Klur founder Lesley Thornton shares her story

I would first like to start by talking about your background as an esthetician and why you decided to create your own brand.

I became a licensed esthetician in 2010 — which was over a decade ago. When I was seeing clients, I basically couldn’t find the products I needed because I had different clients with different needs. I was in Los Angeles, Hollywood at the time, and I felt like I was starting to see a segment of women (and men, but mostly women) coming out of those teenage years, getting into their 20s and 30s, where they couldn’t use the same skin care. They couldn’t use Neutrogena anymore, they couldn’t use Clean & Clear anymore, but they still struggled with hormonal imbalances and acne. They also wanted to get in their way [using] some antiaging [products]. They would say, “I don’t want to use benzoyl peroxide, but I want to jump into retinol.”

So when I decided to create Klur as a brand, a few years passed [doing] treatments. I realized there was nothing sophisticated enough to look like a grown-up skincare brand. It needed to meet the clinical needs of what you might get from an esthetician or dermatologist with high performance ingredients as well as containing the soothing botanicals of a natural care product. I loved it in 2013 that after seeing clients for a few years, there were no black estheticians with a skin care line on the market – not one. I just stepped back and said, “With all the knowledge I have, the training I have, and my actual experience with people, I think I can do this. I think I should at least try to figure it out, even if it’s just sold in my spa. I can just sell it to my clients.”

That’s how it started. in fact it just started focusing mostly on selling it to my customers. Finally, Urban Outfitters called me in 2014 and that got us on the shelves. Very quickly, we did very, very well. This was my first foray into anything retail. I had no idea there was never a Black professional skin care line on the market. I never knew that there wasn’t a black esthetician that ever had a product on a shelf, on a major retail shelf. I had no idea — I was just going. At that point, I decided to close my spa and stop doing all that stuff and focus solely on building it as a brand. Two years later, after a really good run and I’m in 200 stores, I voluntarily left Urban Outfitters to take care of my own health because I felt like I was compromising it by doing a facial studio and trying to create the line. So I took two years off to rebrand and relaunch the line.

What would you say is the core ethos of Klur and what is your brand mission?

As the founder, I believe my personal mission is the same as the brand’s mission, and that is to inspire, educate and guide people to make healthy decisions. Not just skin care decisions, but healthy decisions that live holistically and showing them that by using skin care as a catalyst to inspire and cultivate a healthy lifestyle using holistic tools.

It’s so great to see so many women of color creating their own brands now — especially ones that champion holistic practices and ingredients! Would you say that treating melanin-rich skin is different from treating those with lighter skin tones?

People of color come in all different skin tones, which is fantastic because clinically speaking, there is a difference in melanocyte activity. Some people have very robust melanocytes, meaning they are much darker, and then some people have melanocytes that are not as active. That’s one reason why we actually get hyperpigmentation is because the melanocytes rush to that area and then darken. They act as a kind of healing mechanism for the skin and it ends up healing darker in one area. When we look at dark skin versus lighter skin tones, I think one of the main things is (beyond all the science stuff), there’s some thickness to the skin. I think people don’t realize with darker skin, you have to be quite gentle with it.

Having that experience working with darker skinned women and being a black woman of course, I realized that for the most part, skin care brands catered to lighter or white skin before they catered to darker skin. We flipped the scale and really made sure we put dark skin at the forefront of science and realized that fair skin can actually take a gentle approach. There isn’t a single person with skin that can use a harsh skincare routine. You don’t have to be sensitized or sensitive to have a gentle routine. It is really very, very important that all of us practice this gentle consistency. I think with dark skin, somehow people thought you could take this aggressive approach, and you really can’t, because the skin gets hyperpigmented. When you get the hang of it, though, this is really beneficial for all skin types.

Leave a Comment