Meet Mackenzie Jorns, Founder & CEO of Protea, a line of holistic skincare products as well as virtual skincare consultations with licensed professionals, estheticians.
Through her journey with acne, Lyme Disease and growing up in a mixed race family, Mackenzie found that the current beauty industry was failing to provide successful solutions for her. In November of 2022 Mackenzie launched her first Protea product line followed up by the launch of the virtual consultation platform in March 2023.
Protea is founded on purpose driven mission, committed to making a positive impact on the community & and the world, while encouraging everyone to feel confident in their skin.
Keep reading to learn more about Mackenzie, her inspiration behind creating Protea, how she cultivates community within the brand & more.
Can you tell us more about your inspiration behind creating Protea and how the brand name came about?
Through my journey with Lyme Disease, acne, and growing up in a mixed race family, I have experienced so many missing gaps in the beauty industry. After talking with friends and family, I realized I was not alone. It led me to launch my company Protea, with a line of holistic products as well as virtual skincare consultations with licensed skin care professionals, estheticians. Protea is the first-of-its-kind platform that allows people to meet with estheticians virtually and get personalized guidance tailored to their unique skincare needs.I’m very big into symbolism and hidden meanings, so when I came across the Protea flower it seemed like the perfect fit. Protea is a genus of flowers native to South Africa that symbolize strength, diversity, and courage. All things that spoke to my own journey and what I want other people to feel through using Protea.
We love the fact that Protea allows consumers to meet with their own personal esthetician who helps them create a tailored skincare routine. Can you talk more about why you created the Skin Support Consultation Platform? In what ways does the platform enhance the consumer journey and experience?
When I was struggling with acne due to my Lyme Disease, working with an esthetician that understood my disease, my lifestyle and my budget is what helped get my skin back to where I felt like me. But finding the right esthetician and going in person to meet all the time was time consuming and didn’t always pan out. I knew I could create something better. Our virtual skincare consultation platform allows our customers to pick from a variety of estheticians with different specialties and our estheticians to recommend any products they feel are best for you, your skin, your health, and your budget. Protea is more than just a platform to meet with an esthetician or another company to buy skincare products from, we aim to connect people with education and a community of supportive, like minded people who know that beauty starts on the inside. Our platform makes professional skincare advice more accessible, but it also makes interacting with clients outside of their region more accessible for estheticians. I believe that the barrier to entry to get skincare advice from a professional shouldn’t be a just TikTok account or getting a high ticket facial.
How does Protea successfully differentiate itself from other skincare and wellness brands?
Through our mission and purpose. Our purpose is to make a positive impact on our community and the world. Protea does this through our mission of helping all people feel more confident in their skin via our skincare products and skincare consultations. We’re in the business of doing good business. I do everything in my power to support not only our clients but also our estheticians. During this crazy financial time we actually reduced prices on our skincare products to make them more accessible for people and added more benefits to our monthly subscription for estheticians, such as Indipop Health Cost-Sharing, Canva Pro, MasterClass, Peloton App, and Walmart+ free access to help make their lives easier during this time.
It’s so important for brands to cultivate a community feeling for their consumers and that customers feel connected to the brand. How does Protea successfully achieve this and in what ways would you like to see the Protea community expand?
We do this through our buy one, donate one business model. For every Protea skincare product purchased, we donate a SkinConfidence Skincare kit to an unhoused woman. We want ALL people to feel more confident in their skin as a result of our business.
We launched our product line on November 1, 2022 and our platform on March 23, 2023, so we are definitely still working to build community. I’m working to expand the brand into a household name that is synonymous with feeling confident in one’s skin no matter a person’s economic status.
In the future, I’d like to see some type of support community for people in-person, such as free events that connect like-minded people where we make SkinConfidence kits together to donate.
We would love to get a glimpse of what it's like creating skincare products. How do you come with ideas for new products and what does the process behind that look like?
Oh it’s so stinking fun! I love product development and finding the right vendors, manufacturers and trying new ingredients that will make our skincare unique and above the rest.. I’m not going to lie, finding the right vendor and manufacturer is very hard. It was hard to get a vendor to take a chance on me as a new bootstrapped company, but I found an amazing one out of the west coast who has been amazing to work with and really understands our mission.
In what ways has your previous work experience played a role in your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?
I managed high-ticket and high-stress business development teams for industry leading Department of Defense companies. Being in that high stress environment where people’s lives were on the line really gave me perspective of prioritizing and managing expectations with innovation.
Since creating Protea, what would you say has been your biggest challenge and how did you find yourself overcoming it?
Teaching people that our company exists. Honestly, I’m still working on it. We don’t have a major marketing budget, so I’ve been overcoming it with amazing partnerships with companies like Sune, Mindspace, and Orange Theory Fitness to spread the word about Protea to their employees and customers.
Since starting your entrepreneurial journey what has been the best piece of advice that has stuck with you along the way? What would you tell your younger self?
Two pieces of advice that have really stuck with me - keep your idea to yourself until you’re so committed that there is no going back (Sara Blakely) and be the change you wish to see in the world (I literally had Toms in high school that had this quote all over them.
My personal advice for others would be - Don’t live with regrets. Do the challenging idea that scares you the most. You’ll make it work. Learn to endure and thrive under stress. Don’t let it keep you from enjoying the journey.
I would tell my younger self that enduring intense hardships have made you able to thrive in this environment. The perseverance and grit you gained from overcoming intense high school bullying, a life-threatening disease in college, acne and so much more, have made you an incredible business woman who’s going to change the world for the good of others.