PARK CITY, Utah – A Mount Union alumna’s skincare brand has been featured in several national magazines.
Kristy Hunston graduated from the university in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Her skincare brand, Avoila, has been included in Forbes, Town & Country and Organic Spa magazines.
Hunston spent more than 20 years working in advertising before she and her business partner, Grace O’Sullivan, created Avoila. The avocado oil-based product is designed to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and redness and hydrate skin.
“I reached a point where I was just tired of the same job over and over again, with client responsibilities and frustrations and being at the beck and call of somebody else. I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” the East Palestine native said.
Hunston spoke to The Alliance Review about starting her own business and the challenges of finding success in a competitive industry.
How did you get interested in skincare?
It was really my interest in cleaner skincare for myself. So I don’t have background in skincare as far as, you know, I’m not an aesthetician. I have always been interested in science and that resulted in working in pharmaceutical advertising for a really long time. I was always looking at clinical data to determine what types of messages we can promote to whether it be a patient or a doctor about the product.
What inspired you to create your own brand?
When I was in my mid-30s, I started to really look at the products I was using on my body. That was not only skincare and makeup, but lotions and detergents and things like that and realized I was using some things that weren’t so good for my overall health. I was never taught about these things, and I wanted to create a product that could help teach others.
How did you develop your product?
(Hunston and O’Sullivan) were talking one day about skincare, and she was telling me this story about how she discovered the healing benefits of avocado oil. We started looking at products that we would be interested in using ourselves that feature avocado oil, and we really couldn’t find anything at the time. So we felt like this was a real opportunity for us to got out and do something on our own.
It took a few years to develop our product and manufacture it. So within that time frame, so many other oils popped up. And not really communicated avocado oil as their serum, but it started becoming an ingredient among many other ingredients in their products. So I kind of wish we could have built it faster, so maybe we could have been more on the forefront of that ingredient trend. But we did it as almost as we could.
What makes avocado oil a good ingredient for skincare?
Avocado oil is very healing. So it’s one of the only ingredients in skincare, plant-based ingredients I should say … that have actually done clinical trials on the ingredients to prove that it is healing. So it heals wounds, it heals redness, irritation. It helps with sun damage and environmental damage with the skin.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in starting your own business?
A lot of the marketing of a product in a digital-only world has been very challenging. Skincare is a very busy or cluttered category. And so I think there have been challenges in figuring out how to position ourselves in a way that we do stand out and how to reach our audience with very limited marketing dollars. That is one of the biggest challenges: building awareness for an independent branch in a very busy category.
What has the response been like so far?
It is so rewarding to hear back from (customers) about how much they love it. We get reviews on our site, we get some feedback on social. People just feel like it’s a wonderful product, that they see an immediate change in their skin.
What do you think has helped you find success?
I would say persistence. Just us continuing to move forward and be optimistic and positive and determined to make this work is what has helped more than anything else. Because there have been many times when we failed or (didn’t get) what we expected, and we could have easily thrown in the flag and said ‘OK, this is too much.’ But we realized that people love the product, and we want more people to have an opportunity to try the product.
Reach Paige at 330-580-8577 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @paigebenn.