With the winter chills not going away anytime soon, it seems like our skin shows the suffering we endure the most during these cold months. We continuously look for those miracle products that suit every skin type, that won’t make us break out, go too dry or too oily, will balance the moisture ideally, that don’t contain a list of 10,000 weird ingredients, and that can become staples for us young professionals year-round. Well, we may have found a brand that might meet all of the above criteria. We recently had a chance to catch up with Mark Cummins, co-Founder of Montreal beauty brand Vitamine & Sea, which prides itself on feeding our skin and hair with a massive amounts of real organic vitamins and nutrients. We wanted to get his perspective on the industry, the challenges, the victories and what sets V&S apart from the rest…
What is Vitamine & Sea?
V&S is a completely different kind of beauty brand. We are not the manufacturer of our products. What we do is source and test everything on the market that fits our criteria, i.e. made in Canada, vegan, cruelty-free, natural, made with fair trade organic ingredients, and choose only the highest quality, best performing product to become part of our Collection, whether it be a shampoo from Vancouver, a facial toner from Toronto or a serum from Montreal.
Has your background always been in the beauty industry?
In one way or another, whether as a professional model or in the many various jobs I have held within the product industry, from working for other brands to starting my own distribution company and now taking all of the experience and knowledge I have gained and using it to do something good and help bring quality products into the mainstream market.
How did the interest to start this come about?
When I was selling other brands to high-end salons and spas through my distribution company, I realized just how many different options there are out there and how overwhelming and confusing it can be for the average consumer to know what they are buying and whether or not it is right for them. I realized that the last thing people want is another brand, when what they really need is a broker (someone they can trust to do the research for them and offer a complete lineup of the best alternatives to everything they already use). That’s when I teamed up with the most talented people I knew to come up with the V&S Collection so that I could do what I loved, but do it honestly and with passion because I was selling products that I truly believed in.
What have been the most challenging parts?
Every step of our journey has been incredibly challenging. We went completely against the grain in an industry that is allergic to change and we still have a long way to go; but when you do what you love and do it honestly, it is incredibly rewarding.
What was the pinnacle of your career so far?
Almost every day I meet someone that has been helped by our products, and there is nothing better than to hear that someone LOVES what we do!
Are you based out of Montreal? If so, are there cons and pros?
Montreal is a very fashionable city and it has been a great help to us to have the fashion industry here get behind our brand. We are now available in some of the best spas and salons across the country, but our new concept of shop-in-shop stores has been an incredible success and we have the open-minded, forward-thinking people of Montreal to thank.
What sets Vitamine & Sea apart from other brands?
Almost everything we do is different, but mainly it is that we believe that what we put into our products is just as important as what we keep out, which is why we certify our products “certifiedblue,” which means that not only are they natural and made with organic ingredients, they are also made without parabens, sulfates, silicones, petro-chemicals, synthetics, fragrances or dyes because we know that your skin is an organ, and you need to feed it healthy food if you want it to be healthy.
Do you cater to people with sensitive skin?
Because of our core philosophy, our products are ideal for everyone. There are a lot of benefits to making products the right way and keeping them absolutely pure, like that they are naturally hypoallergenic and ideal for people who suffer from any kind of sensitivity. This is why we can have such a focused lineup where we only need one Facial Cream, one Body Lotion, or one Conditioner because they work wonders on every skin and hair type. We don’t sell 10 different fragrance options because every ingredient in every V&S product is only in there because it has a benefit for your skin or hair.
What one V&S product is a must have for daily care?
We refuse to carry any product that is not essential, but the one product we have that is really special and different from anything else out there is our ‘Perfect Skin Solution’. It is a combination of 10 carrier and essential oils, naturally preserved in vitamin E and specifically formulated to perfectly mimic your skin’s natural oil, and can be used every day by men and women to replace the oils that are stripped from your skin by cleansing, removing makeup or shaving. The unique ability of the ‘Perfect Skin Solution’ to absorb completely and replace these oils will treat and remedy almost every skin woe that someone may suffer from, whether it be oily, combination, or dry skin, and even severe problems from acne to eczema or psoriasis. It also provides incredible anti-aging, soothing, and softening benefits by being a massive vitamin supplement for your skin.
What advice can you give to young entrepreneurs?
Succeeding in business isn’t about things going right, it’s about what you do when they go wrong, and they will, but if you can find the silver lining in something that may seem like a disappointment and allow yourself to be open to new ideas and possibilities that can come out of it, you can find success in any situation.