10 to Watch 2017: Miiko Skin Co.

“Miiko Skin Co. is about creating safe skincare products with high- quality artisan ingredients from local suppliers, and delivering them with education.”

Photograph by Breeze Photography.

Kimiko Foster’s passion for natural skincare grew out of an alarming discovery she made while pursuing her environmental studies degree at the University of Victoria — most of the cleansers and lotions we use to care for our skin actually contain toxins and unregulated ingredients, she says.

“The skin is our body’s largest organ,” Foster says. “Many of us watch what we eat and care about the food we digest, but what about the ingredients we ingest through our skin?”

Her first business, Seeds of Change, focused on leading community DIY workshops on making effective and environmentally friendly skincare and household products. But at those workshops, Foster was hearing the demand for ready-to-buy. Using her workshop participants as her first Miiko Skin Co. focus group, she determined what products people wanted to see in her range of skincare and body care.

“The ‘recipes’ are so simple you could do it yourself, but each ingredient is of such high quality you could not make it at the same price point,” Foster says. Ingredients are simple, recognizable and often edible, and Miiko Skin Co.’s website proudly lists local suppliers such as Spinnakers Gastro BrewPub (apple cider vinegar) and Olive the Senses (olive oil).

“Each product uses ingredients from suppliers in B.C., including them as part of the brand,” Foster says. “It is about supporting local beyond the brand — the parts and ingredients that make a local product what it is. So at each level of production we are supporting a local economy.”

Q&A with Kimiko Foster of Miiko Skin Co.

What was the best business advice you ever received? ​

Two things. The first is that the biggest mistake entrepreneurs and startups often make is that they grow so fast that, whether they succeed or fail, they can’t look back at the systems and process and understand the thread. And second, if your employees make mistakes and they are the right person for the job, it is a training issue​.

What was your biggest startup challenge?

Setting the pricing for all my products — from the entrepreneurial fear of losing customers to the psychological factors of choosing prices … to selecting the margins necessary.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Know your passion and your vision, but let your customers shape your products and services.

Miiko Skin Co. Business Profile

Type of business: Natural skincare

Year founded: 2015

Owner/principal: Kimiko Foster

Employees/contractors: 5

What sets you apart: “Our focus on local, the transparency​ with customers about our ingredients, our educational outreach and our dedication to internal sustainability.”

This article is from the April/May 2017 issue of Douglas.