Shop Talk

SHOP TALK: Q&A with Mèreadesso skincare founder Linda Stephenson


Now, I had never heard of Mèreadesso, but when Nordstrom sent a gift box full of beauty products in advance of their big Beauty Bash on opening day March 6, I was immediately drawn to its “all in one” approach.Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 9.04.50 PM

And believe it or not, amidst a lot of fun products that my colleagues told me were top of the line, I dove for … a makeup remover? (There were so many great products in there, and my bathroom is pretty tiny, so — after I took a couple goodies — we split up the rest.) Yes, makeup remover. I had just come to the conclusion that using any old moisturizer to remove eye makeup every night around my eyes maybe wasn’t a good idea. That’s right — I didn’t even own makeup remover before!

Mèreadesso face + neck cleanser, which also promises to be a makeup remove, toner, and mask (and comes with a special cloth)

Sure, there was a packaging component. (Aren’t we all, deep down, prone to marketing?) The Mèreadesso packaging was simple and clean, and it promised the world: makeup remover, toner, mask. It came with a nifty cloth that is apparently crucial to the product’s success, and it smelled light and refreshing.

I had been using the face + neck cleanser for a couple days when I heard from Mèreadesso. ‘What’s this,’ I thought, ‘this never-heard-of-brand knows I picked it, and wants to connect?’ Yes, there was a moment I wondered if the PR spies were following me home, peaking in my purse. But the more I read about the company — that it was a Canadian company, that the founder, Linda Stephenson, left a solid career working for a number of major brands to set out on her own, that it made without animal testing — the more I felt there was something worth checking out. (Plus, my skin was looking good.)

In my Q&A with Stephenson, I learned that she chose an all-in-one approach in order to attract “a new consumer that was not being addressed by traditional beauty lines and make things as efficient yet effective as possible. I wanted to design a product line for myself.”

Efficient, effective, and maybe a bit self-serving. I like it!

You can meet Stephenson, as well as Nordstrom beauty director Loredana Grama and other experts in the business at the opening day Beauty Bash — just show up at 7:30-9:30 at the main entrance to Nordstrom in the Rideau Centre.

Herewith, the rest of my email conversation with Stephenson.

Ottawa Mag: I understand you spent many years working for major beauty companies. Why did you want to start your own company?

Linda Stephenson, founder of Mèreadesso

Linda Stephenson: After leaving corporate, I consulted for seven years in product and business development. Starting my own line was the next logical step. When I became a mom, the idea for Mèreadesso was born. I had no time for any kind of skincare routine and I thought there must be a better way. I also wanted new challenges, variety, and control of my schedule.

OM: What have you learned — about business, beauty, and/or yourself — since starting Mèreadesso?

LS: About beauty, that there’s the customer out there like me that has no interest in multi-step products and this customer has not yet been recognized by prestige beauty.
About business, that the world of retail is changing rapidly. It used to be that you picked a channel — online or bricks and mortar — and stuck with that. Now you need to be everywhere simultaneously and that’s hard to do. Building great partnerships becomes the key. Being in the advance skincare section of Nordstrom is a unique and understandable way for me to reach my customer.

About myself, that I can function fairly well with an ulcer most of the time! But I do try to remind myself to not sweat the small stuff. Being an entrepreneur, I’m constantly faced with obstacles and challenges and my job is to figure out how to get through them, around them, or ignore them.

OM: I see that you have a minor in botany. What can you tell me about the ingredients in my Mèreadesso face + neck cleanser that will impress my plant-geek husband?

LS: The key ingredients that helps my cleanser work so well are the Bulgarian rose extract, aloe, jojoba, grape seed oil, and vitamin E. As light weight, non-greasy, non-sticky oils they break down makeup without needing foaming ingredients like lauryl sulphates. Lauryl sulphates are just detergents that do nothing but make bubbles and strip your face of moisture.

OM: Speaking of men, I read that your products work for men as well. Is this a big market for you? Are there new approaches to marketing that take gender into account?

LS: Often men’s skincare lines are the same formula with different packaging and fragrance. Because of Mèreadesso’s clean, unisex packaging, simplicity of use and neutral fragrance that flashes off, we’ve been attracting men of all ages! Men are our fastest growing demographic. In terms of men and skincare, the internet and social media has really opened up the skincare world to men who might be too shy to walk up to a department store clerk.

OM: How difficult it was to develop this line without testing on animals? This is something that is very important to me and I’m curious why some brands continue to test on animals.

LS: As a starting point in development, all Mèreadesso products contain ingredients that are known to be soothing, calming, and beneficial to the skin. Animal testing is usually done by companies using harsh ingredients that could potentially cause skin irritation. That’s when some companies believe an intermediary step of animal testing is required. The only animal testing we have ever done is on humans — and they were willing and cooperative!

OM: On a practical note, I have used the face + neck cleanser for about a week and am starting to see some mascara smears are still on the special cloth. How should I clean it?

LS: Just throw it in the wash with your towels! I do mine about once a week.