Tell us about yourself? What are your products and what is the story behind Alaska Glacial Essentials?
I live in a really small community in Alaska. I did not grow up here, but I moved here when I was 23 years old. Instantly I fell in love with the amazing backdrop that surrounds this community and it’s coastal, so we have a protected sound with lots of little islands. We have glacier mountain ranges on the other side; we have the Gulf of Alaska so we have some Open Ocean, not too far from the community, not protected sound but more Open Ocean. We have the largest contiguous wetland on the pacific coast of North America, which is just a massive braid of river channels, and the place is a highly productive intact ecosystem that is just beaming with life. And I fell in love with this place after a life-changing rafting trip down on the Copper River. I would say before I moved here I had entrepreneurial meanings; I was an activist and I started my business with the idea that I could combine and harmonize good product and commerce with a force for good. My vision is of a world where non-profit organisations are supported by businesses, and businesses support non-profits. Now I am happy to see through a collective consciousness that a lot of people feel purpose-driven in that same way. There is a certification such as ECORP that helps educate and highlight to people that there are businesses and companies that have made have dedications towards non-profit organisations.
Outside of my business; I am a mother, I am very self-reliant, I am a carpenter, a gardener, I am very active, I am a hiker, I am a backcountry skier (which means I can go downhill ski without a lift in the mountains), I am a cyclist, I sea kayak. I love seeking adventure and being active in the outdoors, I am focused on a consistent lifestyle here in Alaska in terms of catching and processing milk, fish including salmon, wild berries, plants and processing them as I try to keep my food connected locally here as much as I can. I was invited on a river rafting trip as an activist down the Copper River back in 2000, and it really changed my life in the sense that I felt deeply connected to the Copper River and the power of a massive watershed that can support wild salmon that turns around and supports an amazing number of communities and wildlife. From bears, wolves, eagles to native communities, supporting Alaskans in general. I would say we are a wild salmon culture and I absolutely fell in love with this place and everything that it symbolized.
And just to give you a backstory, while I was on that trip, I remember we stopped to have lunch at this little spot where the river narrows quite a bit and there were all these little pools everywhere leftover from the higher water of the summer, and after having lunch we just went for a dip. They were very inviting, these little glacial pools and as soon as I stepped in, the ground sort of went from firm to just sinking into this luxurious buttery mud. At the time, I actually had a recent work experience working in a spa in the Long 48, and I don’t know if it was having recently worked in a spa that made it into an ‘AHA’ moment, but I just knew that people sort out mud for therapeutic reasons and I was having my own wild spa experience right there and then. The mud is incredibly softening and we have had a lot of consumers who have told us that the mud is healing from pain, arthritis etc. And I myself, did experience that first hand. Just the softening and exfoliating qualities of it were enough for me to kind of just dig into it a little bit more and do a lot of research about the mud. When I started the brand, it was Alaska Glacial Mud Company, and for the first few years, we made mud masks and soaps made with glacial mineral clay or mud. For a long time, I really wanted to expand the skincare line and the thread to do that so as to provide unique value and something innovative for the market. This meant we had to formulate with glacial minerals as in glacial mineral water, rather than mud. Last year I launched an entire facial care regime made with glacial minerals and incorporating botanicals from Alaska. I worked with a Korean Alaskan who is a Cosmetic Chemist, so the formulas are expertly formulated and rooted in Korean beauty research. Prior to that I had started rebranding the business to Alaska Glacial Essentials over the last couple of years to prepare for that. I hope that for my customers who have been on the journey with us the whole way, they can see that thread and understand we are still Alaska Glacial Mud, because that’s where we came from.
“The Copper River and its tributaries make up an impressive watershed of wilderness; it supports more wild critters than can be counted. It is a highly productive ecosystem in a broken world, it is a reminder of the past. It is the present and it is a reminder of a future that demands our attention so wild salmon and the web of life they lead are delicate, their life is a forefront on inclusion. “Lauren Padawer, Founder of Alaska Glacial Essentials
Can you highlight to us what are the benefits of an Alaska Glacial Essentials product? Why would people want to use them?
On a high level, the benefits of the products are to address people’s skin concerns depending on where they are at in their process and our skin is always changing with ageing and hormones. The goal is to heal, protect, to defend the skin, promote radiance and reduce stress through simple self-care. To me skincare is self-care, and by giving attention to yourself, you are actually carving space, you are honouring yourself. It’s a moment where I think you are connecting with yourself, you are tuning out the chaos and you are not asking of yourself but you are giving to yourself in that moment. By paying attention to your skin with facial massages whilst using our products so that you are reducing stress, and refining ageing lines and carving space for yourself during your day to do something positive for yourself. I always feel better on the mornings that I spend a little extra time doing my own facial massages on my face, neck and chest.
Who is your target market? And what feedback do your customers say about the products?
In general, we cater to both men and women, but the majority 65% of our consumers are women. Most of them are between the ages of 35 and 50 years, who are professionals. But more specifically our ideal consumer is someone who is down to earth, seeks adventure, someone who loves Alaska; in most cases, we target the women who want to reduce stress and make the world a better place.
The products are formulated for very sensitive skin and ageing skin. Our products are not specific to skin colour, they are extremely safe and non-irritable for all skin types. We use a Korean cosmetic formula in all our products, which have a really high bar of quality consideration in the Korean culture, particularly in skincare. You will feel very confident if you are someone who has ageing skin, sensitive skin, eczema, rosacea, acne, pigmentation issues to which our products are excellently formulated. So when we hear back from our customers, we hear good results of non-irritated sensitive skin. In a general sense and not specific to a product, people say the products are luxurious, with gorgeous packaging and attention to detail. Our masks feedback is that they are soothing, hydrating and non-irritating – it’s like a luxurious spa facial at home.
Where do you see Alaska Glacial Essentials in the next 12 months to 2 years? Are you planning on adding new products? If so, what are they?
Our big goal right now to achieve before 12 months is to finish the full-sized packaging for our recent product launch with branding and the works. As a solo entrepreneur, I take a lot of care and detail making sure that everything is just right because it is a big commitment towards custom packaging. I feel the pandemic has pushed us to focus more on e-commerce which means more advertising that allows us to scale the brand a lot more. Prior to that, the brand heavily relied on tourist visitors (an estimated 2 million) that frequented Alaska during the tourist season.
When it comes to new products, we plan on adding a cleansing oil, a mineral bath salt product and an eye cream.
What do you like most about meeschell.com? How has the Alaska Glacial Essentials brand benefited from our platform?
Meeschell is inspiring and full of energy and as a new platform, it brings people and brands together. I see a woman-owned business platform giving the spotlight to other women-owned businesses who are purpose-driven and in that sense, for me, it feels really good to be a part of that community.
Do you have any give back program that positively impacts your community?
We donate 2% of total revenue to non-profit organisations that work, love and fight for wilderness preservation, restoration, legal defence, watershed education and basically with the goal of ensuring the long term sustainability of this region and creating the next generation of stewards.
What key takeaway of your brand and journey would you like to share that can inspire someone taking on a new venture?
Find your passion, find your niche, plan (plan, plan, plan) and take risks! If you are gonna go into business for yourself, you have to enjoy what you do because there is no real easy switch to make it happen, it takes a lot of persistence, a lot of time and a lot of hard work.
As told to Tendai Kamusikiri