Spirit, in New York

“I feel my purpose in life is to embody, create, appreciate, protect, spread and share beauty with the world. This is something I’ve felt strongly since childhood.”

SPIRIT DEMERSON has always considered herself a beauty guru.

Growing up in San Francisco, Spirit created her own natural perfumes and organic skin care in her family’s kitchen and even attended cosmetology school before dropping out to pursue a modeling career in New York City.

Always believing that beauty is as beauty does, Spirit was challenged with reconciling her obsession with luxury beauty products and her commitment to a healthy lifestyle, so she spent several years researching and testing organic skincare.

In 2007, Spirit founded Spirit Beauty Lounge, an online shopping mecca dedicated to educating women around the world on the benefits of organic beauty and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. Now, Spirit is not only a leading expert in organic beauty, but she’s setting standards with her six-step evaluation process that determines a beauty product’s effectiveness and overall quality.

In this inspiring interview, Spirit talks about how she manages a successful e-commerce website, her one in, one out rule approach to fashion, her dream of hosting a television show on green living and, yes, her secret to incredibly beautiful skin.

What is the mission of Spirit Beauty Lounge?
Our mission is to provide a place where women can shop safe, knowing we’ve done the research for them, where all of the products are as clean and green as they are beautiful – in a virtual candy store of organic beauty!

Is Spirit Beauty Lounge the gold standard online for organic skincare?
I believe we’ve set a standard – one, by being the first to launch the freshest, purest indie brands to the world, and two, by never compromising our performance standards and ingredient requirements, which are very strict.

Describe the moment you knew that Spirit Beauty Lounge would be successful.
As a sole proprietor, I can’t say that moment occurred, actually. Even though business has grown consistently from day one, I’ve always felt like I was in uncharted, and unsecure territory, not sure if it would hold. I don’t feel as insecure now in my 5th year, but I haven’t had the exhale yet!

What’s an essential key to Spirit Beauty Lounge’s success?
We have to turn down lines and opportunities all the time because, in one way or another, they’re not in line with the core values of Spirit Beauty Lounge. Sometimes it means that we have to try much harder to push the lesser known, better brands out there, in order to compete with the more popular, but lower quality brands getting massive exposure. Ultimately I believe integrity will be the key to our success. There are new sites and shops popping up every day it seems, but people see the heart and passion and diligence in what we’re doing here – we’re obsessed, and it shows!

What’s the most challenging aspect of managing an online venture?
What could be harder than buying something like a perfume or foundation online!? The biggest challenge is that our customers, unable to experience the product in person, could be inclined to walk away. This is why I decided to invest less in advertising, which often fails to “connect” with our customers, and invest more in my sample program, and my full time support staff, and their training. We’ve got beauty-loving women, available by email, live chat, and phone, actually using all of these products, and keeping them on hand, to give highly customized recommendations, with all the knowledge and training from myself and our advisory panel of professional makeup artists, estheticians, dermatologists, nutritionists and hairstylists. We’ll tell you what something smells like, help you find the green version of your favorite products, help you find the perfect colors for your skin tone, and customize a skin care regimen. I really try to bridge the virtual – human gap.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned that could help other entrepreneurs?
Find your niche! Too many businesses are based on being like something else, when they should be based on being unlike anything else. Do something no one else is doing in a way no one else can do it but you…Bring your self to the table, not just your product and people will connect with and be loyal to that.

What would be a dream collaboration for you?
One of my favorite things about my work is all of the amazing women I get to work with in bringing their thoughtfully created products and ideas to the world. What I would love to do would be a network TV show, highlighting green, glamorous places and people, doing green lifestyle makeovers, and sharing green beauty tips in a sexy, fashion-forward and frank way. I think a lot of women are really ready for that!

What are three natural and organic favorites perfect for men or women?
Kahina Giving Beauty Argan Oil – the highest quality argan, a wonderfully multi-use oil for men, women, and children, as a moisturizer, hair treatment, anti-aging treatment, eczema healer, cuticle oil, bath oil, base oil…it can replace a dozen products and is still luxurious and potent at the same time. And May Lindstrom Skin The Clean Dirt – this earthy cleanser leaves pores gently refined.

My boyfriend and I both use Amala’s Advanced Firming Complex because we’ve both got those “entrepreneur’s lines” on our forehead and this is the only natural product effective enough to seemingly iron them out.

Describe your personal style.
I’m probably influenced most by San Francisco-the punk attitude, Paris-the loose femininity, New York-the tailored details and muted palette.

How has your commitment to sustainable, healthy living influenced your personal style?
For me, sustainable style is about buying less, loving more. I invest in fine, well made, beautiful garments, but have relatively few of them. Some of my friends have wardrobes 10 times the size of mine, but never have anything to wear! “Slow Fashion” is incorporating timeless, well-made garments, with fun, stylish accessories, and in my case, having a One In, One Out rule – every item I buy, I have to donate or pass one down. It’s made me a lot more creative, and I actually get a lot more compliments on my style than when I was buying all new clothes every season.

How do you create balance in your life?
I haven’t figured that out yet! But as a Libra, I’ll certainly continue to try.

Name one unforgettable place you’ve traveled to.
Corsica – it felt like another planet in a way; a utopia.

Name one place you’d like to see before you die.
I haven’t been to India but have wanted to since I was a child. I’d pull out my father’s krsna books and marvel at the beautiful illustrations, the colors, the sari, the jewelry. My coffee table now is covered with big, beautiful books of Rajasthan, Indian textiles, landscapes, animals and people…I’m fascinated and yet I’ve never been.

Name a song that takes you some place special whenever you hear it.
Music is a huge passion of mine. In a way, it’s all transcendental for me, but I can really go into a special meditation with some Radiohead or Pharaoh Sanders experimental jazz stuff. My music taste is the most eclectic of anyone I know!

One word…

What advice do you have for younger women?
Youth is wasted on the young – unless you expand your mind with vast and varying experience and education, and LOVE, forgive and be kind to yourself. Smile and laugh every day. Be patient and generous with others. Earn respect first, but demand it when you deserve it. When you make mistakes, make changes, not excuses. Be embarrassed, laugh about it, know that humiliation will pass, especially when you face it. Wear sunscreen.

If asked to write your memoirs, what would the title be?
“One to Grow On” like the name of the PSAs that would air after school when I was growing up. Not a great title but I think my memoir would show if nothing else, a woman who has grown as a person, from every experience, every year. I try to not just be affected by things, but to fully “participate” in my own self-becoming. In that, every revelation, tragedy, stumble and fall, has been “One to Grow On.”

Interviewed January 2013 by Yolanda, editor of Zavvi Rodaine.
Photos courtesy of Spirit Beauty Lounge and Spirit’s personal collection.
© Zavvi Rodaine.com 2013. No part of this interview may be used or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the Editor of Zavvi Rodaine.com.

Fashion, Life + Style 1 Comment

One Response to “Spirit, in New York

  1. 1
    Sonya says:
    February 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Spirit’s story is SO inspiring. Thank you for a fabulous, informative interview. I dream of starting my own business in the next two years and will take her advice to heart. Thank you.