“We rise by lifting others.”
At Beautify.tips, we love to shine the spotlight on entrepreneurs who weren’t afraid to build their own brand, blaze their own trail, and be their own boss. Here are their journeys…
Meet Victoria Ferguson – CEO/Founder of East 29th
Tell us about East 29th!
East 29th is plant-based skincare for sensitive skin. Originally created to heal my eczema, it’s had incredible results helping with acne, hyperpigmentation, melasma, fine lines, wrinkles, and deep hydration. Female-founded, gender-inclusive, and made in Canada skincare that focuses on mental health and bringing awareness to the clean beauty movement while simplifying routines.
When I had the vision for East 29th, I knew it needed to be dimensionally diverse, focusing on being empathy- forward and driven by purpose. East 29th’s mission is to establish a conscious dialogue that connects both the physical and mental health awareness behind the clean beauty movement by combining skincare with self- care to build a movement that embodies being softer inside out.
We launched the self-care portion of East 29th, the Empathy Everywhere Podcast, where we discuss mental health, listening to our intuition, healing from our traumas, disorders, internal imbalances, body positivity, understanding empathy & how we can lead from a human-first perspective in our personal & work lives.
East 29th, an all-natural skincare company that is part of the clean beauty movement. We’re vegan, non-GMO, paraben-free, fragrance-free, cruelty-free, celiac friendly, WBE certified (Women Owned Business) and made in Vancouver, BC. Our goal is to help others understand the language of their skin whilst simplifying their counter spaces with more ingredients in fewer products (also keeping the environment in mind- this goes hand-in-hand with our glass bottles.)
How did you choose the name for your brand?
The meaning behind our name… East 29th was the four walls that housed my personal growth from young adulthood into who I am today. It’s where all my son’s childhood memories are held and where I created this brand. It inherently named itself. I knew we’d eventually surpass that home’s physical form, but emotionally it can never be outgrown.
The Vital Serum has a duality in meaning. All of our products will start with the letter V (V is my nickname.) But the meaning behind ‘Vital’ is essential, which this serum definitely is, however, I’m from St. Vital in Winnipeg, Manitoba so I’m equally paying homage to my first home. Where my roots are, and same with my sons. I like to playfully say Welcome Home to anyone who uses it.
The Valia Cleanser is named in honor of my grandma, who adopted my mother and was a true embodiment of what love looks like, and selflessness feels like. Most people disappeared when I needed them most when I entered parenthood at such a young age. She showed up enough for all of them combined She loved us endlessly. Her laughter fills my memories and has always carved out space while encouraging new ones to be made, to grow. She’s who I think of when I need comfort, relief, or support, and I hope everyone feels the same way when they experience our Valia Cleanser.
The Verse Lotion Mist is named after my desire to create ways to better understand the language of our skin. Poetry being a way to evoke meaning and emotional response, has been the inspiration behind creating East 29th. Poetry is derived from poiesis, meaning ‘to make.’
I’ve spent the last ten years making skin my canvas to create art through my career as a Makeup Artist in TV & Film. These products have transpired through combining my love for visually making and creating healthy skin with my deep-rooted passion for language, emotional knowledge, and understanding the dialogue of our skin. Thus creating poetry for your skin.
What inspired you to launch East 29th?
After becoming pregnant at 14 and giving birth at 15, I struggled with hormonal acne from puberty and the increased pregnancy hormones. Once postpartum, I was still going through puberty, and not surprisingly, no skincare catered to those needs. I moved to Vancouver when I was newly 19, and my son a few months shy of turning 4, where I received my Diploma of Makeup Artistry. As an artist of multiple mediums leading up until this point, I craved challenge. When I realized that makeup provided me with the only living, breathing canvas, that was altered by temperature/textures and housed its own opinions, it felt like the challenged I craved.
A year later, I was introduced to preserving lemons due to their rinds being healthy for us to ingest; I researched the physical and mental health benefits associated with adding lemon rinds in various forms into our daily lives when I realized the potential of creating skincare with lemon rinds. I began playing with different recipes and visualized the pores on my face as little mouths deserving skin-food for skin-health from the same perspective. After much creativity in the kitchen (anyone who knows me knows that’s my happy place), it became therapeutic and resulted in a handful of products that changed my skin.
I had no intention of releasing them for anyone else, however, after years of working in the TV/Film industry, my bare skin was often mistaken for wearing foundation. This sparked multiple conversations that finally convinced me I could help others, too. We launched with the Vital Serum and our Valia Cleanser and Verse Lotion Mist followed.
It’s been incredibly important to also include education (you can find on our website) on what is clean beauty/non-toxic beauty. I always felt like the skincare market was overly saturated with products without the solutions or knowledge.
When it comes to balancing the industry, I’ve designed East 29th to simplify routines by combining what would normally be in multiple products in only the essentials. There’s a few reasons for this, if we reduce clutter in our space we reduce it in our minds. Long term this means less products are filling our environment while also implementing minimalistic and essential solutions to your skincare needs.
Tell us a little more about your overall vision for the brand.
The consciousness (the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, & volition) behind creating East 29th was based on the understanding that we feel with more than just our hands. Down to designing our branding, the two words I gave my design team were ‘Visual Velvet.’ I wanted to feel it with my eyes, so when someone tries our products, they feel it with more than just their physical touch.
I wanted the overall colour tones to be timeless that if placed in any decade it fit effortlessly. Being vegan and clean beauty green, my favourite colour, easily found its way to perfectly fit into being felt/understood by the eye.
The golden yellow was where I envisioned lemons meeting the sun, with a jewel tone. It felt right. The ‘2’ in 29th has a swoop of intimacy with it’s lemon form.
What were some of the biggest challenges you face getting your company off the ground and how did you overcome?
The biggest obstacle was figuring out our initial launch. I took marketing management and financial accounting courses online while I was juggling working overtime in the film industry with being a full-time single mom. That being said, another main challenge I faced was finding the time to make what I had personally made for myself into more significant quantities.
I have extremely sensitive skin, which is a large part of why I started this journey, so testing on myself and my eczema patches (head to toe) and watching my skin transform made this challenge worthwhile, knowing I’d be able to help so many others in similar situations. These products are not just for your face; it’s for any area of skin.
Another large challenge was launching during a global pandemic.. where everything is word of mouth or me reaching out to people and sending products since there weren’t stores open for people to come and try us out or events going on. It was very challenging as skincare is such a personal decision when buying and there are so many products out there with results they claim but don’t actually achieve making people sometimes afraid to try new products.
I’ve spent so much time being the brands own cheerleader and reaching out and sending samples and collecting incredible feed back it’s paid off.
Another huge thing for us was running 6-week trials. Skincare typically takes 6 weeks to start to show results – the reason we did 6-week trials was to show what results could be established in a short period of time. These trials have helped immensely with showcasing and building trust with new customers.
What was the biggest risk you took as a business owner and how has that paid off?
I think being fragrance-free in a world where scents are nostalgic, and nostalgia sells very well. But, fragrance is the number one skin irritant and since we were created for eczema/sensitive skin it was a no brainer to keep it out. Encouraging customers to use diffusers, candles, or any other method of aroma while doing their skincare routine helps keep the skin irritants away and provide a beautiful selfcare moment. A lot people surprisingly don’t know a lot about fragrance or how it can affect the skin so continuing this dialogue has paid off immensely. It’s important to take care of our skin in every way we can.
What would you say was your big breakthrough moment?
I’ve designed East 29th to simplify routines by combining what would typically be in multiple products in only the essentials. If we remove clutter in our space, we reduce it in our minds. Long term, this means fewer products are filling our environment while also implementing minimalistic and essential solutions for our skincare needs. In a product-driven world, purpose and empathy are what drives us. The skincare industry is overly saturated. What’s common is over-delivering products and underdelivering knowledge. When East 29th hit the market, I knew that we needed to help solve this problem, not add to it.
I’m looking at how we can help evolve the dialogue and standards of our industry. Having this resonate with spas/estheticians has been my proudest breakthrough moment. I don’t want us to just be another skincare brand, I want to make a difference in your skin and mental wellbeing. This and our 6-week trial results + response.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Communication. The ability to connect through the mind and body. I playfully call myself the ‘Director of First Impressions.’
Simplifying routines, knowing the intimacy of being the first and last part of the human connection with self for so many people, it’s humbling.
While other brands only see your skin, I see space to leave an impact. I’ve come to the understanding that being remembered for how I make someone feel is what’s important to me. The duality of making someone feel softer inside out with skincare & self-care is hands down, my favourite.
I’d love for East 29th to have a hand in helping those who use our products be softer inside and out. Emphasis on the inside. It sounds so simple, but sometimes we just need a gentle reminder. To view our blemishes, uneven skin tone or texture as a dialogue between skin and self to learn the language of our skin, including what it means internally instead of just covering it up. To help make the shift of being mindful over having a full mind.
Being a mom before becoming an adult, figuring out my passions, career in TV & Film, and creating this brand has influenced my decisions in such a unique way. I’ve lived a selfless life, knowing the importance of honouring others’ needs instead of listening to my wants. East 29th is a direct reflection of that. I think brands often create too many products, causing new problems to then solve. You won’t find us trying to up-sell you, but you will find us trying to uplift you.
Honestly, East 29th is a love letter from my current self to everyone in similar shoes as my past, based on my understanding of what I needed all of these years. Simply put, it’s personal. I found a new home within the pivot from creating characters on set to creating confidence off-screen… this is truly the most rewarding part.
Anything new or exciting on the horizon?
We have a few more products in the works.. but we’re currently launching larger sizes for professionals only to use in their treatment rooms. Travel sizes for Valia/Verse as well will be coming – and then stay tuned for some new products!