When did you meet with the other founders?
I first met Noelly when I was fortunate enough to take care of her as a patient in my dermatology practice in New York City. From the onset of our meeting, I could see that she clearly was on her way to becoming a successful skincare founder. A couple years later she reached out and shared her ideas and initial vision for 456 Skin with me. Those first few conversations were extremely exciting, as we were completely aligned with the goals for the company and her overall mindset for melanin rich skincare. Noelly then introduced me to our invaluable co-founder and brilliant head of R&D, Imen Jerbi Azaiez. Noelly and Imen had already been working together in the creation of the brand, and brought me on as the medical and dermatologic voice for the company. I was honoured to be part of such an important team.
How did you fall into the Skincare world?
I am a New York based board certified Dermatologist, so my entire professional mission has always been geared towards helping people with their skincare concerns. More specifically, I’ve always had a special interest taking care of the unique concerns for melanin rich skin. As a medical student I was drawn by the positive impact that I could make on people's lives, both physically and emotionally by helping them with their skin ailments. I am incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to help guide my patients through their skincare journey.
Any frustration in the industry?
The biggest frustration with the industry throughout the years has been with the overall lack of attention to the concerns of melanin rich skin. The good news is that significant changes in this area have occurred throughout my professional life as both a dermatologist and as a skincare entrepreneur. Several startup skincare lines have emerged over the years that place darker skin tones front and centre. Additionally, some of the large scale beauty companies have either developed more inclusive skincare lines or have expanded existing products to be more effective in melanin rich skin. This same movement towards inclusion has been mirrored in the dermatology world. There have always been a handful of dermatologists over the years that have done pioneering work to help those with melanin rich skin. In the past few years that number has increased exponentially and several young, passionate and brilliant dermatologists have focused their expertise on the treatment of melanin rich skin.
What challenges do you see around funding for companies focused on melanin rich skin R&D and product development?
Funding has historically been challenging for companies focused on more niche markets, particularly for those focused on melanin rich skin. Much of the rationale behind this is that unfortunately many of individuals that traditionally provide funding in the start-up world may not have direct experience with or a true understanding of melanin rich skin and its specific concerns. Thus they may not see the potential for companies that are dedicated to this space, and they may see making significant funding contributions as too risky.
Did you have any difficulties/challenges creating 456 Skin?
We created 456 Skin during the height of the pandemic while I was also working to keep a busy dermatology practice functioning. This was a uniquely challenging time in so many different ways. That said, because of the nature of the early pandemic lockdowns, I was also able to focus more of my time on building the brand as my ability to see patients was limited.
Any useful pieces of information you think of?
I’ve learned a great deal in helping to create 456 Skin along with my co founders. One of the most important things is to not be deterred by setbacks, as discouraging as they may be. The start-up skincare world is one of successive challenges, so you have to stay focused on the main mission and at all costs keep moving forward.
Stuff the readers might find interesting to hear?
I come from a family of physicians, and I am a third generation medical doctor. I think this background along with early exposure to the culture of medicine has instilled in me a deep sense of commitment to the science of medicine as well as to the altruistic side of the profession.
What’s next? What’s your biggest dream regarding 456 Skin?
I’d like to see us continue to grow the brand beyond topical skincare offerings. There are many innovative approaches to treating melanin rich skin through other interventions including oral approaches such as nutraceuticals. Also, expanding the brand into the sun care space is important to me as a dermatologist.
Where do you see 456 Skin in 10 years?
We are currently a direct to consumer brand with centralised production of all of our offerings in our own laboratory in the Cosmetic Valley just outside of Paris. I think this ability to carefully control all of our production is so important to the brand and one of our strengths. I would also love to see 456 Skin take this same level of production and expand upon it throughout the world and into the brick and mortar retail space.