Name: Christene Carr
Brand: Nichole Avonie
Established: April 2021
Hometown: Newark, NJ
What motivated you to start?
I've always made products for myself and my friends. I even had a line before this one. I think I naturally have to create and experiment. Even though I have all these creative outlets, I never thought about them eventually being my main business. My way of thinking has changed, and now It's my goal to pour everything I would pour into someone else's business into my own.
What would you consider your hero product from your brand?
The Lavender + Lemongrass Exfoliating Body Cleanser is the best-selling product. Don't tell anyone, but it's my favorite product from the line.
What standards / non-negotiables do you take into consideration when thinking about enhancing or developing new products?
I am constantly looking for creative solutions to problems --which has led me to reimagine some of my favorite types of products. The Exfoliating Body Cleanser is an example — I LOVE body scrubs, but I'm not too fond of the mess sugar scrubs make in the shower or tub. I hate cleaning with the fury of the burning sun, so the idea of cleaning a shower after a scrub was always frustrating. I wanted a sugar scrub alternative that addressed all my pain points. So I made something that cleanses, exfoliates, and rinses clean. Right now, I create from a place of improving on existing products, even if its a something small.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for "beauty / wellness" brands today?
The concept of overall wellness is not new, but I believe that it has gained mass appeal in the last couple of years. We leapfrogged a few years because of the pandemic. More and more people started to realize that any (safe) activity or practice that brings joy, calm, or satisfaction can be considered wellness. It's not just spa days and healthy eating. It's nature walks, dance parties, yoga, brunches, facials, lady dates, quiet time, and more -- wellness is BIG! And messaging for that is a challenge because you have to do it so that it doesn't feel too 'salesy' or trite, all while trying to sell.
Beauty or the traditional standards of beauty are ever-changing. You can't just message to the masses. Brands need to listen even closer than ever before because it's like we are in group chats, within group chats, within group chats, and the nuances between each group matter.
What has been one of your proudest moments since creating Nichole Avonie?
First, I have a few customers I don't know (personally) who have made 4-5 orders of the same products. Seeing that makes me realize I'm doing something right. Second is winning the Glamour Beauty Award -- Best Drugstore Scalp Treatment for the Rejuvenating Scalp Elixir. I submitted the products on a whim, so I wasn't expecting much to happen.
What can we expect in the future from Nichole Avonie?
I have 6, 12, 24, and 36-month goals, but it feels very minute by minute. I will continue to add more SKUs and strengthen the products I already have. I started with skincare, but it's really about so much more.
I am currently working on packaging for Aromatherapy blends. I've been making my own blends for over ten years, so I have several ready-to-go recipes. That was in my plans for later, but since I am doing pop-ups where 90% of people want to buy the blend I burn, it's here now. So I'll be launching with the combination I use in the Lavender + Lemongrass Exfoliating Body Cleanser.
There is also a retail space coming sometime this year. I'm still thinking about how it will all look.
What advice would you give customers who want to make the most out of your brand?
Nichole Avonie is about prioritizing simple luxuries, so its products that address at least one of the pain points you may have had with another product. Try everything you can at least once, and give me your honest feedback. I have tried too many products to mention, and everything thing I make has to be just as good or better than the best I've tried.
Yes, I love all the products I create, but I didn't make them just for myself. Right now, I'm small and can move quickly to adjust formulas because everything is made in small batches. I know everything is not for everyone, but sometimes a product only needs a tweak to be well received by a wider audience.
How do you start your day?
Wake up, stretch in bed, water, coffee, emails, workout, breakfast/lunch. Sometimes the emails take longer than expected, and everything gets pushed back.
Do you have a morning/evening ritual?
I don't have any rituals, per se. There are certain things I have to do every day, but the order can vary. There are things like alarms that I try to avoid where possible. Waking up to an alarm gives me anxiety and headaches. So I try to avoid those. I know my dinner has to be my best meal of the day -- not necessarily the most nutritious but the meal I enjoy the most. It helps me end the day on a high note, regardless of how bad the day was. And no matter what hour of the day I get in, I have to wash my face. Sometimes the morning after a long night out, I wake up with a clean face, and it's a genuine surprise.
What is your daily skincare routine?
I cleanse each morning with the Blue Chamomile Cleansing Oil — I love the aroma. I follow with a hyaluronic acid serum, and that's what's on my face until I work out. (I wash first because I sweat a lot, and the products from the night before sting my eyes.) After the workout, I use another cleanser and apply a vitamin C serum and moisturizer/sunscreen. My nighttime routine is to cleanse, tone, treat, and moisturize. Lately, I have been using ZIIP a couple of times per week.
Do you have a daily wellness routine?
My workout is essential. I also try to eat a reasonably balanced diet -- lots of pretty foods. I take a lot of quiet time. I have no problem sitting in silence, even with someone. I work in silence and keep my phone ringer off unless I have scheduled calls. Sometimes I stop in the middle of the day to stretch. That happens when I realize I'm clenching my jaw or noticing my shoulders drawn up to my ears. The short answer is that I check in with myself often and make adjustments if necessary. I try not to stay in a state of unease for too long.
What is a beauty product or tool you can't live without?
Besides the ones I make, there's Paula's Choice BHA liquid, and lately, I've been heavy on my ZIIP device. I also really love Face Front Skin Skin Hydro.
What do you do for R&R when you need to reboot?
My first choice would be to run off to a tiny island, but that's not always possible. So instead, when I feel overwhelmed or anxious, I'll read some fiction, take a day or two away from social media, and binge-watch crime dramas -- there's usually murder involved. Experimenting in the kitchen also calms me and helps me to reset.
What are your must-haves when traveling?
My compression socks stay in my carry-on. I can feel my already thick feet expanding with every bit of increase in temperature and altitude. Travel size Nichole Avonie Exfoliating Body Cleanser and Blue Chamomile Cleansing Oil are also now a staple. In addition, I have to have sheet masks, calming masks, serum or cream, a light scarf, oversized sunnies, sunscreen, and all my allergy meds.
What selfcare advice would you have given yourself five years ago?
Meet people where they are or leave them alone.
Do you have any beauty/wellness advice for our followers?
Don't listen to any advice that has you constantly working yourself to the bone. Sleep and rest are essential, not just for your health but also for your beauty routine. It's called beauty rest for a reason. Eat pretty (i.e., lots of colorful foods) and start stretching now. Wear sunscreen and stay out of other people's business.