We all have our routines and go-to items, but do you really know what goes into your favorite beauty products? Kathryn Murray, founder of AILLEA, learned the truth behind her favorites when she had a health scare that left doctors stumped as to what was wrong.
We sat down with Murray to learn about her journey to creating healthy beauty products that don’t sacrifice product quality.
Taking Care of Business: Tell me about AILLEA.
Kathryn Murray: AILLEA is a luxury clean/green beauty retailer. Located in the heart of downtown in Larimer Square, AILLEA features the best of the best of natural skincare, makeup, haircare, bath and body and fragrance. With over 40 different brands, we have something for every look, skin type and need.
TCB: How did AILLEA get started?
KM: AILLEA was born out of my personal search for products free of toxins.
Nine years ago, I was getting very sick—debilitating so. I discovered that I had developed some severe, late-in-life food allergies. When I took gluten and dairy out of my diet, I was a new human. Because of that I became an avid label reader.
One day in the shower, I flipped over my shampoo and was floored to see the garbage I was putting on my body. I made the conscious decision then to get rid of everything bad in my bathroom and replace it. As a 15-plus-year veteran of the beauty industry, I still wanted high-performing products, I just didn’t want all of the toxins that go with the traditional brands. I was floored with how much incorrect information, false marketing and green washing existed. I saw a need in the market for a place where people can go and know that every product is free of toxins and safe to shop—so I created it myself!
TCB: What’s your approach to the kinds of products you carry in your store?
KM: I have three non-negotiable standards in product selection:
- Ingredients. No toxins, no exceptions. I love brands where I get to know the creator behind the brand and to know that they’re just as passionate about clean beauty as I am.
- Performance. The products need to work as well or better than the products I had used and loved. People don’t want to feel like they’re compromising when they switch to clean products.
- The “it” factor. It can be packaging, scent, brand story.
TCB: Since you started AILLEA, how has the beauty industry changed?
KM: People are becoming more aware of what they put in and on their body. This is driving amazing innovation and growth in the natural beauty industry and a lot of attention to the brands and retailers that are providing cleaner options.
TCB: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned at AILLEA?
KM: I have three.
- To trust my instincts. That is paramount.
- To surround myself with a strong and trustworthy team and let the professionals do what they do best. My attempts at saving money by doing everything myself has ended up costing me more time and money to fix my mistakes than if I had delegated those things from the start.
- Find mentors and ask questions often.
TCB: Why do you love doing business in Colorado?
KM: I love the people and I love the location of my store. Everyone in Colorado is so nice, encouraging and supportive of local businesses. Being on Larimer Square is fantastic; there is a true camaraderie among all of the retailers. It really is the location to be in Denver to reach both tourists and local residents.
Laura James is the marketing and communications coordinator for the Denver Metro Chamber.