Next up in our “Berlin Skin Squad” series is the lovely Kait of SLFMKR! We first discovered her shop through Instagram and instantly fell in love with her drop-dead-gorgeous space. Over the past year we’ve been absolutely blown away by Kait’s kindness and commitment to bringing safe skin care products to the market. P.S. her resume is seriously impressive!
Kait talks business, motherhood, an alternative to fillers and botox — and more! Her perspective on life is a breath of fresh air and encouragement to all of us who are trying to find balance and health. Her definition of success is so counter-intuitive to the “hustle culture” and we’re all about it. Read on to be inspired!
Tell us a little about who you are and your journey to opening SLFMKR. What's your background as it relates to nontoxic beauty and skincare?
My name is Kait Turshen and I am the founder and owner of SLFMKR in Shaker Heights, Ohio. I grew up in Ohio but had always yearned for the fast-paced, big city life. Three days after I graduated from college, I packed a U-Haul and headed to New York City to pursue a career in the fashion and beauty industry.
My first job was with the skincare company Malin + Goetz. Part of my job there as an Account Executive was to spend time on the beauty and cosmetics floor of Barneys New York on Madison Avenue helping clients and educating associates on the brand. It was here where I had my first real exposure to the beauty industry. I was exposed to the best brands in beauty and learned so much from the associates and make-up artists on all things skin care and cosmetics.
My jobs that followed were in the fashion industry but from there out, I was a beauty junkie through and through. My journey with clean beauty wasn’t ignited until a decade later after years of fertility struggles. The difficulty in getting pregnant and multiple miscarriages lead me to take a hard look at both my lifestyle and the products I was using not only on my body, but on my daughter and in our home.
After thirteen years in New York City, we moved back to Ohio to pursue a slower pace of life. I initially developed the concept of SLFMKR out of my husband’s meditation studio but quickly realized that it could become something even bigger and standalone.
What inspired your desire to open your own clean beauty and wellness store?
SLFMKR is really the store I needed in my 20’s as a wake-up call when I was burning the candle at both ends, as they say. I was working 40+ hour weeks in the fashion industry, bartending typically three nights a week, and pursuing multiple other side hustles not only to pay my rent, but because I truly loved “doing it all” and proving that I could “make it” in New York City on my own. During this time, I was treating my body horribly from over-consuming alcohol to making poor food choices and not getting anywhere near the recommended hours of sleep my body needed — amongst many other things.
I look back and see my 20’s as the time in my life where my body was breaking down and my 30’s have really been dedicated to rebuilding my body from the inside out.
Tell us a little bit about the SLFMKR mission. What is the big “why” that motivates you?
As I started down my clean living journey, I realized that it was a hard world for many people to navigate. From understanding why certain ingredients should not be put on your body or consumed to the benefits of practices like meditation, there was not a lot of awareness around non-toxic products and self-care. I wanted to create a place where people could come to shop for their essentials like skin care, toothpaste and deodorant — but also learn about new self-care practices that could bring even just a few minutes of light and stress relief to their day.
What is your definition of success? What do you consider your most recent accomplishment? (This can be anything! Within business, your own personal health goals, family, etc.)
I’m so glad you asked because my goal with SLFMKR is to change the traditional definition of success and being self-made. To most, success is achieving a certain level of wealth, professional status or celebrity and at SLFMKR, we believe that being self-made should be based in achieving personal health and well-being.
As for my most recent accomplishment, I would say re-opening SLFMKR in a new location with a larger retail offering amidst a pandemic would be at the top of that list.
What is your #1 go-to self-care practice right now?
I’m a huge proponent of gua sha. I believe that you have to go beyond topical products when it comes to anti-aging and as someone who is not in a place where I want to turn to something like injectables, I find gua sha to not only be such a powerful anti-aging tool, but also such a lovely ritual to end my day.
Who is a woman who inspires you and why?
I’m incredibly inspired by women leaders who are disrupting an industry, such as Gregg Renfrew of Beautycounter, Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix and Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss of Rent the Runway. They’ve all taken huge risks in approaching their industries in completely new ways and I find their disruption and success so inspiring.
Someone like Gregg Renfrew is taking clean beauty beyond a product line and has really been a trailblazer when it comes to challenging and changing the standards and legislation regarding the personal care industry in the United States. I really have great respect for all of the women leading the clean beauty movement, with Monica Watson of Berlin Skin at the top of that list.
Lastly, I am inspired by all the working moms out there in this wild ride of 2020 because having a career, being a rockstar mom, often times a housekeeper, maybe a short order cook, perhaps a partner to another half and now a teacher is a lot of layers. Let’s all hold hands, love each other, love ourselves and continue to inspire each other.
What do you hope for SLFMKR in the next 5 years?
I hope to touch as many lives as possible in helping those with their clean living and self-care journeys. I would also love to open additional locations in smaller markets where there’s a need and a want for clean personal care but the brands we carry have not made their way there just yet.
Just for fun, how do you take your coffee? If you don’t drink coffee, what’s your go-to drink of choice for a pick me up?
Rest assured, I drink coffee. One of my first jobs in high school was as a barista at a local coffee shop and to this day, it is still one of my favorite jobs that I’ve ever had. My go-to drink is a latte called a Promised Land from a local coffee shop here in Cleveland called Rising Star. It is espresso, steamed milk (i sub in almond milk), honey and cinnamon. For an afternoon pick-me-up, I love a kombucha.
What is your favorite Berlin Skin product and why?
I’m going to have to break some rules and pick two: I’m obsessed with the Geranium + Rose Toner and the Sandalwood Cream. The toner is such an amazing aromatherapy experience and the delivery of the mist is perfect — I’ve used many other spray toners that feel like you’re spraying your face with a garden hose. If the Berlin Skin toner were a restaurant, it would be a Michelin Star winner far and away.
As for the Sandalwood Cream, the smell is amazing and I love that it leaves my skin feeling incredibly moisturized but not oily on any level. It’s minimal, beautiful and powerful.