Our Philosophy | Our Passion
I founded Luminance Skincare a little more than 11 years ago in a very small garage barely large enough for a mini cooper. My time during the first few years was divided between my work as an electrical engineer, the research stacks at Stanford University learning about skin and skincare, local farmers markets doing ground-level market research on the weekends, and late nights in my garage lab developing new products. It was more than a little bit lonely. Exhilarating. And fun.
Today, there are 5 of us soon to be 6- almost 5000 square feet of studio space and over 50 products and growing.
Enough of that.
I’d like to introduce the wonderful people I have the honor and privilege of working with at this company. These are the individuals who make Luminance Skincare such a special place to work. These are the individuals who make the products extraordinary. – Kim
Meet One Of The World’s Amazing People. Shayane, Co-Owner. If you are very, very lucky, you will have the privilege to meet and know an individual like Shayane. She is a wonderful and lovely human being who is very fond of pineapples, traveling, attending video game concerts, a Disneyland fanatic, and the joys of everyday life, which she greets with an engaging sense of humor. As our Manager of Operations and co-owner, Shayane makes sure it all gets out the door.
Deni likes to create stuff. We hired Deni to help us manage our growing online platforms. Deni has become the Marketing Manager creating strategic and tactical marketing content for everything from our newsletter and social media channels. Denica is a wonderful photographer and stylist, and much of what you see on our website, Facebook, and Instagram, she styled and photographed. She studied marketing at San Francisco State University and enjoys drinking tea at work every day. She also worked on her digital marketing skills while studying abroad in the Netherlands. Denica handles all of our social and online media and advertising. And by the way, I think she’s another one. Absolutely brilliant.
MASTER SOAP MAKER
Master Soap Maker. I hired Alex, it seems like yesterday, and in what seems like a blink, he has matured into a true world-class master soap maker. Alex is one of the two people I have ever completely trusted to make my soaps, and I can say without equivocation, this is a big deal for me. I’m very attached to my soaps. Alex has a tattoo of Frank Zappa’s Mustache on his shoulder. The funny thing about Alex is everyone in the small town of Benicia knows Alex. I continuously run into someone who knows me because they know Alex works for Luminance. He’s made us locally famous.
Stephanie is absolutely brilliant. We hired Stephanie to help me in production since the growing demand was more than I could handle by myself. With blazing speed, she mastered my recipes, methodologies, and philosophy of skincare products. All I can say is “Damn” and then “figures” that Stephanie studied Astro Physics at San Francisco State University. In addition to being more than a double scoot north of brilliant, she loves cats. But not just cats, Stephanie has a deep love and profound respect for all living things. Stephanie sneaks out from time to time to volunteer at animal shelters.
Ari is amazing. Shay hired Ari to help in product filling and shipping. And she has turned out to be so much more. Ari has a subtle and mischievous sense of humor, and you’ll probably get a sweet note from her in your package. She has dual advanced academic degrees from both Mongolian universities as well as Mills College in Oakland. And when the mood strikes her, Ari doubles as a model for our product photos so you’ll see her in our social feeds. Another very, very smart addition to our staff. Task by task, Ari has learned or is learning every aspect of Luminance.
Emily is our amazing writer. This summer, we added Emily to our team, and she is just perfect. She has a wonderful, subtle and delicate sense of humor along with a very serious awareness and concern for social consciousness. She’s writing and editing all of our content for our website, blog, and newsletters. Funny thing is that Emily is a much better writer than me so I’m finally off the hook and happy to turn it all over to Emily. Sometimes we disagree over punctuation (she is not a Hemingway fan) but other than that, her level of writing is significantly elevated.
FOUNDER | FORMULATOR
My story is a bit longer, with the history behind why I started Luminance. After Art School, I worked as a colorist and fabric pattern designer in the fashion industry. After a few years, I needed a change, and so I spent the next decade or so as an Art Director, Graphic Designer, and Copy Writer in the advertising business in Los Angeles. At 36, I was ready for another change. I returned to university to study Electrical Engineering and upon graduation became an Analog Micro Electronics Engineer in the Semiconductor Sector of Silicon Valley. Not sure if I’m more artist and writer or more engineer. The truth is that looking from the inside, there’s not much difference between the three, just problem solving but with very different toolsets.
The Origin Story
And then everything changed again around 11 years ago when my wife Priscilla and I discovered her migraines were triggered by the synthetic, and largely toxic ingredients found in almost all commercially available, and many of the so-called “handcrafted and natural” skincare products. Specifically and most egregious are the synthetic petrochemical fragrances. These nasties are everywhere. Even “unscented” products have a toxic synthetic fragrance called Masking Scent to cover all the nasty smells of the awful commercial ingredients. Masking Scent is why almost all unscented products smell the same regardless of what’s in them or who makes them. Be suspicious of things that always smell the same.
Initially, I explored “natural” products available commercially and those hand made by small companies and even single individuals. What we found was regardless of claims and declarations of purity most products from companies large and small contain harmful synthetic ingredients ranging from synthetic fragrances and preservatives to a wide range of petrochemical derivative oils, synthetic vitamins, nano-particulate metals, paraffin wax emulsifiers, animal part derived gums, and glycerine binders. It really is a mess.
As synthetic ingredients become less and less expensive, they have become more and more pervasive. And the worst part is many are known carcinogens and remain completely unregulated by the FDA because they are not consumed orally.
We, on the other hand, maintain that if you put it on your skin you’ve eaten it, you just didn’t have to chew it up and swallow it.
From Soap Making to a Full Line
So what started as a pilgrimage to free Priscilla from severe migraines has turned into a passion for creating the finest, cleanest skincare products in the world. And now, the product line includes deeply moisturizing handmade soaps and skincare products that are organic, vegan, and raw. Without anything synthetic. Toxic. Or harmful in any way. Every product was formulated and handmade by me.
So. I was making all the products, shipping online orders, selling both wholesale and in open-air markets around the bay area, and quite frankly working myself to extreme exhaustion. I needed help. Badly. The success of the business had become my greatest adventure. Priscilla was helping when and where she could, certainly emotionally, but she has a full-time career as a University Financial Aid Director. Very committed, and very busy.
And now, for the first time in my life, I absolutely love my job. I love coming to work at the studio. I love our company, and I absolutely love all the wonderful human beings who make it so special and who make my workday such a complete joy. Every single day when I walk through the studio door, I know it’s gonna be special.
So here we are, and we are always at your disposal, very easy to get in touch with, and will always be pleased to hear from you. And we don’t bite.
So if you have a question or comment or concern, send an email to any of our team members (see Contact Page) or me, and if you want to chat, give me a phone call between 10 AM to 2 PM Pacific Time. [email protected]