Hey friends, Monica here! You know those people in life who constantly inspire you by their massive success all the while keeping a steady humility and vulnerability? That’s my dear friend Leah Kirpalani — owner of Shop Good in San Diego, CA. I’m not lying when I say that a huge part of our growth the past 3 years can be directly attributed to our partnership with Shop Good and their amazing team. Leah leads a team of incredible women and every single one of them is kind, beautiful, and smart. Shop Good has two retail shops/spas in North Park and Del Mar and they seriously crush it. Shop Good provides a one-stop shop for all of your clean beauty, wellness and self-care needs. Stepping into one of their retail locations is an unforgettable experience that leaves a good vibe you’ll carry with you long after you leave the store.
Leah was kind enough to share her story with us, and although I’d heard most of it before, it still gave me chills. Read on to be moved and inspired!
Tell us a little about who you are and your journey to opening Shop Good. What's your background as it relates to nontoxic beauty and skincare?
I grew up in Tempe, Arizona and worked my way into the world of fashion retail with a love for anything creative. But after enduring a personal health journey, I traded my fashion magazines for wellness articles and discovered my new calling in life - to help women with what I wish I knew at the beginning of my health struggles that I know now. The inspiration behind my beauty and wellness business is rooted in the ten years of unanswered health issues I went through in my twenties. Right before starting my first job out of college, my body and immune system broke down. From losing my hair, to dealing with chronic and cystic acne to reacting allergically to just about everything I ate. After sifting through countless conventional doctors from multiple schools of thought and still receiving zero answers, I made it my mission to crack my health puzzle and get my life back. Along with food and lifestyle changes, I realized that I began to feel better via the act of swapping out my toxic beauty and skincare products out for clean ingredients. It was then when I knew I needed to share this discovery and new passion in life with my friends, family and ultimately the Shop Good community!
Tell us a little bit about the Shop Good mission. What is the big “why” that motivates what you and your team does?
Through our best-in-class assortment of non-toxic skincare, makeup and wellness products and our apothecary-style organic facials in our San Diego spas via our amazing holistic estheticians - we are on a mission to make healthy living more effortless, more fabulous and simply…more fun!
But the heart of the brand is my own personal health story. I still have vivid feelings of frustration, doubt, hopelessness and loneliness when recalling my chronic health journey. These memories drive me to do my best every day so that one less person may experience feeling this way while navigating their own health issues. Shop Good is the space and the community I wish I had back then. I wished for a place I could go to seek answers, recommendations and tools to heal my body, and find people that could relate and understand me. That is what I strive to provide at Shop Good every day. A safe space where our customers can share their wellness stories and be inspired by new ways of taking care of their bodies. My team members each have their own personal experience or individual north star as it relates to wellness and toxic-free beauty, which is what makes each and every interaction with our sales and esthetician team so unique, individualized and special.
What is your ultimate dream for Shop Good? What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
This is such a hard question to answer, because never in a million years did I expect to open up a retail store, let alone 2 stores in 18 months! My goal is to continue to stay true to our mission and purpose for existing... and meet the needs of our amazing customers while doing it. Whether that means growing our store count, our spa rooms or even our online shop - we are here for it! And will work to continue evolving to best serve our Shop Good community.
One of our values here at Berlin Skin is “nourish and heal” - it’s this idea that less is more when it comes to caring for your skin. It's also something we know Shop Good values as well - what is one way you’re being intentional about nourishing and healing your skin lately?
It took me years to really understand and believe in the ‘less is more’ approach to, not only my skincare, but my wellness and self care. For years, during the toughest parts of my healing process, I owned 2 supplement drawers packed to the brim, saw my holistic practitioner 2 times a week, and was obsessed with finding the next solution to my chronic illness. The punchline? None of it mattered. I much later realized that until I was able to slow down, simplify and get back into touch with my higher self and gut intuition, no supplement or diet protocol was going to make a difference. The same goes for my skin. I’ve learned that simple sleep, drinking enough water and keeping my AM and PM regimen paired down to the musts, is my personal path to healthy skin. In real time, this looks like simply splashing water on my face in the AM vs a full cleanse, and instead focusing my morning on calming my mind... and filling my water bottle!
We love Shop Good’s tagline “you can have both” - can you dive deeper into the meaning behind this phrase?
Yes! This saying means so much to me! Living in San Francisco and working at a large fashion retailer while I was sick was not easy! I so desired to live this fast-paced city-girl lifestyle - but my health issues demanded otherwise. I couldn’t go out to dinner because I reacted to most things I ate. Couldn't stay out late because my adrenal fatigue was so real in the mornings. And even had a hard time dating or meeting new people because my diet and lifestyle were so strict. I believe that this hard core limitation and restriction I placed on my life caused me to become even more distant to my gut intuition and eventually made me even sicker in the long run. Today, I believe that you can actually have both. I want to support our customers with ways they actually can live the life they dream of while still placing their health and bodies as a priority! It took me a long time to learn the tips, tricks and healthy-yet-balanced habits to be able to achieve this. This is what I want to share via Shop Good.
Another important meaning?? You can rock a bright red lipstick without increasing your toxic load on your body! (PSA we offer the most amazing bright, long lasting lip colors — all made with clean ingredients!)
What is something you’ve learned in the past year that has really shifted the way you approach business and your personal life?
This year was such a doozy. I totally felt like I went to business school in 2020, because I learned how to close, open, close again, reopen and pivot my business more times than I’d like to remember!! But, the new skills and lessons I took away after the past year are invaluable to the future success of Shop Good, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have navigated through it all, alongside the most amazing team on the face of this planet!
One lesson that stands out to me is the deeper understanding of the privilege I have as a white business owner in this white-dominated beauty industry. Taking critical time to uncover my childhood experiences and how they shaped my societal viewpoints and biases, as well as how I previously perceived my role as a business owner, made for very important personal and professional unlocks. This new level of awareness shifted the way that I choose to approach my business decisions, prioritize my brand’s goals and decide which partners to work with or align our brand with. Most importantly, this awareness has helped shape how I choose to show up for my customers today - working to ensure shop good is truly a place for authentic inclusivity and accessibility. In 2021 I'm so excited to continue this work around our brand commitments - all with a goal to be an ally, and be a stand for, underrepresented voices, brands, employees, customers, and community members alike - within the beauty industry and beyond.
What is your favorite Berlin Skin product and why?
Since I really approach my skin regimen by checking in with my skin each morning/week/month and assessing what it needs, I constantly have a number of Berlin favorites in rotation. I must have my Sandalwood Cream anytime I am using a moisturizer, (during the dryer weather months.) It's the only moisturizer that feels lightweight enough for my skin, while still creating a hydration barrier that slowly absorbs throughout the day. If I’m feeling like my old acne scarring and pigmentation is darkening, which is super tied to my menstrual cycle, I am using Carrot Seed Serum. I notice a serious evening of my skin tone with this treasure! And… after a busy work week, if I’ve neglected myself and my self care…a layer of black spruce on my arms and legs before bed is hands down my #1 indulgence and my fav way to send love to myself.