We're more than just your go-to for honest product reviews and new product launches. Here at Influenster, we want to introduce you to the amazing brains behind some of your favorite beauty brands. Up next, we're bringing you the story of one of the hottest indie brands around, Farmacy. We chatted with co-founder Mark Veeder to learn the story about the growing brand, why ingredients are so important, and what his must-shop Farmacy products are.
What was your first job in the beauty business?
"I had never previously worked in the beauty business…ever. Farmacy is my first foray into the business. Sometimes I think it’s better that way because you can dive in head first with no preconceived ideas or limitations. When you don’t have any 'business baggage' so to speak, you get to engage in total blue sky thinking on all fronts and be in a position to properly disrupt the industry."
What was your biggest challenge starting out?
"I have to say, our story reads like a modern day beauty fairytale: Upstate NY Farmer and Marketing/Branding Expert meets Korean beauty pioneer/owner of a US based innovation/manufacturing facility, and Farmacy comes to life nine months later (literally, nine months from concept to launch).
Also, both David—my business partner—and I don’t really think about the 'challenges,' as entrepreneurs, all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles are just another adventure to figure out. For example, I had to set up an official farm to grow our GreenEnvy commercially since it just existed in small scale prior to Farmacy—we then had to tissue culture the plants in a lab in Oregon to scale up numbers quickly, yet we plant 30,000 plugs at the farm that spring.
[Another challenge was] coming up with the final package design and sourcing it so quickly (that was done in four months from concept to design to finished packaging) [and] deciding on the final name: Farmacy, which actually was coined by Cindy Deily at Sephora in one of our many brainstorming sessions. Going on QVC for the first time was nerve-racking. I never wanted to be an 'on-air' spokesperson, but you do what you have to do, and thank God Sandra Bennett (host of Friday Night Beauty) took me under her wing and made me look good. By the way, we became great friends in the process, and now our families are inseparable. [Another challenge was] juggling what I call “my real job” (I own VP+C, a marketing, PR, experiential events and branding agency in NYC) with the added duties of my 'passion project,' Farmacy.
Oh, and in the middle of all the development process for Farmacy, my husband and I had twin daughters via a surrogate…the most magical, life changing, profound happiness delivering experience I could ever had imagined. The list is endless, but I can honestly say that it’s these 'challenges' that energize and drive me!"
How did the idea for Farmacy start?
"I didn’t intend to start a skincare line, but my gardening hobby serendipitously led me to it. Farmacy’s roots, so to speak, are in upstate New York, more specifically, at my garden in Forestburgh in Sullivan County. It’s there in 1999 that I discovered a rare green flowered plant in the Echinacea Purpurea bed. Green flowers in the plant world are extremely scarce, so it was a shock to find it. I sent the flower to several top horticultural labs to be tested, and the results showed a new variety of Echinacea Purpurea, containing a much higher concentration of an immune-boosting antioxidant and restorative properties.
I patented and trademarked it as ‘GreenEnvy’ and set about to create a skincare brand with the Echinacea ‘GreenEnvy’ as the centerpiece because it has been proven to be 300 percent stronger in the active ingredient and powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory Cichoric Acid than any other Echinacea Purpurea.
The concept of the Farmacy brand is based around natural botanicals backed by the power of science. We say 'farmer cultivated, scientist activated,' ensuring products that are high-performance and efficacious with transformative properties, while staying true to botanical roots. We officially launched our farm-to-face brand in Fall 2015."
At the heart of Farmacy are farm-grown botanicals and naturally derived ingredients. How do you distinguish yourself in a time when being "natural" and "green" is trendy?
"We say that Farmacy is a naturally derived brand, and while we do include some man-made ingredients, they are very low on the toxicity scale (a 0 or 1). We are extremely conscious about what we are including in our formulas and actually have a huge list of 'no-no' ingredients we will never use in our formulas. It’s the combination of both natural and man-made that makes our products effective and puts us in a unique position in the market where ‘green’ beauty intersects ‘scientific’ beauty, which allows us to appeal to a larger customer base.
We also have impressive clinicals on some of our products as well as significant ingredient testing of our main active, Cichoric Acid, found in our patented Echinacea GreenEnvy™."
You place a lot of importance on your balance between farm-grown techniques and science-based technology. What's the biggest challenge in doing so?
"What we’ve created with a hybrid of natural and scientific ingredients and technologies that certainly appeals to a larger audience, but the biggest challenge is communicating and really convincing clients that while we are naturally derived, we are super efficacious. Some people have a preconceived notion that natural skincare is not effective and that you have to give up real results to reduce harmful chemicals on your skin.
This is not true at Farmacy. I had mentioned previously that we have impressive clinicals on some products, and our main active has been proven by a third party lab associated with a well know university to be superior in it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than many well know alternatives. It also is a powerful Tyrosinase inhibitor, and in the lab, it significantly out performs Arbutin in its brightening abilities."
Can you talk to me a bit about your patented Echinacea Purpurea, GreenEnvy™ and why it's such a key component of the products?
"Of course; this is one of my favorite topics and a large part of what makes Farmacy so unique. Echinacea ‘GreenEnvy’ is our exclusive, proprietary ingredient – it’s the crux of the brand and the foundation of every single product. It’s 300 percent stronger in its concentration of Cichoric Acid (a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) than any other Echinacea Purpurea on the market. And we own the patent on the plant so it is not available anywhere else in the world.
What’s so remarkable about Cichoric Acid is it has shown to dramatically protect skin’s collagen thereby reinforcing skin’s natural firmness and strength. In addition, Cichoric Acid’s ability to inhibit Tyrosinase promotes new levels of skin uniformity beyond those of Arbutin, which is one of today’s best-known 'brightening boosters.' It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant—it boosts your immune system, in turn letting the body and your skin help itself.
It’s also worth noting that we control the growing, harvesting, extracting and testing process (of Echinacea GreenEnvy™) from start to finish so we can maintain consistency and efficacy of every extraction."
I have to ask, what are your top three favorite Farmacy products and why?
"Green Screen SPF 30: Natural sunscreen can be tricky (and often sticky), but I have to say we nailed it with Green Screen. It goes on sheer, it dries clear (there’s no white after glow—no matter how dark the skin tone—that’s often associated with physical sunscreens), and it has the added bonus of helping to protect not only against UV rays but HEV rays (or blue light), aka the light emitted from handheld devices.
Invincible Root Cell Anti-Aging Serum: This is my go-to treatment step both morning and night. It’s so different than any other serum because it’s water light and absorbs into the skin on contact, and it contains 10 percent Echinacea GreenEnvy’s cichoric acid, our triple hyaluronic acid complex (this contains three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid—one sits on the surface, one penetrates to the mid derm, and one that goes to the dermal junction, taking the actives with it). It also contains a very stable and powerful 'pre-form' of vitamin C. Plus, the packaging is fantastic; it’s in a glass bottle with a self-dosing dropper to take the mystery and guess work out of applying serums. I use Invincible every AM and PM, then top it with either my day or evening moisturizer.
Speaking of moisturizers, rounding out my top three list would be my current favorite moisturizer: our new Honey Drop Lightweight moisturizer (in stores July 13th). This product is super light weight but has long lasting moisture benefits because it contains three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid and six super foods including: Echinacea GreenEnvy™, Echinacea GreenEnvy™ Honey, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Fermented Soy, and Cupuacu Butter Beads (in the Amazon, this superfruit is call Pharmacy in a Fruit and significantly out performs shea butter for providing long term hydration)."
Have you tried any Farmacy products? Share with us your favorites in the comments below!