Allie Jane Isn’t Afraid To Tackle Anti-Aging With Realism And Joy
Kim O’Kelly isn’t shy about employing the term anti-aging. She’s 48-years-old, but doesn’t feel middle-aged or want her face to broadcast it. She’s interested in seriously effective products, but likes them to show their fun side, too. She’s creative, but has spent most of her career in the financial industry. O’Kelly has bottled those aspects of herself and more in Allie Jane, a new botanical skincare brand that’s as colorful as it’s concentrated.
“I searched department stores and Whole Foods to find a brand that spoke to me, and I wasn’t finding anything. I was trying to wrap my head around why. I was looking for anti-aging and something I could understand. Nothing really jumped out at me,” she says. “Everything looked hippie or for an older lady. I thought, ‘If that’s the case for me, there have to be other women we felt the same.’”
Allie Jane, named for O’Kelly’s toddler cousin, is an anti-aging option for city-dwelling professional women who can’t be bothered keeping up with Glossier’s fan club of cool girls and don’t relish plunking down for La Mer. (Allie Jane’s price range runs from $20 to $32.) They also gravitate to natural beauty brands to match their preferences for healthy food and occasional sweat sessions.
“They have aging concerns and buy products to address them, but with minimal and clean ingredients. They could be vegan, and I make sure the ingredients I use are vegan,” says O’Kelly, not dodging the oft-castigated descriptor anti-aging. “I personally don’t have a problem with it. I know that a lot of people do. I have tried to come up with other things to call it, and everything doesn’t really sound right. For me, that’s what it is.”
O’Kelly figures Allie Jane’s target customers are in their late-20s to mid-30s. They’re drawn to specific skincare ingredients like vitamin C, and O’Kelly hopes to wow them with the array of fruits, berries and seeds such as papaya, baobab, cucumber seed, camellia seed, elderberry and pomegranate she’s tapped for Allie Jane’s products.
The brand’s initial three items are Fresh Face Superfruit Polish, Milky Cleansing Balm & Mask and Nourish & Glow Active Botanical Face Serum. In developing them, O’Kelly paid particular attention to scents and textures. The Milky cleanser is a light waterless balm that, appropriately, becomes milky when contacted with water. It’s intended to be gentle and not to strip the skin’s oils while removing grime and cosmetics, and can be applied as a face mask as well. Cucumber seed oil in the cleanser gives it a fresh smell.
Like the Milky cleanser, the Superfruit Polish doubles as a mask. However, it’s main purposes are to smooth the skin and unclog pores. Nourish & Glow serum can be worn under makeup, and is designed to prevent moisture loss and protect against environmental damage. The papaya seed oil in it helps the skin with its exfoliation process. So far, Nourish & Glow has received the strongest response from O’Kelly’s friends and customers on Etsy, where she sold products before finalizing Allie Jane’s current merchandise lineup.
Allie Jane’s exterior packaging isn’t to be ignored. It lets the bright hues of the skincare inside shine through. The labels feature a flower logo that’s a formalized version of O’Kelly’s fanciful doodling and triangles that are meant to evoke spikes. She’s going for a Hollywood glamour-meets-rock ‘n’ roll vibe. “I like the juxtaposition of something soft and feminine like a flower with spikes,” says O’Kelly.
O’Kelly turned to skincare as a relief valve. Her desk job was no longer inspiring her, and the ongoing computer work it required caused her to suffer carpal tunnel syndrome. She purchased “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Making Natural Beauty Products” on Amazon and began whipping up her own skincare recipes. She then enrolled in Formula Botanica classes to increase her formulating knowledge.
It’s taken $10,000 to get Los Angeles-based Allie Jane off the ground, and O’Kelly’s goal is to reach $50,000 in sales during its first year on the market. She envisions additional products – a natural sunscreen and a men’s line are on her wish list – and is planning on pursuing local stores to make early distribution inroads. She’s holding off on e-commerce to focus on wholesale accounts at the outset.
“I don’t want to overwhelm myself. If it’s going pretty well, and I’m confident, then I will open up the website and go from there,” explains O’Kelly. “We are going to start with small boutiques on the West Coast. I like the idea of collaborating with small business owners. I want to start slow because I’m new at this. Later, we will branch out.”