Romain Gaillard: “Go for quality over quantity”

Our strength lies in our consistency and authenticity, along with our commitment to being part of the solution. Since 2010, we’ve offered consumers an exceptional curation of safe, effective personal care and beauty products they can trust and feel good about using. Our goal is to take the stress out of the process and make […]

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Our strength lies in our consistency and authenticity, along with our commitment to being part of the solution. Since 2010, we’ve offered consumers an exceptional curation of safe, effective personal care and beauty products they can trust and feel good about using. Our goal is to take the stress out of the process and make it easy to find products that are right for your needs.

As CEO and founder of The Detox Market, Romain Gaillard is a sought-after industry leader known for pioneering the movement toward safe, effective personal care products. Over the past decade, Romain transformed The Detox Market from a pop-up to an award-winning retailer in clean beauty and sustainability with a renowned presence in the United States and Canada.

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 people ask me how The Detox Market came to be, they are often surprised to find out that my journey wasn’t always in health, beauty, or wellness. I grew up in Paris and moved to California over fifteen years ago to work in tech — a completely different industry that, albeit interesting, never resonated with me on a personal level. I always harbored a feeling that something was missing: a spark of purpose. That spark was ignited when a dear friend of mine received a cancer diagnosis. The more we learned about the toxicity all around us — particularly the harmful chemicals lurking in even the most basic personal care products like toothpaste, moisturizer, and sunscreen — it became clear that we were onto something. I realized that the beauty industry needed a massive paradigm shift, and that consumers deserved better. The first iteration of The Detox Market — a 2010 pop-up store on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California — was clearly ahead of its time, we were promoting clean beauty and clean living, we had a matcha tea bar and served cold pressed juice.

Our vision never changed: health, beauty, and wellness should be seen holistically.

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

As in life, I’ve found that challenges often act as profound catalysts for career transformation and growth; the most interesting parts of life tend to be the demanding, even grueling, periods — these are the times that, in retrospect, push you to improve, evolve, and change for the better. Without a doubt, the most interesting chapter of my work life is the one I’m in right now. It is also the most painful.

Practically speaking, operating a retail company during a global pandemic is proving to be an incredibly complex experience, particularly in North America. Navigating the implementation of unclear, ever-changing safety guidelines — local, state, and federal — without guidance is a uniquely difficult situation, compounded by the fact that our response can have real societal consequences.

Internally, the pandemic helped me see the organization in a whole new way and pushed me to rethink how the company operates as whole. Not only did it present new pressures for our team, but it also spotlighted areas and processes that still need attention. Holding space for the excitement of accelerated, necessary growth in conjunction with pain points, aspects that need improvement, was a big learning moment. This pandemic has been uniquely challenging, but also uniquely empowering — it’s demonstrated to the world that progress cannot be postponed. Things need to change.

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?

Absolutely — I remember a distinct tipping point that signified the moment I decided to double down and stick with my vision. The first few years of the business were incredibly difficult, emotionally and financially. I went into The Detox Market with my all at a time when no one was interested in green beauty. The market didn’t exist, customers weren’t coming, demand was so small as to be almost non-existent, and brands were far from established — even our advisors weren’t convinced it was a good idea. Looking back, it’s easy to write off those years as just a stepping stone to eventual success, but at the time, you have no idea whether you’re going to succeed; it certainly doesn’t feel inevitable.

That said, for as many times as I thought to myself, “What am I doing?” I also tried to tell myself, “It will happen, it will happen, just give it a little bit more time.” As an entrepreneur, some degree of optimism is essential. One time, about five years in, I was feeling particularly discouraged and had given myself an ultimatum: Try for a few more months and if there’s no signs of hope, it may be time to let the vision go. I was in Toronto for business, and was having a drink alone at the bar while waiting for some friends to arrive. Two women sat down next to me and began chatting with each other about beauty. One asked the other where her favorite place to shop for beauty was — and the other responded, “The Detox Market.” I could not believe what I was hearing — it was indescribably fulfilling, and felt like a sign from the universe. These people weren’t friends or family, they were complete strangers. At that moment, I knew: I had to keep going.

Having operated several companies in various stages and at different levels of prosperity, I now know the line between success and defeat is so razor-thin that it can feel almost arbitrary. One day, you could be a struggling entrepreneur, and the next, an inspiring visionary. Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” The main takeaway: If you’re in a tough spot and you’re tempted to give up, just know that success may be just around the corner. It’s worth hanging on for a vision you believe in. And when things start clicking, it gets much easier.

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?

We’ve been really lucky to have a support system underscored by innovative team members, passionate angel investors, insightful advisors, passionate clients… Without each and every one of them, The Detox Market would not be what it is today.

Another person that comes to mind is someone who I met one time over a decade ago through a mutual friend, when The Detox Market was just beginning. His name was Louis Urvois — he was the former chief executive of Loewe, the Spanish luxury goods company, and had worked in beauty. We met, and I spent 10 or 15 minutes explaining what we were doing. Louis responded, “Well, Romain. That doesn’t make any sense.” But then he added, “That’s exactly why you need to do it.” His reaction always stuck with me. Oftentimes, meaningful ideas don’t make sense in the beginning — but you can’t innovate or push the market forward unless you’re bringing something new, or unfamiliar, to the table. If it was an easy road, everyone would be taking it.

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?

Our strength lies in our consistency and authenticity, along with our commitment to being part of the solution. Since 2010, we’ve offered consumers an exceptional curation of safe, effective personal care and beauty products they can trust and feel good about using. Our goal is to take the stress out of the process and make it easy to find products that are right for your needs. We’ve had many people express gratitude for being a trustworthy pillar in an era of bandwagon marketing and trend capitalization. A decade later, our tone hasn’t changed — we have a long track record, and people can perceive we’re not in this to make a quick dollar.

As a leading clean beauty retailer, we also recognize the importance of having a positive impact on an evolving industry. We are proactively championing diversity and sustainability, and though the pandemic has impacted in-person gatherings, we’re continuing to cultivate community through offering one-on-one personal shopping appointments with our Detox Ambassadors (socially distanced, of course!) along with Instagram lives, founder takeovers, masterclasses, and more.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

The things that excite me most about the modern beauty industry and its progress are the same things that still need improvement — sustainability, diversity, and transparency. We want to be part of the solution for all three.

Sustainability: The industry as a whole needs to continue the conversation about sustainability — especially when it comes to packaging, plastics, even acrylic displays. Many small green beauty brands are reducing their carbon footprint and being mindful about packaging decisions, but big corporations need to step up and take the lead; they’re the ones that can make a difference and set a new precedent for how things are done.

Diversity: Like many industries, the beauty industry has a lot of answering to do when it comes to inclusivity and appropriate representation. The paradigm shift is in motion, but it will require concerted, consistent effort across-the-board for years to come and we can’t lose sight of the end goal.

Transparency: Transparency is another big frontier we need to tackle. Where are your ingredients and materials coming from, and how are they being sourced? Consumers are asking discerning questions — and rightfully so. We need to be accountable at every step of the way.

Another note: While the increasing interest in clean beauty is fantastic for people’s well-being — ten years ago, no one was thinking twice about ingredient safety — I am concerned about the rise of ‘cleanwashing’ (also known as ‘greenwashing’). More demand means more marketing opportunities for brands to advertise their products are more natural than they really are, which really underscores the need for setting strict standards — particularly as the market becomes more saturated.

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

Disconnect with social media and reconnect with nature. These days, we’re inundated with opportunities to view our lives through the edited highlight reel of how others are presenting themselves online — which isn’t an accurate portrayal, and always results in a comparison hangover. Reconnecting with nature, away from screens, is grounding. Think about how great you feel after going on a hike or spending the afternoon at the beach.

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.

1) Don’t expect easy

The journey will be long and hard, and knowing that will help you withstand the storms that inevitably arise — and increase your chances of staying in the game, and ultimately succeeding. It literally took five years before The Detox Market picked up speed and became profitable. Five years is a long time to keep something going.

2) Go for quality over quantity

Aim for fewer, better products. We see many brands releasing tons of products, or huge capsules — going a mile wide and an inch deep, so to speak. The industry doesn’t need more products, it needs better-quality products — that’s how you set yourself apart. It’s easy to release average products. It’s harder to release great products, but that’s what leads to longevity. When we started our in-house line, Detox Mode, we took our time formulating the hero product we launched with, and it was worth it.

3) Be accountable

As I previously mentioned, practicing transparency is crucial and underscores your credibility as a brand — it’s also the right thing to do, morally and environmentally. Consumers are asking questions about ingredient and material sourcing, ethical practices, what the supply chain looks like… Do the right thing not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also so that when the bill comes due — and it will — you can answer with pride.

4) Prioritize sustainability

The more brands step up and commit to sustainable practices, the more industry standards will continue to evolve for the better and lead to higher standards across the board. Soon, brands will begin looking to each other to adapt and improve.. There’s so much opacity behind product development and the beauty industry’s carbon footprint. It’s time to lift the veil.

5) Expand your advertising horizons

While social media has been a fantastic tool for indie beauty brands, for many, it’s become the entire focus, the sole driving force behind sales. While this approach may result in initial growth, it’s not sustainable. You need to think outside the box, prepare for what’s next, and emphasize quality — don’t miss the forest for the trees.

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

One of my favorite quotes is by Seneca: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” Experience has taught me that when you take the first steps, the staircase appears. Toward the end of 2008, I resigned from my job and incorporated my first company — on the day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Fortune tends to favor the bold, and Seneca’s quote serves as an amazing reminder.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on LinkedIn and follow us on Instagram @thedetoxmarket!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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