Wednesday, March 27, 2013

INTERVIEW: Julie of 'Blissoma'!

My Videos Featuring Blissoma:

FIRST Eco Emi video ever! (SUPER long hair)

Interview with Julie Longyear of Blissoma!

Why did you decide to start your business?
It was a really long road to deciding to venture into entrepreneurship, and for better or worse it wasn't that I sat down and decided one day that I would run a business.  Partly in college I started getting severe migraines.  The headaches were so unpredictable and compromising that I couldn't make it through shifts at jobs.  Independent work allowed me to work when I felt well and rest when I needed to.  I've always been very self directed and much of my childhood was spent alone working on projects.  I cooked, sewed, painted, drew, and otherwise occupied myself very well.  When I got out of college I worked at several part time jobs, taught a little, and tried to figure out what to do.  What I realized was that no matter what else I was doing I always wanted to create things – I always have ideas bursting out of me.  Being at other jobs was just frustrating.  I interned with a local independent clothing company and partly inspired by how that business ran decided I would take a crack at this alternate path of self-employment.  I had been working with essential oils blending and making candles at that point and selling them became a key part of my self-employment endeavor.  Eventually aromatherapy morphed into an interest in herbs and skincare, landing me where I am today.  I feel I'm in a good spot now because my daily work uses all of my skills, keeps me creative, and allows me to help others.  It's as good as I ever could have hoped for in that I always feel useful.

What types of products do you offer? Are any or all of your products vegan?
Blissoma offers a full range of facial care, deodorants, aromatherapy candles, and other apothecary products like Stress Relief Serum and Yoga Mat Cleanser.  All our products except our deodorants are vegan.  We will be working on transitioning those over to being vegan eventually as well.

Which product took the longest to formulate and get right?
It's a tie between our Awake Morning Firming Moisture and our deodorants.  I would officially consider Awake our first skincare recipe.   I desperately  needed a moisturizer suited for my very picky skin.  Awake was the product of my search.  I officially worked on creating basic emulsions without using the standard “vegetable emulsifying wax” for about 3 years – on and off from about 2006 all the way through the final product development phase of the initial skincare collection in 2009.  I did many other things during that time but kept coming back to that recipe to get it a little further along.
Our deodorants were developed during a shorter time, but took about 40 batches of product to get working well.  That was more than any of the other recipes.

Which product are you most proud of? Why?
This probably comes in as a tie between our 2 current most popular products, Fresh Mild Rice Cleanser and Smooth A+ Perfecting Serum.  Fresh was a totally off-the-cuff recipe.  Sometimes I look at recipes other companies are creating and that ends up influencing what I make.  Fresh was totally unique.  I threw the brown rice flour in on a whim to see if a starch would help hold the product together better.  It ended up making the product work better than I had ever hoped.  It is one of the products we are best known for now.
Smooth A+ Serum I am really happy with firstly because it is really effective.  We put together a combination of anti-acne ingredients that no one else is using.  Everything from the texture to the scent to the functionality is pretty much perfect, and the customer response validates that.  Secondly I think it really takes some guts as a formulator that doesn't even have standard industry experience to create something that goes so far outside the norms, and present it to the world.  You feel a bit like it's a big risk.  But I knew from years of working with the essential oils and herbs that this had solid chemistry behind it.  I'm proud that we did something different, and I'm proud of what it does for people.

Which product do you personally use most often?
I cleanse my face with Fresh every day, twice a day.  Now I am using Amend Facial Solar Repair Serum every day as well, but that is just in the morning.

Which product is a best seller?
Fresh Mild Rice Cleanser and Smooth A+ Serum as I mentioned above.  Our newer sensitive skincare range I think will end up just as popular, it just needs more time to get there.  Everyone has been asking for unscented, ultra sensitive products for a while now and they really fill a need that exists out there.

What are your thoughts on preservatives? How do you determine which ones you use in your products?
Preservatives are necessary generally if you are going to create a water based product.
I love oils, and in the winter I use our Restore Oil Serum at night as my moisturizer.  There are no “preservatives” necessary for a waterless product as it won't grow bacteria.
However, I think it is a shame to miss out on all the goodness that water based products can offer.  Some active components of herbs are only water or alcohol soluble, meaning that you just can't get them in an oil.  Additionally minerals are carried by water and those are necessary for healthy skin function.
Preserving products is trickier than the public realizes.  You don't expect your food to stay fresh if you don't refrigerate it for months, but the expectations are different for skincare.  It is no easy feat to keep bacteria from starting a party in your facial care.  Even with inclusion of some preservatives the formula still has to be made cleanly, and carefully thought out so it provides as many barriers to bacteria growth as possible.

There are more natural preservation options on the market now than before.  Because people enjoy and expect products that are creams (and I feel like unique functionality can be gotten out of them) we include quite a few emulsions in our recipe repertoire.  Those require preservation.  If people want to avoid preservatives altogether they can use dried, powdered masks and cleansers and oil based moisturizers.
Our goal has been to use preservatives that are toxin-free and of natural origin.  That guided our initial choice of an enzyme system in our first round of products and then a switch to aspen bark extract and a fermented radish root extract now.

What are your thoughts on FD&C dyes? 
We don't use them in anything since we don't make color cosmetics and they aren't needed in skincare.  I haven't done a ton of research on them so at this point I can't really say if I think they are ok or not.

How important is utilizing social media to you? 
Social media has been really fantastic for us.  It enables a direct connection between me and our client community.  It has fueled friendships, consultations, questions, and lots of feedback.  The responses we get fuel product development and also just help us stay connected to what people really care about.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time?  What is that?  ;)  Fundamentally I really don't have what most people would consider spare time.  If work on Blissoma runs out ( and it never does ) I have a garden to grow, a house to repair, a daughter to parent, and even sewing projects waiting for me (not to mention dreams of someday returning to ceramics or painting).  Most of these projects are integral to our life so I really don't consider them spare time or hobbies.  Since the business is still at a stage where it needs plenty of capital for growth our family budget requires a lot of thriftiness and DIY creativity since cash isn't often available for things we need.  Maybe thrift storing could be considered a hobby, as I go sometimes when I don't find much.  If there is a thrift store within a couple miles of me anywhere I go I visit it.

What is your favorite food?
Oh goodness, that's a tough one.  I love so much food.  My typical splurge if I am having an expensive treat night is red wine, a big container of spicy olives, a huge hunk of cheese (bad, but I really love it on occasion), blackberries and blueberries, and a really nice cracker.  Maybe some really good dark chocolate to finish off.  Other than that I love ethnic stews, Thai and Vietnamese curries, and too much other stuff to even list.  I am a crazy foodie.

What is your #1 most listened to song on Itunes/your music player?
I have no idea how to even figure this out – have I mentioned I'm not so much of a technology girl?  :)  I can tell you I have been listening to a lot of John Legend, Mayer Hawthorne, Janelle Monae, and Chairlift on Spotify.  At the studio we listen to a lot of community radio so they do a lot of the song picking for us during the work day.

What other skincare/makeup companies do you like?
SW Basics, Bija Body, La Bella Figura, Lavera, Logona, Grateful Body, May Lindstrom Skin, Pai, Couleur Caramel...

What is your current skincare routine?  
Cleanse with Fresh (morning and evening), in the morning I then put on our Amend Facial Solar Repair Serum and then a final coat of Lift Intelligent Energy Crème.  In the evening I have been using Restore Deep Healing Oil Serum.  I use toner only sporadically during winter.  Once a week I use our Refine mask.  Once we eventually get our eye serum out I'll use that once a day as well.  I don't buy a lot of other products since it seems silly as we have so much here already.

What is the most important thing you want people to know about your company?
That we are here making products to sell, but we really exist to expand an idea – the idea that skincare can be really clean, that people can feel educated and empowered instead of confused and frustrated, and that you can look really, really great.  Our products and our way of operating is all about that concept.  We try to honor our customers as human beings, not just as consumers.  There is a big difference in a company that sees you that way versus just for the dollars in your pocket.

What is a tip you have for someone interested in making the switch to natural skincare/cosmetics and doesn't know where to start? 
Start simple and maybe even play directly with some plants or herbs.  Get a feel for what “real” really feels like.  That way when you encounter a product that is faking it a bit you'll know it.
Always, always, always look for ingredients lists on company websites.  If they aren't listing them don't buy!  That is a huge sign of a company trying to hide something from you.  They should be as proud to talk about their preservatives as they are to talk about their “hero” ingredients.  If you don't get full disclosure then walk away.
Try and look beyond really slick marketing.  Real natural products will often be sold through companies that may not have a fancy graphics department.  They may care more about what is in the product than what is on the packaging.  Give them a shot.  You might find something that will surprise you.

Some Blissoma Links!

Christine of Eco Emi TOURS the Blissoma Studio HERE!

Resource Page based on Skin Concern HERE!

Blog Article on Sensitive Skin HERE!

Julie's VIDEO about Exfoliation HERE based on this Bubby and Bean DIY exfoliation mask 


Code 'ILUVJESSEBOGO50' for Buy 1, Get 1 50% off at
Works for any single product.  
Sets of full size products like the full size intro sets and 3 candle tin gift sets are excluded.  
Travel skincare sets are counted as 1 product.

Valid through 4/7

(Photo shows how to use the code)


  1. Looking forward to this very cool series! I haven't tried Blissoma but it sounds wonderful :)

  2. Absolutely love this post, another brand to add to my wish list! :)

  3. Wow looks amazing, cleanser is on my wishlist :)