By Faith Cummings
A little over nine percent of the global population deals with acne: making it among the top ten conditions worldwide. And despite this commonality shared by people all over the world, the journey living with acne is turbulent and it can take years to find the right combination of products and prescriptions before landing a regimen that delivers results.
Nicolas Travis knows this journey quite well as he traversed it himself, when severe acne crept up in his teenage years and the process of finding products that helped both frightened and overwhelmed him. His skincare struggles powered his education, and while in grad school, he developed his first line, Allies of Skin, for a project. Not long after bringing it to market, it became a global bestseller and go-to for beauty fans and influencers on social media, where reviews helped propelled the brand’s popularity.
“The one thing that gets me out of bed every day is knowing that our products are helping thousands of people feel better in their own skin.”
Allies of Skin has biocompatible formulas and scientific research at its core, with products that save you time in your routine because of their multitasking benefits. But this isn’t the only brand Travis has up his sleeve, as he is also the founder of PSA, which launched in 2020 and is the sister brand to Allies of Skin, with packaging perfect for an IG story or TikTok video and more affordable price points.
With ingredients including silk amino acids, vitamin C, mandelic acid, and grapeseed oil, your skin will thank you for incorporating these products into your regimen.
GET TO KNOW – NICOLAS TRAVIS
What was the impetus to start your brand?
It has always been a dream of mine to have my own skincare company. My passion for skincare started in my teens when I had severe acne. The process of shopping for products was filled with many empty promises. Whatever was out there left me wanting more. I did Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science for my undergrad degree and then graduate school after. For my master’s thesis, I wrote a business plan for a start-up skincare company. I spent six months doing research, collecting data points, and learning about the industry.
After graduation, I applied to every major beauty conglomerate in every country I thought I could live in, but none of them got back to me. So, I ended up accepting a job offer at an ad agency where I created social media strategies and ran campaigns. When it came to decide my next move, I felt this urge I couldn’t shake off to go back and review my thesis. My thesis was based on an infusion of $1M and I knew I was never going to make enough to save $1M, but I realized that I could start the line with one product which is what I did.
It took me a couple of months to pick up the courage to do so. I always thought that I needed real experience and connections in the beauty industry (I had zero), and I had not paid my dues yet so who was I to start my own line? The name Allies of Skin came to me when I was brushing my teeth one day. I’ve always loved the word Allies; one cannot thrive in life without having allies and people who have your back. I wanted to create products that people could trust. The fact that people would trust us with their skin is something I take very seriously and am grateful for every day.
Do you have a beauty philosophy? What is it?
I’m a big believer in stressing less and laughing more, so I do whatever gives me levity. I’ve been learning how to live more in the moment instead of trying to stress about what will come next. When you have inner joy, it manifests and shines through your aura and skin.
Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
I am born and raised in Singapore. The Allies Group headquarters is in Berlin. So, I split my time between Singapore and Berlin.
What were some of your first memories of beauty growing up? What are some early beauty influences?
My older siblings wearing clay masks and perfume were my first beauty memories. I’m still inspired by them except that now, I use their skin concerns as inspiration and fodder for new formulas.
What does self-care look like in your life?
I gravitate towards doing things that give me joy. Be it great skincare, facials, massages, or tequila. I’ve been taking a lot of pleasure in moving slowly – taking baths at the end of a long day, supercharging the bath with crystals and aura energizing oils from my healer and relaxing with PSA’s LIQUID PANACEA Centella & Kombucha Firming Booster layered under PSA’s LIGHT UP Vitamin C & E Flash Brightening Mask.
Lesser screen time to focus on reading is something that I’ve been working on too. My favorite book of the moment is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
The one thing that gets me out of bed every day is knowing that our products are helping thousands of people feel better in their own skin. I am inspired by the hyper-intellectual customers who are demanding more from brands and from the products they spend their hard-earned money on.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
The biggest challenge has to be keeping up with all the demand. We, like many businesses, have been dealing with COVID-related delays and constraints on our supply chain. Our 2020 Black Friday sale revenue was 900% more than 2019’s and our website crashed five times. We had a bug in our inventory system, and it didn’t sync with the backend of our website, so we ended up selling more inventory that we actually had. We had over 8,000 backlogged orders.
We spent the first three months of 2021 apologizing every single day. I’m so grateful that we have the best allies (we call our customers allies) who have continued to be supportive and understanding. The last year and a half of dealing with the pandemic have kept us on our toes and really tested us.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Being the most widely distributed Singaporean beauty brand. We are the first Singaporean beauty brand to be stocked at retailers like Asos, Boots, Liberty, Galeries Lafayette, Harrods, Cult Beauty, Revolve, and Anthropologie.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
Less focused on physical perfection and showing ‘real’ skin. More skin tones and body shapes. I would like to see more focus on creating a safe space for consumers to ask questions and have dialogues about skincare and self-care.