[8 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday everyone! As we move into mid-May, you may be dreaming of Summer holidays - we know we are! If you are anything like us, Summer is a time to go low maintenance and natural with our beauty routines and, in particular, our hair care.
That is why we are thrilled to welcome today’s Friday Founder interviewee, Mary Arutyunyan, the Founder and CEO of MFlorens hair care. MFlorens hair care is the world’s first anti-inflammatory, anti-free radical, complete nutrition scalp and hair care brand.
With Summer just around the corner, MFlorens might just be the brand you have been wishing for to show your locks some all natural (and sustainable) love. So grab your cup of coffee, give yourself five minutes of ‘me time’ and keep reading to hear about Mary’s incredible journey starting MFlorens hair care.
"We ensure there are no fragrances, no chemicals, and zero artificial ingredients in our products."
Morning Mary! Welcome to CAROLINA GMX. Please could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
I come from a family of lawyers and doctors, so it was always very scientific and logical, which explains why I went to law school. However, my maternal grandmother played an important role in my life. She is in her 80s now, but she was a pharmacist and chemist in the 1970s and 1980s and created her very own clean, all-natural products for a devoted list of clients. People knew her by name and would drop by her apothecary to chat, ask questions and buy her incredible creations. When I developed alopecia and doctors were at a loss for a remedy, my grandmother called me and set me on the journey to - what would eventually become - MFlorens.
She sounds like a very inspiring force in your life! How did you actually get started in the industry then?
Completely unexpectedly and remarkably, to be honest! I had formal professional training as a lawyer, barred in New York and California, and practiced international law in Paris and London. However, the industry found me when I developed alopecia areata. I refused to try questionable and potentially harmful pharmaceutical options and noticed a broad absence of any comparable product on the market, so I felt compelled to develop my own. I just knew on a deep and inexplicable level that with the right formulas my body could work symbiotically to heal, restore and thrive.
That is amazing! So when did you decide to start up MFlorens hair care and was the timing important?
MFlorens hair care came into existence about a year after our two original products – bear in mind that when the products were developed, they were solely for my health and wellbeing – creating a brand was not part of the equation. I was living in London and took a trip home to LA to visit my family. I’ve yet to return to London from that trip to LA… Anyway, the brand began to take shape a year or two after my move to LA. The timing felt somehow divinely orchestrated, rather than planned.
It certainly sounds that way. How does MFlorens hair care consider issues relating to sensitive skin and allergies?
The scalp is skin, so we factor this into every product we create. We ensure there are no fragrances, no chemicals, and zero artificial ingredients in our products. We use exclusively botanical ingredients, minimally processed at that, virgin when it’s available. That being said, we urge anyone with sensitivities to read the list of ingredients.
That is so comforting to hear! How does sustainability factor into your business?
In every conceivable way! I would actually say that it is part of our DNA. From local sourcing to recyclables, and consideration for post-consumer use waste to charitable giving to environmental entities, like the Sierra Club; we pride ourselves on what we do, but always strive to do better.
That’s the way every business should be thinking nowadays! Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products currently? If so, why?
Unequivocally, yes! Can we be more conscious? Always! But public consciousness is a far, far cry from just a few years back. There are many reasons for this, but mostly because people began experiencing the cumulative effects of all the garbage we had been consuming – from food to beauty products to cleaning products. Doctors do not have satisfactory answers – like for hair loss and alopecia – and so, it causes us to go back to basics. What we eat, the air we breathe, and the products we put on our bodies matter.
I always say that we should all be living like a pregnant woman. Think about it: when a woman is creating life, her lifestyle is expected to change so naturally she needs to take more care with what she is eating, drinking, etc. Well, we are all creating life every day – our own.
What an interesting perspective! Moving back to MFlorens hair care, what do you believe were your biggest challenges in starting up a business?
I would say financial, particularly at the outset. We are a completely self-funded business, in large part to maintain the integrity and honesty of the decision-making process at such a tender stage. I did not want money people coming in and saying “you must cut this... do that... eliminate here.” I knew I had to put the ethos, M.O. and values solidly in place before anything else.
Wow! I really admire that. Many businesses have that intention but, of course, finances are critical! What strategies do you think have been key to the success of MFlorens hair care?
Well, many, but I keep reverting to our foundation. The products were not created for any commercial, profit-making purpose. I did not wake up one day and decide to start a scalp and hair care company as an entrepreneurial commercial endeavor. So, there is a genuine passion, soul and quality to the products because they were formulated with no constraints, financial or otherwise. They just WORK!
Secondly, I believe my background as a lawyer, passion and philosophy of life have given me the vision and discipline to forge ahead with MFlorens hair care in a way that I hope will touch more lives. I always say beauty and wellness are not ends in themselves, but gateways to a good life. I want to be one of those gateways. Can there be anything more rewarding?
Helping others through your passion? That’s the dream. So, what does an average day look like for you?
I’m an early riser (sometimes 5am early). Since COVID tore me away from my Iyengar practice at a studio, I’ve been doing the “Queen” of all poses: shoulder-stand for twenty minutes first thing in the morning. But first, I eat a big chunk of raw ginger, a lemon and then, coffee. After that, I go for a long walk, well before the inhabitants of my city have properly awoken. I love the quiet of the city in the morning, watching it slowly come to life, the morning breeze... Then, I return home to more coffee and an ultra-minimalist beauty routine. I ice my face every morning, apply a rose water essence toner that I make myself along with an extraordinary herb-infused face oil that I also make. Then I add lipstick. I’ve eliminated all make-up, except lipstick. I spritz my roots with a nourishing, volumizing, “fertilizing” scalp essence – which is coming to market soon, by the way. I’m obsessed with this product and cannot wait for everyone else to be too!
I have a home office, so the commute is brilliant. Then it’s work, work, work – emails, calls, production, design briefings. By 6:30/7pm, I’m ready to give it a break. Recently, I’ve been ending my day with a nice dinner on the patio and a good show. I joke that prior to the pandemic, I hadn’t turned a TV on for 30+ years and now I’m making up for it, but I’ll admit there is some genius acting to watch. Right now I’m watching ‘Mare of Easttown’ with Kate Winslet. She can do no wrong – talk about a dream client.
Me too! She’s my favourite actress! So, would you say that you have work/life balance?
I think I do now, by sheer force of will. The lawyer in me does not grasp the notion of work/life balance, but the woman in me does. When I was a lawyer, the closest I came to balance was between work and sleep. The sheer volume and excellence of the tasks required it. Not that MFlorens hair care does not warrant it, but being my own boss, along with maturity, allows me to make a concerted effort. I master it a little bit more every day. Then again, my brain never stops, I’m always consuming, thinking, dreaming – the best ideas come at the most unexpected times. The idea for No. 3 came on a motorcycle ride through Mulholland Drive!
"We are a very young brand but are intensely passionate about what we do, who we do it for, how we do it, and of course, why we do it."
Wow. Talk about inspiration! So, what is your favourite thing about your job at MFlorens?
The customers, 100%. I am very hands-on, going so far as to speak to many of the clients experiencing alopecia areata or acute hair loss. I’ve been there, so I know what it feels like. I wish I had had someone to speak to, if only for some comfort. It is an intensely frightening and isolating experience.
I can’t imagine. It’s so lovely that you are building a supportive community with your clients. If you had to pick, which is your favourite product that you’ve ever created?
How can one choose one of their children over the other?! If I had to, then, I guess my two first-borns - to continue the child analogy - have a special place in my heart. They healed me, changed the course of my life and opened the doors for me to help others.
That’s No1: Exfoliate & Revitalize Scalp and Hair Mask and No 2: Rejuvenate & Regenerate Scalp and Hair Mask, right? What do you think makes your brand stand out?
Can I say everything? Quality, performance, efficacy. The science behind it, the integrity, the style and the love.
A recipe for success indeed! Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment since starting MFlorens hair care?
I am often more wowed by the small, intimate moments than the mega-big triumphs. The first alopecia client who contacted us to let us know her hair had grown back after countless failed medical interventions was pretty unparalleled. Every alopecia success story, including one involving a 12-year-old little girl, fills me with joy.
In terms of the big triumphs, hearing that an Academy Award-winning actress was raving about our products felt pretty wonderful. Also, the Wall Street Journal Magazine recently featured MFlorens, amongst other brands, in an article about the growing incidences of hair loss.
Congratulations, those are huge! What inspires you?
Nature – the most constant and steadfast of companions and providers. Long walks, kindness, and people who are intensely focused.
What words do you live by?
Oh boy, so many! “Beauty is as beauty does”, “The body operates by one code: excellence”, “You can fool yourself, but you can’t fool the body”, “Happiness is not an effect, it’s a cause” and finally, “Be still and know that I am God.” I don’t believe this refers to the Biblical God, per se, but a notion of the greater, eternal and infinite divine.
So many great pieces of inspiration there! Finally, what is next for MFlorens hair care?
We are a very young brand but are intensely passionate about what we do, who we do it for, how we do it, and of course, why we do it. A full range to cater to your every scalp and hair need is on the horizon - and then some!