Florés Boticario: The metaphysical Moisturizer
We first met sisters Ale and Meli Oré on set in Toronto this past summer, as dregs of iced coffee, hairspray and laughter bounced between creamy, cinderblock walls. I've been a customer of their sister-run brand, Florés Boticario, for over a year now; my favourite creams all come from their loving hands. Alps is a Canadian alpine adventure with each swipe that melts into the skin; a perfect winter moisturizer with an astonishing ingredient list, and even better ethos. Pret-a-Repair is more of the same; it's a cream I've been flocking to religiously (daily - hand to god) over the past six months.
In honour of sisterhood, doing things the right way, and celebrating the brilliance of a Toronto-based brand, we met the duo again over coffee to talk mindfulness and marketing, but not in the way you'd think. 🌷
"I don’t drink coffee," said Meli, sitting down to a hot chocolate at Toronto's Parisienne refuge, Colette. Ale (medium, lactose-free no water chai) sat down than a beat later, spreading a flakey croissant onto the table for all of us to share. It was the first day I could justify retiring warm weather clothes as northern clouds hung high in the sky, the air adopting a briskness like peppermint patties after a week without sugar. The three of us got to talking about turtlenecks, decadent trenches, and the cinema-inspired style that is almost as gratifying as a romp through butterscotch leaves.
"In Something's Gotta Give, Diane Keaton’s character Erica Berry and I have something in common," laughed Ale, palming her cup. "We both LOVE turtlenecks! (Her fave is this one)."
Though I love a good leather pant, high boot and black skirt (very much a punk Roman Holiday manifest), my favourite feeling arrives at the end of a long day, once the cold air has kissed my cheeks, a quick chignon has defied gravity and cashmere loungers have snaked up my thighs. My makeup bids a swift farewell, first by way of an oil cleanser and then with a splash of foam, to restore PH levels and get the gunk off. To the left of my sink, I'll keep Meli and Ale's creations; Pret-a-Repair and the balancing mist, which I use religiously each evening.
Once more, I look across the table at the warmth staring back at me, and a feeling hits me; one of deep, gut-wrenching pride. When women like this are making my skincare, I'll always be in good hands.
MHS: The beauty and restaurant industries are some of the most volatile and competitive places to begin a business. Knowing that, why did you still want to try?
Meli: Yeah, they are very volatile and competitive. When you think about it, it’s scary, but again, exciting. With any business, you start because you love it. You have to love it. And, you can’t just love it on the good days, you have to love it on the crappy days, too. With that said, as sisters, we wanted to work together on something that would not only make our bond stronger, but also create something that goes beyond competing, beyond fear and beyond expectations. We wanted to do this because we have so much fire in our bellies; there’s so much we want to say, share and explore with everyone, together, in this movement of self-love and acceptance. Beauty is a topic that has always sparked our interest, even as kids, too. It’s something that captivates us every. single. day.
MHS: I've always been curious, though; Does Canada have any kind of helpful legislation for small businesses such as yourself?
Ale: Definitely. From a high level, the government tries to help small businesses in various areas like government grants, crowd funding, tax breaks, chambers of commerce, etc. In our opinion, these opportunities wouldn’t be as advantageous if we didn't have the right mentors guiding us through the process. This includes having awesome lawyers and accountants, like Peter, Rita and Raul! We have mentors who are insanely successful, mentors who are halfway there, and mentors who have experienced extreme fall backs and are still struggling to get back on their feet. Our point here is that when you are building your network of ‘confidantes;’ there shouldn't be just one person or thing that feeds those creative juices. You need balance! You can’t solely focus on "success," either; you have to be prepared for the mistakes as well.
MHS: Your Prêt-à-Repair cream is our hands-down cold-weather favourite. Not "one of," either; it's the one. The scent feels so special, the texture melts into the skin like butter, and it - for some crazy, honest reason - instantly makes our mood brighten upon application. Why did you make this product, and what can it do that nothing else can?
Ale: Agh! Hearing this makes me smile. I came up with 6 different versions of Prêt-à-Repair, and the timing of the creation was very interesting. I was going through a break up and was constantly questioning whether my work was good enough, whether I was good enough, smart enough, and to be honest with you, nothing was working. One afternoon, I got together with my friend Robyn, and she said to me: ‘Ale, you’re overthinking everything. He just wasn’t meant to be. Who cares what people think. What you’re doing is great, just keep it simple!’ She was right.
Prêt-à-Repair captures the essence of all the ‘Robyn’s’ out there - those people close to you who know you so well and have a way of keeping it real, but in a warm and comforting way. I always found the colour yellow to represent happiness, and it’s funny how the cream is naturally that colour (thanks to the Rosehip and Passion Fruit oils). The colour yellow wasn’t planned, but ended up working out like it was meant to be.
MHS: That's another thing I love about you both. On set this summer, we were talking about intention, the mind, the connection that lives there. I've never met someone in beauty so connected and committed to this framework; can you speak a bit to this?
A: What makes Prêt-à-Repair unlike anything else is the intention behind it. I never wanted to create something that would obligate a person to feel like this is something that would ‘make’ them beautiful. The intention within Prêt-à-Repair and all of my creations for that matter, is to show you that beauty has ALWAYS existed within you, it’s emotional.
When Prêt-à-Repair users go a while without (i.e. ran out or forgot to wear it, etc), I always hear the same reaction: “Oh my god, I missed this feeling!” It’s almost like they're experiencing exactly what I was feeling in the moment I created it - a wave of contentment. You don't need anything more or anything less, and this goes back to my version of keeping it simple.
MHS: Something that has always fascinated me is the actual crafting of skincare products. What does the manufacturing process look like at Florés? Has it evolved over time?
A: Lots of researching, formulating and testing products. It is a very lengthy process. I am very thorough and I like to engage our mentors and have them try different versions and await their feedback, whether it is positive or negative. I take it all away and learn. We love adding a personal touch to every order by including a hand written thank you note for every unique customer. I wouldn’t say my process has evolved much, being as Florés is still in it’s post-natal stages (lol) however, if you give us another 1-2 years I am sure a lot will be different-and for the better.
MHS: Now, the metaphysical manufacturing process. What is the energy, the care you put into how Prêt-à-Repair feels?
It goes back to the whole intention behind the creation of PAR. For us, the quality of the ingredients need to be top notch, and that has nothing to do with brand or cost; it has to do with the people who are producing them and how they are producing them. Our ingredients are organic, wild harvested, and cruelty-free; these qualities compliment everything that Prêt-à-Repair and all our other products at Florés stand for. I can’t create something with run of the mill ingredients and hope that our customers won't notice a difference. Everything I’ve created is my art - there is a feeling and a reason for everything Florés. I haven't made a cleanser or a make-up remover even though ‘that is what you are supposed to do in a skin care line’ - that doesn't make sense to me. I create our products because I see beauty in them, they make me feel good and feel it will make others feel good as well.
The cherry on top is our gemstone elixir – we strategically picked out certain gemstones to align with our intention (pure positivity, no witchcraft stuff) and infuse them in our products. Not only do we want our customers to physically see a difference in their skin, but we want them to feel great on the inside. Those with more sensitive energies tell us that they’re able to feel the good vibes straightaway.
MHS: Ahhhh, I love that. And then, In your eyes, what do you crave for Florés Boticario over the next few years, and the Canadian beauty scene at large?
A: In order for Florés to reach that next level, we can’t restrict ourselves to just skin care. But at the same time, wherever this journey takes us next, we are open to anything as long as our philosophy on beauty holds. Maybe it will be something that reaches out to both women and men, of all different ages and cultures - we want do something that speaks to everyone!
Another thing we crave is to maintain our strong sister bond through the process. It’s a fact, working with a family member has its challenges and we’ve had our ups and downs. Florés has definitely been the therapy we’ve always needed and we’re so thankful for each other and the business. P.S. Therapy is not taboo…in fact, it’s the bomb!
MHS: Hopefully my Mom isn't reading this, but for the holidays, your three most gift-able Florés products?
Florés Balancing Mist, No.6 Beauty Primer and The Alps. (editor's note: The Alps is fucking glorious.)
MHS: What routine would you recommend to someone who is not only new to Florés, but skincare routines at large?
A: [grows increasingly more excited] Girl, you just touched on my favourite topic! First and foremost, one needs to create a beauty ritual that is best for you and your skin. For example, my routine when I might be a bit of a rush:
I spritz a bit of thermal water on my face and neck, apply cleanser in the palm of my hand, and with both hands gently massage it into my skin, rinsing with water. I'll pat my skin dry and dab on Prêt-à-Repair and a generous amount of No. 6 Beauty Primer. Then, I apply make-up and set it with our Florés Balancing Mist.
The most important part of my routine is in setting an intention. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I’ve heard saying that they hate their skin, their face, their looks, and hey, I’ve been there. But if we could just spend the same amount of time that we do criticizing ourselves, in embracing ourselves, we would have better skin days, better makeup/makeup-free days and just begin feeling better overall. I don’t mean to sound like Ned Flanders, but, shit, it’s so true! We spend so much time putting ourselves down, and Florés is about bringing yourself up.
MHS: Any advice?
A: Self-love is the first step in any skincare routine. Before you start getting ready, ask yourself how YOU want to feel today. Do you want to feel empowered, sexy, confident, bold, beautiful, graceful? Everything after that becomes the driving force of this intention; you'll be surprised how it can manifest. I always tell clients to study their face; look in the mirror and notice the qualities you like about yourself. Close your eyes and feel the contours of your face. Skincare routine should be something you look forward to.
Meli: My beauty routine is simple. I wash my face with water in the morning because I don’t like to double cleanse – my skin is already clean from the night before. I use Witch Hazel as my toner and apply the “Meli cream” that Ale made for people with combo/oily skin (editor's note: you heard it here first!). I then apply my makeup and spritz the Florés Balancing Mist to set. If anyone goes into my bathroom, they will see these sticky notes with affirmations on my mirror. I read these every morning while I’m getting ready to pump me up for the day! Works like a charm.
Final image of Claudia Oliveira by Erasmo Wong
Photography by Mariah Morales
To shop skincare, visit floresboticario.com