Connie Lo is the Co-Owner and Co-Founder of NIU BODY. We had the pleasure of hearing her story and diving into her personal wellness routine – she shares tips and tricks for incorporating clean beauty into your life as well as how to successfully run a company while also having a personal life.
NIU BODY is a clean beauty brand for all women – natural ingredients, vegan, cruelty-free skincare, all for under $40 CAD. Connie shares her story of building the NIU BODY brand with her partner Laura with just $4,000 and a great idea. She shares apps, books, and mindfulness practices that have made a huge difference in her life to help her feel balanced. We’re sure you’ll get some great insight and walk away inspired to try a new practice in your life after you hear Connie’s story.
What inspired you and Laura to start NIU BODY? What does NIU BODY mean to you?
Within the natural beauty space, you’ll find brands are either really expensive, or cheap and ineffective. We struggled to find a brand that was truly natural, vegan, cruelty-free, but also wasn’t $80 for a product. This is what inspired us to create NIU BODY. We wanted to create a line of natural beauty products while also making them accessible for all women – meaning: fully transparent and educating our consumers while at the same time, keeping our products all under $40 CAD. We really see NIU BODY being the go-to skincare company for any woman getting into the natural beauty space.
We started the brand when both of us were fresh out of university and working full-time jobs. We just put in $2,000 each of our own money and boot-strapped it from there, making products by hand in my kitchen. That was 3 years ago, and the rest is history!
Why are skincare ingredients so important? How do you go about selecting your ingredients and testing your products?
Whatever you put on your body impacts your health and that's why it's really important to try to minimize the amount of chemicals you’re using. Skincare ingredient education is really important to me because we're tired of having companies use green-washing and claiming to be natural when they are not. Consumers are becoming more aware of what they're putting on their skin, and they're demanding that brands are fully transparent. We're just one of the early adopters of this but I think it's going to become baseline which is really great.
What we do with our formulating and testing process is actually quite unique – we don't decide what products we make, we actually talk to our consumers on Instagram, email, and even phone calls, and ask them to choose. We test numerous rounds of the formulations on ourselves, our friends, and our family. Then we create samples of the most popular formulation and send them off to NIU BODY customers who give us further feedback. We iterate our formulation once more and that's how we release all of our products.
We at Cori believe Cannabis is an ingredient that can be incorporated into our daily lives to enhance our wellness goals. How do you see cannabis in the wellness space?
We go to a lot of beauty trade shows and over the past two years we've seen a surge in cannabis skincare companies. There must be benefits of incorporating cannabis into your skincare routine. From what I've read on a preliminary basis, it looks like it's good for calming down your skin and there might be some anti-bacterial or acne benefits there as well.
I know a lot of people use cannabis for anxiety. I suffer from anxiety, and I know that it can feel really daunting at times. If cannabis is an ingredient that people find works well for them to reduce their anxiety and feel calm, then I think it's wonderful and people should be trying to use it more. I think with any new ingredient that becomes popular, people have to be aware and do their research, which is why I think Cori is really great, because you guys are focusing on that and being the go-to experts.
Walk us through your daily wellness routine. How do you incorporate your products? What makes you feel your best? Any tips and tricks you can share would great!
In the morning, what's important for me is light, movement and hydration. I'll open up my blinds, have some warm lemon water – which is great for re-hydrating in the morning – and then I workout. I’ve been using the Insanity program recently because you can do this at home. I try to have at least one, if not two, screen-free meals. I've developed a routine where I’ll do my five-minute gratitude journal and eat my breakfast at the same time. I also block off “me time” in my calendar, which has been really helpful for me to remind myself that taking care of myself should be a priority.
For my skincare routine, I use our Purify Gel Cleanser, Awake Rose Toning Mist, and Glow Luminizing Facial Serum. The cucumber extract in our gel cleanser is de-puffing, which works wonders in the morning. Using a toner after you wash your face helps to rebalance your pH levels – our toners will bring your skin’s PH to a healthy level of 5.5. Using a toner before a serum helps the serum absorb better into your skin. I always end with SPF, even on a cloudy day. I use La Roche-Posay – their 50 SPF is light-weight and non-greasy. In the evening, I remove my makeup using our Nourish Cleansing Oil, which has fractionated coconut oil that won’t clog your pores. Then I repeat my three-step morning routine. If you only have time to use a skincare product once a day, use it at night because that’s when your skin cells are regenerating and better absorb what you put on your skin.
Wellness is all about achieving balance from the inside out. We find that we either need to restore, rejuvenate, revive, or relax ourselves when our bodies and minds are out of balance. What helps you feel balanced?
Since I'm a routine and calendar driven person – having a separation between my work life and my personal life helps me feel balanced. If I'm going to be spending time with my friends, I don't want to be thinking about work by checking my email. If I'm in work mode, I turn on Do Not Disturb so do not get distracted. That really helps to keep me balanced because my mind is only in one mode – it’s either work or personal. Whenever I feel anxious or feel like we're not achieving things fast enough, it's really nice to have my partner, parents, and friends remind me of everything we've accomplished. It’s important to have people around you to support you and remind you of how much you've achieved.
I know a lot of people make fun of #SelfCareSunday but I think it's good to splurge on a face mask or bath salts once in a while. When people don't take the time to honor what's going on in their mind and body, that's when they start to have health issues, or problems in their relationships. It’s really important to take time to feel balanced.
We all want to feel amazing, but it’s hard to make changes to our routines. What would you suggest are some easy steps for our readers to take to help them incorporate clean beauty into their daily lives and feel better today? What has helped you?
Start by choosing one product that you use a lot every day – something that is very high-touch in your life. Then just do the research into one natural alternative for that product and swap that one out. Just see how that feels and go from there. I would highly recommend the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear. It's an amazing book, about building habits. When you start to stack habits, you develop a really great routine without that much effort.
I would also recommend going to your trusted sources because they’ve done the research for you and take out the guess-work. Think Dirty is a helpful app that scans products for potential toxins and rates how clean they are.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Sometimes people might look to how we’ve built NIU BODY and feel like they could never do that. What I want people to know is – Laura and myself were two normal people who just graduated university. We didn't have any connections in the beauty space, or the formulating world. No connections actually whatsoever, in any sense. We just had an idea. A lot of the people might feel scared to start a passion-project and as someone who's gone through it, I would say the best time to start is now. If you continue to wait until the idea is perfect you'll probably never start or if you do start, it’ll be much later than someone else who had just taken a chance. In the words of Reid Hoffmann, the co-founder of LinkedIn, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late,” and I really believe that’s true. You can start from wherever you are. If you really believe in your idea, you'll find a way to make it work.
Thank you Connie!
After speaking with Connie, we were inspired by her NIU BODY story and all the practices she uses in her life to find balance and success, we hope you were too. You can find NIU BODY on Instagram at @niu.body
*For the next two weeks all NIU BODY products will be 15% off, use code NIUBODYBLOG at checkout!
*Offer valid from April 1, 2020 – April 15, 2020