The Quality Makers: Emily Parr of HoliFrog & Current State

Credit: Current State

Welcome to The Quality Makers, an interview series highlighting pioneers in the direct-to-consumer space. Join us as we get an inside look at the world of digital shopping through the eyes of the individuals shaping it…

Emily Parr, co-founder of the two skincare brands HoliFrog and Current State, moved to Martha's Vineyard after spending over 15 years living in New York City. She spent all her free time in Central Park, only to eventually move to a place where the entire island is like one big Central Park. Almost subconsciously, Emily believes her skin to have been the catalyst for this move – a direct result of her famous ‘situational skincare’ philosophy: to provide your skin with what it needs, when it needs it. In following her heart, mind and body, Emily shares with us below what ultimately led her to begin her impressive career in becoming a brand founder.

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What did your start in the beauty industry look like?

EP: “My start in the beauty industry was in PR. Really, I have Salma Hayek to thank for that. I was doing PR on the side as a consultant for one of her friends who owns Juice Generation. But at the same time, I also had a full time job – I was doing PR for Equinox. I was good at what I do, and so fast forward and next thing I know I’m doing the PR for Salma’s beauty brand!

For the first year, I just focused on learning the beauty industry because I had never done beauty accounts before. In 2012, I founded my own company called Poke PR, but honestly, I was always ready for the next step. One thing led to another, and in 2013, I started reaching out to clean indie beauty brands that were just starting to become a thing. That quickly became my passion: these founder-led brands that were ingredient focused.

Credit: HoliFrog

They all told a story that I felt connected to, but no two stories were the same, nor did they conflict. Sometimes I had three brands launching a very similar product at the same time, and I began to question: why did I like this brand's vitamin C so much better than that brand’s? I started really researching the ingredients. So I just deep dove; there was a new website called INCIDecoder for learning about safe, clean ingredients. I became obsessed because it really broke down the analysis on any ingredient you wanted to search for.”

What led you to finally start your own company?

EP: “In 2018, I reached this point in my career where there were so many clean, premium beauty brands from around the world that we're launching, and so many were reaching out to me because I represented all the biggest brands in that genre. But I found myself at a crossroads because I wasn’t super interested in those brands anymore. It was around that time that I met my now co-founder Majeed Hemmat, and we became really good friends. He was that person I would call every night to analyze the industry with. He came to me and said: we should create a brand together, what if we launched a line of cleansers? I was hesitant, but then it was Memorial Day weekend, it was super hot and I was going on these long runs. I'm sweating profusely and washing my face a million times a day, and my skin is freaking out. But I couldn't understand why because I'm very intentional about the products I use on my face. That's when I started thinking about what he said to me about cleansers.

Credit: HoliFrog

I came to the conclusion that I was breaking out because I was washing my face too much with the same cleanser. And that's what ultimately led me to the whole situational skincare philosophy: this idea of feeding your skin what it needs, when it needs it. I realized I needed a cleanser that was milky, nourishing and hydrating to start my day, that would be facewash 1. After my run, Facewash 2 would be something like a creamy acid cleanser that didn't strip my skin of my moisture barrier. And then after I go to the beach in the afternoon on a Saturday, I would need a double cleanse, to get rid of the sunscreen as well, so I wanted an oil based cleanser that didn't have essential oils in it – that would be Facewash 3 & 4, etc. One thing led to the next, and we eventually decided to launch HoliFrog with our situational cleansing line:

HoliFrog

Tashmoo - Water Lily Milky Wash

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Credit: HoliFrog

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Holifrog

Sunapee - Sacred C Powder Wash

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Como - Popp-E Scrubby Wash

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Superior - Omega Gel Wash

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Shasta - AHA Acid Wash

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Kissimmee - Vitamin F Cleansing Balm

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Tashmoo - Water Lily Milky Wash
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Holifrog
Sunapee - Sacred C Powder Wash
$44
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Holifrog
Como - Popp-E Scrubby Wash
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Superior - Omega Gel Wash
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Shasta - AHA Acid Wash
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Kissimmee - Vitamin F Cleansing Balm
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Tell me more about the philosophy of situational skincare.

EP: “Launching my first brand with one category really allowed me to depict this philosophy really clearly. You have all these different functional benefits across each cleanser, and you also have all different textures. Cleansing is the one category where you have such a variety – you can have a gel, a cream, a balm, a liquid oil, a scrub, a powder, a foam, etc. I thought this would be a great way for people to start thinking: maybe there's more to my skin than just my skin type.

In the midst of all this saturation within the beauty industry, HoliFrog’s philosophy was what people really connected with. It just makes so much sense and the beauty community caught onto that. People were already doing it all over social media – posting videos on their ‘current’ skincare routines. We're just putting words to it. We’re taking this notion of assessing your skin, and asking people to be their skin’s best specialist. Because no one knows your skin better than you. What we’re telling people is that: it's a formula but your skin type is only one part of the equation. The other part of the equation is your current skin needs or concerns.

Credit: Current State

In January of last year, I met my business partner to talk about launching another brand. I told him: our philosophy is the greatest part because it’s so distinct. And this time, the philosophy has to be the brand name because with HoliFrog, ‘situational skincare’ is just the tagline. I needed to come up with a way for our new brand to have its own identity, but still share that philosophy, because I truly believe this is the future of skincare. Our aim is to bring the same intuition and that same level of care in terms of what our body needs, to our skin. That’s what ultimately brought us to Current State, and its tagline: ‘follow your skin intuition’.”

If they share the same philosophy, what differentiates HoliFrog from Current State?

EP: “We wanted to bring that philosophy to a totally different customer via price point. What makes the price point different across different skincare brands is the cost of the raw materials. For example, HoliFrog uses a lot of ingredients that are bioengineered, which are super expensive. Even though Current State is a lot less expensive, I wanted to make sure I was still delivering high quality ingredients, because if the quality isn't good, then what’s the point? I know so much about ingredients – the derivatives, the raw materials, the efficacy, the pricing, etc. And I know how to offer quality at a price point that most people can afford. Since the spectrum of raw material pricing is so broad, we’ve been very strategic about making Current State more affordable, but just as effective.

In addition to making Current State more affordable, we also wanted to make it more accessible. But we needed to do that in a way where Current State felt unique in and of itself. That’s why we created what's called the Current Core: our six skin food groups. Educating our community on what ingredients work for them, personally, has always been our goal.”

Credit: Current State

Current State

Retinol + Marula Renewing Serum

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Credit: Current State

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Current State

Salicylic + Green Tea Exfoliating Cleanser

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Current State

Aloe + Algae Lightweight Gel Cream

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Sunflower + Oat Melting Cleansing Balm

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Strawberry + Probiotic Balancing Gel Cleanser

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Retinol + Marula Renewing Serum
$22
$22
Code:
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Current State
Salicylic + Green Tea Exfoliating Cleanser
$17
$17
Code:
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Current State
Aloe + Algae Lightweight Gel Cream
$15
$15
Code:
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Current State
Sunflower + Oat Melting Cleansing Balm
$20
$20
Code:
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Current State
Strawberry + Probiotic Balancing Gel Cleanser
$14
$14
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What are your thoughts on skincare as selfcare?

EP: “I’ve only ever known skincare as selfcare because I come from the wellness space. For me, beauty is a part of my wellness; the two of them have always been intrinsically linked. I think that goes back to the days of not feeling good about my skin for so many years. Those negative feelings affect everything – from what I wanted to do socially, to how I felt about myself mentally.

I’ve always struggled with my skin, so I was really looking for the magic recipe that would just work. I have combination-oily skin and have always been very prone to breakouts. I went from using all the very clinical, sciency type formulas, to using only super natural brands, and both didn't work for me. I learned very early on what wasn’t for me, making me want to figure out what is for me even more.

Whenever I’m feeling good about my skin, I naturally want to be out there more. And that’s why beauty is such an inherent part of selfcare – when I practice selfcare, I reflect on how beautiful I’m feeling.”

What do you hope people will take away from HoliFrog & Current State?

EP: “I hope people will slow down and stop listening to everyone else’s opinions on what kinds of products they should be using or what ingredients are the best. Just because we see some ingredients like vitamin C or retinol being used across the skincare industry, doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. There’s simply no ingredient that’s universally friendly to everyone’s skin. That’s a lesson I’ve learned as a brand founder, and I hope I can pass that knowledge onto those that engage with our brands.”

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Figure out your Current State with HoliFrog’s situational skincare philosophy!

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