Skincare Brand Strange Bird Combines Asian Beauty, Clean Beauty And New Age Rituals
Tina Chow Rudolf has been an actress, painter, social worker, therapist, life coach and beauty blogger. And that’s not all. She’s also a mom of two toddlers, wife, Reiki master, devoted meditator and the entrepreneur behind Strange Bird, a skincare brand launching in October. If Rudolf’s personal and professional undertakings seem like a weird mashup, it’s because they are.
“Strange bird is my nickname. I’ve been married to my husband for 11 years this year, and we’ve been together for 16 years. For those 16 years, he’s called me a very strange bird. I’ve always owned it and thought it was a great way to celebrate my uniqueness,” says Rudolf, whose spouse is Anthony Rudolf, founder of creative agency Co.Create NYC. “Since I’ve had my daughter Gaia and my son Rudy, we naturally call them strange birds, too. Kids are so strange! Strange Bird doesn’t only represent the mission of celebrating your authenticity, but it’s personal because we’re a family of strange birds. So, it’s a love letter to my family as well.”
The homage to her family extends beyond Rudolf’s children and husband. Strange Bird honors her skincare-obsessed Chinese mother and grandmother by incorporating the ingredients ginger, an antiseptic and antioxidant; ginseng, an anti-inflammatory and collagen-boosting root; and goji berry, a hydrator and mineral-packed problem solver, that were passed down from them. In fact, the brand is an amalgamation of Asian and clean beauty plus what Rudolf describes as the “woo-woo stuff” she’s into such as crystals, flower essences and mantras, and her mental health expertise, the decidedly not woo-woo stuff.
“My brand is offering a unique voice. It’s marrying the fun culture that Asian skincare brings to the space with the highest standards of clean beauty out there and, when I talk about creating a brand with a mission of helping women feel good about themselves, that’s coming from 10 years of working with women one-on-one,” she says. On top of everything, the brand has a strong element of self-discovery. “Having kids really changes you. I’m at this place now with a three-year-old and a 21-month-old where I was like, ‘Who the fuck am I, and what is my real truth?” says Rudolf. “This is a process of learning about myself. This is a process of me strengthening a muscle to trust myself.”
To classify the blend of the many elements that is Strange Bird, Rudolf has come up with a concept she dubs “Positive Impact Skincare.” She details Positive Impact Skincare addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual components of skincare. It’s a ton for Strange Bird’s three debut products—$58 Inner Clarity Cleanser, $108 Inner Balance Serum and $88 Inner Light Moisturizer—to deliver, but that’s why they took three years and over 100 iterations to perfect.
“Strange Bird doesn’t only represent the mission of celebrating your authenticity, but it’s personal because we’re a family of strange birds. So, it’s a love letter to my family as well.”
Rudolf pegs Inner Clarity Cleanser as the potential bestseller. In formulation, Rudolf paid close attention to texture, and the cleanser is a foaming exfoliating balm that features a detoxifying mix of kaolinite, rhassoul and bentonite clays along with the nourishment of sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and aloe. To combat negative energy, it has clear quartz and crab apple essence. The mantra “let it go” is written on the cleanser’s bottle.
Inner Balance Serum pairs amethyst, oak and white chestnut essences with aloe, niacinamide, and bilberry, algae, kelp, orange, lemon, cucumber and licorice extracts. It has a bouncy, milky texture that differentiates it from the plethora of oil serums in the clean beauty segment. Rudolf says, “It’s not meant to be radical. It’s meant to feel like your Levi’s jeans.”
Inner Light Moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid, camellia and jojoba oils, and rose quartz, mustard flower and olive flower essences. “It feels super light when you’re rubbing it on your face, and it leaves this very slight dewy sheen on your skin,” says Rudolf. “A lot of people prefer matte looks from their moisturizer, but I’m a dewy girl. I wanted to create a moisturizer that left your skin looking glowy because I don’t wear a lot of makeup.”
Rudolf elaborates, “When you tie these together, I’m really trying to create a skincare practice. You start with cleansing your skin and liberating yourself through washing off your makeup and liberating your internal energy. Then, with the serum, you ground yourself and your skin after cleansing. After feeling clear, free and rooted, then it’s time to feel loved so you can go out in this world be and a fucking badass.” The feelings Rudolf is attempting to foster with each product is captured on the packaging in illustrations by Cori Maass.
“My brand is offering a unique voice. It’s marrying the fun culture that Asian skincare brings to the space with the highest standards of clean beauty.”
Strange Bird teamed up with Shopify authority Alt & Dot to develop the brand’s website, which will be its primary sales engine at the outset. For retail distribution, Rudolf envisions it sitting in clean beauty stores from CAP Beauty, Follain and Credo, and lifestyle retailers like Anthropologie. Rudolf began an eponymous Asian beauty blog in 2012 and transitioned it two years later to green beauty, an interest of hers that’s only grown since she became a parent.
“My daughter comes into my room on a daily basis and eats my makeup. She thinks she’s putting it on, but she’s really eating it, and I want to feel safe about that,” says Rudolf. “If, for whatever reason, she pours my serum into her mouth, I want to know that’s going to be OK, even if it’s not delicious.”
Moving forward, Rudolf’s goal is to continue to infuse the playfulness of Asian beauty, particularly Korean beauty, into clean beauty. She’s considering a gel facial oil next. “For me, skincare isn’t just about the efficacy. Of course, that’s the most important thing, but, as a mom, I have five minutes to myself and that five minutes better be mood changing,” says Rudolf. “I wanted to be a painter and artist because I wanted to be moved. Just like a song can move you in three minutes, so can your skincare ritual. It really can.”