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Stemulation (in the shop) is a skincare line based on advanced stem cell research and the effects of topical application of cell derivatives. The products are designed to mimic the regeneration of skin cells using stem cell technology. TIA recently caught up with the women behind Stemulation, President & CEO, Laurie Nicoll (left) and Executive VP Michelle Kleker (below), to find out more about Stemulation’s approach to skincare.
How did the two of you meet?
Laurie: Michelle and I met in the mortgage industry in the late 1990s. We were often asked if we were sisters or even mistaken for each other so we sought each other out and as our business relationship developed we became fast friends.
What made you decide to collaborate on Stemulation?
Laurie: I left the mortgage industry in late 2007 as the collapse of the market heightened. I had a wonderful experience and career in the mortgage industry and as appreciative as I was to have had the opportunity, I wanted a new challenge. I investigated numerous opportunities but with my experience in sales and marketing I went to work for a stem cell research biotech firm. I worked closely with doctors and scientists from around the world who were working on developing protocols with stem cells to grow heart valves and repairing major organs. What was incredibly intriguing was that the doctors and scientists agreed that stem cells could address the health and appearance of the skin tissue. I had a very personal interest in this revelation as I was born with a deficiency in my body’s ability to produce adequate amounts of vitamin A and D, which are critical to skin health. At the age of 3, my mother began dragging me to the dermatologist for light treatments to stimulate collagen and elastin production because the absence of vitamins A and D caused my skin to be extremely dry and sensitive to the point that my fingertips would break open and bleed. It was quite challenging for my mother to try and keep my hands covered in salves and gloves as a toddler. The doctors also tried prescriptions of very carefully controlled vitamin A drops, yet nothing really worked. As I matured, I learned to cocktail products together to find a solution to my extreme condition. Over the years I experienced a lot of embarrassment and shame over my dry and sensitive skin. I was teased in junior high for having granny hands at the age of fifteen. So when the opportunity to work with the doctors and scientists came about, I was able to discuss my personal skin issues and they shared their educated hypotheses of how stem cells could be useful in the production of new and healthy skin tissue.
Michelle: I became involved with Stemulation when Laurie asked me to test the product on my own “challenging” skin. Initially, as much as I love Laurie, I respectively declined the request because of my own sensitive skin. I, too, spent years looking for a product that would correct the skin issues that I had. Honestly, I just didn’t want another disappointment. Well, if you know Laurie, you know she does not take no for an answer and I sure am glad! My skin is very different from Laurie’s. I have oily, highly sensitive skin and had suffered many mishaps over the years with topical products and skincare procedures like microdermabrasion and peels. In addition to being sensitive, I had a bad case of melasma since I was 19 years old. Melasma is a condition that can often be related to pregnancy and causes dark patches of skin all over your face that are heightened when in the heat. As I aged and had more children the condition became worse. It was so bad I grew my hair long and wore bangs to hide as much of my face skin as possible – and forget about ever going swimming in public because my heavy makeup would come off and reveal the “real” me! Within a few days of testing Stemulation, I could see a dewy glow on my face and reported the good results to Laurie. I continued with the testing and next experienced a toning and tightening that I had not experienced with other products. In a matter of a month, my melasma had lightened and continued to lighten until it was gone! I cannot tell you how life-alerting it was to pull my hair back and walk out of the house without makeup! While I was so excited about the amazing results, I was also very cautious. My fear was that once summer rolled around again, I would go outside and the melasma would once again return. Well, I am happy to announce that over three years later, my skin looks better than ever. I can honestly say that in my 50s, my skin looks better than it did in my 20s! Stemulation is now a passion for me. What a blessing to be able to change lives in such a positive way.
What made you decide to start a skincare line specifically based on stem cell research?
Laurie: We worked with several different scientists that had years of research and experience in stem cell science. During our research we found that the synergies between the work being done in diabetes research and our goals had similar applications based on the toll diabetes takes on the skin and the ability to heal.
How is the Stemulation line different from other product lines based on stem cell technology?
Laurie: Stemulation is very unique in that we capture the growth factors produced in a cell proliferation process using adult stem cells. Many products claim the benefit of stem cells derived from plants but the clinical data supporting their efficacy is inadequate. While there are other products in the market that feature human growth factors from various sources, what makes Stemulation so effective is that in addition to the high percentage of growth factors, we include powerful antioxidants and polyphenols that encourage healthy vital tissue which results in beautiful vibrant skin.
What is the overall process you use to formulate your products – from inception to market?
Laurie: We prefer to design each product to provide the maximum results. What is amazing about Stemulation is that it is a broad spectrum product. Our stem cells are pluripotent cells: meaning they encourage the development of a wide variety of cells, not a single cell type. The results prove that Stemulation helps improve the vitality of all skin types. Knowing that our growth factors benefit a variety of conditions helps us to produce products that are condition specific. Based on my own conditions, I have designed products that address some personal concerns as I tend to be an extreme example of issues. But certainly, way beyond my own concerns, we listen carefully to our clients and produce our products accordingly. Once we have an initial product concept, we work with our cosmetic formulator to investigate the most efficacious and cutting-edge ingredients to produce the results we desire. At Stemulation, we formulate with two key components in mind. First and foremost is the efficacy of the product, and then the experience. While Stemulation is a cosmeceutical line, it is designed with the consumer experience in mind. We produce products to have the efficacy of professional cosmeceuticals but with a luxury experience. Once we believe that we have formulated a product that meets our standards, we then send it to our group of consumers/clients who provide us feedback and validate the products. We also send out the products to a third-party lab for its validations.
You have a Chief Medical Advisor - Daniel B Kim, MD. How did you meet him and how is he involved with Stemulation?
Laurie: Dr. Kim is one of the most revered and respected surgeons in our area (Southern California). We arranged a product test with Dr. Kim’s clients, and after only two weeks, he contacted us and asked to meet. He explained that his clients had such wonderful results with the products that he offered to join our team as our medical advisor. As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Kim has had wonderful results implementing Stemulation into his pre- and post-procedure protocols. As our advisor, Dr. Kim helps guide us in our formulation and design of products.
A portion of the proceeds from Stemuation is donated to the Footprints Foundation. How did you get involved with this organization?
Laurie: We formed the Footprints Foundation nearly 15 years ago with the anticipation of having an opportunity to help others. The foundation was named from two inspirations: first is the anonymous poem Footprints in the Sand, as we believe that we have been blessed by grace and it is our responsibility to pay it forward. The second is your legacy footprint – what did you do with your time and talent? We believe the purpose of life is to live with purpose, so we support philanthropic organizations that promote health, education and equality.
Can you tell us about any new products that you have in the works?
Laurie: We will be releasing an introductory travel size of the Serum and Boost set in the first quarter – not a new product but a new size. As far as new products go, we will release our AHA Toner in the first quarter, and 2013 will also bring the introduction of our Daily Moisturizer with broad spectrum sunscreen protection. We have also formulated a professional facial treatment that we will introduce to our doctors, estheticians and spas.