Nothing inspires us more than a #girlboss, and Jenna Levine is no exception. We were immediately obsessed with her after she whipped out samples of her natural skincare line, LINNÉ upon meeting us in passing at an ABC Home event. After getting the full story on how she got into the business with her background in botany, we concluded that she’s definitely a girl to know:
What inspired you to start your own line of skincare? While completing my certification in California in native plant botany and herbal medicine I became focused on curing what ailed the people closest to me. My sister, Sasha, had long suffered from painful acne and dry skin. I too had dry skin and psoriasis. We were regularly diagnosed by doctors who wanted to treat us with harsh chemicals and steroids. Meanwhile, my mother, though very health conscious, was keeping her skin ‘youthful’ with products full of harmful ingredients. I decided to test my developing knowledge on my family, particularly on my sister. I expanded my research beyond the native plants of California to incorporate effective yet gentle ingredients from around the globe. After several iterations I was able to produce a range of products that my whole family now uses exclusively to achieve clear, healthy and radiant skin. Tell us the story behind the name, LINNÉ? Carl Von Linné was an eminent Swedish botanist and physician who made tremendous contributions to science in the 18th century. He is famous for formalizing the modern system of species taxonomy and binomial nomenclature, or what we refer today often as ‘the latin name’ of flora and fauna. Inspired by Linné, we established our own roman numeral classification system to help users easily understand the application order of our products.
Who is the LINNÉ consumer? LINNÉ the brand was designed for both men and women who want natural products that are effective yet gentle on the skin, the body, and the planet. The LINNÉ consumer appreciates that health and beauty are intertwined and require a holistic approach. What we put on our skin affects our inner health and our overall health is revealed in the quality of our skin. For that reason the Sasha ‘girl’ cares for her body by using biocompatible products, feeding herself with delicious nutritive food and getting exercise.
What has been the biggest challenge of having your own line, thus far? Having a natural product isn’t good enough. Plenty of variables affect the quality of naturals and even organic certifications do not guarantee an effective ingredient. For that reason I went on a crusade that lasted over six months to source the most healthy, active and cost effective ingredients.
Additional challenges arose when shaping the scent profile of our blends. Because our ingredients are minimally processed they often have their own intrinsic scent that is naturally occurring. These scented compounds often provide the plant with some important function for survival that we want to extract. We thus put a great deal of consideration into the selection of our ingredients so that not only do their functions harmonize, but so too does their fragrance.
What is your vision for the company-do you see yourself expanding to other products? We absolutely intend to extend the line. We have been using friends and family to test the products from the get-go and they have given us wonderful feedback and suggestions as per new products to be taken both topically and internally.
Furthermore we just had a sneak-peek pre-launch event at the LANVIN atelier in Chicago and I got to share the product with at least 100 people who had yet to try it. Getting feedback from this new set of customers was incredibly rewarding and I will always incorporate consumer feedback into future product launches.
Your skin is literally perfect – what is your routine? I use LINNÉ! I wash my face with water only in the am, I mist with REFRESH and follow with RENEW and BALANCE. In the evening I wash with PURIFY, and follow with RENEW and REPAIR. Twice a week I exfoliate with SCRUB and after showering with ACTIVATE I massage my body with SMOOTH and a body oil I will soon launch. I also eat really well. I have a culinary background and I love to cook. I so enjoy visiting the farmers market and am a member at co-op where I can source excellent organic produce. I walk everywhere and enjoy yoga, pilates, dance and outdoor exercise. I am not dogmatic about any of it. Living a healthy balanced lifestyle is just about making choices. Start by making small changes and you will soon surprise yourself by the instinctive good choices you make.
Do you wear makeup? If so, what brands are you into? I think makeup is great for accentuating natural beauty. I rarely wear foundation, but I love mascara, a flushed cheek and luscious lip. There are so many designer brands out there with incredible pigments, but I have come to favor cleaner options from brands such as ILIA, RMS and Kjaer Weis.
What do you see as the relationship between food and beauty? You are what you eat. As simple as that. The whole body benefits from eating a diet rich in vibrant colored fruits and vegetables, protein dense legumes, and good fats. There are many wonderful cookbooks and resources available to learn about which foods are best for promoting youthful skin, clear eyes, luxuriant hair etc., and that will be something we will continue to highlight on our social media feed @linnebotanicals.
Take us through a typical day in the life. (meals, routines, rituals): As a new business owner each day for me is different but I usually start with a good stretch, an awakening shower and a homemade smoothie that has an unpleasant murky color due to the addition of blue-green algae, but is tastes delicious! I usually have to run around to a thousand different places for meetings and errands but if I am stuck in the office all day I make an effort to at least take a walk, if not go for a bike ride or to an exercise class. Whenever possible I also love to plan an evening of dancing with my girlfriends- for me an ideal way to exercise and reduce stress.
No matter how rushed I am in the morning or tired I may be at night, I always take a few minutes to pamper myself with my products. To counter stress I take deep breaths, and deliberate notice of magnificent details, often found in nature. I put my problems into perspective and remind myself of the people, things and circumstances for which I am grateful.
Go to snacks? I use Sacha Inchi seed oil from the Peruvian Amazon in my REPAIR face oil and now I am hooked on eating the seeds too. I get a delicious raw, organic, low-temperature dried variety from The Raw Food World, a small family company based in Ojai, California. An avocado is also a perfect snack. I love to dress mine with yuzu or lemon, tamari and sesame or flax seeds for a little crunch.
Do you have any special treatments that you get routinely? I love massages. I am on my feet all the time so getting dorsal reflexology is another way I treat myself. I would encourage everyone to go to the spa and indulge themselves from time to time but there are also plenty of ways to pamper yourself given restrictions of time and budget. Both massage and reflexology benefit from training but neither require special equipment so they can be experienced at home among friends and family. I also recommend self-care lymphatic drainage; such techniques can be learned from the book Japanese Skincare Revolution by
When you are traveling – what’s one tip for maintaining a glowing complexion? Be mindful when ordering at restaurants, especially if you are eating out all meals of the day.
Who is inspiring you in the industry these days and why? I recently went to the Indie Beauty Expo and was inspired by all the new small brands trying to collectively set a new standard for healthy skin care.
What does health, beauty, fitness mean to you? These words together suggest to me a lifestyle that starts with healthy activities and results in a radiant, happy, confident self.
Sweet or Savory? SAVORY
East Coast or West Coast? 3rd Coast (I’m from Chicago)
Lips or Eyes? I love to kiss
Sparkling or Still Water? Still, preferably from my Berkey water filter.
Smoothie or Juice? Smoothie in the am, juice in the afternoon.
Yoga or Pilates? As per the influence of my mother, these days I’m a pilates gal.
Coffee or Tea? Tea please.