Skin care from the old country with RenuDerma

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Using formulas created by her eastern European grandmother 70 years ago, Maia Janashia Smith has launched a line of skin-care products she says will help women look younger naturally.
“Here, ladies don’t pay attention to skin,” Smith said. “They wear $300 purses, but their skin looks like a dry prune.”
Called RenuDerma, the cleansers, moisturizers and scrubs are available online and downtown at Smith’s boutique, Maia’s Fashions, 103 S. Main St.
“Why I value them so much is they are simple recipes,” said Smith in her heavy accent. “They are mostly organic oils and beeswax, from recipes that passed down to my mother and then to me.”
The line features nine products and uses the same recipes originally concocted by grandmother Mari Todadze, a pharmacist and licensed cosmetologist, and then perfected by mother Anna Janashia, a physicist, Smith said. The family is from Georgia, a former republic of the Soviet Union. Smith moved to Salisbury in 2004.
Smith’s mother and grandmother sold basically the same serums and masks from home for many years. Smith said she remembers her grandmother placing a spoonful of cream onto a square of plastic, tying it up with a ribbon, and handing it to a customer.
Later, she often saw her mother working on the formulas.
“I saw her many, many times sitting there and reading recipes and just trying different vitamins in it and mixing, and having all that supply in our kitchen lab,” Smith said.
Now manufactured and bottled in Texas, the skin-care line features natural and organic ingredients including beeswax, lanolin and grapeseed oil. Smith said it took her four months to find a supplier that didn’t require her to produce at least 5,000 jars.
She refused, wanting to manufacture the products in smaller quantities to avoid using preservatives.
“When I see all these mass products lying on the shelf for years and years, how can it be good?” Smith said.
Smith designed the labels, logo and all promotional materials herself but hired a web designer after four failed attempts to launch a website. RenuDerma also has a Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as a blog and several instructional videos on YouTube.
The stuff’s not cheap. Smith said she priced the line as low as she could while still using organic ingredients. She pointed out that she offers larger sizes than many name brands.
A 4-ounce bottle of cleanser costs about $28, and 1.7 ounces of moisturizer is $50. Eye cream also costs $50, and a two-part mask with sponge is $30 and will last for six months, Smith said.
Her priciest product is a 2-ounce day cream, which is hand-mixed and tinted to match the customer’s complexion, with SPF 15 for $80.
But for the money, Smith guarantees results.
Last spring, she used a $50 gift certificate to buy a tiny jar of brand-name eye cream. After using the cream every day for weeks, she said she saw no difference. She felt women weren’t getting their money’s worth.
“Right then, I said this is it,” Smith said. “If I know these good results exist, why am I going to hold back?”
Although already working full-time designing and sewing clothes and wedding dresses at Maia’s Fashions, Smith said she decided to launch the skin-care line. Smith also learned to sew from her mother and grandmother and dubbed the three of them the “wisdom-sharing trio.”
The skin-care regimen takes five minutes morning and night, plus 15 minutes once a week for exfoliation.
Smith’s 72-year-old mother, who still uses the recipes herself, is visiting from Georgia and assisted Smith recently as she demonstrated the products at her boutique. Janashia said God gave her the talents she has shared with her daughter.
Parents must help their children find what they do best by sharing their own skills and knowledge, Janashia said through Smith.
“They are obligated to pass that down,” she said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.