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.
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!