Kevin Olson, a trained chef, traded the culinary arts for skin care after he analyzed beauty product labels and found what he saw unappetizing. So, Olson a serial entrepreneur—he sold his coffee business, Caffe Strada, to Redwing Foods in 1994—set out to create his own line based on the philosophy of Claudius Galen, a physician and herbalist who practiced medicine in the second century, who, Olson says, created the world’s first cold cream. In May 2009, Olson founded Galen Labs and began distributing the range of 42 products across his home state of Minnesota. (He has since expanded to Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Naples, Fla.) Each product is made by hand in small batches in Buffalo, Minn. Shea butter is a key ingredient. Olson uses large Hobart mixers to whip unrefined shea butter into a pliable consistency, then mixes in various organic essential oils. Prices range from $12 to $36. “There are no miracle products,” he says. “These products are about quality ingredients to cleanse, hydrate and moisturize.”
This story first appeared in the March 11, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.