The latest addition to our carefully chosen selection of Clean Beauty items is Circumference: sublime skincare that is rooted in awareness and integrity. Its founders, Jina Kim and Chris Young, are a married couple, like Nathaniel and I, and they share our passionate and purposeful approach to building a company.
Based in New York, Jina and Chris use sustainably sourced, natural ingredients to create potent formulas that nourish our skin and our planet. Their commitment to transparency is an inspiration. Plus, their products are amazing. I’ve been using all five for the last few months, and my skin looks and feels wonderful. I hope that you enjoy this candid interview with the dynamic duo behind Circumference.
What inspired you to start your brand?
Circumference was really inspired by my experience working in sustainable fashion. Prior to launching Circumference, I was working with a small team to launch a sustainable athletic apparel line that utilized recycled plastic bottles to create high performance apparel. The response and support from customers was really incredible. By then sustainability was already an important conversation, but it was really encouraging to see that consumers were definitely ready for alternative solutions than what’s already out there.
The success of that brand really piqued my interest in wanting to tackle another industry that I’ve long loved — beauty. Very quickly, I realized that the beauty industry was one that really needed a shake up. From wasteful packaging to zero transparency around sourcing and processing of ingredients, we started Circumference to develop and implement new and innovative ways to create truly effective, sustainable skincare products.
What is your morning regimen?
My one year old son is my alarm clock! He’s usually up between 5.30 - 6.30am, so my first step is to get the coffee going. We spend the first couple hours in the morning playing and having breakfast as a family.
I like to keep my skincare routine quick and streamlined in the mornings. I rinse with warm water then pat on our Active Botanical Refining Toner. While my face is still damp from the toner, I’ll then layer on our Vital-C Antioxidant Day Serum. Afterwards, I massage in our Pure Balancing Botanical Face Oil. I always finish with sunscreen as my last step.
In the rare case that my son sleeps in, I’ll take some extra time for my routine to do a facemask. Depending on my skin’s needs I’ll either use our In-Depth Hydration Face Mask or our Green Clay Detox Face Mask. As the temperature in NYC has dropped, my skin has been needing some extra hydration so I’ve been reaching for our Hydration Face Mask more regularly.
What other brands do you personally use in your beauty arsenal?
Kosas - Really love their tinted face oil! It evens everything out without feeling too heavy when you don’t want too much coverage. Also love their tinted ip balm in Pulse. Absolutely a must as the weather gets colder! Very moisturizing with just a hint of color.
Kjaer Weis - I love their eye shadows, I wear the gold cream shadow daily. They also have some of the best, re-fillable packaging!
Rahua - I use the Rahua classic shampoo and it’s my favorite. It leaves my hair feeling clean, but not stripped and never dry.
Is it true that botanicals/essential oils can irritate your face?
It’s important for customers to understand that all natural is not always good or better for you. There are a lot of factors at play including % within formulation, purity and quality of plants sourced, the way it’s extracted and stored, etc. Not to mention no two humans are alike in the way they react to certain materials.
This is why it’s especially important for customers now to look into a brand’s practices and values to make sure that they are actually producing quality products that have been thoroughly tested and analyzed to ensure the ingredients used are of quality and processed with integrity.
The same ingredient that has been sourced, extracted and processed differently can be vastly different in its efficacy and safety/stability.
Do you have a favorite natural sunscreen?
Sunscreens are always a little tricky because texture is such an important factor for daily use.
Supergoop and Coola have become my go-tos, but I’ll borrow my son’s ThinkBaby sunscreen in a stick form for easy application on the go sometimes.
How does your company practice sustainability?
Our goals around sustainability exists across three pillars - environmental, social, and economical. We don’t believe it’s enough for a brand to just have recyclable packaging (though we always package in highly recyclable glass and various recyclable/compostable materials). That ultimately leaves the responsibility in the hands of consumers VS a brand’s ability to create positive change behind the scenes, at the supply chain level.
What we’ve essentially done is built our proprietary supply chain from scratch - independent from our manufacturers and large chemical suppliers. This allows us to source materials from smaller, independent producers and co-ops that help smaller, indigenous communities in various regions around the world including S. America and SE Asia.
This has given us the transparency and visibility to have much better control of the process in which the plants are raised and harvested - all through environmentally friendly means, as well as no harm to the farmers and producers.
Lastly, sustainability is always a moving target for us. We continually invest our efforts into finding new and innovative methods to produce our products as well as reduce waste. Last year we established partnerships with farms in upstate NY to compost of use our extracted raw materials as feed as often they still hold a lot of biovalue. And we’re just at the beginning of it all!
What can you share about your journey working with your life partner?
[Husband and business partner Chris answers]
Happy to jump in on this one. :)
Yes, we are a married couple with a 1 year old baby. Funny enough, Jina and I have worked together in various capacities for 10 years now so starting Circumference together was actually a natural transition. We've worked within the same company in a more corporate setting and maybe more importantly, in startup settings previous to Circumference where we worked hand in hand on projects.
Our roles blend in a lot of ways. We both take on much of the creative vision and luckily align on this really well. Jina takes on a heavier role in product development and roadmap, while I handle more of the day to day operations and logistics of manufacturing and such. We share the grander vision behind the brand, which revolves around creating a highly sustainable, innovatie beauty brand.
The good (and very important) part of working with a life partner is that trust is already ingrained in us. We trust each other to make the best, thoughtful decisions in all things business (and marriage, parenting) since it is our livelihood in so many ways. We trust each other to never have any other agendas or ego/pride get in the way which I've found to be the problem sometimes with coworkers, cofounders, etc.
The bad can be that work encompasses our lives 24/7. It's often difficult to separate all of this since we are quite literally bringing work home with us everyday. We've found ways to balance work and life with our baby but obviously, as entrepreneurship often is, that balance breaks time to time and we find ways to repair.
No real secret. We set a vision for ourselves and take things on day by day.
What is your favorite Marysia piece?
I absolutely love the Lehi Maillot. This suit is so versatile! I wear it as a swimsuit, but I also lived in it this summer as a bodysuit with high waisted jeans. The wide straps give just enough support.
Also, the Euboea dress has the most beautiful neckline. The ruffled, high neck is so pretty and unexpected.