About us

Hey there!

I’m Jess. I’m the founder, CEO, customer care guru,  product designer, mixologist, herb whisperer, copywriter, social media magnate (ha ha), label-applier, bottle washer and a plethora of other glamorous job titles here at Stark. Stark is, along with my cats and my actual human child, my baby. I quit my dayjob and dove head-first into creating this company, putting everything I had into it. I have nurtured this thing from the inception of a little seedling idea in 2009, into a slightly-wonky-looking Etsy brand, to a full-blown company in 2011, to this gorgeous rebirth in 2017.

Here’s a little about Stark in a  coconutshell:

  • We’re entirely handmade in Canada. By my hands, and my hands only. (Control freak? Yes.)
  • Our formulations are completely natural. No green-washed BS here.
  • Stark is super-transparent. Like a jellyfish, we go around with or hearts on our sleeve (or on our tentacles? No, ew.) We are open, honest, always wanting to serve you and answer questions you may have, and we are 100% BS-free.
  • We’re the world’s first web-only skincare company. We have no outside retailers, no marketing campaigns, no tradeshows to attend, no overpriced packaging, no overblown bills to pay, no full-time employees, no investors and no other agenda but crafting gorgeous skincare with ingredients we love, and getting it on your skin. Which means we really need your word-of-mouth efforts to survive!
  • Because of our simple business model, we can offer premium, luxury skincare without an insane price tag. So don’t let our middle-of-the-pack prices fool you. This is real-deal, gorgeous stuff. (And no, you don’t pay extra for “good vibes” or some woo woo energy forcefield infused into every bottle.)
  • We are certified vegan and cruelty free by PETA and Leaping Bunny. All formulas are researched, created and tested in-house, hand-poured, obsessed over and well-loved.
  • Stark is 99% woman-run. By me. This woman. Jess. There’s actually no “we” in day-to-day work at Stark… I just have the habit of saying “we”. My husband Adriano sometimes puts his Physics PhD to work for me and packages up my shipments and corrects my HTML when things go horribly wrong with the shop.
  • We believe in creating inspired, beautiful products you can connect to. (More below)
  • We believe that there really are no skin types.... But weather? Yeah. That’s real. So instead of formulating for a particular skin type, we address how skin reacts to climate. (More below)
  • We believe in the power of plants, which is why they are 100% of the basis of our products. (More below)

Inspiring beauty.

We believe that it’s important that you know the story behind everything we create. Each Stark product was inspired by a moment, by travel, by a single ingredient or even by a feeling. Creating natural beauty products is a passion and a craft, and inspiration can strike at any time. There’s an art and science to making natural cosmetics, and often the “art” aspect is overlooked. However, inspiration behind the product is it’s soul and gives it a unique beauty. It’s what makes an effective product something you truly come to care about, something you value in your day to day routine. This detail is important. If a product can bring a moment of connection and presence in your day to day, that’s meaningful. This is something we strive for.

Face the elements.

There’s something you need to know about where Stark is from. We are a  Canadian company. Which means that not only do I have maple syrup coursing through my veins, say “sorry” all the time, and have a great sense of humour (with the extra “u”, thankyouverymuch), but I know seriously messed up weather. I’ve also done a fair bit of travelling and have spent long stretches of time in all kinds of climates; from the Middle Eastern deserts, to lush rainforest, to vibrant, intense cities and yes, insane blizzards and ice-storms and have even had my eyelids freeze to my eyeballs. I’ll just let that sink in for a second.

In other words, I know weather and I understand what it does to skin. It changes skin. Dramatically. Life at the beach is not life in sub-Arctic weather, and your skin knows it.

Therefore, Stark’s formulating approach has more to do with the weather and the environment, rather than focusing on skin types. Why? Because “skin types” rely heavily on climatic conditions. So much so, that I’d argue that there are no skin types, just reactions to the climate! Stark products are effective for every skin type, from acne-prone to delicate, mature skin. Our formulas address the needs that the climate poses on skin; from dry-indoor air during tons of travel (try a cleanse or moisture mask with AURORA), to facing smog on your daily commute (that’d be CITY’s job), to replenishing your skin’s lost nutrients during your beauty sleep (MIDNIGHT is your gal for that task).

Plants are Powerful.

Plants are efficient and well-made organisms that know how to adapt to the environment. They are resilient. They are beautifully complex and perfectly simple, producing some of the most fascinating environmental adaptations and creative survival and reproductive skills on the planet. What's more, they provide so much to humans, from nourishing our bodies to beautifying, protecting and replenishing our skin and hair. It’s one reason why all our formulas are not only cruelty-free and vegan, but completely plant-derived. We really see no reason so reach for animal-derived products when plants have all the bases covered!

We believe that plants know exactly how to support all of life on earth, and we obsess over selecting and combining ingredients to create products meant to support our modern lifestyles. Our formulas are carefully crafted using ingredients that create a synergistic and harmonizing effect, like different notes in a melody. For example, we balance oils that are astringent (like hazelnut) with oils that are deeply nourishing yet still light feeling (like olive squalane), to a heavier, protective oil such as rice bran to create a product like our CITY Recalibrating Oil. The combination of oils in CITY creates a medium to light feeling oil that replenishes the specific nutrients lost due to living an urban lifestyle, and creates a light yet effective occlusive barrier from the elements.