I first got the chance to meet Melissa at a pop-up event last August. A friend and I sauntered through rows of lovely hand-made things, but we both stopped at Kunye’s table – the packaging was gorgeous and so was Melissa’s skin. We didn’t chat long, but long enough that I picked up her Bamboo Rose face mist (infused with sea-salt and a heavenly rose scent) and long enough to hear the passion about her products in her voice. That face mist lasted an entire year with almost daily use, and seemed to bring my skin back from the dead after long nights of studying and shoving chocolate bars in my face. We’re both busy ladies, but I was so happy to finally be able to grill her via an email interview a bit more on Kunye and her inspiration behind it.
S: Thank you, Melissa, so much for taking the time to answer a few questions, and for letting me get to know your company a bit more! I love natural skin care products, as they pack such a wallop for the skin and don’t have long-term effects on the environment or our bodies…so thank you for Kunye’s products!
What made you decide to start making your own skincare products? Did you ever have problems with your own skin, or was it friends’ problems with theirs?
M: I’m not perfect and sometimes I still have problems with my skin! But what I’ve realized and what made me want to start my own line is that over the course of my career in the beauty industry, and really, over the course of my life, the message we all have received about skin care has been this idea that the solution to any skin issues could be found in a miracle product. And that simply isn’t the truth.
Healthy skin requires an 80/20 approach – it’s about 80% inner beauty (nutrition, gut health, stress management…) and 20% about the products we apply topically. However, that 20% should consist of products that are 100% safe and 100% effective. So choosing to formulate with natural ingredients just made the most sense. It evolved into what is KUNYE today from there.
S: Why all natural, and why did you start with the products you started with (body butter, scrub, facial mist, etc.)? Was it difficult to source ingredients that lined up with your ethos of quality and ethics
M: My personal belief is that nature knows best. Many clinical ingredients cite research and studies, but the most influential evidence for me is the fact that cultures and civilizations have been using ingredients directly from the earth for thousands of years. No one has ever gotten cancer from shea butter or coconut oil! Jojoba oil has never been linked to hormone disruption!
Luckily for me, at the time I started my company, natural was on the rise. I’m also very lucky to have been born in the internet era. It allowed access to suppliers and resources from all over the world. All my ingredients are globally sourced and I even work with suppliers right here in Canada.
S: What product was the most frustrating to finalize? Is working with all natural ingredients a challenge? Do you ever think, “Screw it – I’m going to throw in (chemical A)!!!
M: One thing people misunderstand is that everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical substance (Seriously, google it)! When I formulate, safety and efficacy are most important. The product has to do what it says it will and not do any harm to the skin, the body, or the environment.
Every product is a challenge. It’s a process that usually takes me a minimum of 1-2 years per product to perfect. I in fact, do use some synthetic ingredients like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) but a product isn’t perfect until I know that it is safe and highly effective.
S: In starting your business, what major hurdles did you have to overcome (or are still overcoming)? It seems with Instagram and Etsy DIY shops, the market for natural products is tough to crack into, even with a stellar product. When did you feel Kunye had an established ‘tribe’ and found its niche?
M: Running your own business is always a challenge. Just when you put out one fire, another one pops up. That is the nature of business. I think the natural beauty market is very saturated indeed, but part of the excitement of building my business has been hearing the feedback from my customers, many of whom are just beginning there exploration into naturals. There is definitely room from many to succeed. And, let’s face it, I don’t know one woman who only uses ONE brand of skincare or makeup! I’m proud to share this tribe with many other successful brands.
S: Do you have anything exciting in the works that customers can watch out for? Any secrets you can give away? ☺
M: 2018 is going to be a BIG year for Kunye… But I can’t let any secrets out just yet!
S: Thanks so much again, Melissa, for your time – I am so happy to be able to spread the word on your beautiful, natural, and lovingly-crafted skincare.
For The Love’s readers, Melissa is offering a 10% discount – Just mention that you read the article here! Kunye’s products can be purchased here: