[10 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday all and welcome back to another weekly Friday Founder Interview. This week, we want to introduce to Tiffany Buzzatto, Founder and CEO of Dew Mighty.
Dew Mighty is an unbottled, slow beauty brand that works for all skin types and removes wasteful packaging from the skincare equation.
So, get your weekend off to the right start with a bit of inspirational insight from this week's Friday Founder Interview. Grab yourself an ice cream and just keep on reading...
"On the first day in the company lab, I created a multilamellar emulsion and stayed over 12 hours sifting through product information."
Afternoon Tiffany! Please could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
I was raised by a Tiger Mom who immigrated from Taiwan and an Air Force Dad who traveled a lot for work. I had a happy childhood and was taught very early on that financial budgeting and education were very important. They both scraped together everything they had to make sure my brother and I had food on the table and the ability to go to college. My mom also worked for cash tips as a Chinese food waitress! I look back on my childhood as a generally happy time where memories were tied to my mom cooking amazing meals (storing ingredients in bright yellow margin containers) and my brother and I playing outside for hours with the neighborhood kids. We didn’t have much in the way of gifts, holidays, or vacations but it taught me very early in my life to appreciate time with loved ones. My mom mentioned recently how she saved many of my early creative art projects put together from trinkets found in the local park and how she knew I would make my own business someday. I was shocked that she still remembered all the things I used to make for her!
I’m convinced that sort of thing is in the DNA of mothers! How did you get started in the beauty industry?
I was lucky enough to find my first job out of college with a beauty ingredients distributor based in Northridge, CA. They had a great team of people who cared about the science of ingredients and taught application chemistry in their own company lab. Coming out of University California Santa Barbara with a science degree, there were two clear paths I could go down: lab work or something else. I decided on pursuing something else! The job kickstarted my career and it was just the right mix of creativity, science, and working with people. On the first day in the company lab, I created a multilamellar emulsion and stayed over 12 hours sifting through product information. I knew right then that I was hooked.
Wow, what a first day! So when did you decide to start up Dew Mighty and why? Was the timing important?
I had been considering my own brand for some time and knew I wanted to change how people perceive beauty products and their format. I saw many brands with wasteful practices around X outs and manufacturing scrap rate, and then when I was travelling in late 2018, I realised that we are seriously in trouble with plastic and landfills. I knew I could make products that fulfilled performance expectations and eliminated the waste, so I decided to go for it, and Dew Mighty was born. In some respects, the was crucial. We are self-funded and I run the business. If I had started the brand any earlier in my life I think it would have been financially taxing and I would have lacked some necessary skillsets. I decided I had to take a leap of faith and it was the best decision I ever made.
I can see that! So does Mighty Dew consider issues relating to sensitive skin and allergies?
Absolutely! I have Eczema and remember my visits to doctors where I was told numerous times “we aren’t sure of triggers” and “try this new steroid cream”. As I got older, I got used to scratching and covering up my arms, so doing dermatologist testing and only approving formulas with all skin types in mind was important to me. We only plan to launch minimal, multi-tasking, hero products, so this is an essential part of our product developments.
That is great to know! So, in what ways are you considering all skin types throughout the manufacturing process and when selecting ingredients?
Since I came from the ingredient world and manufacturing, I have the highest level of expectations. Dew Mighty purchases its own ingredients and has equipment that is not cross-contaminated with other batches. I personally formulate and test the products rigorously on myself, others, and according to industry standards. Coming from that world I also understand that the supply chain and suppliers of ingredients are not created equal since INCI names reveal very little about an item.
It is amazing that you personally test the products! How does sustainability factor into your business?
We factor sustainability into every single aspect of the business. From evaluating ingredients, all the way to shipping it out the door, we consider how to behave more sustainably. We dedicate a lot of time to making sure we have the best option for what we are creating, which is why we talk about pairing refill packaging to formula. We also internally discuss the improvement of our processes and materials when we find that new options are available. Innovation is taking place every day. As a business, we are lucky to be the size that we are. It means we can update and continuously improve. I am super proud to share that in 2020 we were able to achieve a carbon-neutral status and make our shipments to customers carbon neutral as well.
What an achievement! Congratulations! Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?
Yes, I believe companies are doing a better job at revealing the loose standards we have to launch products in the US, in comparison to the EU. Many people are willing to risk creating products and selling them to customers with the mindset of “I’m a small brand” and “I think it’s safe because this is how others are doing it.” However, vocal indie brands and retailers are publishing ingredient list no-no’s or stating they have banned over 2,000 ingredients. This all teaches consumers to look for blacklisted ingredients. I do sometimes think that there isn’t enough copy that explains why an ingredient is bad, so often there is a lot of misinformation that needs to be dispelled.
That is very true! What would you say were your biggest challenges in starting up Dew Mighty?
There were so many! It was a challenge to plan for incremental steps, rather than perfection. You could work on a business for a lifetime before deciding to launch it, so I think it is crucial to make sure it is in a good phase and then test and pivot as you go. Never wait for perfection.
That is great advice! What strategies do you think have been key to the success of Dew Mighty?
I pour everything I have into my business. So many people in my life give great advice, but I think my main strategy is to have uncompromising standards for our products, customer service, work ethic, and improvements. Plus, I am always willing to learn and improve.
"Usually, you have to choose between performance or zero-waste packaging, but we have found a way to do both."
That is hugely important! What is your favourite thing about your job?
Creating products. I have so many ideas and love playing around with new ingredients. If I am having a tough day, experimenting makes it better. Secondly, I love reading all the testimonials and product reviews on the website. When you create a product baby, it is nice to be told that others love it too.
100%. Feedback and consumer satisfaction are everything! What do you think makes Dew Mighty stand out from other beauty brands?
I believe it is the performance and the effectiveness of the formulas that we have created unbottled. Usually, you have to choose between performance or zero-waste packaging, but we have found a way to do both.
That is so inspiring as someone who loves beauty products! Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment since starting Dew Mighty?
It had to be when Hyram @skincarebyhyram and Shelbi from @shelbizleee reviewed us and called us the most innovative skincare product in the sustainability space. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I don’t think many realize we don’t have the ability to pay for influencer reviews, so everything we have in testimonials and reviews is completely authentic.
Wow! And what inspires you?
Nature and Science. I love the process of science: discovery, research, and experimentation. There is also an incredible beauty to our mother earth that sparks my creative process and grounds me. A run or a hike on a bad day can really put my mind at ease and offer me a lot of perspective.
It is free therapy, isn’t it? Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
I am a “but first, coffee” kind of person and everything after that requires me to assess my priorities for the day and change gears as needed. I tend to have an unstructured workflow so that I’m as effective as possible. One consistent item on my to-do list is to look at timeline dates once a day to try to keep bigger projects and goals on track. Everything else is a bit spontaneous!
It is nice to keep things fresh in the day-to-day running of a business. Do you think you have a work/life balance?
I think I might have a better balance now than I did 8 months ago. There was a period after launch that was very crazy; it was nearly all work and very little life. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, so I wouldn’t have been happy any other way.
I’m glad you’ve come out the other side! What words do you live by?
“Wake up with no regrets, book the tickets, start the company, close the deals and make your dreams materialize into reality because tomorrow is promised to no one.”
That is fantastic. I’m going to use that one! Finally, what’s next for Dew Mighty?
We plan to launch several new products in the next year so we can round out the beauty regime with other key performing, multi-tasking items. We will always focus on waterless, unpackaged formulas that are the best for your skin. We hope to make the planet a less trashy place at the same time.