FOUNDER OF AMALUSTA SKINCARE
1. In your own words – who is Joana Coman and what is your ‘mission’ in this current season of your life?
I am a clean beauty entrepreneur and founder/one-woman show behind Toronto-based skincare brand, Amalusta. At this moment my focus in my personal life is to practice nurturing some of the things that are most important when you zoom out: family, friendships, relationships, physical and mental health. I recently relaunched Amalusta with new branding and an overhaul of a lot of areas of the business — working on this over the past year without the usual rhythms of life to break up the days left me pretty wound up. I genuinely love working on it, but balance is important too. Basically, my mission is to unclench my jaw.
My professional mission is related to this, too: Amalusta’s motto is “take pleasure in your ritual”, and I want my products to help people create those small rituals that offer release from all the other things we carry throughout the day.
2. Briefly describe your path in the skincare industry
It wasn’t always my plan to do this. I studied economics and English literature in university — to appease my Eastern European parents and because of general interest, respectively — and ended up working in sales for an ingredients and raw materials company after I graduated. I got to see what goes into the making of a product, from ideation to formulation and marketing, and while I touched a bunch of different industries in that job, personal care and cosmetics interested me the most.
I’ve always loved experimenting with different products, so once the behind-the-scenes process was kind of demystified I started getting lots of ideas for products and formulas that I wished existed and didn’t see yet. I fantasized about starting my own business for years before actually doing it, and then in 2018 left my job extremely prematurely before even launching Amalusta. I don’t recommend doing it this way, but luckily things have worked out so far!
3. What does a current day in your life look like?
I’m working on changing this, but I don’t really have a typical daily routine. I feel best when I take half an hour or so in the morning to journal a little bit, or stretch, or basically do anything other than look at my phone or computer. Like a lot of people this past year, going for walks has become a pretty essential part of the day, either in the morning or after work or both.
Then, it varies depending on what I have to do for Amalusta that day: I might be packing and shipping orders, catching up on emails, making products or coordinating production with my manufacturer, applying labels until my thumbs fall off, coordinating upcoming projects, creating and scheduling content, researching, or something else.
Something I’ve been trying to do lately that seems to be paying off is committing to spending the first few hours of the workday on the thing I’m most dreading or finding most difficult. It sounds like a bad way to start the day, but it actually feels really good to get whatever it is out of the way, and usually, it’s not as hard as you thought it would be. The whole decision fatigue thing is real.
4. How did the pandemic affect you personally or professionally?
Before the pandemic, I relied a lot on local pop-ups (like the one where I met you, Allison!) and events to get Amalusta out there. I loved meeting and getting to know customers IRL and was probably neglecting to build an online community at that time. The pandemic forced me to focus on the online presence more, which needed to happen anyway. The other aspect of these pop-ups that I’ve been missing is meeting other small business owners who are in the same boat. I got so much out of that because it can be pretty solitary otherwise.
5. Where are you finding inspiration at the moment?
I’m working on developing my formulation skills: I typically work with more experienced formulators, but I’m studying and practicing developing more complex products myself. Exploring different possibilities and natural ingredients is really inspiring.
I have so many ideas for new products I want to create and there’s no way I’ll get to them all because it can be a long and expensive process. There is endless inspiration online and, like most people, I get sucked into internet holes on Pinterest and Instagram and elsewhere gathering ideas for formulas, package design, photoshoots, and different aspects of the customer experience.
I get inspired seeing what my customers are talking about, too. One of the best things about the skincare world and beauty more broadly is that people are really into sharing what’s working for them, what they’re looking for, and what they’re not loving.
Joana in hera Vida Necklace
6. Name one thing upcoming that you're excited for
I’m looking forward to going to BC to see my family later this summer. I moved to Toronto 5 years ago and got used to being able to go back a few times throughout the year, so I’m really missing it.
7. What rituals or activities are keeping you grounded and clear-minded right now?
Definitely walking. Sometimes I pretend to go for runs, but those typically turn into walks too. Just being outside in any capacity is the one thing that very reliably lifts my mood and makes me feel calm and clear. I also journal pretty regularly — even if it’s just a few mundane lines, I feel a big release from doing it.
8. Any books, podcasts, shows or films that have resonated with you lately?
Years ago a friend gave me a book called Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. I read it then and loved it, and have just started leafing through it again. I’ve never come across anything else like it. It’s an imagined dialogue between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, but beyond that, it’s kind of impossible to describe. It’s dreamlike and psychedelic and if you want to feel moved and inspired I heartily recommend it!