A ‘berry’ good idea

By HANNAH JOHNSON – Stillwater Gazette

Nearly six years ago, Mary Toberman and Amy Haugen started out as neighbors who enjoyed walking their dogs together.

Now, on top of walking their dogs together, they co-own and operate Stillwater Skin, a skincare resource center.

The women didn’t plan on starting a business together. Toberman was a computer programmer and Haugen was a licensed esthetician who had also owned a salon in Stillwater. As they walked their dogs, Haugen started to get severe acne. That’s when Toberman suggested Haugen use cranberry seed oil on her skin.

"I heard about its benefits and it’s supposed to reduce scarring, so she started to use it," Toberman said.

It worked better than Haugen expected.

"I had severe acne, but it healed the scarring," Haugen said. "It’s liquid gold."

Haugen began using cranberry seed oil on some of her tougher clients and continued to see positive results.

"We thought it was pretty funny and so we started playing around with the formula," Toberman said.

They even harvest the cranberry seed oil themselves.

Using cranberry seed oil is fairly new in the skincare industry, which Toberman estimates is around 10 to 12 years. The seed itself is like the size of a pin needle head, so a lot of work goes into extracting the oil from the seeds. Cranberry seed oil is effective because of its high concentration of vitamins and that it is 80 percent more absorbent than other skin oils, Toberman said.

"It’s just starting to get a little more known in the industry and we feel we got ahead of it," Toberman said.

Their experimenting led to Stillwater Skin’s core package: a serum, moisturizing cream and lip balm – all based on a high concentration of cranberry seed oil. The products became popular and demand was high so the women decided it was time to take their work out of their homes and into a facility.

At the time the women were mainly working on and selling products, but with Haugen’s experience in skincare and clients’ desire for skincare services in addition to products they decided to expand the scope of their business.

"We were exploding," Toberman said. "Everywhere we went we got more and more demand for services. People said ‘That’s great, but I need to know how to put it on or could I get a skincare consult.’ Anytime we were promoting the product we got more and more service coming to us."

The women continue researching the latest technologies and they also offer other services, including laser hair removal, sun damage and skin tightening. While the women now offer services in addition to products, Stillwater Skin is not considered a spa.

"We don’t like the word ‘spa’ because there’s this connotation of a chandelier and lounging," Toberman said. "We consider ourselves a serious skincare place. We have fun, but we want to be a reliable source for skincare. … It’s really a resource center."

So far, Haugen and Toberman have been in their facility for three years and now they employ five staff members. They also hope to expand their business nationwide in the future, Toberman said.

Haugen and Toberman’s business is still fairly young, but they’ve already received recognition. Last year Stillwater Skin received WomenVenture’s "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" business development award, which is given to business women WomenVenture has helped go to the next level in their business careers.

For more information about Stillwater Skin visit www.stillwaterskinonline.com. You can also watch Haugen and Toberman harvest the cranberry seed oil at www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l0YXUfiBl0&feature=player_embedded