Episode 203: Carolina Reis Oliveira, CEO and Founder of OneSkin
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She wants to see a change in the world and she isn’t going to wait on anyone else to do it. Using her passion for biology and stem-cell engineering, Carolina Reis Oliveira aims to develop products aimed at eradicating the harmful effects of biological aging. Harnessing the power of science to improve human health is of the utmost importance to her; a vision she realizes through OneSkin.

Dan Hodgdon
Molly D’AmatoHi Esperanza!
Esperanza RosenbaumHi Molly.
Molly D’AmatoWelcome to your first Where Brains Meet Beauty podcast!
Esperanza RosenbaumWoo!
Molly D’AmatoI want to introduce you guys to Esperanza. She is our new podcast producer, which is gonna be great. As you all know, our beloved Carey left us in February and we have been desperately trying to find someone who will fit on our team and Esperanza has stepped into Carey’s big shoes and really has been doing a great job already. Do you want to introduce yourself?
Esperanza RosenbaumAw I’m blushing, that’s very sweet. Yeah Carey definitely has huge shoes to fill, I feel like Carey is such a figure within Base Beauty ––
Molly D’AmatoYeah she’s like a legend! [LAUGHING]
Esperanza RosenbaumLAUGHING] Yeah she’s such a legend within the Base Beauty community, so there’s a lot of things that I’m working out, but I’m really excited to be here and I’m really excited to be on the podcast!
Molly D’AmatoYeah! We’re so excited to have you. So this is Episode 203 of our podcast with Carolina Reis Oliveira, who is the CEO and Co-Founder of OneSkin. She was just so awesome to hear from. This was one of the first episodes you were on, right Esperanza?
Esperanza RosenbaumYes this was the first episode I was on and I was really excited to hear about her brand ––
Molly D’AmatoYeah she’s so inspiring ––
Esperanza RosenbaumAnd her journey!
Molly D’AmatoYeah her journey is so amazing and so inspiring to hear about, especially with it being women’s month, it’s super awesome to hear from inspiring women who decided to delve into science. Like science to me is an insanely hard thing ––
Esperanza Rosenbaum[LAUGHING] Totally.
Molly D’Amatoso whenever I hear anybody succeed in it, I’m like ‘you are like a superstar’.
Esperanza RosenbaumI was gonna say the same, like whenever I hear anything relating science I’m honestly terrified, so to see a woman doing it is really cool.
Molly D’AmatoYeah and I feel like a lot of people don’t think about how much science goes into skincare, which is ––
Esperanza RosenbaumTotally.
Molly D’Amatowhy it’s so fabulous and so amazing and why when you find the right products it’s so cool. So it’s so awesome to hear about skincare from the science side.
Esperanza RosenbaumAbsolutely.
Molly D’AmatoSo that being said, I think we can hop into the episode. So let’s go!
Esperanza RosenbaumBye-bye!
Jodi KatzHey everybody. Welcome back to the show. Welcome to our fifth anniversary season. I'm so excited that you joined us. Joining us today is Carolina Reis Oliveira. She is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of OneSkin. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty.
Carolina Reis OliveiraThanks, Jodi. It's a pleasure to be here.
Jodi KatzI'm so excited to talk technology with you because like, this is your every day. And I wanna start with my favorite question since this is a career journey podcast. Let's go all the way back when you were 11 and 12 years old, what did you wanna be when you grew up?
Carolina Reis OliveiraYes. So I was always interested in science. I loved like biology, chemistry. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to be. I know that I wanted to work with health. So potentially being a doctor. So this was something that always crossed my mind. I remember even like joking with my mom that I wanted to be a dancer because I love dancing, but I don't think that ever was like a real passion in terms of, you know, pursuing it professionally. But yeah, that interest in science started growing more and more. And I think when I was in high school, I remember that I was studying genetic engineering and I was so fascinated about, wow, can we have this power of manipulating DNA and understanding how these things happen in a very low scale, very small scale. And we can basically, I mean, we can manipulate life, right, by understanding those genetic engineering tools. So that's when I really got super excited about, you know, using this power of science to really improve human's health. I would think about, you know, curing a disease or, you know, helping people to live a better life. And that's how I started dedicating my life to research and eventually, you know, got me to where I am today.
Jodi KatzSo Carolina, how do we go from improving human health to the beauty industry?
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah, that's a very interesting journey. And it's funny because I still don't consider OneSkin as a beauty company. I still consider that we are in the health industry. So basically I decided to, I got my major in biochemistry and then on my PhD, I decided to study stem cell biology and tissue engineering because I was fascinated about, you know, the potential of stem cells to really help curing diseases. And that led me to pursue my first, I would say entrepreneurial venture, back in Brazil. And initially we were focusing on replicating human tissues in the lab. So imagine that we can regrow human skins, we regrow like mini brains or mini hearts, and this would be used to test new drugs and, you know, try to evaluate toxicity and efficacy.

So that first venture didn't work out for several reasons, but got me the opportunity to come to the US in 2016. So I joined IndieBio. IndieBio is a Biotech accelerator that help scientists like me to start their companies and to really build a scalable business that will impact like hundreds of millions of people. And we decided to focus on this sector of skin aging. And initially we were focusing on validating the efficacy of anti-aging products that were already available in the market. So because we can grow human skins, we can also test products and we can measure those products. They are changing what we call the skin biological age. So I don't know if you guys have heard about that, but different from our chronological age, we also have our own biological age. That means how healthy is our tissues. So our biological age can be, you know, changed.

It's malleable, I would say. Aging's a malleable process and we can, you know, reverse this biological age with different interventions. So – how we measure that, basically -- we read the DNA of the skin to see if, you know, a given innovation of what changes this skin's biological age. So in this process of testing products that were available in the market, basically we needed to learn so much about aging. And this brought me a very interesting realization that made all the dots, you know, connect. And basically, it's that aging is the main risk factor for most of the diseases that we experience as we grow older, right. So you know, after we cross like sixties, the chances that we are gonna have Alzheimer's, cancers, cardiovascular diseases increases exponentially. So why not treat aging in the first place instead of like trying to treat the specific diseases?

And I saw so much going on in terms of the science and the research in terms of finding new innovations that can target aging at the root cause. And then basically I saw an opportunity to bring that approach to target skin aging and to develop better products, more effective products that were intended to rejuvenate the skin, but using a very clear rationale of targeting the root cause of of aging, and then the consequences that we would improve the health of the skin, and consequently, the appearance of the skin. Since the beginning, we were never only focused on the appearance. We were always focusing on how we can promote the health of, you know, our body, our tissues, and the skin is the, I would say, is the first, you know, application for this technology. Obviously we are meeting a very important need in the market. It's not only a need in terms of, you know, helping our customers to feel better about how they're aging, but also bringing, you know, the messaging that your skin starts to deteriorate as you age and this can compromise your overall health.

So keeping healthy and functional and youthful looking skin also reflects the health of your skin and the health of your body. So we can go a little deeper on those topics, but I just wanna connect that our goal is still, you know to be promoting health first and building is a consequence of that process.

Jodi KatzSo Carolina, let's talk about your journey because you started the first business, right? Not OneSkin, but the business you started in Brazil really soon after graduating. What gave you the courage and the inspiration to just start a business? I mean that's you know, you certainly could have gotten work – to go for work to many different kind of biology companies or innovation companies.
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah, definitely. I had great inspiration from my family. So my brother, I saw him just before he finished college starting a business in Brazil that was about reforesting, so a very sustainable business. And I saw him starting from an idea that I remember that was very ambitious for, you know a junior, you know graduated student in becoming something that was real and was creating a massive impact, you know, in the ecosystem. So basically they bought this huge land and they start like planting trees and they were generating so many jobs, and really changing the ecosystem where they were developing this business. And I saw this as such an inspiring and powerful way to make an impact.

And on the other hand, I was always looking to be independent and trying to create things that I believe needed to exist, you know, for humanity. So if I wanna live like a healthier life, and if I wanna age in a very healthy way, or if I wanna age in a future in which aging doesn't mean any limitation to my life, I wanna help to create that future. So I wanna be, you know, the protagonist in this journey, and I don't wanna complain about aging or, you know, the things that are happening to me, but I wanna make sure that I'm creating ways that we will not allow, you know, everyone, but also myself to age and to, you know, live in a future that I want to see for myself, you know, for my family. So I wanna be a tool of, you know, change and not sit around expecting change.
Jodi KatzCarolina. How did you go about raising money for the previous business? And this one, I would imagine an innovation company like this, there's quite a lot of runway you need in terms of your financing.
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah, definitely raising is one of the most challenging part of, you know, creating a company first, because at the beginning, you don't have a lot of data to show and you need to find people that will trust in the team. So trust first, you know, in the founders and to see the opportunity, right. See the, obviously, the market opportunity. But that trust that we are the right people to solve that problem and why we are the right ones to do so is super, super important. And then from there you need to show that you able to deliver the results that you planned to do with that investment. And then keep, I'd say, exceeding the expectations of your investors. So I usually say that's like a double edge sword, you know, of fundraising because it's a really painful process, but it's also a process that I learn and I grow so much from, not in terms of how I can improve myself and how I can deal with that feedback that a lot of times they are, you know, they're tough and you can't take it personal. Or you can take in a way that, you know, helps you grow.

But also how that is helping the business. Because a lot of the questions that they're bringing are really designed to de-risk the business. So, we can only think so much when we are growing the business. So having, you know, those different perspectives really help us to you know, think about the different strategies and even like accelerate our process of development. So I would say that in the end, you'll find people that will align with your vision that will, you know share that dream with you. And you need to just make sure that those are the right partners that you wanna work with, because it's definitely like a marriage, right? It's not something that you could, you can go back and divorce, but I've been very lucky and privileged to find incredible, you know, investors and supports to be helping me along the way.
Jodi KatzI think that those moments where it's really hard and uncomfortable are the best, because that's where, you know, you're doing the most learning. And I think about it as if like I'm at the gym, right. If it's not hard, then I'm probably not doing it right. Right? Or I'm not pushing myself in a way that's gonna benefit me. So I do not like side planks because they're hard, but if I did more side planks, they would get easier, right. But I am stubborn and I just don't wanna do that, right. And that's pretty similar to the process of navigating these hard situations at work.
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah. And I think it's also a balance in terms of how much you are doing to work in a way that that's obviously, you know, making you stronger or how much you are letting, you know, you are pushing so hard or you are letting that affect your mental health. Right? So for example, you know, even like few months ago, I was getting so stressed out with like fundraising that I was not sleeping well, I was not even, you know, being so productive. So I was almost like close to a burnout. It's something that I never thought, you know, I would experience, but it can build up. And if you don't have a very strong mental process in terms of working with yourself and kind of, you know, releasing that stress and making sure that you are in control, not letting things like take over you. I think this is essential, you know, if you wanna be on this journey for the long run. And sometimes we just I don't know, overlook some of those important things. And when you see you're almost, you know, close to something that's not healthy for you.
Jodi KatzHave you met other founders in your space that have given you advice around how to take care of yourself during the journey?
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah, that's very interesting because I have a group of entrepreneurs that meet once a month and this group is amazing. They are all guys, and I'm the only girl. And I mean, I love, they are so supportive and they are so smart. And in one of those meetings I was sharing like, you know, I'm so stressed out. I don't want this for my whole life. I don't want that. This journey shouldn't be that painful. You know, it needs to give me pleasure and happiness, and then one of them shared something that I'll never forget and makes total sense. And I completely already, you know, started to implement in my life. They said 'Carolina, if you are not able to conquer yourself first, you cannot conquer anything else in the world'. So that's, you know. And then another guy shared that he was the most stressed out of the whole group.

And he shared that he started doing one hour meditation every day. And now he's like, you know, this person, like in peace and centered. And so, wow. Yeah. And then, I already, I was into meditation, but I was not giving that, you know, importance. And I think this two things made me realize that, yes, I first needed to be in control of myself. And obviously, you know, this time for myself and putting my thoughts together. So meditation is now a huge priority for me, but it is super important to have, you know, that support because a lot of times you are trying to figure things out by yourself and it's not easy. Right.
Jodi KatzI love this advice. And it's so wonderful that you have this group, right. 'Cause It can be so lonely building a business. You know, it makes me think of my journey. I realize that, you know, I have my work. Right. But, I spend a lot of time doing that. And I have my family and I spend a lot of time with them. But I think what I spend the most time on is helping myself evolve as a human, like feeling more whole as a person and these challenges at work or even the fun, easy stuff at work, it's all helping me find my whole self. And so I actually, when I think about my work week or my work day, I spend more time working on myself than anything else. Because if I'm, you know, facing my fears and my anxieties through work, it's testing me. Right. It's helping me grow as a human and then it benefits the business. It benefits my family. But I think the number one job is you know, I'm a work in progress and like I keep progressing thankfully.
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah. Acknowledging that. Right. I think I've seen some people that block a time in their agenda just like to think, you know, basically to check in with yourself. Right. And I think this is so important because yeah, as you said, if we're not well with ourselves, then everything else gets compromised. And I can clearly see that I get much more reactive. I get a little less patient, you know, if I'm not you know, in that best, balanced state.
Jodi KatzI actually just like made a note to myself of something you said that I like, you know, need to adopt in my life. So I love, I love this podcast 'cause for me, it's free therapy, Carolina, you know, it's so helpful. I think that magically, the universe brings me the guest the day I need to hear these messages, which is so cool. And I hope for our listeners it's the same for them. Okay. So we're – our whole theme this quarter is technology. And obviously, like your business and yourself, it's like an obvious fit. Clearly, your day-to-day is all about technology, right? You're innovating in a way that is, it's not a language that I'm used to hearing. Right. So you've been speaking about longevity as a category. I only started to hear about this like maybe a year ago, is this like the new, like health and medical space? Is that what we're gonna be hearing about, longevity?
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah. That's the way that I see it. And I think a lot of, you know, my peers agree. Obviously we saw, you know, how massive the wellness space is, but I think there is still a lot of unclarity in, you know, what is really impacting your life or your health. And what's just, you know, using the momentum to sell something else. And longevity will be, I see, as the new wellness category in which we will offer products that are scientifically developed and to have a significant impact on your health. So the difference is that everything is backed by data. Everything, you know, comes from a very clear, fundamental process. So for example, the way that we developed this, you know, this product, it's not the classic way that another brand would do. We came with a hypothesis, right?

What is the most important aging process that we should intervene in order to have a very significant age reversal effect? So we evaluated like series of options. We created a hypothesis we tested this hypothesis, we got to results, we optimized, we'd iterate until we got to this product. And on the same line, you know, other products that are focused on your longevity as a whole, for example, supplements or even other devices that can help, you know, measuring your, again, your biological age. I wanna check if I'm 36, is my biological age at 30 or at 42? If it's at thirty, great, I can keep, you know, doing the same things that I'm doing, but if it's at 42, I needed to change some habits, I need to potentially do some different treatments. So I think that this new longevity category is a category that's coming to empower us with data so we can take actions and then we can measure, we can quantify the fact of those actions. So basically, you know, taking the guess out of the conversation. It's more like quantitative. And that's also how I believe that we create a bigger impact because there is no BS there.
Jodi KatzSo Carolina, for our last question I wanna talk about this idea of growing the business as being seductive. It's a word I use a lot because it's an unusual word in business, but once I got a little taste of success or taste of my dreams coming true, I wanted more. Almost like the way sugar, you know, impacts your body. Right? I eat a piece of chocolate now I need 20 more pieces. So I'm curious 'cause you're in such a pivotal moment in building your business. Do you feel this seduction in the possibilities and if so, how do you stay focused on what's really important to you?
Carolina Reis OliveiraYeah, that's a great question. I think it's very easy to be seduced by the pressure of like investors, you need to grow faster, you need to do bigger. Yeah. And in the end you need to check in like, why I'm doing that? You know, when I started this, what was the vision that I had? Right. So as I said, I was never really fascinated about beauty, but I was always fascinated about health and I know that I wanna create an impact on health. And if I continue to check-in if that end goal is still, you know, clear and I'm working towards that goal, I'm not being distracted, I think it's awesome that I wanna do bigger and I wanna do more. Because I'll be impacting more and more people. And I hope, you know, really creating a legacy living a legacy. So I think being true to your fundamental principles and in your purpose, is what will keep you the right track.
Jodi KatzOkay, our last part of the show are fan questions. So we got these questions from fans on social media in advance of our session here today. Oh this is a really good question: What are two tips you have for someone looking to make a change in their career?
Carolina Reis OliveiraAh, great one. I would say first plan it very well in terms of, obviously don’t drop your current job before studying and making a plan before that transition. So make sure whatever transition you’re making is aligned with your purpose and you’ll feel more fulfilled. But also make sure that won’t compromise very significantly in terms of how you’re living your life. You don’t want to be left very unprepared. Kind of create a plan to make that transition.
Jodi KatzI love that response. I was just thinking as you were saying that of how did I do it? And I was at a full time job and I started to get freelance work on the side. And then I started to get more and more of that so that eventually it was so much work that I was like I don’t need to have two jobs. But even with that preparation I was still so unprepared, you know, I really didn’t know what I was walking into but at least having that financial security of the first job was really important.
Carolina Reis OliveiraExactly. Yeah and you need financial security to at least protect you for a year or so and obviously the moment that you’re going to make the transition it will be still scary so you need to have that leap of faith that you’re doing the right thing and there will be a moment of adaptation but I don’t think anybody should be afraid of trying something new because even if it doesn’t work, you’ll have what you had before. But having the opportunity to try something new and something that’s, you know, makes you much happier and fulfilled.
Jodi KatzOkay last fan question, this is a good one. What are the three must have, can’t live without beauty products?
Carolina Reis OliveiraAh! Well, first one, OneSkin [LAUGHS]. So OneSkin is all in one so it will make a lot of the job already. Definitely sunscreen so even like before OneSkin, I would say don’t leave the house without sunscreen. And then for me, I would say maybe the other one would be a concealer. Like I can’t like, I need a concealer every day and like some blush [LAUGHS].
Jodi KatzI love it! Carolina, thank you so much, this was such a fun time I’m so glad we got to do this together and I’m so excited I got to meet you during this time of your business growth and innovation cause like you know there’s really big things for longevity and OneSkin in the future, so thank you for joining us today.
Carolina Reis OliveiraThank you so much Jodi, it was super fun. I appreciate the invite.
Jodi KatzWell thank you so much for your wisdom, like I said, I was taking notes during our conversation cause I needed to hear some of these messages today.
Carolina Reis OliveiraI’m so glad!
Jodi KatzAnd for our listeners, I hope you enjoy this interview with Carolina. Please subscribe to our series on your favorite podcast app. And for updates about the show follow us on Instagram @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.

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