Juana Skin is the first skincare brand in the region to bring CBD into the market. Co-founder Yann Moujawaz Martini shares what it takes to build a brand from scratch, believe in your dreams and push the boundaries of convention in the beauty industry.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
I typically wake up to pray the morning prayer. After I pray, it is still very quiet and peaceful so conducive for quality deep thinking and reflection. How you condition your thinking and mind in the very first minutes of the day often determines how the rest of your day will be. It is very important to start off the day right with high energy and positivity. After that, it is always the same ritual: Double espresso. After my recent stay at Lanserhof in Sylt, Germany, I am increasingly fond of the revisited version of bulletproof coffee in the morning: coffee, almond powder, and MCT oil for five hours of pure and clean energy. Then 2-3 dates, a great source of energy and alkaline-rich followed by my curated set of vitamins and probiotics. After that, I typically scan quickly through emails, WhatsApps, etc. If there is anything urgent, I attend to it straight away. Otherwise, I prefer to dedicate morning time to deep work like analytical assessment, performance review, pitch preparation, investors update, creative and branding work. This is the time when I am most focused and productive so best to dedicate it to deep work rather than being scattered and distracted on other tasks.
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Tell us about how Juana Skin has developed since its launch?
It has been absolutely fantastic and fascinating to see Juana developing and growing fast here in the Middle East and globally. Adoption and endorsement from the very best health, wellness and aesthetics clinics and doctors globally such as Lanserhof in Germany and UK is an achievement I am very proud of as it reflects the strong clinical foundations and worldclass standards we had set for ourselves. We are on double-digit growth month-on-month with very strong growth and expansion plans ahead of us. In the last year, Juana has also received the backing and endorsement of world class advisors and experts within our Advisory Board which has propelled and accelerated all our development and growth plans.
What is CBD (cannabidiol)?Tell us more about what it does, its benefits, and potential side effects.
CBD or Cannabidiol is one of the 110+ phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis strain – more precisely the hemp plant. Cannabidiol is not psychoactive, i.e., will not give you a high. More importantly, CBD has very strong medical and therapeutic properties that are increasingly recognized, endorsed, and adopted by the medical world. For example, as a topical application, Cannabidiol has proven to have very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potency. Think skin inflammation, eczema, acne, redness, breakouts, and signs of ageing. At Juana, we have been amongst the first globally to conduct clinical studies in Germany and France with the world’s best dermatological and clinical research institutes to demonstrate its anti-inflammatory power. For example, we were able to show a 70-90% reduction in inflammation related to Atopic Dermatitis – on par with prescribed medications with stronger/harsher side effects – yet, using clean and natural formulations.
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How challenging has it been to launch a product like this and how big is the education piece around products such as this?
It has definitely been very challenging. Ensuring the development of a potent and clinically effective formulation, navigating the regulatory landscape, managing a global supply chain and the consumers’ education were all key challenges. The education piece is vital. It is a new wellness and medical innovation. Education starts at ground zero here often. Having said that, I have observed significant enthusiasm and curiosity around it. As a matter of fact, CBD is amongst one of the fastest-rising search queries globally. People are increasingly looking for wellness alternatives that are clinically effective, proven and clean/natural – this is our value proposition. Juana is a pioneer in this space. As such, beyond our brand and company build-up, we also fully assume our responsibility to educate and disseminate knowledge around it. For example, we closely work with specialized doctors and clinics to create educational content. We have had strong media and social media support to amplify our communications. To support the education efforts, we have strived to make it as easy as possible for consumers to learn about our range and quality. For three years, we have been working relentlessly to certify and back all our claims through world-class verification programmes: clinical claims through clinical studies in Germany and France, ultra-clean verification through the US-based EWG programme, and the Shari’ah compliance certification. Where is your production based and how challenging was it to ethically source the finest materials and achieve the right formulation that meets the local regulatory requirements? All our production and sourcing are made through verified and registered suppliers and growers in the European Union.
What were the biggest learnings that came with building the brand and what did this teach you?
Overnight success is underpinned by a lifetime of work. When building a brand, you really need to have patience and strong belief. Brand awareness and education do take time and one has to be willing to be patient and continue investing throughout. Really boils down to how strongly you believe in what you are doing. Be clear and firm on the goal, be flexible on the path you take to get there. Having a vision and a plan is key. Yet, be flexible and have the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions, opportunities and circumstances. Surround yourself and work with the absolute best minds and talent in each category. Invest in these relationships and partnerships. The wrong mindset is to look at the dollar cost amount, the right mindset is to look at the dollar value amount. Have the vision to factor in the whole value when you make investment decisions. As CEO, my role has been focused on sourcing and providing access to the best talent, advisors, experts, and knowledge for my team in order to stick to the highest standards in everything we do. CBD products are often marketed with unproven claims and quality. What is Juana Skin’s strategy to counter this? Beyond investing heavily in the quality of our formulations and supply chain, Juana’s strategy has been focused on backing all our claims and quality standards through research and thorough standards verification programmes. Specifically: • The efficacy of our formulations (e.g., anti- inflammatory and antioxidant potency) is backed by third-party independent dermatological clinical institutes in Germany and France. We established the clinical foundations of our range through scientific and clinical proof. • Juana is the first European cannabidiol brand and the first personal care in the Middle East ever to be EWG-verified globally. EWG is a gold standard when it comes to true clean beauty. The EWG committee is composed of doctors, chemists, and toxicologists who thoroughly dissect and analyse all your products – from the ingredients sourcing to your manufacturing processes. The EWG stamp today stands for the highest level of products’ cleanliness and safety. The stamp helps consumers to easily distinguish true clean products from the crowd and has been getting increasing support from the world’s top influencers and KOLs such as the Kardashians, Miranda Kerr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the likes. Lastly, our laser-focused alignment and endorsement with the medical and clinical world is very important. Working in partnerships with the world’s most renowned doctors and clinics (e.g., Lanserhof) is a clear statement of the quality and claims we have.
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Which products drive sales consistently?
The face oil, the face creams and the body butter definitely. They are our star products for our end clients and doctors’ community. For our clients, they are used as an at-home skincare regimen to enhance and optimise the health of your skin. Clinics and doctors have experienced incredible results by integrating them into derma-aesthetics treatments (e.g., laser therapies, peelings, micro-needling, etc). The anti-inflammatory property helps reduce inflammation and swelling of such treatments and as a result, reduces downtime for patients. Another product that is also very popular with the sports and active community is the cooling gel which reduces pain and stiffness. It is also popular with plastic surgeons for bruising post-operative procedures.
How do you scale without compromising on quality?
Through thorough and diligent work when establishing your supply chain. Also, by making sure you stay focused on your core goals. This means sometimes being able to decline opportunities coming your way because they could spread you thin or scatter your resources and focus and could ultimately impact your quality and brand value. For example, Juana has received various distribution opportunities globally, some of them significantly sizeable. Yet, if these do not align with our end goal fully and could disrupt our focus, we would not prioritise them as of now in order to never compromise on quality and brand value.
The brand is client-centric – how important is the brand’s relationship with clients and do you believe in customer loyalty in this industry?
Obviously, this is key. Ultimately a brand or product needs to solve a real challenge and problem for people, else this will not work. For us, the demand we are focused on is the need to have wellness-driven solutions that are clinically proven and efficacious and yet clean, safe, and free of side-effects you can have in using medications. Building loyalty is very important. Juana has seen 70-80%+ repeat customers overall. We nurture these relationships.
Do you listen to feedback from your clients in terms of what they would like as products?
All the time. From our end users and doctors/clinics community alike. We spend considerable time collecting feedback and integrating it into our development plans to constantly provide superior standards products.
What is next for the brand?
A lot is in the pipeline. We have expanded in Europe and in the region and we will be focused on accelerating that. Our rate of adoption especially in clinics is growing fast. We also have really cool development on the branding and PR side. It has also been one of the major works we have been focused on and super excited to reveal it soon.
This is The Fearlessness Issue – what does being fearless mean to you?
To me, being fearless is a growth mindset. Being fearless is to have the courage to first acknowledge certain fears you might have and then have even more courage and belief to convert them into an action and growth development plan. As such, I believe you are not just fearless – you become fearless. It involves a growth process. To become fearless for me really happens when you reach a firm and unbendable level of conviction and belief in yourself, in your mission and what you do. Fears you might have or feel will then just be your fuel for growth or temporary reminders to double down on your selfbelief. Believing in your plans and wildest dreams, never giving up, sparing yourself energy for doubts, and most importantly never stopping believing in you is for me what being fearless means. To put it simply: you reach a fearlessness level when you ultimately understand that the only thing that can limit you is you only.
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