No Sibling Rivalry Here: Two Sisters Join Forces To Create Clean Skincare Brand Corson Beauty
For sister duo Marilyn Corson and Bridget Ford (née Corson), creating clean skincare is a family affair.
The apples don’t fall from the tree in the Corson clan. Ford’s and Corson’s mom set a holistic example for the siblings when they were growing up in pastoral Minnesota. “Our mom would make everything from scratch—our food, cleaning supplies, even sometimes clothes,” says Corson. “She taught us that unless you knew the ingredients or you made [something] yourself, you couldn’t just assume it’s good for you. We’ve seen the power of nature show itself in many ways throughout our lives. Milk baths curing poison ivy, aloe vera soothing sunburns, manuka honey protecting cuts and scrapes from infections. If nature has a solution, we’ve always started there.”
“We’ve seen the power of nature show itself in many ways throughout our lives. Milk baths curing poison ivy, aloe vera soothing sunburns, manuka honey protecting cuts and scrapes from infections. If nature has a solution, we’ve always started there.”
With known, natural ingredients a driving force, Corson Beauty launched in April 2018 with four core skincare products: $38 Cream Cleanser, $32 Toner, $46 Day Moisturizer and $88 Night Oil. At the end of last year, the brand expanded with three face masks: $48 green Hydrating Balm, $42 pink Brightening Gel and $26 grey Clarifying Dry Clay. “We’ve set out to create the purest skincare without compromise,” says Corson. “To us, that means [not making] a single compromise when it comes to the whole experience from formulation to packaging to design.”
Corson Beauty produces its merchandise in small batches, and the brand generates anywhere from 10 to 100-plus products per batch to meet demand. In addition to the single items, Corson Beauty’s selection features a complete set of its products for $172. Corson says, “We wanted to make sure our products were accessible without compromising the quality to lower our prices. All of our ingredients are carefully selected. We use cold-pressed oils, and everything is sourced in the best way possible.”
Corson Beauty’s formulas steer clear of water and synthetic fragrances. The brand’s hero product Night Oil contains a blend of 14 plant-based oils such as chamomile, rosehip, hazelnut and watermelon. “It’s something I reach for multiple times a day, even though it’s a night oil. It’s super rich, nourishing and hydrating,” says Corson. “And it’s fast-absorbing, so there’s no oily residue.”
The products are packaged in recyclable glass jars with a custom white coating to shield formulas from sun exposure. “We wanted our customers to be excited to use and display our products on their countertops,” says Corson. Corson Beauty’s external packaging is comprised of recyclable cardboard boxes that help protect the products in transit. Corson proclaims, “Plastic wasn’t even an option.”
“We love working with local businesses and meeting our customers at pop-ups. It’s so special for our customers to be able to feel and smell a product.”
Aside from their natural inclincations, Corson’s and Ford’s parents were business owners, and their parents’ entrepreneurial grit comes in handy for the beauty brand. The sisters have enlisted the older Corsons to help with tasks like order fulfillment. The family teamwork doesn’t end there. Corson’s partner Zach designed Corson Beauty’s packaging. Ford’s husband Sam pitches in on the finance side of the business.
Corson Beauty is currently stocked at shops in San Francisco, where the brand and Corson are based, as well as Little Rock, Ark., where Ford is located, including Winc Beauty, Box Turtle, Gravel + Gold, Bare Bowls and Succulents. “We love working with local businesses and meeting our customers at pop-ups,” says Corson. “It’s so special for our customers to be able to feel and smell a product. It’s also been really helpful for us to learn which types of customers are interested in what.” Among Corson Beauty’s dream retail partners are Credo, Follain, Lemon Laine and Aillea.
Building a brand while living in separate cities can be difficult, but Corson and Ford figure out ways to make it work. Corson says, “It’s a great excuse for us to visit each other often. We complement each other really well. Most of what I handle—marketing, creative and logistics—can be done remotely. She handles formulation and production. For me, the toughest part is not wanting to miss anything. There’s a lot of video chats and back and forth. For her, I’m sure being responsible for making products and shipping them out, it would be helpful for her to have another pair of hands. As we grow, there will be a lot of scaling questions.”
Rather than focusing on revving up sales this year, Corson Beauty is investing in connecting with retail buyers and customers face to face, starting with trade show participation at Indie Beauty Expo Dallas and West Coast Craft. “We’re excited to keep meeting people in the industry, doing pop-ups and fostering our relationships with wholesale partners,” says Corson. “We want to educate our customers and bring awareness to the benefits of Corson Beauty.”