The daily skincare solution for women who workout.
123FRÉ is a comprehensive 3-step routine : Protect me is an ultra-light moisturizer SPF 30, Purify me is a hydrating facial cleanser and Revive me a deep replenishing serum. Detox me is the last one in the family; a post-sweat clearing Mask.
While in Tel Aviv this past summer, I trained with my friend Rebecca, an ultra-talented decorator whose website and instagram you should totally explore if you’re looking for some home inspo - you’ll thank me later... She organizes a dinner for us with the co-founder of FRE, among others in the skincare industry. I meet Michael Azoulay, who launched his brand only in November 2016 but has already garnered much attention. I request an interview. He obliges.
Michael is a leader with an authentic quality to him, a real visionary in this expansive beauty and skincare industry. He explains the strategy behind FRE and it’s quite impressive... come join me backstage🎟! FRE is oh-so-fresh.
we sit on the sofa...
---> Michael, how did FRE come to be?
MA (Michael Azoulay) : Do you want the censored version or the uncensored?
FZ (Fabienne Zeitoun) : Uncencored.
MA : FRE is the result of two insane people who met on a tennis court 5 years ago. One from a philanthropic milieu who longed to create a startup; the other, a businessman who aspired to make a positive social impact. We immediately clicked and wanted to collaborate on something meaningful. We studied the evolution of the skincare industry and quickly realized that skincare has been at a crossroads for the last 2-3 years.
The struggle is real for the “dinosaurs of skincare” - the brands born in the 80s and 90s (and even before then, like Clarins or Estée Lauder), who have achieved little success in, metaphorically speaking, the language of the millennial generation. Their lack of authenticity made room for newer, more digitally-based names to find their foothold in the industry. Among the most impressive of these is Glossier, but there are more examples. This trend has proven to be strongest in North America, where this revolutionized market has given birth to a new form of consumer.
---> Who is this new consumer?
MA : This new consumer has a purchasing power that did not exist 10 years ago, when she was a mere 15 years old. We are talking working women who consume beauty products in a manner that is diametrically opposite to that of their mothers and even older sisters in 3 domains:
- They prefer to shop online
- They are more likely to seek out their soul cycle instructor, unlike mom, who wants the scoop on Julia Roberts
- They don’t want to put in the time - the time it takes to use testers and try products, and subscribe to beauty clubs like Smashbox or Birchbox.
And by the way, this wave of health and wellness truly inspires us as well. We wondered if there was anyone focusing on this niche market of health-conscious active female consumers?
There are plenty of specialized creams on the market; one for redness, another one for oily skin, but none existed answering to all the issues of the sweaty skin at the same time.
---> So it was a desire of yours to take part in this movement?
MA : We recognized the enormous marketability of this population, but even more importantly, we wanted to align ourselves with an important social mission as well. It is imperative for us that FRE has meaning.
---> What is your core value?
MA : Female Empowerment.
We emphasize self-confidence by nipping minor skin issues in the bud for these women so that their natural beauty can shine through. Our feed reflects this, which is our proudest achievement : turning our vision to a reality. And so we created this community of women in the US... we worked with thousands of coaches, wellness and skincare influencers who promoted our products in the hopes of providing these women the skincare solution that is aligned with their lifestyle. Consequently, we help support the women of Morocco who cultivate our natural ingredients. We procure our natural Argan oil for our creams from them, which directly impacts their financial independence and provides them with supplementary revenue.
With every 3 FRE products purchased, we plant an Argan tree to maintain these forests in Morocco. Sustainability, helping our planet, and female empowerment - these are our core values.
---> Nowadays, science is considered the key factor in skincare. What is your position on this?
MA : Until now, no one has, technically speaking, taken into consideration the effects of sweaty skin. We wanted to explore whether science had something tangible to bring to this issue. Therefore, we launched 2 studies, each with a separate doctor in the field. One was was led by our in-house team, from Teva and Sharon Rosenblat.
First we must understand the perils of skin in its sweaty state:
- Dryness, because vitamins are lost when sweating
- Premature aging
- 30x more likely to burn in the sun
The ‘Runner’s skin’ which refers to the brown spots that develop
- 1/3 suffer from acne
We needed to evaluate this. Are the consumers even aware that they need this type of skincare? We conducted 5 survey-monkey studies in which150 women were asked about their pre and post workout needs. We based our preliminary products on these findings and launched FRE within 18 months subsequent.
We sought out the best ingredients to help treat 80% of the worst consequences of sweaty skin. Sharon Rosenblat developed an organic Argan oil, that is rich in vitamin E, squalane, and ferulic acid, among other quality ingredients. It encompasses all the elements we were searching for.
---> What is your target?
MA : It’s funny you know, just last week, we had our first meeting with Facebook and they presented us with some figures...
- 70% women between 25 and 35 years
- 15% are older; between 35 and 44 years
- 15% are younger; between 15 and 25 years
Our influencer base is 30 years of age. Millennials are our target, because they haven’t yet adopted a fixed routine. They are open to trying things including our products as a part of their daily skincare. We reach them exclusively via social media.
---> Where can we find FRE?
MA : Online, in the US, Canada and Israel. It will soon be available in Europe as well. Eventually we plan to launch in Brazil, Australia, and South Korea.
---> Being that you are a visionary, if FRE explodes in the next 5 years, what would you say would be the key element in its success?
MA : Our authenticity, hands down. We aim to be as real as possible. We’ve never bought good press, our photos are never altered or touched up. These days, this is our weapon.
---> Is there a businessman you admire?
MA : The co-founders of Warby Parker. I follow them on LinkedIn and I watch TED talks, this one is fascinating: “How great leaders inspire action”
---> What of your strategic decision-making?
MA : We talk a lot about the fact that we can’t accomplish anything alone. We recognize that the Clarins PDG and it’s meeting greatly influenced our strategy.
---> What’s next?
MA : We are remaining in skincare and are launching a new universally tinted moisturizer in October called ‘Glow Me’, as well as a night oil, an Argan concentrate. Finally, we also plan to launch a nighttime FRE concentrate booster.
---> 123FRE - my trial
FZ : And so this moth, I gave 123FRE a try. I’m a big fan of PROTECT ME; it smells great, it’s light in texture, and it is a powerful sunscreen. Most importantly, there is no white residue of any kind. The PURIFY ME texture is super interesting for a cleanser. I’m quite finicky when it comes to cleansing my face but this one’s great. My skin requires a lot of hydration so on a daily basis, I applied the REVIVE ME serum, followed by my moisturizer, and then, the PROTECT ME at the end. REVIVE ME is a good serum; it is light and fresh but I like to add my own hyaluronic acid or vitamin C in order to amp-up my anti-aging game.
Thank you Michael for your time, FRE is beyond amazing.