Klur Founder Lesley Thornton Shares Her Story

I would love to start by talking about your experience as an esthetician and why you decided to create your own brand.

I became a licensed esthetician in 2010 – which was over a decade ago. When serving customers, I basically couldn’t find the products I needed because I had so many customers with different needs. I was in Los Angeles, in Hollywood at the time, and I felt like I was starting to see a segment of women (and men too, but mostly women) who were coming out of that teen years, into their 20s and 30s, where they couldn’t wear their Same skin care. They could no longer use Neutrogena, they could no longer use Clean & Clear, but they were still struggling with hormonal imbalances and acne. They were also wanting to work towards (using) some anti-aging (products). They’d say, “I don’t want to use benzoyl peroxide, but I want to jump to retinol.”

So when I decided to create the Klur brand, it took me a few years (doing) treatments. I realized that there really wasn’t anything fancy enough that felt like an adult skincare brand. It needed to meet the clinical needs of what you might get from an esthetician or dermatologist with high-performance ingredients, while also containing the calming botanicals of a natural care product. It really dawned on me in 2013 that after serving clients for a few years, there wasn’t a single black esthetician with a skincare line on the market — none. I just took a step back and said, “With all the knowledge I have, the education I have, and my real life experience with people, I think I can do this. I think I should at least try to put a line through it, even if only be sold in my spa. I can only sell it to my clients.”

That’s how it started; in fact, it started to focus mainly on selling it to my customers. Eventually, I got called up by Urban Outfitters in 2014, and that landed us on the shelves. Very quickly, we did really, really well. This was my first foray into anything retail. I had no idea there was never a professional black skin care line on the market. I never knew there wasn’t a black esthetician who already had a product on a shelf, on a big retail shelf. I had no idea – I was just going. At that point I decided to close my spa and stop juggling all that stuff and just focus on building a brand. Two years later, after a really good run and being in 200 stores, I voluntarily left Urban Outfitters to take care of my own health because I felt like I was compromising it by running a facial studio and trying to build the line. So I took two years off to redesign and relaunch the line.

What would you say is Klur’s core spirit and what is your brand’s mission?

As a founder, I believe my personal mission is the same as the brand’s: to inspire, educate and guide people to make healthy decisions. Not just skincare decisions, but healthy decisions by living holistically and showing them that, using skincare as a catalyst to inspire and cultivate a healthy lifestyle using holistic tools.

It’s great to see so many women of color creating their own brands now – especially those that champion holistic practices and ingredients! Would you say that treating skin rich in melanin is different than treating those with lighter skin tones?

People of color come in all skin tones, which is fantastic because, clinically speaking, there is a difference in melanocyte activity. Some people have very robust melanocytes, meaning they are much darker, and others have melanocytes that are not as active. That’s one of the reasons we actually have hyperpigmentation because melanocytes rush to that area and then darken. They act as a sort of healing mechanism for the skin, and it ends up scarring darker in one area. When we look at dark skin versus lighter skin tones, I think one of the main things is (besides all the scientific stuff) there is some thickness to the skin. I think people don’t realize that with darker skin, you have to treat it very carefully.

Having that experience of working with dark skinned women and being a Black woman of course, I realized that more often than not, skincare brands catered to lighter or white skins before they catered to darker skins. We flipped the scale and really made sure we put dark skin at the forefront of science, and realized that fair skin can take a gentle approach too. There isn’t a single person with skin that can utilize a rigorous skin care routine. You don’t have to be sensitized or sensitive to have a smooth routine. In fact, it’s really, really important for all of us to practice this smooth consistency. I think with dark skin, somehow people have believed that you can take this aggressive approach, and you really can’t, because hyperpigmented skin. When you understand this though, this is actually very beneficial for all skin.

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