himalayan salt instead of sugar or regular salt. I also discovered hemp seed oil and metaphone oil, and I started mixing them together. Eventually, I started making the scrubs and giving them away as gifts.
JB: When did you realize your products actually showed good results?
APN: I don’t test on animals, but I do test on friends, family, and employees. They were loving it! Last Christmas, I gave my sister in law some just as a gift. She loved the smell, and after using the scrub for a couple of weeks she called and said, “My eczema is gone. I’ve been using your product, and I have been dealing with eczema for 10 years. I’ve been to the dermatologist, who has put me on Cortisone. You can only take Cortisone once a week, because it will make your skin so thin it will bleed when you scratch it. Your product has changed my life.” I just thought it smelled good and knew it was a healthy, non-toxic product, but I started hearing this from everyone. Someone at the store was telling me that her son was really struggling with acne, so I made a face cream and face wash with Manuka honey. I gave it to them and said if they like it, then they can start buying it. The 16-year old kid called me and told me he got off all his medicine. Then his dentist, an adult male with bad cystic acne, started using it and has ordered more since then. I cannot make these medical claims,
because the FDA would come down on me. However, people can use these testimonies on my site for others to reference.
JB: Why do you think that natural skin care isn’t as prevalent as it should be?
APN: A lot of the products we have in America aren’t even allowed to be used in Europe. The European Union has strict rules on their cosmetics. They don’t allow the chemicals, parabens, and other toxins. Why not focus on what’s going into your body? It’s one thing to eat clean, unprocessed foods, but anything that you put onto your body also goes into your body. Most people that have come up with these natural products now have had some bout with a disease, and realize you can fix this if you eat properly. I had a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic tell me when I went vegan for a while, that it usually takes a sickness to realize what’s going on.
JB: What are some of the brands you use on a day to day basis?
APN: I love Juice Beauty out of California. They make all kinds of makeup, their mascaras are especially good. Bodisafe makes awesome concealer, which you can get at Mustardseed. They make foundation, concealer and eye products. Vapor Beauty and RMS make all kinds of good makeup. Gosh, there’s so many now that I know of, but I would suggest checking out the website Folane. It’s a natural makeup skincare site, and that’s where I find a lot of my clean beauty products. Also, when I go to New York, Credo is one of the first places that I go. Lipstick is always fun. I love Suntegrity lipstick, because it has SPF which is good for your lips. Into the Gloss makeup, is an online brand some blogger started that consists of all clean makeup. There are so many things you can do with clean beauty.
JB: How can people begin raising their awareness of clean beauty products?
OY-L: I found this app on my phone called Think Dirty. When you download the app, you scan products, and it gives the product a score from 0-10 on a scale of clean to carcinogenic. All the products we were using from the drugstores and beauty stores were coming up 8, 9, or 10. Think Dirty tells you what is in the products and what the ingredients consist of. Most of them were the parabens (preservatives). I threw out everything, and I started fresh. I generally don’t use anything over a 3 rating from Think Dirty.
JB: When creating your products, where do you shop for your ingredients?
APN: I have found a couple vendors that I really like. I get my essential oils from New Directions Aeromatic out of Canada. I shop with a couple local vendors called Crafters Choice and Lotion Crafters. However, I get most of them online.
JB: How much product do you make a week? Or is it demand based?
APN: It’s based on demand at the moment. I have about 4 or 5 orders to do right now, but I stay updated with my phone. Right now, everything is by hand and takes forever. Putting the labels on takes longer than making the product. I just got into Organic Bunny, a subscription box out of San Diego. She sends out 260 boxes, so I just shipped out 260 jars of my Manuka Masks to include in the boxes. This box is different from the others because you get better sized jars, and not little samples. My team and I have been talking about getting a larger space. Also, my production is growing and we are going to need more people.
JB: Do you want to remain Akron based as you expand? Or would you like to scatter distribution centers and labs?
APN: I don’t know yet. I would like to remain Akron based, but as I get bigger I would hope to employ more people in Akron. Why not? This is where I started. There are so many hidden gems here. It’s funny, because when I’m in New York, people just think we have cows roaming the streets here.
JB: Where else other than online can we find you?
APN: We are being sold at Spa Weldon in Aurora, a 5-star spa, and there is a possibility of soon going international.