Fresh Tips With Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg
The founders of leading skincare brand Fresh share their thoughts on their favourite daily rituals, business practices, and more.
Husband and wife Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg launched their beauty brand Fresh together in 1991. They had both moved to the United States from the Soviet Union and met in Boston. The Fresh legacy began with individually wrapped soaps to sell as gifts, a unique concept back in the day. A few years later, their Boston storefront operation was acquired by LVMH. Now they’re an international sensation with a cult following in America, Europe, and Asia.
Where do most people go wrong in their skincare routine?
Lev Glazman: The number one mistake women make is choosing the wrong cleanser. If a cleanser is stripping, it throws the skin off balance. It’s critical to find a cleanser that’s right for you. It shouldn’t dry out your skin or strip away necessary nutrients.
In addition to finding the right cleanser, women in their 20s have a hard time finding the right combination of products that work for them. Beauty products in your skincare routine can be eclectic. If you pay attention to your skin and its reactions, you can’t be afraid to mix and layer different products and even different brands to get the result you’re looking for.
What happens to our skin as we age, and what can we do to keep our skin looking young?
Alina Roytberg: As people age, cell renewal slows down, so hydration is key. Use nurturing and hydrating masks in your skincare ritual as well as hydrating mists throughout the day—and a lovely, rich moisturizer (your best friend) at night. Don’t forget the area around the lips—it needs a lot of care as well. Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy was created with that purpose in mind.
LG: Nutrition and exercise are important factors in the aging process. Another critical factor is sleep. Sleeping allows the body to rejuvenate and regenerate itself, so get at least six or seven hours. I also believe it’s important to engage your mind. If your brain is exercised, your body will stay young. Your skin type and texture are at the top of the list of important considerations. People with combination skin naturally retain moisture and hydration, which is key. Because of this, people with combination skin typically don’t show signs of aging as quickly as those with dry skin.
What is the relationship between diet and skin health? Are there certain issues that are better solved in the kitchen rather than the bathroom?
LG: Warm water with lemon to start the day is something I picked up after traveling to Asia years ago. It starts up your metabolism in the morning, making energy and digestion more productive.
I like to eat healthy and include a lot of juices in my diet because they’re rich in vitamins and antioxidants. I like to mix beet juice with cucumbers, red and green apples, kale, and banana. I also try to dedicate time to work out five days a week for at least 90 minutes. I typically do a combination of weights and cardio.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs with their own small businesses right now? What has helped you be so steadily successful in your careers?
AR: In the first six years of our business, we had a really difficult time surviving. Finances were tight, and everything we had went into the business. Not a single bank was interested in backing our concepts. But the dream was bigger than bank rejections, so we juggled things in order to take our shot. My husband and I managed to begin selling our products to other stores only three years after opening our first store in Boston. At that point, we were off to the races.
Starting a business is scary. My best advice is to believe that what you have is unique, and to get passionate about it. It can’t be someone else’s idea; it has to be yours. Put every ounce of your energy into it. It’s also great to have a business partner—not only to share the dream, but also to share the tough times, of which there are many.
“Growing up in communist Russia, the only fragrance available was Red Moscow. Only the bravest women would find a way to get their hands on forbidden French fragrances my mother being one of them.”
You both grew up in the former Soviet Union. How did that restrictive environment impact you? Do you value some aspects of your life now in different ways? Does any part of your upbringing give you a special perspective on today?
AR: Growing up in Ukraine, I dreamed about being a fashion designer. When my family immigrated to the U.S., I was able to make that dream come true. I went to Parsons School of Design and got a job in the fashion industry. In 1990, I moved to Boston where I met Lev, who shared his dream with me of opening a beauty store.
LG: Growing up in communist Russia, the only fragrance available was Red Moscow. Only the bravest women would find a way to get their hands on forbidden French fragrances—my mother being one of them. When I was just 6 years old, I remember going with my mother to the black market so she could get her hands on some perfume. It amazed me how much she was willing to risk for a scent. It was a defining moment in my life. I realized the importance fragrance plays in people’s lives and how it can instantly make them happy and feel special. That’s when I developed a love for fragrances and became infatuated with the world of scent.
AR: I think when you don’t have a lot of commercial distractions and you have to make a lot of effort to simply obtain daily necessities, your priorities become the important things in life: good friendships, family, great philosophical debates late into the night, lots of laughter, theater, film, etc. Unfulfilled curiosity makes the mind work harder. The imagination expands to help ideas become more colourful and stimulating. It makes dreaming more possible. For both of us, it meant living without fear. When on the cliff of better opportunities—jump.
You’re a married couple who has successfully run a business together for almost 30 years. What’s the secret to working with the person you love while keeping the relationship going?
AR: I can’t even pretend that I know the secret. We’ve been through ups and downs, and are proud parents of two grown daughters. I believe in never taking the other person for granted, and trying to appreciate and encourage the things you like about them rather than focusing on the things you don’t. Finding the right place and time to have the right discussion and communication are the essentials of any relationship.