The daughters of Dr Richard F. Edlich, world renowned Professor of Plastic Surgery, Liz and Rachel Edlich grew up working in their father’s lab and the University of Virginia Burn Unit.
After amassing a wealth of knowledge and experience within the science of skin rejuvenation and wound repair, they both worked in the skin care industry in LA for 15 years. Suddenly, both sisters found themselves with skin that was uncomfortable and unfamiliar, initiating the creation of Radical skincare.
We sat down with Co-Founder and Co-CEO Liz Edlich to discuss the personal story behind the brand and her mission to improve the quality of women’s lives everywhere…
So how did it all begin?
So the story is personal, in that [my sister and I] had been in the skincare business for 10-15 years previously, and had created probably around 100 different products for celebrities and television. Suddenly, my sister developed severe rosacea after her second child, and for me, I was hit by gravity. I was about 45/46 then, I’m 51 now, and noticed that things weren’t snapping back the same. Whether it was a wrinkle or our hair, hormones or weight – everything seemed to be off and out of our control.
Part of our DNA was growing up in my father’s lab and the fact that we had seen skin rejuvenation and healing at the most extreme levels; we believed that anything was possible. Also, my father changed the landscape of medicine but had done it from a wheelchair, and so, we knew we could go above and beyond in any area. So we called some of the most esteemed chemists in the world to create the strongest anti-ageing with a formula that can also heal and be used on Rachel’s sensitive skin.
That’s when we created trylacel technology, a technology that would keep the antioxidants potent, and allows the penetration of all of ingredients into the skin. We also wanted to put all of the money into the bottle. We had no intention of selling it because we just wanted it for ourselves. After 2 weeks of using it, people started asking what I used on my skin. My sister’s rosacea also started to clear and within 30 days, it was gone. We gave it to our girlfriends in little white bottles that we wrote on with a magic marker and they started calling us, asking what was in it.
Our lab sample badges started getting bigger and bigger and the next thing you know, we met some of the biggest and best in the skincare industry, who fell in love with our authentic story. They wrapped their expertise around us and helped us take it from 2 stores, Barneys in New York and LA, to over 16 countries and 800 stores. We’re now launched in Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, QVC, Fenwick’s, Harvey Nichols, all of the Space NK stores, and now Harrods. It’s been an amazing journey.
How do you decide what you’re going to create next?
It still occurs the same way it occurred originally, which is when I need something or realise our line doesn’t cover something.
Our viewpoint is that we’re all sisters on a mission, and so, your feedbacks and others’ become the driving factor to what we’re going to create.
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to make, how long does it take until you have the product in your hand?
One of the beautiful things about being a smaller entrepreneurial company is that we don’t have to go through a lot of bureaucratic marketing plans. So when we decide; we talk about what the active ingredients are, we look at the research that surrounds it, we look at anything that’s new and cutting edge and we’re able to write that brief. Then within 30 days, we should be able to get our first sample to try.
And the beauty of that is, let’s say there’s a new ingredient that’s just been discovered or there’s a new technology or stem cell or lipid that we think is really transformational in the advancement of skincare, it allows us to jump on it straight away.
What’s your favourite product from the brand?
That would be like saying, “what’s your favourite child?” How’s that for an answer? [Laughs]
How did you decide on the look of the brand?
In some respects, I think the look was actually more challenging than creating our products. They started out in lab sample bottles with magic markers, so that was the first packaging!
For us, it was trying to marry a strong image with science. It’s direct, clean and scientific – not fussy and overdone.
What does a typical day look like for you?
At home, I’m usually up at 5.45am, to look at my emails and make calls to Europe. I then get to the gym by 7 and work out with my trainer and sometimes I’ll go on a walk or run with a girlfriend because I live on a beach in Malibu. Then I go into the office.
I do my Europe work for a couple of hours and I might have lunch with one of our Radical ambassadors, like Melanie Griffith, and then carry on working during the day. I’ll then go home and have a quiet dinner at night on the beach with my husband or friends. I go to bed around 9pm - I like to go to bed really early as I’m up early and just obliterated by this time.
But about 50% of my life is on the road. On this trip, I’ve been in Paris, London, Ireland and then back to London. Next it’s New York and then back to LA. When I’m travelling, my typical day is filled with back-to-back meetings with potential retailers, an investor group, press and a strategic advisor and partner. I then get home at around 10.30pm to be up at 5am. When I’m on the road, it’s pretty much 24/7– it’s really intense.
What’s been your biggest career highlight so far with Radical?
The best part of what I do is when I have the opportunity to inspire others to be radical and to embrace the beauty within them. I think one incredible moment was when I was at a QVC beauty bash and there were around 5,000 women standing in the rain around the corner trying to meet these brands. It was insane. There was a woman there that had been going through chemotherapy, unknown to me at the time, and so her face was a little sallow. I gave her a facial and then her entire face and aura changed in just this one moment with her. Later, her friend emailed me and said that Radical skincare had changed her life and that it had allowed her to love herself again. That was really pivotal to me because that’s what we’re so committed to.
We also regularly run dream board sessions, in which we get in a room with around 50 people and, through extreme energy and passion, help them realise that their dreams are possible. We all lift the ceiling off what they think is reality, and that is incredible. We talk about how to set goals, how to live a life you love and I’ve had people contacting me to say that the goals they put on their boards is happening. I realised that we’re touching the area of their lives that needs to be embraced and empowered, and that is the most rewarding thing that I do.
What made you decide to start running dream boards sessions?
I worked with some of the biggest success coaches in the world, like the Deepak Chopra’s and the Bob Proctor’s. That was a real personal passion of mine for years and I was driven by how I could touch people and change the world. Like I knew that there’s a formula to creating the strongest skincare to be used on sensitive skin, I knew there’s a formula to creating a life you love.
So I took what I learned from these success coaches and said that if I can boil that down into an easily adoptable way then I would have done something that really is radical. My dad used to always say, “to be a difference, you must make a difference”, and so, our commitment is not just to change your skin but also to change your life.