Q & A: Interview with Activist Skincare Founder Allison Callaway

Q&A: Our Founder Talks Lady Entrepreneurship

Q&A: Our Founder Talks Lady Entrepreneurship

Wondering who's behind this different sort of skincare company and what she's all about? Meet our founder, Allison Callaway, the 30-year-old mom-to-be in Dallas, TX, who wants to change how we approach skincare.

What is Activist Skincare in a nutshell?

We create skincare products made to order with active ingredients tailored to each client's skin type and concerns. I'm an aspiring minimalist, and I believe that you shouldn't have to use a multitude of products to address all your needs. Actually, I think it's bad for your skin to use too many products. Our custom serums help our clients simplify and optimize their skin care regimens while meeting their skin's needs better than ever. And we donate 5% of the sales price to charity — typically environmental protection and human rights organizations.

What made you want to do skincare?

Growing up, I had very difficult, sensitive, acne-prone skin, and that started me on my journey of learning about ingredients and how they affect your skin internally and externally. Once I solved my acne issues, I started soaking up all the information I could about anti-aging. I give a lot of unsolicited advice to my family and friends about what they should and shouldn't be putting on their skin and in their bodies. It's one of the things that I'm just naturally passionate about and I can't help myself.

I was also seeking a way to change the world in a broader sense, and I became very inspired by the idea of conscious capitalism. I am so glad that entrepreneurship is having a moment right now, because if I hadn't been exposed to all these young people around the world taking the risk of starting their own ventures, I would have assumed it was out of my reach.

Do you think being young helps?

Being young is amazing — I think that being young makes you resourceful, flexible, and energetic in pursuing your goals. You're not too set in your ways, and hopefully you don't have too many obligations or preconceived notions that might hold you back from pursuing your dream. But the 10-ish years of work experience I had before that have certainly helped me hugely. Starting young just happens to be my circumstance; I think that pursing a dream off the beaten path is both difficult and doable at any age!

Is aging as bad as the beauty industry makes it out to be?

No! Aging is a privilege, and worrying about showing signs of aging is definitely a first-world problem. But I do think that it's a good thing that our culture is coming around to the idea that health = beauty. No matter what age you are, to be the healthiest version of yourself is what is beautiful.

How does custom skincare result in healthier skin?

The mainstream skincare industry is generally focused on marketing and selling products, not on actually healing or improving anyone's skin. It's all about buzz word ingredients, achieving happiness and inner peace through your purchases, the fear of missing out, and figuring out how many more steps they can add to someone's daily skincare routine.

My clients are people who have been poorly served by that industry and need to be treated as individuals, not target markets. When a client comes to me with a problem or combination of problems that they haven't been able to solve with a store-bought product, I look at it as a wonderful creative opportunity to find an innovative solution. Often it's an active ingredient that is less common among conventional skin care products, or a combination of actives that are just right for her skin. Custom skincare allows us to solve her problems beautifully.

Then again, many times the problem is that that she's using way too many things at once, or using products with harsh ingredients that are throwing her skin out of balance. I try to help these clients eliminate the bad stuff while adding the active ingredients that their skin craves.

What's hard about being a woman entrepreneur?

I think the most difficult thing for anyone who is their own boss is just that — being your own leader and setting your own priorities. It's having the discipline to step back from all the noise in your head, the to-do lists and the reminders, and re-assess whether you are allocating your time and resources correctly. It's important to not let the urgent take priority over the important.

I think this problem gets amplified when you're a woman, since women are natural multi-taskers and we try to do it all. And if you're also a mom or expecting to be one soon like I am, then family tends to come first, and you're constantly having to balance the needs of your home life with everything else on your to-do list. I try to remind myself that this business is integral to achieving the type of life I want for my family, so it's very important to not let the day-to-day overshadow long term goals.

What's the best part about being a small business owner?

The best thing is knowing that I am pursing my calling; doing something that is so "me." I have days where I'm exhausted, but I never get tired of pursuing my passion. If I had tried to start a business in another category that I cared less about, I'm sure I would have given up long ago.

Why did you decide to donate 5% of sales to charity?

I believe that voting with our dollar and supporting companies that share our values is one of the best ways to manifest change. That’s why conscious capitalism is my preferred method of activism. The idea is that the better your business does, the more positive the impact you make on the world. That's definitely not the case when it comes to a lot of other companies and industries, like the oil industry, for example. We donate 5% of sales to charity, but we also put a huge emphasis on using safe and sustainable ingredients and packaging. I couldn't live with myself if my company just generated waste and consumed resources all in the name of beauty.

So there's meaning behind the name "Activist."

Absolutely. In addition to our sustainability focus, the name "Activist" reinforces that we're built around actives, the ingredients that make change within your skin.

What's next for Activist?

We're working on research and development for a set of cleansers right now, and hope to have them ready within the next few months. We're also going to start offering more in-depth one-on-one skin care consultations that will help clients beyond simply formulating a custom product just for them. Aside from that, I'm currently pregnant with my first baby, so I am trying to be very realistic about how much I take on, and focus on nurturing what I already have going.


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