We had the good fortune of connecting with Bassima Mroue and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bassima, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am Lebanese-American but consider myself a Global Citizen. I was born in the US, and grew up in the Ivory Coast and Canada. My mother and grandmother were married at a very young age (14 and 16), but I was given the opportunity to have an education which changed everything for me.
Growing up in Africa, I was able to see the tremendous gap between the rich and the poor, and I was also exposed to the beauty and strength of the African culture and spirit. It grounded me at an early age. Having visited Lebanon throughout the years, I was able to understand the devastating impact civil war can have on a country, while also experiencing the resilience and endless passion of the Lebanese. Growing up in Canada taught me so much about a country that is beloved no matter where you go in the world, and living in the US, exposed me to the “American” dream, a country where truly anything is possible.
I also have a varied career background having worked in various industries and functions, from IT, Supply Chain, to Brand and Strategy. And to now being an entrepreneur. All of these experiences have made me who I am today. They have given me great perspective on life, what truly matters, the importance of having empathy and how much more similar we are as a human race, than different (at our core, where it matters most).
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
SkinTē’s mission is to unleash health and beauty from the inside out, every day. The brand was founded by 3 women, a doctor, a chef and a biz brain (that’s me!) who all went through major life transitions. I had stage 4 endometriosis and had to get back surgery. Dr. Bader was a divorced mom, and Elizabeth suffered the tragic loss of a child. We channeled all that energy to create an innovative brand at the intersection of Beauty, Fashion and Wellness, with our first product line being the first ever collagen sparkling tea in the market.
The overall experience of SkinTē, from the light and refreshing taste (which is rare with collagen), the carbonated collagen with real brewed herbs and teas, to the chic and fashionable packaging, sets us apart from others. Each flavor includes a powerful blend of the highest quality kosher bovine collagen peptides, organic teas, super herbs, 100% DV vitamin C and smart ingredients (no soy, dairy, gluten, dyes, added sugar or artificial sweeteners). Each ingredient was handpicked for its emotional, spiritual and physical impact on well-being. The four flavors currently in market are White Tea Ginger, Green Tea Grapefruit, Hibiscus Vanilla (caffeine free) and Lemon Lime (caffeine free).
We launched in January 2019 and we got a lot of organic press with NYT, WSJ, Goop, Allure, PopSugar, etc. SkinTē was also finalist for Best Ingestible by Indie Beauty Expo 2 years in a row, 2018/ 2019. We are so honored, but nothing gives me more joy than the emails, texts and calls we get from consumers saying that SkinTē was there “go-to COVID” drink, because it made them feel better and glow during such a challenging time, or that the packaging and the stripes made them smile/happy.
I left the corporate world to start SkinTē, with minimum security and big risk. But we were betting on ourselves, and on our fans who value health and beauty from the inside out. There were incredible challenges and victories on the way, from fundraising in the middle of a pandemic and worrying about surviving, to growing 300% in 2020 and thriving during the pandemic. I always tell people who ask what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and I tell them my experience has been that the highs are so high and the lows are so low: you are either bawling in the fetal position or pinching yourself because you can’t believe you just got into 300 stores nationwide with Sprouts.
The lessons I have learned are that you have to have super thick skin; hear the naysayers for what you might learn from them, but not let them take away from your spirit. You have to believe more than anyone believes in order to serve your consumer the way you dream to serve them. You have to have a bigger purpose than just selling a beverage, a purpose that will enable you to overcome anything that comes your way, because it’s not just about you or sales. You have to realize that the entrepreneurial journey tests you in every way, physically, spiritually and emotionally. The lessons I’ve learned along the way, and the resilience and perspective it has given me, is absolutely worth it. Even more important than the outcome.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a funny question for me as I am a true homebody and I was in LA only 1.5 years and traveling a lot, before Quarantine hit. I am obsessed with anything health, wellness or fitness related. This is why I love LA so much as it’s the Mecca of Wellness.
If I had a best friend come into town, the first thing I would do is walk over with them to Erewhon Market on Beverly Blvd which is close to where I live. Erewhon is a California luxury supermarket chain with six locations. It focuses on niche, locally-produced, organic foods and offerings that appeal to raw, vegan, keto, kosher, and other alternative diets. One of the things I love about them as well is that you will always find offerings from up and coming emerging brands, and they were the first retailer to take on SkinTē. I absolutely love them.
I would include a long walk at the Santa Monica beach, one of my favorite places, with seafood lunch at the Lobster Restaurant. On another day we would go for a hike one morning at Runyon Canyon, one of my favorite ways to de-stress and get some exercise pre-COVID. Dinner could be at my favorite Lebanese restaurant, Sunnin, in Westwood, or Sugar Fish for sushi. Walking around the Grove is another fun experience, and eating at the Farmer’s Market where you can find amazing little eclectic food stands.
Of course, I can’t have a friend visit without a spa day 🙂 I would book appointments for facials and endermologie treatments at Embody Esthetics, an amazing boutique med spa in Beverly Hills with impeccable service . The owner Michelle De Leon is absolutely wonderful. We would visit ShapeHouse for an infrared sauna treatment, and get our nails done at HoneyBees, a nail salon that offers toxic-free products.
LA is one of my favorite cities in the world – although I’m incredibly busy with travel and running the company, I feel so grateful to live in this city where anytime I step out, I know I can do something wellness related to help me recharge and feed my soul.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to Gina Warren. She was my very first mentor ever, and I met her when she was the VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Nike. There are no words to describe how amazing Gina is and the impact she has had on my life.