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COLUMN: Less is more when it comes to building a business, says Squamish entrepreneur

Helena Lane Skincare cuts product line by 30 per cent in order to take things to the next level

Helena Young’s at home studio is surprisingly unassuming. We sat down recently to chat, or rather I did, Young continued to toil away at her island workspace mixing a new formulation of lightly tinted skin cream.

Young is at a fascinating time of transition for her business Helena Lane Skincare. Things are going well. So well, in fact, that she’s decided — perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively – to scale back her product line by about 30 per cent.

“It felt like the right time to simplify. Right now I’m reformulating most of my products, but also trying out a few new ones like this tinted moisturizer I’m working on right now. But overall I’m going down from about 30 products to 20,” said Young, stirring a couple of tablespoons of bronze mica powder into her bowl.

While Helena Lane Skincare primarily retails online and does a booming business in China, it is also available in select shops in key urban centres like Toronto and Edmonton, and nationally at Whole Foods. In Squamish, the line can be found at Be Clean Naturally and Euphoria.

“At the moment, I'm doing lots of experimenting with recipes and formulation. That’s really what I enjoy and I rarely get to do much of it anymore,” said Young, who was a chef and pastry chef before she got into working with skincare lines in the UK where she is originally from.

The key to her success seems to be keeping everything simple, from the ingredients she uses to the number that end up in each bottle or jar. This principle even extends to her staff. As a mother to young school-aged children herself, Young employs two other moms to work with her four days a week — during school hours.

“It’s always worked out great for us,” she said. “Family is first. We don’t work holidays or professional development days. If we have to take a child to the dentist or something, there’s space for that. It works for everyone.”

In addition to creating “simple effective formulations,” Young said Helena Lane products are designed to heal and improve skin so that it can become as healthy as possible on the outside. Whether an individual suffers from eczema, rosacea, acne or simply want to create a skin care regime as they age, her approach is to get customers using fewer products over time, not more.

“That’s my goal,” she emphasized. “It's really about getting the skin healthy and working. As your skin is looking healthier then we start to use less. We forget moisturizer. We don't feel like we need to cleanse of every day. When your skin is healthy, it will look after itself.”

Ultimately, Young says, her satisfaction comes from helping people.

“It's all in the education and being honest to people. I love talking with people,” she said.  “I think people are really bamboozled with skincare opportunities, and I think some are not necessarily coming from a very honest place. And so it's really nice to be able to take people who have not had a good journey and say, ‘Okay, let's get you just doing better. It can be really tough for people who have skin issues.”


**Please note, this story has been updated since it was first posted to correct a name error in the caption of the main photo. The company is Helena Lane Skincare, not Helena Young Skincare. 

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