By Kaitlyn Krasselt
The Stamford Advocate, Conn.
Like many teenagers, Marisa Arredondo suffered from an ailment often associated with puberty — acne.
But instead of growing out of it or finding a topical solution to cure it, Arredondo’s acne got worse and was often painful.
“I remember trying everything … topical solutions, scrubbing my face, shots in the really bad cystic acne that hurt so bad I cried. … I went to a dermatologist and tried really strong medications that were supposed to cure it and nothing worked,” Arredondo said. “And then when I was in college it came back in the form of adult acne.”
Determined to find a solution, feel great about her skin and help others do the same, the Greenwich native set out on a mission — to create a skin care line that actually worked, was aesthetically pleasing and clinically backed by science. And now, with the public launch of her line Phace Bioactive in January — which brought an influx of orders and praise, as well as a partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue — it seems she may be on her way.
“I always knew I would start a skincare line,” Arredondo said. “I come from a scientific and business background and it was just a matter of getting to this point.”
As a Stanford University and Harvard Business School graduate, Arredondo spent 12 years on Wall Street as an analyst and portfolio manager, investing and specializing in cosmetic, drug and biotech companies while searching for solutions to her own skin issues. Through her research and investing, Arredondo developed a network of highly trained chemists and business people, as well as an extensive knowledge of the science of skincare and what makes it work. What she learned, she said, was that pH — or the balance between alkalinity and acidity — is imperative to healthy skin.
“It’s all about your pH balance in that outermost layer of skin called the acid mantle,” Arredondo said. “If you’re having skin problems, then your PH balance is off and that could be due to any number of things like stress or a poor diet.”
Arredondo said the science behind her line of products can be dense and confusing, but she believes first understanding why pH balance is important can help customers understand why her products can work. An in-depth discussion of the science used to develop the skincare line can be found on her website, phacebioactive.com.
“I will tell you, I use these products every day and it actually works,” Arredondo said. “I won’t show anyone the before pictures, but my best friend will tell you how ugly I used to be. It’s really amazing the difference.”
Arredondo left Wall Street four years ago when she felt her network of connections and financial resources was strong enough to pursue her dream as an entrepreneur. The line she developed features seven products with an eighth soon to be released.
Launching a business was no easy task, and Arredondo said she spends a majority of her time working. But as the CEO and founder, she’s been able to oversee every detail from the development of the products to the package design, marketing and partnership with Saks.
Arredondo wanted to create an affordable luxury line that looked nice in her bathroom, was non-toxic, fragrance free and dermatologist-tested and approved. Once the product met the standards she set, she focused on developing the packaging and marketing materials with a simple, elegant and aesthetically pleasing design.
With a background primarily in business and science, she said starting Phace allowed her to cultivate her creative side, which presented a new and engaging challenge.
“The beauty is I know everything about this company,” Arredondo said. “So if somebody leaves or something happens, I know how to do everything.”
Once the products launched online in January, Arredondo said the products took off and she’s received nothing but positive feedback from consumers. The products launched with Saks Fifth Avenue several weeks ago, and in the fall will be part of the Apothecary Shop, a new concept set to launch in September.
“It’s an enormous honor to partner with Saks,” Arredondo said. “The only thing better are the emails I get from customers letting me know how great they feel and thanking me for the products. Nothing beats that. I live for the emails people send me.”
As for returning to her hometown, Arredondo said she always knew she’d be back in Greenwich, and being able to locate her headquarters and pursue her dreams in close proximity to her family has been a great opportunity.
“I love Greenwich and for me Greenwich is very personal. It’s beautiful and friendly … these are my roots,” Arredondo said.
“Being an entrepreneur is a really thrilling experience, and I hope as a female I can be an inspiration for other women to go after their dreams. It’s also just a lot of fun.”