What caused you to enter the line of skincare?
Actually, Lovacado was started because I had hair issues. I was coloring my hair every couple of months and my hair began to fall off a lot (I was shedding). It was the summer of 2012 and Facebook was the way I kept in contact with my family in Colombia (via pics and updates). In one of my FB posts, my aunt mentioned that I had a bald spot in the back of my head from one of the pics I had posted. I didn’t realize it but, it was an awful discovery. My aunt reminded me to use an avocado hair mask to revive my hair and reminded me to prepare my grandmother’s hair recipe: mash an avocado, apply all over the hair, get a black plastic bag and cover the hair for a few hours. Rinse off with shampoo and conditioner as usual. I was instructed to do this at least 2-3 times a week to get the hair strong and then, once it was in good shape to do it once a week. I decided to give it a try and the results were mediocre. I had to shampoo my hair about three times in order to get the avocado off and then I had a mess in my bathtub, so clean-up afterward was annoying. However, this incident got me curious and I went online and started to look for avocado hair masks. I figured there should already be an intensive avocado hair mask in the market. I looked for avocado base products because I wanted to get something similar to what my grandmother’s recipe. However, I didn’t find anything that was 100% natural, most hair masks contain silicone type of ingredients and other chemicals and I was looking for a natural option. Back then, the “it” product was Argan oil and Olive Oil. I found a lot of products with those ingredients but, the labels listed a bunch of other ingredients, so I was turned off. One thing that did get my attention was “Avocado Oil” – during my search for hair masks and the word avocado, Avocado Oil came up and even though it was sold for cooking, I felt that could solve my problem. I ordered avocado oil and when I opened the product the oil smelled funky. I figured that was the true scent of avocado because I had never tried avocado oil before. I decided to add a few drops of essential oils I had on hand to mask the scent and began using the avocado oil I found online. The results after the first use were nothing great but, my hair was smoother and I knew I had to be consistent and applied it regularly to eventually see good results.
While I started using the avocado oil I purchased online, I did more research for avocado oil and became very curious why the oil wasn’t as commercial as coconut, argan, castor, or olive oil. During this process, I came across a youtube video of a company that sold avocado oil from Mexico and it showed the cold-pressing process it went through. I was amazed because the color was nothing like the oil I had bought online and it looked very smooth and rich. I was impressed and wrote a comment on the youtube video and the company replied. I had asked if the company sold the avocado oil in Canada because that’s where I was living at the moment. The company didn’t have any sales in Canada and they were intrigued that I was interested in their product and they sent me a free sample (I only paid for the shipping). During this whole time, I was using the online oil I had bought and it felt like each week I had to increase the dose of the essential oils to mask the scent. When the oil from Mexico arrived, I fell in love with the oil immediately (it was love at first sight). The color was dark, rich, green and it smelled amazing! At that moment I realized the oil I had bought online was actually rancid and that was the reason it smelled so bad. It honestly felt like I had discovered “liquid-gold” when I tried the Extra Virgin Avocado Oil from Mexico. For a few weeks, I had used rancid avocado oil without knowing it. Using the new oil felt like a luxurious item. It was so good and I was even able to eat it! The oil is FDA approved and edible, Verified Non-GMO, Kosher, and It had won several international food awards. When the oil arrived I threw away the rancid oil and began using the new oil. I would soak my dry hair with the oil and would hold it in a bun for a few hours. Then little by little I began to experiment and would leave it overnight. That’s when I saw the biggest difference in my hair. When I started to leave the oil in my hair overnight it would be shinier, softer, and more manageable the next day. After a few weeks of using the oil three times a week I started to get compliments in my hair. My friends would ask what I was using, or if I had a new shampoo or hair treatment. After I told my friends what I was doing, a few asked me to share the oil with them and I did. I bottled the oil in empty food bottle containers (mason jars) and gave it out for free. However, my personal supply of oil was running out and I had to order more oil, so I told my friends they would have to pay for their own oil-and they did pay for me to get them the oil. After another few weeks, friends of my friends were asking them for the oil and then it was clear to me that this could possibly be a business.
I was working full-time for a tech startup and was very busy but, I felt that I could do this business on the side, as a hobby or side hustle. I didn’t think much of it because it was really a way for me to get the oil and use it, plus spread the cost among a few people. However, things began to evolve over a few months and I decided to properly register a company, a name, and setup a website. At first, it seemed like I could possibly do both things and I actually ended up going to exhibit in big trade shows in Las Vegas and New York City. For some odd reason, I was taking this whole side business very lightly. Without looking for angel investors two friends offered to help with the trade show costs and the business startup expenses. My vision was big at the moment but, didn’t put a real strategy or plan in place, so it was a hobby for many years instead of a real business. Early on, with all the research I was doing, I began to learn of the benefits of Avocado oil for the skin and it became clear that my product was a multi-purpose oil. Then, after a few years in the business, I started to incorporate new products and the line increased from one to six products. Currently, we’re a company that sells Wellness & Beauty products.
What are the benefits of your products that differ from other competitors?
Lovacado Extra Virgin Avocado oil is FDA approved and edible, Verified Non-GMO, Kosher, and It has won several international food awards (because of its high quality). Lovacado’s Extra Virgin Avocado Oil comes directly from a farm in Mexico, which exclusively sells their gourmet oil for edible purposes. It’s not mixed with vegetable oils and it’s 100% Extra Virgin, and cold-pressed oil. There is a difference between Extra Virgin Avocado oil, and Virgin Avocado Oil. Extra Virgin Avocado oil is the first oil that is press from the fruit. It’s the purest form of avocado oil. Virgin Avocado oil is the result of pressing the oil. Which is still good oil but, it’s not the purest oil. Which is why Lovacado’s Extra Virgin Avocado oil is the only grade of avocado oil that contains significant amounts of antioxidants and Vitamin E. Lovacado is handmade by me, which means I can guarantee the quality of the oil. Many brands outsource their production to big labs which add vegetable oils to the mix (reason why avocado oil sold by others is light yellow or very light green color. These types of oils have been refined, which means companies have taken out the good stuff from the oil in order for the oil to be able to withstand long periods of time in supermarket and beauty stands (where light is prominent 24/7) and prevent the oil from going rancid. When an oil is refined, it’s usually a light yellow color and it can live in a see thru bottle without a problem. A high quality oil needs to be in an aluminum or very dark bottle, if not it will go rancid pretty quickly.
Paradise Nut Face Oil is our newest product and it’s a raw ingredient from Colombia. The ingredient itself won the In-Cosmetics Green Ingredient Award in 2020 and it’s being incorporated into a lot of big brand formulas for anti-aging purposes. This ingredient has the research and data that normally only big brands have access to. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get access to this raw ingredient and along the way, we’re also supporting the local farmers (women head of households) who hand peel and sell the nuts to the company which cold-press the nut and extracts the oil. This amazing facial oil is unique and blessed with many properties and Lovacado is one of very few companies who have access to this ingredient in its purest form.
During COVID-19, did you experience difficulties?
During COVID-19, I was sent home to work remotely until further notice. It became impossible for me to split my time for work vs Lovacado and sales suffered enormously. Plus, unlike bigger brands, I’m a one woman-shop. I don’t have a production, sales, accounting, or customer service department. Everything starts and ends with me. Canada was very strict and we were all on lockdown as of mid-March 2020. I couldn’t get oil from Mexico, my local supplier ran out of my bottles and pumps, and as a small brand operating as hobby/side hustle I wasn’t really prepared to operate under the new conditions. I didn’t have a reserve of bottles or oil.
In addition, learning of so many businesses closing down and people losing their jobs (even my husband lost his job), I felt awful trying to sell my product to people in a time of need. I had a hard time pushing sales to people in a time when money was scarce and thinking about people’s health and wellbeing at home seem more important than focusing on making a sale. I created a hand sanitizer with alcohol and avocado oil, which works great but, I couldn’t sell online because I couldn’t ship via regular mail. So, I decided to distribute for free and went to local shelters, street corners where homeless people were living, and passed by high-risk neighborhoods and gave out the product for free because I knew my product would help in some way. I could’ve sold it to local stores where alcohol had become an expensive commodity but, I didn’t feel right doing that in such a devasting time. It’s interesting because many skin care brands capitalized and made a lot more sales during the Pandemic and I couldn’t push myself to sell online because I didn’t want people to spend food money on avocado oil. I felt internally that it was wrong and it’s just the kind of person that I am. Lovacado is not a big company, Lovacado is me…a person who has a conscious, feelings and a heart. Which is why Lovacado is so different from other brands. Lovacado, has a pulse – it’s not just a name and a logo, it’s a human trying to do the right thing in a business world where profits and bottom line numbers are what determine success. I’m hustling to make a difference in people’s life and not just a profit.
How can people tell if a product is organic or not?
The word organic has become a fad and a very popular marketing word in the beauty industry. Some brands use the word organic but, they’re not USDA certified organic, they might use one or two ingredients in their formula that have that certification but, once it’s mixed with other ingredients, that “organic” word loses its meaning. Organic strictly refers to product ingredients grown without pesticides, chemicals or artificial fertilizers. An organic product must have between 95-100% chemical-free ingredients, while a natural product usually is 50-70% chemical free. Personally, I’ve stayed away from saying Lovacado is “organic” because I handcraft my products. I don’t have a USDA certified lab and I refuse to put things on my product labels that are not true or certifiable.
Where did the name Lovacado stem from?
My friend Lynne Anstey, came up with the brand Lovacado – combining the words Love Avocado.
What is your own ultimate personal dream?
I want to look back and realize that I made a difference in people’s lives. Somehow I was able to make someone’s life better and meaningful. Lovacado is a wellness/beauty brand and in my mind, I want people to learn how to take care of their skin and hair at home by creating wellness rituals they can incorporate to their current beauty routines. No matter what products they use, they can sneak in a Lovacado product to give them a clean, natural feeling, at some point in the day. We’re all so busy, that we forget to care for ourselves and if I can get people to embrace a Lovacado product and create a “spa experience at home” once a day, it will make me very happy. It’s like drinking water at some point in the day, it makes you feel good. Something so simple, yet so important to do throughout the day. Getting people to use Lovacado products to encourage selfcare, selflove, acceptance, age-well/well-aging mantra would be an amazing accomplishment.
What is one quote you live life by?
Always do the right thing, especially when nobody is looking. Integrity, is something that for me is non-negotiable and as much as it sucks to act with integrity when you’re at a disadvantage, those decisions make it very easy for me to sleep at night. I’m not going to lie and say I act with integrity 100% of the time but, I work hard to act with integrity in all aspects of my life as much as possible because I believe in God and in Karma☺
Does money buy happiness?
Money buys assets but, not happiness.
Money buys good experiences but, not personal growth.
Money can pay for an education but, it doesn’t guarantee intelligence or success.
Money buys comforts but, not mental clarity or stability.
Money can buy companionship but, not love.
Money can buy a house but, not a home.
Happiness is in the mind and in the heart and it’s available to everyone not matter, how much money you have or don’t have. Happiness is FREE.