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By: Jodi Taylor
Photography: Alec Kugler
Building a skincare brand—an organic skincare line, at that—ain’t easy, so we’ve really got to hand it to Mark Rice and Abbott Stark for gifting us with everything that is Ogee. If you’re a little behind, allow us to catch you up: Ogee is an organic certified skincare line that uses the jojoba seed as its hero ingredient, which is said to hydrate and penetrate the skin like no other oil can. Oh, and on top of that, they spent ten whole years searching for ingredients until they landed upon jojoba—talk about dedication—all so that we can feel comfortable and confident about what we’re slathering all over our skin. Bless. Here, Mark Rice talks the major challenges and even bigger rewards.
“I’ve always been very entrepreneurial—I co-owned and managed [John Galliano] up until we sold it to LVMH. I was always interested in the fragrance side of the business, which led me into being very interested in the product side of skincare as well. I thought about a line of naturally-sourced fragrance and skincare, [and when] I was visiting Vermont I met my co-founder, Abbott [Stark]. His background is developing skincare products for some of the top-selling companies in the world—including developing organic formulas. His passion was organic skincare, [and] on my first meeting I proposed starting a skincare company. That’s how it started.”
“It takes a long time to develop a good and effective skincare formula. We had the hurdle of creating a certified organic skincare formula. The word ‘natural’ doesn’t really have a lot of definition around it, and the reason we wanted to do a certified organic line was that it’s a clear certification—there’s a lot of transparency of what the ingredients are and how they’ve been sourced. Once you do that, the certification has a lot of strict mandates on what you can use and what you can’t use, including a certain percentage of organic ingredients that have to be in there. The challenge was creating great skincare formulas that really work, that were certified organic, and I think we did that really successfully through a lot of research and development, and test and trial.”
“When [Abbott Stark] was developing these skincare products, he spent ten years looking for the best ingredients. He discovered jojoba oil because there was actually a shortage at one time in the world, and he was trying to figure out what made it so special. When he started looking into the science behind it, he found that it was actually the best oil for skin. It’s a different molecule than all other oils—it’s actually able to absorb into the skin much more easily [because] it’s very similar to our skin’s natural oil. For dry skin it’s very hydrating, and for oily skin, it actually balances the oil in the skin.”
“With the certified organic NSF, it mandates that 70 percent of the ingredients have to be certified organic, and it’s very strict about the other 30 percent—they have to be naturally derived. In our case, we boosted it, so our products are 94-95 percent organic. The [cleansing] cloths are 95 percent, the lip [oil] is 95 percent, and the [Seeds of Youth] serum is 89 percent. The other ingredients are very carefully chosen because some ingredients are not actually available as an organic, but you can find a naturally derived version.”
“This year, we’re looking at promoting, and speaking to why certified organic really matters and how it helps the customer be able to know what they’re buying. [To look through] all the confusion in the market and find something that will make them look and feel great, and also be safe and healthy for their skin.”