Denice Duff: “You get what you put your attention on”

Be Available, Authentic, and Ethical — The “Ivory Tower” of business doesn’t seem to even be an option in this modern world of the Beauty Industry. Customers have so much information at their fingertips. They can do their own research and education and they can also reach out to you. So you need to be there to […]

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Be Available, Authentic, and Ethical — The “Ivory Tower” of business doesn’t seem to even be an option in this modern world of the Beauty Industry. Customers have so much information at their fingertips. They can do their own research and education and they can also reach out to you. So you need to be there to answer questions and be transparent. I personally handle most of the social media comments and one time I had someone comment, “I might have been interested in this product but they paid a celebrity in this ad and that ruined it for me. If you have to pay celebrities, I’m not interested!”. I wondered if she would even believe me if I told her the truth? I started out wholeheartedly agreeing that many times celebrities are paid to sell a product and that one day we hope to have that kind of budget, but that this actress actually buys our cream and loves it and loves to talk about it. As a family owned small business, we appreciate the love the actress gave us. I then reassured the woman that we have a money back guarantee and she has nothing to lose. Well, that night she placed an order of our small travel size and three weeks later ordered our full size. Available, Authentic, and Ethical.

I had the pleasure of interviewing actress, professional photographer, and skincare guru, Denice Duff. She learned from the best as her great-grandmother had dewy, smooth skin at 90 years old. Denice grew up with her family using natural products like olive oil as a makeup remover, facial moisturizer, and body lotion. When Denice learned that on average, women put 168 chemicals on their skin each day, she decided to make her 100% natural moisturizer available to more than just her close friends and Hollywood celebrities.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I saw my 3-yr old daughter on the couch with her 96-yr old Great-Great Grandmother (yes, 5 generations) sharing avocados and carrots sticks, I was inspired to do my share to keep women from resisting the honor of aging while embracing all the magic of Mother Nature. Now, at 54 yrs old, I am a product of what I passionately preach and spend my days answering questions helping women of all ages, through social media, on how NOT to compromise health for effective beauty solutions. As a professional photographer, I have seen first-hand that even though real beauty shines from within, my subjects needed to feel confident about how they looked before even getting in front of my lens.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Since starting my business in the skin care world, it opened up an even greater responsibility to truly help women. As an actress, I was responsible to memorize my lines and do my best to portray a character as authentic as possible. As a photographer, my responsibility (when shooting a portrait) is to make that one person feel comfortable for a brief moment in time with me in the studio. As a skin care creator, I feel my responsibility is to provide women with products that magically create effective solutions to their varying skin needs so that each day they find a little more joy and a little less pain when they look in a mirror. That probably sounds harsh or even too simplified, but I think it’s really true. We are fighting Father Time and so staying on top of that requires daily maintenance and it’s never as fast or as noticeable as we want it to be — next to going under the knife. So providing skin care that actually helps slow down the aging process without being detrimental to women’s hormones is a huge responsibility and one that I am honored to take on every day.

I always personally respond to customers reviews and questions and recently had a customer email saying how she’d been using a very high-end face cream for many years and although she liked the feeling of it, she never felt her skin drank it in, until she tried the IN YOUR FACE CREAM. She was so happy with how her skin glowed and described the essence as “a trip to italy”. Her phone number was in her email and so I called her and she flipped out! She was this awesome Long Island, NY Italian…JUST LIKE ME!! I had no way of knowing that and we had a lovely chat. The client said after several minutes of chatting, “Denice, I have to tell you, I’m still just so impressed you took the time out of your busy day just to call ME. It says alot, it says to me that you love what you do and you are in the right place doing just what you should be!”

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I remember my first realization that IN YOUR FACE was “a real business” was when the first customers started to reorder a few months later. I was blown away. The initial launch hype had subsided and now I saw the product doing its job of winning back business. As for doing anything different, I had to spend more money than I was used to (as an actress and as a photographer) to PROMOTE and advertise to widen my net. To reach more women who were far outside my circles was the next step and I admit, I had a hard time with that. As an actress, I would promote the jobs I’d booked in small inexpensive ways and I would make sure to treat my team of agents and managers well. As a photographer, there’s a limit to how much work I can do — one on one. It’s not something I could or wanted to “scale” up. But in the skin care industry, I realized to survive and thrive, you have to keep getting attention, you have to advertise. There is no greater time than now to use all your resources of testimonials of real clients and social media love to create authentic passionate ads. I don’t have the advertising budget of the big Madison Ave Ad Brands, so I have gotten creative by using my tribe to reach an even bigger tribe. Client made testimonial videos are not only authentic, but they are cost effective and they help create a community and THAT has been one of my favorite parts of being a CEO of this company. It’s like I have gained thousands of women who have become like sisters to me, and considering I never had a sister, this has been a sweet bonus for me.

The lesson for me, someone who was raised by a single mom on food stamps, was I had to really change my thought process of, “When you get money hold on to it!” to, “When you get money, put a lot of it back in your business to grow it…trust the natural phenomenon that outflow creates inflow”. When you are overwhelmed or dejected, just remind yourself of the purpose of WHY you started your business. The real underlying purpose, if you took money out of the equation, is why you started your amazing company and product. For me, it’s to provide a real service to those interested in improving the health of their skin. If money was no object, I might just pack a huge truck of my flagship face cream and travel around to small towns meeting woman, hearing their stories, laughing and crying together, educating them on clean and affordable eating habits, easy hair and make-up tips, and the importance of daily moisturizing with a non-toxic, all natural, performance driven skin care.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I was living in Manhattan a few years ago when a business networking friend was in town doing a meeting for Amazon sellers. She knew I wanted to sell my skin cream but I didn’t think it could be made in enough quantities to go public as it was so organic and natural. I wasn’t willing to use any of the suggested bulk production “white labeling” cosmetic manufacturers. My friend made me take my phone out right there in The Park restaurant in Chelsea and call my botanical chemist who made the cream to see if it was possible and the answer was Yes! My friend then said, “Pick a name and it can’t be boring or safe. It has to be like you Denice. You’re such an in your face kind of person. …”. My husband bought the web domain for inyourfacecream minutes later and the brand was created! Being 50 yrs old and starting a completely new profession was scary as hell, but I was able to accomplish it with my friend’s unshakable confidence in me along with my husband’s marketing and organizational skills!

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

The IN YOUR FACE motto sums alot of that up: Using Mother Nature to Stop Father Time. The line is FREE of ALL parabens, toxins, artificial fragrances, phthalates, sulfates, GMOs, and dyes. IN YOUR FACE SKINCARE is a complete line of skincare designed to hydrate and nourish your skin with powerful botanicals to fight off free radicals and signs of aging. Cruelty free, small batch and ingredients you can pronounce! No one should compromise health for beauty. I wanted to simplify a woman’s beauty regime. You need to cleanse, exfoliate, and hydrate. Everything else is just a bonus. If a woman feels overwhelmed and uneducated in the area of skin care, she won’t even do the minimum of self care. My philosophy is about educating the average woman to have camera ready skin while only using a few products to achieve that glow. The IN YOUR FACE packaging is sustainable glass, they are beautiful to look at and to hold. Clients are always photographing them and tagging the company. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing these half filled jars and bottles well-used and scattered cozily on someone’s bathroom counter. It’s like being a part of the family! The flagship face moisturizer currently has 1000’s of obsessed clients, most of which buy it on auto every 4 months since we had our launch Nov 2017. This is not a one and done face cream. Once you’ve experienced this organic and 100% natural velvety face cream, you will understand the fiercely loyal following it has!

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

Women are more powerful now than we’ve ever been. We are out in the workforce running companies, directing films, and flying in outer space, and we want to look and feel fabulous through it all. One of IN YOUR FACE’s clients is a 2 time Emmy Award Nominated stunt coordinator, Julie Michaels (How to Get Away With Murder and Jane the Virgin). Many of her days are long, hot, and dangerous. This 5’ft. 4’in. blonde beauty told me that her favorite hair and makeup routine is a tight ponytail, a set of lashes, and IN YOUR FACE CREAM.

I think modern beauty has a focus more on clean healthy skin. There is a demand from health-conscious consumers for non-toxic ingredients and transparency to KNOW what those ingredients are. I think women over 40 are embracing their skin more than covering it up. Makeup will always be the queen of the beauty market, but as a photographer who stares at skin all day, it’s been a dream come true for me to create a line that helps women’s skin heal and be revealed and for them to say, “I wear less make-up now and I actually like my skin.” There is so much truth to that phrase being comfortable in one’s own skin…I have taken it VERY literally!

Modern Beauty is also incredibly inclusive today. Modern beauty is a literal rainbow of color and beauty and individuality. Modern beauty is heavily tattooed, it’s plus sized, it’s gender fluid, etc. I love chatting with men about skin care. We are in a time where major lines are releasing mens lines in more masculine packaging and scented more for their preferences. IN YOUR FACE SKINCARE has no added fragrances and the packaging is very universal so we do have a lot of male clients addicted to the moisturizer to help them with their razor burn and and forehead dryness. The internet has made beauty a vastly more diverse portal of inspiration from my days of growing up with basically Cosmopolitan magazine and whatever movie was showing at the local theatre. Now we are one finger tap away from gazing into the biggest celebrity’s bathroom mirrors on Instagram and if you’re lucky, they may shout out your name.

Women in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s are no longer considered old, but in their prime. They have the maturity, the experience, and the wisdom which exudes confidence. These women more than ever see their body as a temple and realize that what goes in it is important to affect how they look and feel. I see Modern beauty in a renaissance of health. Like my Sicilian great grandmother said to me, gesturing to the salad we were about to eat, “You healthy inside…you healthy outside”.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry?

Clever and deceptive advertising campaigns misleading the public about ingredient claims. I have been in front of the camera as an actress and behind the camera as a director to shoot beauty campaigns. It’s just too easy with graphics, video, and music to sell anything without actually telling consumers what’s really inside the bottle. It just makes me cringe when my friends fall for it. Many times they make me read labels to decipher it for them.

I think we are way past worrying about young people getting too caught up in beauty at a young age because it just keeps getting younger. With glam filters a finger tap away, I can only hope that Life Unfiltered continues to be embraced and celebrated. That’s why healthy skin, good eating habits, plenty of rest, and outdoor exercise will always be part of my brand philosophy.

If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

I would ban Photoshopped before and afters. As a professional photographer, it angers me seeing this kind of deception in full force in advertising. Also, the vast difference lighting in a picture someone’s face can make. You literally can light someone from above with a light bulb and they will have deep shadowed nasal labial folds and dark circles and listless eyes. Then, move that very same light a few inches in front of their face and you’ve taken away all shadows and 15yrs. I am always doing videos to educate women of this tactic. See my instagram video example here:

Full ingredients not being listed — It’s not okay to list 4 active ingredients with some gorgeous botanicals and say that’s your natural product and NOT let consumers see everything in your product. It makes me so upset because women want to improve their skin, they want to feed it, and when they are being shown a photo of something healthy looking and actually aren’t getting that, they will not get results. They will have wasted their money and then they take it out on the skin care companies who are not compromising and who are sourcing pure botanicals and using effective high quality amounts of active ingredients. My analogy is: You can use a cheap face cream that is mostly glycerin.

I am also frustrated by the fact that the industry doesn’t consider the body an organ that absorbs everything.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

Have you ever complimented a woman and she either shied away or outright disregarded it? Did you wonder why she doesn’t see the beauty you see? This is all too common. Feeling beautiful comprises several factors. Taking care of your body’s health with sufficient rest and exercise, as boring as that sounds, is really a big factor on one’s frame of mind. Since “you get what you put your attention on”, self-care is not a selfish luxury — it’s vital. As a photographer who photographs 1000’s of women, I see a new trend of camera-shy evolving stemming from “not wanting to look vain”. There’s a common viewpoint that “ if I like how I look someone will think I’m vain”. In an effort to be “humble”, I have seen too many women step away from their own confidence and unique sparkle and not embrace it for fear of looking ‘full of herself”. This angers me because we are all so uniquely beautiful and THAT is what drives me everyday to build women’s confidence about how they look. You wouldn’t want your child to invalidate their own beauty, so we need to set that example. It begins with accepting a compliment!

I agree with Drew Barrymore’s quote, “Happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness”. I once had the pleasure of photographing Drew. She drove up to the set and stopped, rolled down her window clean-faced with her big dog in the passenger seat and flashed the biggest good morning smile to the whole crew. No makeup, full bed head, she was beautiful. She 100% embodied her quote.

Then there are the “material” things like wearing a pair of cool heels with blue jeans, or a colorful maxi dress, getting a mani/pedi, or watching a makeup tutorial for your age group and only using what you’re comfortable with. It might be just lipstick and mascara, or maybe it’s just an under-eye concealer and some blush or bronzer. Dress up a T-shirt with a colorful necklace or earrings and by all means don’t you dare judge how you look in a mirror with bad overhead lighting! 😉

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

Know your market — Specializing helps to put more resources into creating products just for your specific market. I wanted to create products for women who don’t want to compromise health for beautiful skin as they began to notice the signs of aging. This was crucial when we started to advertise. I had a 35-yr old actress use and love our cream and unbeknownst to me, she did a post about it diminishing any wrinkles she had. We were so happy that we made a Facebook ad from that using a red carpet photo of her and as much as the ad helped with sales, it also got a lot of women commenting “ how could she even have any wrinkles, she’s only 18!” So, we started to really make sure our ads and website visually catered to our market public.

Know how to reach your market — In today’s world women are on their phones and computers, especially in these times. My company launched strictly from my personal social media following who trusted and liked my lifestyle content. So when I realized my market responded to authentic down-to-earth family/health-oriented content, I needed to keep this approach as we were growing our business. I still treat all my clients like the dozens of close friends who first bought from me, but now it’s just 1000’s of ‘close’ friends.

Produce a product that is consistent and dependable — Since I wanted something that was all natural, but also could be consistent and safe, I had to spend testing time. For example, we realized that when we sent Amazon our products to sell, their warehouses were not temperature controlled enough for our product. People suggested we alter their formula with some fillers, stabilizers, and synthetic preservatives, but I couldn’t, even if it meant reaching a smaller market. From my original purpose, to the product itself to the purchasing experience, I needed to ensure customers received the whole experience, how I envisioned it.

Be Available, Authentic, and Ethical — The “Ivory Tower” of business doesn’t seem to even be an option in this modern world of the Beauty Industry. Customers have so much information at their fingertips. They can do their own research and education and they can also reach out to you. So you need to be there to answer questions and be transparent. I personally handle most of the social media comments and one time I had someone comment, “I might have been interested in this product but they paid a celebrity in this ad and that ruined it for me. If you have to pay celebrities, I’m not interested!”. I wondered if she would even believe me if I told her the truth? I started out wholeheartedly agreeing that many times celebrities are paid to sell a product and that one day we hope to have that kind of budget, but that this actress actually buys our cream and loves it and loves to talk about it. As a family owned small business, we appreciate the love the actress gave us. I then reassured the woman that we have a money back guarantee and she has nothing to lose. Well, that night she placed an order of our small travel size and three weeks later ordered our full size. Available, Authentic, and Ethical.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In a time where important issues are being discussed, I am throwing ageism into the hat…

When I was 49-yrs old I had this dilemma of “do I make a big deal about turning 50 or do I keep it quiet”. I was still auditioning for acting roles and thought I might not want to advertise THAT number. But the other side is THAT number is an indicator of beautiful healthy years I have lived and also I realized that it was my DUTY to celebrate this life. In life, we can choose to do something from 2 viewpoints: duty or personal gain. Not divulging my age would be personal gain. Celebrating it loudly would be duty and duty is a more noble helpful purpose. I did a social media countdown of a video a day called #40DaysLeft2My40’s and let me tell you, the outpour of thank yous from older women and amazement and inspired comments from millennials made me nearly cry everyday.

“Age is just a number,” said every woman afraid of that number. It’s true, and numbers are important. They mark time and quantity. We should care about them. Your bank account is a number, it’s important. Your body temperature has a number, it’s important. You’re cholesterol levels, your weight, your address of your home…. numbers help us out. And yet…. there’s been a prejudice about the number of years (specifically with women) that we have lived. I am guilty of it and I hope I am strong enough and bold enough to spend the rest of my life dispelling that myth, and I don’t mean by hiding it. When a woman ages in recent decades, that has had its own unique prejudice. Making us lie and stress over every new line or dent or wrinkle or gray hair. I was raised by women who took care of their skin and health as best as they knew how. It was important for them to look nice not only for their spouses, but for themselves. They were not movie stars. They were just passionate women who loved longevity. I found that by NOT being truthful, you give into the prejudice. You feed the prejudice. I realized it is not you who cares about the number, it’s “the other guys”. We don’t change their mind with deception of this ageism prejudice. I have a metaphysical belief that truth is freeing. I felt every time I lied about my age, I gained a wrinkled on my face of bad karma. I am sure I justified for myself by saying things like, “Well I’m fine with being 38, but this TV producer isn’t”. But hey, how do we change that TV Producers prejudice unless WE are honest. It’s the bigger picture I’m thinking of. It’s the next generation of healthy hardworking smart AF women -like my own daughter- that I’m thinking of. I don’t ever want the fact that she’s a girl, the color of her skin, her nationality, sexual preference, or age to EVER EVER impede her dreams. It’s all about competence. Can you do the job that someone is prejudging you for?! All that matters is whether YOU are qualified to be hired. I know deep down that all mankind appreciates age because whenever there is a video of a 95yr old lady dancing on her porch, it goes viral. It’s flipping inspiring and wonderful! I am just giving a gentle reminder that to get to the noble age of 95, we have to make it past 30, 40, and yes, even 50. Here’s to me leaning into my 50’s and apologizing to all the 50yr olds I had prejudiced thoughts of when I was younger. The air here is just fine… and my husband thinks it’s actually really fine.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My high school teacher told me after I received the honor of Valedictorian, “You know Denice, once you’ve been chosen to be a leader, you have to keep on being a leader… I hope you do that”. And that “warning” has stayed quietly in me with every activity I do. It motivated me to go all in with whatever I do. Being a leader to me plays out in silly and noble ways. From choosing to sit up front in traffic school, to leading a team of volunteers in Haiti after the earthquake. From making unfiltered makeup tutorial videos showing women the BTS of easy beauty tips to telling a producer I didn’t want to just be IN his film, I wanted to direct it as well!

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams

I must admit, I don’t remember the name of that teacher today, but her words have propelled me to take bigger actions and more responsibility than I ever would have and it’s made my life far more gratifying and something my mother would be very proud of.

The other life lesson that sears in my soul every night is, “At the end of the day when you put your head on the pillow, ask this question ‘Did I help someone?”. No explanation needed for that one!

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: @deniceduff

IYF Instagram: @inyourfaceskincare2


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