Creating A Brand For Conscious Consumers With Nadia Babar
Here at Aisle 9, we’re constantly talking about skincare — clean beauty versus convenience — easy to stash versus sustainable — you name it, we’ve considered it. When dreaming up Kálos Skin, Nadia Babar considered more than upscale packaging and quality ingredients. With experience in marketing at Condé Nast and LVMH, she believed a brand with authenticity was missing. So, she created one herself. Kálos began as a solitary endeavor in response to wavering sincerity in consumer brands, and has turned into a movement for women empowerment, girls’ education, and challenging the status quo.
Aisle 9: Nadia, we’re curious — tell us a little bit about how Kálos got started.
Nadia Babar: It’s an old story – small town girl comes to the big city. I landed my dream job out of grad school in marketing at a magazine at Condé Nast, where I was exposed to hundreds of brands. The beauty closets are no joke! The pivotal moment came shortly thereafter when I was trying a $150 eye cream without a second thought to its ingredients. I had an adverse reaction, so I decided to investigate what was in this jar. Beyond the luxe packaging and glossy label, I came to find out it was chock-full of chemicals and parabens. I took off my rose-colored glasses and saw an industry full of gimmicky marketing and unsubstantiated claims. A brand with authenticity was missing, so I created the opportunity for myself. It’s been the most gratifying thing I’ve done.
A9: Your tagline for the brand is “conscious skin.” What does that mean to you?
NB: My goal when I was ideating Kálos was to create simple yet effective skincare. It’s also incredibly important for me to remain committed to social consciousness. Our tagline at Kálos is “Conscious Skin” – it’s a brand for conscious consumers. We want everyone using our products to feel good about the ingredients we use, our messaging, and our focus on social responsibility through supporting girls’ education projects around the world.
A9: You’ve designed Kálos to help educate, empower, and liberate girls around the world. Tell us a little bit about tangible ways your business does this.
NB: We donate 5% of every sale to education projects committed to helping underprivileged girls gain access to an education. During this back-to-school season, we worked with an incredible organization, Lotus Outreach, in their campaign to provide access to education to at-risk girls in India and Cambodia. We donated 133 bikes for girls to get to school safely. The program requires that the students’ guardians sign a contract stating they will keep their girls in school for at least two years.
A9: What does your morning routine look like — your must-have products and rituals?
NB: I live in New York City and there is a lot of pollution, dirt, and free radicals working against my skin. So, I take some extra steps at night so that my morning routine takes less than 10 minutes. Once a week, I use a thick layer of Triple Threat Detox Masque. It cleanses and nourishes, then exfoliates as it washes off – my skin never feels tight. It sets me up for refreshed skin all week. Twice a week, I exfoliate with Alpha Lyra because the alpha and beta hydroxy acids help renew my dull and tired skin. Because I go through these steps at night, I do a quick cleanse with Misses Clean and one pump of Day Dream, our pH balancing + brightening moisturizer, with some SPF in the morning and I’m on my way.
A9: As a female business owner, what has your experience been leading a company that’s by women + for women?
NB: My mindset is that equality is a reality. I refused to accept the norms of the corporate cultures that I have been a part of, whether it was a pay dispute, a lost promotion, or just even just a snide comment from a co-worker, so I created an opportunity for myself. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m incredibly stubborn. While building my brand, I learned to use that stubbornness to remain steadfast in my core values and even name my products with these stories in mind with names like, “After Hours, Day Dream, Triple Threat, and Mist Congeniality.” I believe that women shouldn’t budge on their vision for their lives, and I’m now lucky enough to practice that belief within my own team.
A9: What has been the most impactful story in regard to how your business is investing in girls’ education?
NB: Whenever I am around young girls at school, their spirit inspires me to work harder. I was visiting a school in Pakistan where I met a student who had so much admiration for her teachers that she was set on also becoming one. She recognized the importance of letting girls learn at such a young age. My parents are immigrants — education changed the trajectory of their life. Education is the only reason I’m here today, and it’s why every Kálos purchase supports girls’ education — to provide opportunity to girls just like me.
A9: What’s your favourite product from the Kálos line?
NB: This is like choosing a favorite child! Misses Clean — my holy grail cleansing foam! I could not live without this ultra gentle cleanser, its formula actually mimics a baby wash. I use it twice a day and I haven’t used a makeup wipe in years.
A9: For someone who may not have a skincare regimen, what would be your no. 1 product recommendation? [moisturizer, toner, etc.]
NB: Cleanser! It’s important to find a cleanser that will leave you with a fresh face without stripping your skin. While treatments are important, they are ineffective if your skin isn’t truly clean.
Want to give her products a try? Use the code AISLE9 to save 15% on your order [valid through 11/30].