In our new special series, we are sharing interviews and stories from the founders, stylists and experts that we have been so lucky to meet through Kiwabi’s partnerships.First up, is Laura Linsenmayer, Founder and Owner of non-toxic cosmetic shop and organic color salon, Roots The Beauty Underground in gorgeous Laguna Beach.
Laura went from film / tv makeup artist to launching her own boutique a little over four years ago. It sounds like there has been a lot to learn and quickly, but she knew what she was good at, and made her dreams come true. Here, she shares with us her story and gives us an inside look into her store and what’s most important in beauty and life.
How long have you been in business and why did you decide to open your own shop?
We’ve been open for 4 years as of August 1st. It was on a full moon, so I think everything was meant to be. It took about 9 months from birth of the idea to Roots The Beauty Underground opening its doors to the first clients.
It was about 8 years ago that I found “my path.” I was walking around my neighborhood then and found an organic salon. It was the cutest salon and a great group of girls worked there. They introduced me to this other world of non-toxic cosmetics and I started to do my own research. It all made very good common sense, like choosing grass fed beef. If you have the option, you’d choose the cleaner option, right? And, I saw this big gap in the market. You could only get many of these cleanly formulated natural products online at that time and couldn’t test them out.
Furthermore, I’ve always been in the beauty industry and knew from my experience working on films and tv sets that one-on-one interactions with my clients were what I am good at. I am able to gain the client’s trust, figure out a client’s specific needs and find solutions for them — and important when you own a store, sell them on it. I saw a need, paired it with my beauty industry experience, and knew that opening up a store is what I wanted to do.
My clients taught me a lot along the way, too. I also did my due diligence. I took a job at Bare Essentials in LA although I’d never worked in a corporate environment. I learned so much. Then, I packed up all my stuff and headed to Laguna Beach where I am from and lived at my folks house, worked on my business plan and put it all together piece by piece.
You created a beautifully curated store and salon—what is your process to find the right product assortment that works?
First, you have to get the business plan down. I read lots of books and took courses on business plan writing and did it myself. The business side has to be well planned.
Then, I found a lot of great advice from those I admired to get ideas and recommendations on the best products out there. For me, Tata Harper and Sophie Uliano from Gorgeously Green are some of the experts that I admire and found. I researched all the products that they talked and wrote about.
I also try out every product for two weeks before I carry it in the store. Now I make mini-samples and give it to friends to try out, too so I can compare results. It was a lot of trial and error and testing but the process gave me great results and a deeper understanding of the products I carry and various customers needs.
What is the most common question or misconception that you hear from your clients?
“Is everything in here all organic?” Which comes from a lack of education on the ingredients that are commonly used in cosmetics and skincare. It’s not just about being Organic that makes a beauty product safe and efficacious. There’s so many chemicals in regular products, it’s more about knowing how to recognize them and being able to make a well educated decision to choose a cleanly formulated product. Roots is all about educating our clients. They leave knowing so much more.
Second is that organic or natural products don’t work and is expensive — it’s not true. I have a hyaluronic acid and goat milk face cream for $20 and it’s replaced La Mer for many of my clients.
What do you love most about what you do?
I’m not really a makeup artist but rather, I think of it as healing souls. Everybody who walks in says the energy is so good here. People leave here smiling and flirting with themselves in the mirror. I love enhancing their natural beauty. I can see the beauty in everybody, and the store allows me the space and environment to help them enhance that, not to change them. It’s a healing space.
What are some of your personal favorite must-have items at your store?
Root Vanish is hands down a favorite—I even promote it using it for eyebrows, I do a lot of eye-brow grooming; I clean up clients brows and started using the root-touch up pen. I’ve been selling them more as a brow filler than root touch up! I no longer carry any other root touch-ups since I started carrying Root Vanish.
Our Roots Beauty favorites:
Laurel whole plants organic. Her line is so impeccably done, nothing above body temperature. Everything is whole plant ingredient; very bio and compatible with our bodies. You feel nourished by it and also Josh Rosebrook. Those are my two skincare favorites.
Ilia Beauty for Makeup. It’s a full spectrum professional color line. Everything works so well—I do a lot of makeup with them and Vapor Organic. They are an organic, oil-based line. I tell my clients this is as much skincare as Makeup and show them how their skin improves with use.
Rahua for hair care. This is my number one seller centered around a nut from the Amazon region. From this nut comes an extremely nourishing super food (oil) and you truly see an improvement in scalp and your hair using the line.
What advice do you most often give?
My advice is first and foremost—men or women—exfoliation is truly the most important thing, your face, your body. Then it breaks down to what’s right for you. Every skin is different, so we offer a range—from fruit enzymes, to non-granular, Asian dry brushing, oxygenating your skin, etc.…and then moisturizing are the two important steps. For fine lines—80% of our fine lines is dead skin cells, you need to exfoliate!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received in life, or in beauty:
I can’t stress enough—although I try not to preach about it but instead, lead by example — to have a positive mental attitude. If a woman walks in and puts herself down, points out her faults—it’s about self-love. We should have no negative self talk. I like keeping it positive, I want women to know they are beautiful as they are. I’m just there to enhance their natural beauty.
Any extra tips you can give us for a healthy, beautiful lifestyle?
I’m here to solve people’s problems and make a point to ask about the finest details if it seems appropriate and relevant for me to ask, for instance, “are you using a water filter for your shower and bath?” We sell a universal shower filter that eliminates heavy metals and chlorine and this is important when you consider how important water is for your skin and hair.
With men for example if they’re curious about what to buy, I ask “what’s your current regimen?” When they like something, they stick with it and buy it in multiples. I don’t try to change their routine per se but just replace items what they may be using that’s not working for them. After talking about what they use on their face, or in the shower, I’ll often cut them a bar of goat milk soap, have them try out some samples and they always come back and buy it!
“I’m big on sampling. I’m not selling you anything, I’m diagnosing you, you can try it and then come back and buy it, and I love the feedback it makes me smarter for the next customer!”
What’s your favorite thing about Laguna Beach?
There’s a vibration here like no other. It’s a little whimsical, everybody’s kind of silly and friendly, and we’re very artistic and creative here. Very open minded. Visually everyone is artistic. The way we dress, we’re casual…but unique at the same time.