Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger: Co-Founder of Mother Science

Episode 424

Ann Marie Simpson Einziger, Co-Founder of the beauty brand Mother Science, didn’t expect to be a beauty entrepreneur. Science teacher, turned rock violinist, together with her rock star husband Mike Einziger, lead guitarist of the band Incubus, are the unlikely duo behind this new skincare brand. The creation of Mother Science stemmed from a diagnosis Ann Marie received which led her to discover the key ingredient Malassezin which has been proven effective in treating hyperpigmentation. Their first product, The Molecular Hero Serum, is an instant success and currently available online only. In our conversation, Ann Marie shares the unlikely discovery process that led to their hero ingredient and ultimately their first product. I think you will be glad you listened to this episode. Now on #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down but just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone. And welcome back to the Kara Goldin show. I am so excited to have my next guest here today we’re joined by Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger. I did I pronounced that correct? perfectly, perfectly amazing. So who was the co founder of the incredible brand new brand that you absolutely need to get your hands on? It’s called Mother science. Well, the actual product is called the molecular hero serum. But the company is called Mother science and you are going to be so excited to hear about this. And if it’s not for you, you need to gift it to somebody who or tell somebody who really is challenged with what Anne Marie is going to share with us so she is new to the skincare industry but not new to doing incredible things. And was a science teacher turned rock violinist together with her Rockstar husband, Mike, who was the lead guitarist at the band Incubus. They are possibly an unlikely duo behind a skincare brand. But wow, they have created something that is absolutely incredible. So the creation of mother’s science stemmed from a diagnosis and Marie received that that I’ll let her share a little bit more with you about it about an ingredient called mal mal assisted. Did I pronounced that right saving?

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 2:10
Valley? Interpretation? Yeah,

Kara Goldin 2:14
now let’s phasing Okay, which has been proven effective in treating hyperpigmentation. So their first product the molecular hero serum is an instant success and currently available online only. So I’m really excited to hear a lot more about AMS journey and, and without further ado, welcome man it do you go by an ER Anne Marie, actually,

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 2:39
you know, my best friends call me and so let’s go with and today we’re we can be, we can be fellow besties today.

Kara Goldin 2:46
Amazing, amazing. Well, welcome, and so excited to have you on the show.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 2:50
I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me, Kara. Absolutely. So

Kara Goldin 2:54
you are the co founder and your husband, Mike. And you decided to venture into the beauty industry after you guys are busy enough, I would say in the music industry and having family as well. I would love for you to share kind of what prompted this to, for you to actually go and develop a product and be in search of an ingredient like this that would create an incredible product as you have.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 3:25
Well, Mother science was born from our natural curiosity. And I feel like it doesn’t matter how busy a person is. If you’re curiosity driven, the world is infinitely fascinating. And a problem that haunts you will find you. And for me that problem was I had a skin condition on my back called tinea versicolor. And I had these lightened patches of skin that I wanted to investigate further. And I learned that it was an imbalance in my microbiome and that it would resolve on its own and that it was very common and perfectly harmless. But to me looking at such a drastic change on my skin and learning that it was somewhat of a medical mystery. It wasn’t understand, but well What characterized or understood what was actually happening to drive those changes. And I just wanted to understand, is there something here in our skin? Is there some ancient wisdom in the microbiome that we can harness, and then apply that to something that has real benefit? We were looking at specifically the benefit of Dark Spot Correcting. It’s something that so many women struggle with. And it’s a problem that nobody has really found a great cosmetic solution to. And our investigation led us to find malice season, which is a molecule that’s never been formulated before, but it’s produced naturally in the microbiome. And characterizing that molecule and learning its benefits for the human skin is what really led us to creating the brand mother science and our molecular heroes era.

Kara Goldin 4:56
So I would imagine you went and bought every seat Go product on the shelf in order to not actually go and create your own product first. And is that true? I mean, that’s what we do, right? Like we’re trying to figure it out. And we’re trusting all of the marketing that’s out there. But I’d love for you to kind of share about that. Those days of being so frustrated with not being able to solve this issue.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 5:24
Yeah, well, I have hyperpigmentation myself. I feel like I never got the memo about sun protection. When I was younger, a lot of women my age, learned about sun protection when they’ve already had childhoods exposed to the sun. And I embrace my freckles. But at a certain point, I could see some damage that I wanted to reverse. And there are products out there that do have proven actives. Hydroquinone is kind of a gold standard prescription. Active, but hydroquinone is a bad actor, it’s banned in the US, it’s banned in Europe, you can only get it in prescription formulation, and you use it for a limited period of time. And there’s also the probability of rebound, meaning that after you’re done using it and have seen results, the problem comes back worse. So hydroquinone being the gold standard, that’s just not a good gold standard. Other products work as tyrosyl ACE inhibitors, so they basically are slowing down the enzyme that’s responsible for catalyzing the pigmentation response in our skin. And those have just mild success, their efficacy is not very dramatic. And those are also easily reversible, with sun exposure. And very quickly reversible. So when I saw these brightened patches on my skin, I was like, there’s nothing else on the market like this, because I’ve tried tried it all. And I feel like a lot of women are citizen scientists. When you said you went to the store and you tried everything. That’s how we first start learning about what are the active molecules, we all kind of become formulation chemists. And with malas season, I knew that I had a new chemical entity and NCAE. And that in order to make that viable products, I needed a cosmetic formulations chemist. And there is a very famous one a Susan Goldsberry. She’s heard her career is storied, and we actually cold called her, which is not something that most people do when they’re getting their most valuable team member. There was not a warm, friendly introduction to her from anybody we know. But to Susan’s credit, she took our call. And Susan is she’s just about us in this chemistry formulation world. She was the first person to formulate an SPF of above 100. She owned her own company benchmark laboratories, which she eventually was eventually acquired by CDK. But she’s, she’s an entrepreneur, she’s intelligent. She has made iconic products for many of the brand beauty brands out there. We joke that she’s made many people billionaires. And he took our call. And she listened to our story, our origin story of hey, we have something new. It’s targeting pigmentation. And we need somebody to work with a new molecule and figure out how to formulate it. And using her expertise, she was able to take our molecule and figure out that it actually worked really well in different formulations. She was the one who characterized to first characterize how stable it was. So our molecule is actually a natural antioxidant that is 20 times more powerful than vitamin C. But vitamin C has a pesky little problem of being unstable in solution. So we have Malleus season 10 times more potent of an antioxidant. And we’ve done stability testing on the molecule Three years later, and it’s still stable. So she, with her expertise understands that if you have an active you need to make sure that it’s stable and solution. And obviously that that formulation is lovely. And I’m so pleased with how she was able to formulate our new compound into a serum that I feel like just goes on. Very light it absorbs into the skin. It doesn’t leave a residue of any kind and it just plays well with everything. If you want to layer another product that you love on top or even add other actives along with it. It all plays together really beautifully. And so the journey that you were talking about of being that citizen scientists going into the store, I feel like we did all of that and then it was like being a kid in the candy shop when we met season because we got to peel back the curtain at Willy Wonka’s factory and just look at With every ingredient on the shelf and understand how you can go from a concept to something that’s elegant and ready for commercial use.

Kara Goldin 10:08
So how long did that process take them from the time you cold called, Susan to actually getting the product that you have today?

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 10:18
Well, we took about six years. And it was not because of the cosmetic formulation aspect, it was because we had a truly novel chemical entity. And it was our responsibility to characterize and classify that, scientifically, the rigor of our scientific testing, I think, is what really sets us apart from anything else on the market. malas season has never been used before in a formulation, but we knew it was going to be safe because it’s present on everybody’s skin pretty much since birth, it’s part of the commensal microbiome, meaning that the human population we share certain micro organisms that all populate our skin are healthy individuals have this organism. And we knew that the organism made a metabolite called malice season, and that malice season would therefore be present on everybody’s skin. And looking at this molecule that was going to be our active, we needed to understand why is it working? Is it completely non toxic, because something can be natural and toxic, we wanted to test phototoxicity, we wanted to do testing, almost as if this were a new drug, which has very rigorous testing, we actually did Affymetrix gene testing. So we tested it against 22,000 different genes on a panel to see what we up and downregulated, we wanted to make sure that what we were doing was safe, clean. And that we understood how we were really changing the skin in cosmetic ways that would be beneficial. So we wanted to really look under the hood and understand this molecule and how it worked. And the pace of science is slow, you have to we don’t test on animals for skincare. So we use the Malana DERM skin model, which is a gold standard and skin testing where you grow three different layers of skin cells to model the human skin. And then you dose with your compounds to understand the changes that you want to see that are cosmetic, cosmetically beneficial. And then you go to human clinical trials. And we wanted to make sure that we have robust ones are clinical trials for this cosmetic product differs than other cosmetic clinical trials. Because we went so much deeper, we actually did punch biopsies, meaning that we took out chunks of people’s face. And we’re able to do histological work. So we could see the skin structure, make sure that we weren’t changing any of that structure and function, making sure that we understood how we were slowing the transport of melanin to the upper light layers of the skin and that we could confirm that with histological data. We wrote papers on this. We published them in the Journal of American dermatology, and the Journal of investigative dermatology, these peer reviewed journals that are really difficult to get into. And so we did a lot of research. I think that’s what really took our time. And research is something that really fills my heart and my mind, I’m a former teacher. And it feels very satisfying to put a body of work out there that everybody can benefit from that everybody can read and understand a new mechanism of action. That’s beautiful, and demystified now. But at the same time, that’s not the highest use of knowledge. And so that’s when we knew we needed to start something and we wanted it to be something that was lovely that everyone could use easily. And so now mother science was born.

Kara Goldin 13:48
That’s incredible. And so what is your patent? I know you guys have a patent on this, what is the patent? The actual ingredient.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 13:56
So malas season is a molecule that’s made by nature, and you can’t patent a molecule that’s made by nature. However, there’s an extremely powerful patent that you can have, which is a formulations patent malas season when we synthesize it in our laboratories. It’s just this powder. And that powder doesn’t do any good for anybody until you formulate it, meaning you mix it with something, the moment it’s mixed with anything, whether it’s for a lovely Skin Serum, a shampoo, a smoothie, a plastic, it could be anything that you formulate it. We own the patent, it has never been commercially used. And so there was a non obviousness to using Mallesons and commercially that allowed us to get the formulations patent. So we have the patent on using Mallesons in any formula.

Kara Goldin 14:49
That’s incredible. So your co founder is your husband. I worked with my husband for years and we’re still married. That’s a that’s a good On. But how did you two meet you had? You’re obviously very knowledgeable on the science and of all of this, you were a science teacher. And obviously you had been playing the violin for many years prior to actually being able to do that professionally as you do today. But Mike is also a well known musician to the lead guitar guitarist, for Incubus. So I would love to hear like how you two met and how you decided to start a business together.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 15:32
So Mike and I both had the same tour manager, this guy named Matthew Murphy, I was working at the time with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and I was touring as his violinist. And Matthew would manage our tours. And then he would go out on the road with Incubus, and he would hear me talking about science stuff all the time. Science is my love language. So I was always reading science articles, and then trying to share what I was learning with everybody that was around me. And he said, You know what, I think you’re gonna really love this guy. I know. He’s in the band and Kubis. But he’s, he’s really smart. He’s going to Harvard. He studies science at Harvard. And he invited me to come backstage to meet Mike and an Incubus concert at the Hollywood Bowl. And I actually said, No, it’s like, I don’t need to meet a musician. I was intrigued that he’s, he loves science. But I delayed that meeting. And later on, Mike sent me a message asking if I would play music on a BBC documentary that he was scoring about outerspace. And I was I was thinking, You know what, I don’t want to say no to an opportunity twice. I already said no, the first time that I got the opportunity to meet him. And if you say no, twice, you don’t get that opportunity. Again, that’s kind of a Hollywood rule that I’ve always kind of held in my heart. If you say no, two times, no one will call you. So I said, I’m gonna say yes, this time. And it seems professional to the BBC, and I love science. And he loves science. So let’s do this job professionally and see what comes of it. And Mike was in town for one day, because he was at Harvard, he come back to visit his father. And he asked if I would meet him at dinner to talk about the project with his dad. So I met him and his dad at our first encounter, and we nerded out all night, we talked about mysteries of the universe.

Kara Goldin 17:22
With his dad on your first date, I mean, this is yeah, so

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 17:26
mom crashed the studio session. He said his mom, like, never comes to his house. But he I was recording for this project. And I was in there. And all of a sudden, this woman walks in and he looks confused. And she starts hugging him. He’s like, hold on a second. And you can come out here meet my mom.

Kara Goldin 17:49
Spherical, I love it. Well, and plus, I mean, he’s talking about outer space on a BBC interview. I mean, that was like, I mean, science, just but also random. Right? Not what you expected. So that’s, that’s absolutely amazing. I love that. And the rest is history, you guys have a nice little family as well together, which is really, really beautiful. And now you have this company, which, with this incredible, incredible product that that is great. I love to the fact that I was just talking to some college students and how, you know, they’re all trying to figure out what they want to do with their life. And I think that more and more, the most interesting people today have really celebrate their interests, as I see you doing. You’re a violinist, you’re a scientist, and how do you combine those things to really be able to do what you’re doing? I’d love to hear your perspective on that, too.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 18:53
Yeah. So kind of taking what you were saying about like young people leaning into their interests. And I know that you have a son now who’s leaning into new interests and blossoming out there in the world? That’s it’s actually such a good question, because I feel like something that people don’t often do is lean into weak connections. And to me, I told you that we cold called Susan Goldsberry. And then that’s how we were able to enter a whole new world that was fascinating and high level and got us to where we are with mother science. But I feel like as a violinist, you make a lot of weak connections. Because you’re touring the world people want to meet you, they may maybe have heard of my expand. And those are not necessarily people that you have a collegial relationship with, but they’ve heard of you and you have, you know, just a weak connection to somebody. And I feel like so much richness in my life has come from leaning into a weak connection. My whole journey Anything with music was, was born because I would have an opportunity to meet somebody who did something amazing. And I would just lean into that I’d be like, I don’t know you, one of my friends knows you. But I’m just going to lean in right now, because I have an opportunity to meet you and talk with you. And let’s see if we can make something great together. And it’s very vulnerable. It’s very brave. But I feel like you’re not living life, if you’re not leaning into those moments of opportunity. And especially for young people, it’s very easy to get stuck in like that pocket of like, these are my friends, these are people who are the exact same age as me, and we’re doing the exact same thing. And it’s easy to kind of tune out, hey, my mom’s friend is doing this. And that’s a cool thing that I’m interested in. But I’m not going to call her and talk to her. But leaning into those weak connections, I feel like is what opens your world. It’s what makes your atlas vigour. It’s what broadens everything that you’re working on. And I feel like that skill set of being a musician that you’re always making these weak connections, and that you pursue those weak connections, you lean into them. That’s how I met Mike, a weak connection. A manager who said, You’re going to love this guy, and then an offer to work with them. And that’s how we were able to really build our scientific team. The first scientists that I called to vet the idea for analyses and being a potential new active in the, in the beauty space. And I knew that it was a biochemical innovation, and to, you know, add biotech to my repertoire as a violinist that was like kind of a hard ask, but a long time ago, I taught a violin student whose dad was a medical inventor. And we had kept in touch. And I knew that the dad had, who’s an Oxford trained neurosurgeon who had invented laparoscopic surgery, he’s one of the CO inventors of that. And so he’s like, if anybody knows anything about inventing something in a biotech space, maybe he will. And he was the first person we called. And he said, You know what, I know somebody. He’s at the University of Virginia. And he’s, he’s a chemist to there. And you should just talk to him and see, see what he thinks about your tech. And it was that connection that led us to our whole scientific team. So I think having that bravery, to know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to ask somebody who’s in a field that you have no experience in to help you. And to line yourself up to special find that specialized team that is willing to stand alongside of you and do something new.

Kara Goldin 22:49
Yeah, well, I think you brought up a couple of really good points, because I think it’s about asking, right, asking people sharing your story. And as you’re doing right now, but also asking people, you know, what do you think and I think people do want to be helpful. And sometimes it’s not a sometimes those connections may not pan out, but oftentimes, they may lead you to the next connection. So I always view this exploratory time as a, like you’re building a puzzle, you’re not sure if it’s going to work or not. But you start to take those roads and, and try those puzzle pieces and see whether or not they’re going to map out. And that’s exactly what ended up happening for you. And I heard you talking about that story on another podcast. And you went to University of Virginia as well, right? Yep. I was wondering if you went back to a professor or if it was somebody totally different.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 23:49
It was not a professor that I met. While I was studying biology. at UVA, he was the chief, the head of the pharmacology department to develop drugs. And yeah, so his name is Dr. Tim McDonald. I had never taken a class with him. But later on, I learned when we were taking meetings that he’s just a beloved professor, and many of the chemists that we were talking to, were mentored by him influenced by him. And he, he had a wide reaching impact. So I found him through a weak connection, it could have been through my own solid college connection, but I missed that opportunity and was able to have relationships that were professional with him after after graduating.

Kara Goldin 24:37
I love it and not being afraid to cold call, I think is another lesson from what you had said too, and just it may not work out. But I’m a huge believer in that certainly in building my company, that I found a two but so how are you getting the word out about Mother science overall?

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 24:55
So with any new brand, it’s a heavy lift to a announce your brand. And then on top of that announcement, we have the heavy lift of educating people on what is malas season and what are its benefits. And so our, our way of reaching people has been by meeting the thought leaders and talking to them, we, we know that dermatologists are an important part of this equation, our head dermatologist Dr. Pearl Grimes has been lecturing about Malleus season all around the world. And we include influencers who are dermatologists, and also formulation cosmetic formulation chemists, because they understand the depth of the innovation. And I feel like their excitement for that innovation is palpable. We also are ceding to a select group of influencers who are science based, who, who are part of this trend that you were noting earlier about wanting to see clinical results. And these influencers, our product does work. And so that’s how we’re gonna get get the word out. When something works. People share that. And we’re counting on that network of people sharing their experiences to grow awareness around our brand. And then obviously, we’re doing press and opportunities to appear on podcasts, to talk with beauty editors, even to pen our own columns. We’re taking all of those opportunities. And those are so valuable to us as a young brand.

Kara Goldin 26:28
Yeah, definitely. Well, I think that that is really, really smart. And just getting it out there. And and the more you can use social, I think to get it out there too. I think it’s such a powerful tool for sure. And obviously, we’ll have all of this information for your website and everything on the in the show notes. But so last question, what is the actually two more questions? So the price point on it again?

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 26:56
Yes. So our product is at $9. we priced it so that it would fit beautifully for kind of a mass stage price point. To me, it’s an incredible value for the science that went into this. This was years of innovation, many PhD minds, millions of dollars of testing. So I feel like it’s a it’s a great value for that. What is

Kara Goldin 27:22
success to you? Like how do you know this will be successful? And or? At what point do you look at what you’ve created and say it’s successful?

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 27:35
Well, I feel like when people know what Malleus Hasan is the same way that they know what other active ingredients are. I feel like everybody knows what Vitamin C is what retinas are higher Lonneke acid. These are the workhorses that are consistently recommended over and over by dermatologists, by beauty influencers as ingredients to look for because they deliver results. I want Malleus season to be on that shortlist because it absolutely is a powerful workhorse. Our first product is targeted at relieving hyperpigmentation and dark spots. But it doesn’t escape us that it does more than that, which I think earns it a space in this powerhouse of ingredients. It’s a workhorse because as an antioxidant, and also has all the benefits of vitamin C. So you’re going to also see smoothing of skin brightening of skin. And our product also works on fine lines and wrinkles. So it’s this all in one beauty, super ingredient. And I really want it to be recognized and that I want people to say Malissa isn’t on that list of, of actives that are meaningful and often repeated and formulated with

Kara Goldin 28:48
terrific. So best advice that you’ve ever received, you’ve obviously been super successful already. And now you’re I always like to talk about entrepreneurs is kind of going back down to the bottom again and building again, that’s what I see and in your future, for sure that this is going to be a massive success. So what is the best advice that you’ve ever received that kind of helps you during those challenging times when you’re figuring stuff out?

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 29:19
We’ve touched on this actually in our conversation today. But the best advice that I’ve ever gotten was that it’s okay to be vulnerable. And that when you are talking to somebody that really can help you. You need to be vulnerable. And you need to say this is what I’m afraid of. This is what I need help with. And you need to show that that vulnerability is is transparent because you want to work past it. You want to find the solution. And people are willing to help you when you’re vulnerable when you are able to articulate your need when you’re able to make a clear ask when you’re able to show that you don’t have all the answers. You’re alone Paying for a team, you’re looking for new solutions, and you’re open minded and your heart is big enough to take on that. That extra input. So I feel like being vulnerable is really important. And it’s not a weakness, it’s a strength to be vulnerable. And I feel like even just yesterday, we were doing a beauty shoot about how to use Mally season, you use it two times, morning and night, and you apply it to a freshly washed face. And I was I had a freshly washed face with no makeup on. And that’s not how I usually present myself to the world, I usually have like a little bit of something, something you know. And it’s like really vulnerable to have no makeup on your face, have a camera that is right. inches from your face, while you’re spreading like your product on. And I remember thinking this is not easy for me to like being here and feeling comfortable with a camera this close to my face. But I thought you know what, this is what our product needs. It’s okay for me to have this feeling of being vulnerable. And then work past it. Because I’ve been in this position before, when you when I’ve been vulnerable before and then work past it. I was always stronger afterwards. And I feel like doing that. No makeup, putting on the saram shoot was like very freeing, even though it was really scary at the beginning. Because it it just shows that I’m willing to go out there and show my skin and show its benefits on myself personally.

Kara Goldin 31:43
Well, Anne Marie, you are. This is such a great product, the molecular hero serum, the company name is mother science. We’ll have all the info in the show notes. But you are wonderful. And thank you so much for sharing the product, your journey, everything about you and Mike as well. So I really, really appreciate it. And thank you everybody for listening as well.

Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger 32:08
Thank you so much.

Kara Goldin 32:10
Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review and feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my book undaunted, which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and good bye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening