Monica Watson exemplifies kindness, thoughtfulness, creativity, and passion. We originally met when she came into the shop as a customer and after a few visits, became friends. Soon after she launched her incredible line of natural skincare, Berlin Skin
, and wowed me with her ability to turn that passion & creativity into an incredible business. She continuously inspires me to stay focused and to have a clear vision. I chatted with Monica, who recently relocated from Portland to enjoy sunny San Diego, about how she came up with the concept for her line, her tips on creating a clean & clear aesthetic, and so much more. Read on...
How did you come up with the idea for your natural skincare line, Berlin Skin?
My family is originally from Berlin, Germany. My Grandmother has always encouraged me to keep things simple when it comes to skincare; that less can be more. In my early to mid 20's, I began to relentlessly struggle with my skin and was in a frustrated place trying to find a solution for my breakouts. It was when I turned to a more holistic approach that I really started to see my skin heal. I began formulating my own little concoctions with oils and plant-based ingredients and found that these natural solutions could pack a lot of power. Our formulas very much reflect my Grandmother's philosophy, and our entire line is based on a minimalist approach to caring for the skin.
Walk us through the big bullet points in your life that led you to where you are now, as an independent business owner.
From as far back as I can remember, I've always been making and selling things. My first business as a 2nd grader was selling my home grown-pumpkins on the street. I worked hard on my stand, signage, and pricing-and sold out within a few days. It was incredibly rewarding. My parents are also entrepreneurs, and I started working in the family business when I was in middle school. It was humbling work, but it truly gave me the taste of how satisfying hard work and the drive to accomplish something can be. Nothing was ever handed to me, so I think the combination of being creative and driven to accomplish my goals have made the perfect combination for owning my own business.
What are your immediate & long term goals for the line?
Well, we are coming up on our 1 year anniversary, and I'm honestly blown away as I reflect on the past year. We've already surpassed most of our goals, and I'm extremely grateful for that. As far as immediate goals, we really want to continue to get the word out to more people about our brand. As an independent line, it's easy to get lost in the oversaturated beauty industry. We want to continue to educate people about the importance of natural ingredients and provide them with a simple routine for their skin. One of our long term goals is to give back even more, on a national and global level. We currently give part of our profits to an organization called Remember Nhu
, which focuses on preventing and providing for children who are at-risk for entering the sex trade. We'd like to do even more with them and other organizations who are making a change in the world. It's always been one of my main goals to use this business for something greater than the bottom line, and I want to continue to do this on an even greater scale.
What’s the best part of your job?
Being able to be creative on a daily basis! With the formulas, the packaging, the marketing, and the other vendors that I get to work with who help bring the vision to life. It's so much fun.
You recently relocated to San Diego! What are you going to miss the most about Portland? What are your favorite spots so far in San Diego?
I know, it was a huge, crazy move! I will miss Portland so much: the people, the food, the beauty. Oregon has been home for almost my entire life, and it holds such a special place in my heart. However, San Diego is also pretty unreal. It's 75 degrees everyday, I've been surfing a ton, and there's just something about living by the water that calms my soul. We are loving it. Plus, besides the climate, there are actually a lot of similarities to Portland, which is comforting. There's an awesome food and beer scene and the people are super laid back and friendly.
Berlin Skin is “skin care for the modern minimalist,” which you make clear not only in your clean list of ingredients but also in your visual aesthetic. Did it take you a while to land on your branding? What was that process like?
This process was a blast. I have a background in marketing and advertising, so I knew exactly who I wanted to work with for the branding and packaging. My friend Dillon Lawrence
really understands modern and clean design, and he truly captured the vision for the brand. We went through a lot of different options, but at the end of the day landed on exactly what we'd set out to create: a line that feels modern, luxurious, clean, and simple.
What has been the most exciting part of this new professional journey? Any “I can’t believe that just happened!” moments so far?
When something starts out as simply a passion, but then turns into a legitimate business-every little victory feels big. The feeling of discovering that people are super fans and are benefiting from your creations-it's incredible. Every time I get an email from a customer explaining that the products have dramatically helped their skin-those are the big moments for me that I don't think I'll ever get used to. Overall, I'm just incredibly grateful for all the beautiful people I've met through this business that I may have never crossed paths with.
What does your process look like when developing a new product? Do you start with a certain issue that you want to address or a key ingredient that you’re intrigued by?
Since we only have 4 products and we don't have plans to make our line much bigger than that, I've really tried to focus on formulas that don't get too specific. I look for plant-based, gentle ingredients that basically any skin type can benefit from. However, since each step in a skin care routine is different, the individual products each have their own hero ingredients. For example, our eye butter contains carrot seed oil for minimizing dark spots (which the eye area is prone to) and cocoa butter and coconut oil for deep hydration (to prevent and soften fine lines). Overall, I am fascinated with the power of essential oils, so each one of our products contain at least a few.
If you had to summarize the Berlin Skin customer in one sentence, what would it be?
Someone who believes in using quality, sustainable skin care products and supporting a brand which cares about using business for good.
Thanks Monica- we can't wait to watch Berlin Skin continue to evolve!