by Julia Cardi
Name: Zoe Twitt, Beauty, Denver
For this Business Profile, I talked with Zoe Twitt, creator of her own self-titled clothing line and, more recently, the natural-wellness lifestyle website Shop Zoe Life, which is part blog, part e-commerce store. Evident almost immediately during our chat is an earnest integrity that translates into how she approaches her businesses, and it gives her a down-to-earth, effervescent demeanor.
Zoe met Goldyn’s founder and buyer Vanessa Barcus when Zoe lived in New York and Vanessa was visiting the city on a buying trip. Says Vanessa, “Zoe and I met many years back because we actually had the same publicist in NYC. We all got drinks one night and she and I hit it off. Later on we found out that her now-husband actually went to college with me in California, which was so funny. It’s a small world!”
Zoe launched her eponymous clothing label at the end of 2009 with a collection of basics, seeing a meteoric rise with distribution in 60 stores in the infant line’s first year, including New York City’s exclusive Henri Bendel. (Click here to shop Zoe’s clothing line at Goldyn.)
Zoe relocated to Denver when she got engaged, closing the gap in a long-distance relationship. The move resulted in a hiatus from her label, because like so many other fashion moguls, she discovered that Denver largely lacked the infrastructure to support a growing collection. “I’d been trying very hard to live part-time in New York and part-time here, and I realized I couldn’t run my business from here,” she explains.
But out of the void came Shop Zoe Life. This latest project is truly a labor of love, born out of Zoe’s personal experiences with the differences that natural and organic health regimens have made in her life. “I can incorporate all of my skill sets…I’m really into natural beauty and wellness, so I spent about eight months researching the most amazing, most effective organic and natural products around the world. Then I started to buy after those eight months and build my site. My vision for the brand was very clear: basics. Basic skincare, hair care, beauty, body, and apparel basics.”
Vanessa Barcus was eager to continue collaborating with Zoe, so the two put their heads together and created a permanent Shop Zoe Life pop-up beauty shop at Goldyn. For Vanessa, the introduction of beauty products to Goldyn was a natural move. She explains, “The fashion and beauty industries are so interrelated. I had been thinking for a while about adding a few beauty lines to Goldyn, so that we could be more of a one-stop shop for customers, so the timing of this collaboration with Zoe really was perfect.”
Zoe’s genuine passion for the lifestyle she advocates, and the beauty products she curates, has made Shop Zoe Life as earnest as Zoe herself. She came into her belief in all-natural remedies through her personal health struggles. “Most of them were undiagnosed, but the crux of it was inflammation. I started studying qigong and became interested in wellness. I didn’t have a lot of information from my conventional practitioners. I had to go out and do my own research, and I started realizing that what I put on my skin made a huge difference in my health and well-being, and also to the inflammation. I had to go on an anti-inflammation diet; I had to use a lot of natural and quite simple products. And unexpectedly, I found that it was far more effective in clearing up my skin issues as well as health issues. So I became way more passionate about [natural and organic products].”
But Zoe is reluctant to pigeonhole the beauty products on Shop Zoe Life with highly connotative labels, even those associated with the forefront of her products’ construction. “I don’t even like to call my site an ‘organic wellness’ site, because that doesn’t do the products any justice – the packaging is really beautiful; [the companies’] mission statements are world-changing; all the skincare that I’m carrying is made in America. It’s been really hard because I’ve not really known how to brand it – it is organic, but I’ve just branded it as the best of what’s out there, because it is. Organic doesn’t need to mean ineffectual.”
Zoe’s commitment to advocating products she strongly believes in makes her highly discerning about what she chooses to feature. She handpicks every product, recipe and beauty ritual on Shop Zoe Life. “I’ve tried every single item. I’ve spent a lot of time doing the research because I wanted to make sure the selection was absolutely perfect and that there was a little bit of something for everyone. But not too much, because you don’t want to get lost in a sea of products. I asked “What do we all basically need? For skincare, haircare, [etc.]?’ I thought it would be great to have a site that people could just go to and know that everything there is safe to use…not just a for-profit corporate business.”
She loves every product she carries on the site, but the Morihata Binchotan charcoal soap has proven itself a star of the collection, a cleanser among cleansers. By Zoe’s testament, “it cleared out my skin to the point where I don’t have to wear any makeup whatsoever.”
Vanessa Barcus also sings the praises of the charcoal soap, and has a few other Shop Zoe Life favorites of her own. “I honestly have loved all the products I’ve tried thus far! And I do try to test it all out, so I know what I’m selling. My favorites, though, are the RMS Lip2Cheek pots – I use them daily on both my cheeks and lips, as well as the RMS Un-Coverup. All their products are organic and based in coconut oil, which I am a huge fan of. Oh, and I am a big fan of the Rodin body oil…that jasmine oil – so yummy! Zoe really has done a fantastic job of curating the best natural beauty brands.”
The May Lindstrom “Clean Dirt” cleansing clay is also a favorite. “[It’s] the most incredible mask I’ve ever used. It literally brings everything to the surface, and removes everything from under your skin. It comes in a powder form, and you scoop a little out and add a few drops of water, and it foams up. It looks like dirt – my five-year-old niece was like, ‘Why are you putting dirt on your face? That’s disgusting, you look dirty!’” Zoe laughs. “It smells incredible – [May Lindstrom] puts things like marshmallow root and cayenne pepper and fair-trade Tahitian vanilla.” Her enticing descriptions of the products would tempt any skincare junkie, and they have me pulling up their pages on Shop Zoe Life while we chat. I have a feeling I’ll have found a few new beauty-regimen obsessions before long.
Our conversation turns to Zoe’s love of beauty fads; I point to this year’s facial oils and last year’s BB and CC creams as the of-the-moment superfoods of skincare. “I’m obsessed with anything to do with trends, and anyone who knows me knows it,” Zoe gushes with a chuckle.
“But I’ve got to tell you, the only route to good skin is through diet. Nobody talks about this. I know that I’m pushing products here, but it’s about what you put into your body, first and foremost. Secondarily, what you use on your skin. It’s complementary.
“Some of the trends are right on the mark, but the truth is, they’re unsustainable for our bank accounts and our bodies. We need to use simple products and eat better. There are products you can use that are very inexpensive, such as coconut oil, that are fantastic for your skin…I think simpler is better. Our skin gets really overworked with all of the beauty products that we’re using. Also, we don’t always know what’s going into them. Some cause a toxic buildup over time.”
Zoe brings her holistic approach to health to readers in the form of favorite recipes and DIY beauty regimens. She also hopes to expand the e-commerce section beyond skincare. “I’m going to be adding more things to the site, such as gluten-free alternative flours for baking, and some supplements.”
A big reward of Zoe’s labor lies in knowing that Shop Zoe Life has had a positive impact on some women’s lives. “It’s simple things like hearing people’s reactions after using the products, hearing how it’s made a dramatic difference with their skin and confidence. I’ve had people say that after using the Binchotan soap, they stopped wearing foundation and feel more liberated. I also have a friend who had a really negative experience at a dermatologist with a procedure, and it has damaged the texture of the skin. She started using the May Lindstrom products, and it’s really evened out her skin.” Call it skin deep, but when that skin is beautiful, Zoe’s work is pretty fulfilling.
Zoe & Vanessa’s Top Beauty Picks:
Click here to browse ShopZoeLife’s full collection of addicting skincare products and other tempting goodies (and discover some new favorite recipes and beauty tips), and shop Goldyn’s selection of Zoe Twitt clothing here.