As I sit down to chat with trained scientists Stephanie Tien and Kristina Knox – co-founders of the newly launched sun care brand, Arbre – one thing stands out: their unwavering commitment to daily SPF use. It’s not an option, more of a necessity that most people tend to neglect until hit with a troubling sunburn. When we witness the physical effects of prolonged sun exposure, it’s only then that we tend to sweep into action, recognizing the real importance (and relationship) between sun protection and the health of our skin.
Through education and building awareness, Stephanie and Kristina look to encourage others to be proactive in their skin health by shedding light on scientific-based research and hard truths on why we all need to take SPF seriously. Their core values – sustainability, inclusion, efficacy- are integrated into every facet of their company and drive them to curate concrete solutions for all consumers. With the pending launch of their first product (an SPF-based dry shampoo), they spill all the details on how Arbre came to be and what we can expect to see in the future from their budding brand.
On the Origins of Arbre
“We met in University,” Stephanie says, forming a friendship that would extend beyond academic walls and act as the foundation for a business partnership, bringing the two women closer together than ever before. When I ask if there was a defining moment that sparked the birth of Arbre, both swiftly nodded and said “yes.”
In the summer of 2019, Stephanie, Kristina, and a group of their mutual friends took a cottage trip to a beach-side location. “During this time, it was pretty hot and sunny outside. I ended up with a sunburn on my scalp”, Stephanie mentions. “It was peeling, painful, and I kept thinking, “this is such a weird spot to get a sunburn.” And it was in this moment that their minds began to whir.
Was this an isolated incident? Hardly. Everyone is susceptible to scalp sunburns. Are there any SPF products currently on the market to protect your scalp? Not enough. This gap, or lack of available products, was the right amount of fuel needed to propel Stephanie and Kristina’s journey forward, creating a new, innovative space for sun care.
On Arbre’s Mission and Values
Arbre – derived from the French word meaning “tree”- is on a quest to create universally functional and sustainable SPF products rooted in science and research. Currently, sunscreen is made to act as a “one-size-fits-all” solution – far from ideal when you think of how each individual’s skin needs/concerns vary. What’s more, many of the ingredients commonly found in such products are toxic – not just for the body but for the environment as well.
Arbre’s committed to utilizing natural materials, reef-safe ingredients, and low waste production. Through these actions, the brand has shaped its identity, building a community of like-minded individuals who share similar values.
When it comes to inclusion, Stephanie and Kristina (both of whom represent ethnic backgrounds) recognize the stress and frustration people of color face when searching for a true shade match. Certain colors can make darker skin tones appear ashy, washed out, or just downright unflattering. It is problems like these that the two women hope to solve, making it their responsibility to offer products that cater to all ages, genders, and ethnicities.
Take, for instance, their soon-to-be-released dry shampoo. The mineral-based product will come in various color options, suitable for even the darkest of hair hues. So, you can rest assured knowing there’ll be no dry shampoo mishaps (like that irritating dandruff-like residue other products provide- they’ve got this covered).
Suncare products that cover every inch of the body – head to toe – are what lies ahead for Arbre. It’s a process both Stephanie and Kristina wish to avoid rushing. “We want to take our time; make sure we get it right,” says Kristina, ensuring each product they put forth is produced with the highest quality and care.
It’s slow growth.
And arguably the best way to cultivate long-term success.