Interview With Patricia Bazan-Garrubbo Of Terralina Skincare

by SAMANTHA QUEEN · May 5, 2008

Patricia Bazan-GarrubboPicture yourself on a ski lift, gliding up 4,000 feet of alpine splendor, when your lift partner pulls out her blackberry. If you weren’t from New York, this might annoy you, but you understand New York living and the familiar ticks are more amusing than jarring. You strike up a conversation and find out that the beautiful mother-of-two is, in fact, a New Yorker – and none other than Patricia Bazan-Garrubbo, co-founder of Terralina skincare products. Arriving in the West Village by way of New Orleans, by way of Argentina, Patricia has come to grace our city with her loveliness and her lovely skincare line. But what came before the awards, before Elle Magazine, before the success? We asked Patricia to tell us about herself, her brand, and her journey to today (and towards tomorrow).

Congratulations on your awards from Elle Magazine and Golf for Women Magazine! Do you yourself play golf? Honestly? … not on a regular basis. I’ve done it a few times but don’t consider myself a player. My business partner, Gina, however, does play and I’m told is very good at it.

So, what has been the hardest part in building Terralina? How did you get started? We got started building Terralina 3 years ago, but we actually had been thinking about it for much longer. Eight years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I became obsessed about what I was doing to my body and my baby....

Like other pregnant women do, I read pregnancy books and magazines and was surprised to find out that commonly used skincare products were not necessarily safe to use during pregnancy. Years later, at a family gathering, my cousin-by-marriage and now business partner, Gina Garrubbo, and I found out that we had both had parallel experiences and concerns. We both wanted women to continue with a healthy skincare regimen even when they were not pregnant. So, we decided to create Terralina as a line of natural skincare that is both effective and a pleasure to use.

One of the hardest parts of building Terralina has been to consistently use responsible business practices- not because we’re not committed to this, but because, when we started sourcing materials 3 years ago, many of the suppliers in the beauty industry were not set up to be “green.” We were constantly told by suppliers and sources how much more difficult, or prohibitively expensive or undo able it was for a small enterprise as ours to go the “green” route; that it was much easier, and cost effective, to use the traditional, more polluting old way of doing things… We were one of the first skincare companies to market our products in 100 % PCR – post consumer recycled plastic.

The latest two products we took to market in September 2007 are made of 100% PCR. Did you know that roughly 8% of the world’s fossil fuels are used to produce new plastics … reducing the production of virgin plastic is an important part of solving the climate crisis. We also specifically underpackage our products, not using extraneous wrappers and boxes. The paper we use for stationary, cards, brochures, etc. is 100 % post consumer recycled paper… Our shipping boxes are 80% post-consumer recycled materials and all of our products are packed in corn-based foam (the right kind of corn). And we try to use reusable materials, like our gift packaging which consists of attractive, totally reusable tote baskets or organza pouches…

Sourcing all these materials was a time consuming, expensive choice for us, but fundamental to the Terralina values, and I’m happy to report that I have definitely noticed a shift for the better in the last few months…

How has your life changed since the launch? Met any fabulous people? My life is busier perhaps…but I do meet fabulous people all the time! Having grown up in Argentina and New Orleans, I’ve always been surrounded by them… and now being in New York City, in a great neighborhood, all the better…it’s all very exciting…I do a bit of traveling as well, which I always find inspiring… it is wonderful to be able to get out of one’s routines and get inspirations from other cultures…

Terralina SkincareSo, you’ve mentioned that you, like many others, were previously an attorney. What inspired you to create your own cosmetics line? And to make it natural? Oh, yes… I’m one of the many lawyers who’ve left the profession…

Like lots of other women, I’ve always been interested in skincare and beauty products. Before I became an attorney I worked in Paris for a French pharmaceutical company and there I became fascinated with the French approach to beauty and skincare – great natural products were everywhere! …In drugstores, even at supermarkets. This was from 1988 to 1990, so before some of the great natural lines were around in the US and as readily available as they are today.

Was it scary leaving your (well-paid, hard-earned) career in law? No, it wasn’t scary at all. I always knew I wanted to be in business and thought Law School was good preparation for that, which it in fact, was. I did other things after law before launching Terralina- all good training for this venture. I dealt with the uncertainty of leaving my career in law by doing things I am passionate about. Because I’ve always been interested and involved in the arts, I dove into that, which was thrilling and exciting … Having lived in New Orleans for a big part of my life, I did a lot of work with music and jazz and then became a Gallery Director of Contemporary Art for a while …

Many say that women can’t have it all – the kids, the family, the career – but you seem to be pulling it off (and looking great in the process, might I add!). What is your secret? Thank you. You are so nice to say that! I’m incredibly lucky in that I have a super supportive husband and family and find myself with a lot of energy for this, since it is a passion… I will say, however, that it is a huge juggling act some days, like lots of other working moms know all too well. Not giving up on any one thing has been key. I also have the inspiration of growing up with a working mother- who is a scientist, a professor in a Medical School, and raised 5 children! She did all of that, and continues to do it, gracefully - I never felt that I had a mother who wasn’t supportive of me and what I did.

What advice would you give women trying to start their own businesses? I would tell these women not to be afraid and to trust their vision and instincts. I would also advise them to get the support they need and not be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Oh, and I would advise to write a business plan and make a detailed budget early on.

I’m a big fan of natural skincare. How would you distinguish Terralina from other high-end, natural lines like Dr. Hauschka? There are a lot of good natural products out there, some really nice natural lines… and I totally agree with you, European lines like Dr. Hauschka are great. Terralina is different in several ways. Firstly, Terralina products are at least 98.85% natural. And even with being at least 98.85% natural, Terralina products are still a pleasure to use. Unlike other natural products that are watery or thin when applied or can leave an oily residue behind, Terralina feels luxurious and substantial. Another difference is that our products are made in the US – with European and American ingredients. We manufacture in small batches so that freshness is preserved … We also chose to formulate without peanut oil, citrus oils and other known allergens which are commonly used in natural skincare products.

So your ingredients come from Europe and the US, primarily? Most of our ingredients come from the United States and Italy, but we are presently looking at ingredients from France, Spain, Asia and South America as well. There is a vast array of wonderful, naturally-based ingredients available and we want to tap those resources for new product offerings in the future. But as I said earlier, we manufacture solely in the US.

You know … I’m a huge fan of your facial moisturizer. Do you foresee adding SPF to it in the future? That’s all it needs!

Thanks! So glad you like it! We are currently working on a moisturizer with sunscreen protection. We believe that the safest and most effective sunscreen ingredients are mineral-based and that is the focus of our research efforts at the moment. We are particularly excited because we plan to offer excellent protection against both UVA and UVB rays but without the use of dangerous nanotechnology-based sunscreens.

What is your best-selling product?

Right now our best selling product has become the Terralina Gentle Facial Cleanser, which received a Green Star award from Elle Magazine for Best facial wash. It is a creamy formula you rinse off -- oat and bark extracts cleanse while willowherb, chamomile calm the skin. Because it is made without sulfates or aggressive detergents, our customers find that they don’t experience the irritation or dryness common with many other cleansers.

Any new products or lines that we should look out for?

Currently we have a bath soap bar, hand lotion and facial exfoliator in the works.

And more importantly, where can we buy them?

At the moment, you can buy Terralina products directly from us, by placing an order on our website at www.terralina.com or by calling our toll free number, which is 1.800.510.8261