Monica Aurigemma & Kim van HaasterBloomeffects

Kim van Haaster (above right) was a beauty marketing and sales executive based in New York City when she fell in love with a man whose family owned a Dutch tulip farm. After relocating to the Netherlands, she enlisted friend and former co-worker Monica Aurigemma (above left) to help her create Bloomeffects: a clean skincare line formulated with their proprietary Dutch tulip complex, which is rich in antioxidants, amino acids and natural moisturizing factors, for soft, glowing skin.

What drove you to start your own brand? I was driven by a personal need for clean and wildly effective products that would help my dry and eczema-prone skin, but that were also safe to use during my pregnancy and safe for the environment.

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, and I always wanted to start my own business. In Vietnam, my family owned a major fishing company before the war. When my mom escaped as a refugee and arrived in Australia, she continued to use her entrepreneurial spirit to run restaurants, work in production, run her own nail art business…the list goes on. She really is my inspiration to work hard every day and make the most of all the opportunities I’ve been given, because of the sacrifices she made.

Why tulips though? Well, it was a light-bulb, or rather tulip-bulb, moment. I had just moved to the Netherlands to live with my husband, Hein, a fourth-generation Dutch tulip farmer. We’d visited his family’s 115-year-old fields for the first time together and hand-cut some tulips to bring home. When arranging these freshly cut tulips, I asked Hein, “Why can I never arrange tulips properly? They seem to change and move overnight.” Hein responded instantly, “That’s because they’re one of the only flowers that continues to grow once cut.” It was that moment that my beauty brain went off—a flower that regenerates? Two government grants in research later, we are so proud to be the very first brand to discover the botanical power of the tulip!

When Kim told me she was moving from New York City to Holland for love, I couldn’t believe it! But when she showed me pictures, I was blown away by how beautiful the endless rows of tulips were and couldn’t wait to visit myself. Knowing how Kim’s brain works, I wasn’t surprised when she came up with the idea of turning the amazing regenerative properties of the tulip into skincare. I couldn’t be more excited to partner with her.
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"Our pregnancies made clean beauty even more important to us since we tested hundreds of products on our skin. If we felt comfortable testing on ourselves, we felt confident the final product would be clean and safe for our consumers."
—Monica Aurigemma

What’s your favorite product in the line? My favorite product would have to be our Royal Tulip Nectar. It literally saved my skin during my pregnancy. My eczema was so bad; I was itchy, rashy, flaky, scaly and extremely dry, and the worst part was I had to go cold turkey and quit using all my cortisones! The Nectar not only treated my skin, but over time, it’s completely healed and strengthened my skin barrier. Today, 15 months after my daughter was born, I’m now more confident to be makeup-free and completely cortisone-free. I created our Nectar to be a multi-use, cure-all luxurious skincare product. I personally use it as the last step in my nighttime routine as a sleep mask. You can also use the Nectar as an express 15-minute deeply hydrating wipe-off mask, to get Zoom-ready fast.

I’m obsessed with the Dutch Dirt Mask. One of my biggest skincare concerns has always been clogged pores. I use this as a 10-minute mask twice a week for a deep clean that leaves my skin silky smooth without irritation or dryness. I also use it in the shower throughout the week for a quick exfoliating scrub when my schedule doesn’t allow for real mask time.

What are your morning and evening routines? My toddler is going through a sleep regression, so I’m generally woken up by her, and we try to stay in bed for a little while and read a book together. When we’re ready to get out of bed, we both brush our teeth and wash our faces; I use our Royal Tulip Cleansing Jelly. I slather on our Nectar while my face is still damp and keep that on for most of the morning until our babysitter arrives and I can shower and get ready for the day. Alternatively, I might air dry my face, then apply our new Tulip Dew Drops on clean, damp skin as my serum and follow with less than a pea size of the Nectar as my day moisturizer. I finish off with some SPF, some mascara and our Tulip Tint on my cheeks and lips for a little flush of color.

In the morning, I’m woken up by my trusty alarm clock—my almost two-year-old daughter, who thankfully is definitely a morning person and is teaching me to be one as well. I get her situated, drink a lot of coffee and wash my face with our Royal Tulip Cleansing Jelly, which leaves my combo skin just hydrated enough that I don’t need extra moisturizer. At night, we read books together and do the bedtime routine, followed by a glass of red wine with my husband while we both do a Dutch Dirt Mask (seriously, he does love it) and unwind/recap our days.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? I think people would be surprised to learn that both Monica and I were pregnant for the first time when we started Bloomeffects. Obviously, that’s something we didn't plan, and certainly it made things a little more challenging. I was traveling to New York up until I was 36-weeks pregnant, and I was closing a capital raise moments before going into labor. It sounds crazy thinking back on it now, but I wouldn’t change any part of it.

Our pregnancies made clean beauty even more important to us since we tested hundreds of products on our skin. If we felt comfortable testing on ourselves, we felt confident the final product would be clean and safe for our consumers.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business? My mindset is don’t sweat the small stuff and always remember what’s really important. You have to prioritize because it’s impossible to be all things to all people all the time. And failure is OK. The most important thing is to own it, learn from it, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. That’s something that my daughter has taught me as she learns everyday how to run faster, climb higher and say more words. It's ok to get it wrong, just keep trying and have the grit to see things through.

Trust yourself and surround yourself by a great support team (partners, friends, family, co-workers, mentors…the list goes on). Every day is not the same, and you should forget the notion of a to-do list because it simply will not exist anymore!
Kim van Haaster and Monica Aurigemma of Bloomeffects
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