Over twenty SheGives members and friends attended Monday night’s Festive@Follain event in Beacon Hill, where they shopped, learned all about the healthy beauty products that Follain—which is Gaelic for “healthy, wholesome, and sound”—offers, and discussed the issues facing the beauty industry today.
Walking into Follain’s Beacon Hill location, one immediately feels welcomed by the calm, relaxed environment and the eager customer service reps, who, according to Founder and CEO Tara Foley, are all taught with a 300-page training manual when hired. Each is abundantly knowledgeable about the chemicals found in our everyday beauty products.
Foley says her primary goal for the store is to share this knowledge with the public. “Every time someone walks in the door, we know they’ve been educated,” she says. She will begin talking to women by asking them how many products they use a day, and if they are aware of the lack of federal regulation of the chemicals in those products. In some cases, women will walk in with a makeup bag full of products and walk out having swapped each product for a safe option.
Foley began educating SheGives members and guests Monday night by talking about the harmful chemicals that can appear in common skincare products in the United States. There are many chemicals that are banned in other countries, she says, but they continue to be used in the United States. According to Foley, these chemicals can cause health problems when they bio-accumulate, or become concentrated in the body. “Our skin doesn’t have a liver to digest stuff like that, so it goes right into our bloodstream,” Foley said. She also cited a direct link between the chemicals found in many deodorants and breast cancer.
Her solution? “Safer products.” Foley became passionate about finding safer beauty products in 2009, when she started reviewing products on her blog. At that time, she says, there were not enough brands to open a store. After reviewing the stores in the area that included safe products, she received positive feedback and decided to quit her job and move to France to work on an organic lavender farm. “I spent the next four years on a journey learning about skincare, learning about sustainability, learning about business,” she said. Upon her return to the United States, she enrolled in an MBA program at Babson College and, after graduating, opened her first store in the south end of Boston in 2013, despite her professors’ assertions that opening a brick-and-mortar store was “a terrible idea.”
She now has four stores that carry products from 47 brands. All products are screened to ensure that they are safe and environmentally sustainable, and all products are made in the U.S. and are not tested on animals. But Foley’s only getting started. “This is a growing movement,” says Foley. “A third of these brands didn’t exist in 2009.” And the issue has been getting attention: on November 29 of this year, columnist Nicholas Kristof posted an opinion piece in the New York Times comparing the skincare industry to the tobacco industry in that both have powerful lobbies that resist legislative change.
Foley seeks to make her customers more aware of this issue. “Our goal is to shift a mindset on skincare products,” says Foley. Many women, she says, come into the store after being affected in some way by the negative consequences of these products, and she wants to start educating people before this happens. If you want to start using safer skin care products, you can make an appointment at any of their locations, attend a makeup tutorial, and follow them on social media for other events. You can also read Tara Foley’s blog and learn more about their products at the Follain web site.
Check out even more photos from the evening by scrolling through the gallery below.
All photos courtesy of SLY Photography