Mackenzie Jorns of Protea: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry


Focus on Brand Authenticity and Storytelling: In an increasingly crowded market, authenticity and storytelling are essential to stand out. Define your brand’s unique identity, values, and mission. Share your brand’s story and connect with consumers on an emotional level. Authenticity builds trust and fosters a loyal community of customers who resonate with your brand’s purpose and vision.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mackenzie Jorns.

Mackenzie Jorns, founder of Protea is on a mission to make skincare more approachable and accessible for all. Her passion for holistic medicine manifested following a late stage lymes disease diagnosis where she experienced side effects from eczema to neurological trouble. Empowered by the experience and in awe of the powers of Eastern medicine, she launched a line of skincare products to help others with their skin health through natural ingredients. Jorns’ humanitarian spirit, cultivated through volunteer work as a teen and adult, inspired her to extend the brand mission to those in need. With every product purchase, Protea donates thoughtfully curated SkinConfidence™ Kits to women in homeless shelters.

Fair skinned but the daughter of an African American father and a Caucasian mother, Mackenzie has always struggled to have her true identity seen. As a biracial person who presents white, no one would think to ask about her heritage and would be shocked to learn of her African American roots. This feeling of not being fully seen has followed Mackenzie since childhood and presents itself in many areas of her life, including her beauty and skincare routine. It’s proven difficult to not only find products to fit her olive undertones, but she struggled finding an esthetician that knew how to care for her unique mixed skin and asked the right questions to create a care plan unique to her. Mackenzie’s siblings, all with various skin tones, experienced similar issues. Recognizing a hole in the skincare industry, Mackenzie created a more efficient approach by introducing Protea’s Skin Support Consultation platform, an esthetician-match service and virtual consultation scheduling process to connect you with estheticians that specialize in various skin ailments, treatments and skin tones.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

For over a decade, I worked in federal contracting for the Department of Defense (DOD), where my focus was on serving governments and impacting millions of people on a large scale. While the work was meaningful, I yearned for a more personal connection with the individuals I was helping and a way for me to use my own personal journey to impact others. I left my corporate job to start Protea and have been on a whirlwind ever since. While the risks are greater, the rewards are immeasurable. The ability to make a positive impact in people’s lives, to see the direct influence of my work, and to continuously refine and innovate based on customer needs is what propels me forward as the founder of Protea. It’s a journey filled with passion, purpose, and the pursuit of empowering individuals to embrace their unique beauty with confidence.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the most intriguing experiences I’ve had since starting my career was the unexpected invitation I received from Empowered Programming by Meg Ryan. After putting out the first press release about the launch of Protea’s innovative skin care consultation platform, I was contacted by the Empowered Programming team with an exciting opportunity.

They invited me to be a part of their upcoming programming called “The Building Blocks of Beauty,” where they shine a spotlight on individuals who have embarked on extraordinary journeys in the beauty industry. The program delves into my personal journey with Lyme disease and how it led me to establish my own beauty company, Protea.

Being recognized by a respected platform like Empowered Programming and having the chance to share my story and the mission of Protea on a large scale is truly remarkable. It will allow me to connect with a broader audience and shed light on the transformative power of holistic skincare, as well as the challenges and triumphs that inspired me to pursue this path.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

A significant tipping point in my career came after the birth of my first son. It provided me with a newfound clarity about what truly matters to me and my long-term aspirations, particularly in terms of how I want to spend my time. Motherhood became my superpower, and while I knew I didn’t have the patience to be a stay-at-home mom like my own mother, I yearned for the freedom to control my schedule and be actively involved in every aspect of my children’s lives. It became clear that a traditional 9–5 job wouldn’t afford me the flexibility I desired, no matter how high I climbed the corporate ladder. This realization led me to take the leap and start my own business, a decision that has proven to be the best one I’ve ever made.

Leaving the corporate world and embarking on my entrepreneurial journey has been challenging and comes with its own set of sacrifices. However, the freedom to manage my time in a way that works for me and my family has been an incredible success. It has allowed me to be present for my children and actively engage in their lives. Another aspect of success for me is the ability to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Through our charitable efforts, I have the privilege of giving back to women and helping them find confidence during difficult times. This aspect of my work brings me immense fulfillment and adds another layer of success to my journey.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I believe in the power of therapy and mentorship and have so much gratitude for my therapist of 16 years who has taught me how to use what life throws at you to fuel a happier and more productive life and my mentor Ken who is a confidence propeller and whose leadership paved the way for me to gain confidence not only at work but in every other aspect of my life. I’ll never forget the day Ken told me “S**it or get off the pot,” when I was wavering about whether or not to lead something at work. There are so many instances in life that if you don’t jump into it, your fear will hold you back from circumstances you never could’ve imagined all because you took a leap of faith.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

Protea’s innovative solutions to the beauty industry include our holistic approach to skin care and our revolutionary Skin Support Consultation Platform. We understand the challenges of finding specialized and comprehensive skincare guidance and as someone with a unique skin composition, I saw a lack of tailored skincare solutions in the market, which served as the inspiration for Protea.

Through the Skin Support Consultation Platform, we connect individuals with licensed, specialized, and experienced skintechs who ask the right questions and provide personalized skincare advice. These professionals are independent from skincare brands and offer bespoke skincare strategies for all skin types, from light to dark and everything in between. By prioritizing the individual’s specific needs, our platform aims to cater to the diverse range of skin concerns and empower individuals to achieve their #skinconfidence.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

Increased Accessibility: One of the most exciting aspects of the modern beauty industry is the growing emphasis on accessibility. This includes not only the availability of beauty services but also their affordability and inclusivity. The industry is making strides in ensuring that people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and physical abilities can access high-quality beauty services and products. This inclusivity is a positive step towards empowering and serving a wider range of individuals, fostering a more diverse and representative beauty community.

Consumer Education and Empowerment: Another exciting trend in the modern beauty industry is the shift towards consumer education and empowerment. People are taking the initiative to educate themselves about skincare ingredients, techniques, and practices, rather than solely relying on marketing claims. This increased knowledge enables consumers to make more informed decisions and select products and services that truly align with their needs and values. It’s inspiring to see individuals actively seeking out reliable sources of information, questioning beauty norms, and embracing a more personalized approach to their beauty routines.

Conscious Consumerism: The rising consciousness among consumers regarding the social and ethical impact of their beauty choices is also incredibly exciting. People are becoming more aware of the values and practices upheld by beauty brands, and they are actively choosing to support companies that demonstrate social responsibility. This shift has encouraged beauty brands to prioritize sustainability, cruelty-free practices, inclusivity, and transparency. It’s heartening to witness consumers using their purchasing power to drive positive change in the industry and create a demand for more ethical and socially conscious beauty options.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Lack of Regulation and Transparency: One concern is the limited regulation and transparency in the beauty industry. To address this, implementing stricter regulations and standards can ensure the safety and efficacy of beauty products. This can involve increased oversight of ingredient labeling, product claims, and manufacturing processes. Encouraging transparency through third-party certifications, independent testing, and clear communication of product formulations can help consumers make informed choices.

Unrealistic Beauty Standards: The beauty industry has often perpetuated unrealistic beauty standards that can lead to low self-esteem and body image issues. To combat this, promoting diversity and inclusivity should be a priority. Brands can showcase a variety of skin tones, body shapes, ages, and gender representations in their marketing campaigns and product offerings. Emphasizing the beauty of individuality and encouraging self-acceptance can help reshape societal beauty norms and foster a more inclusive industry.

Environmental Impact: The beauty industry’s environmental impact, from packaging waste to ingredient sourcing, is a growing concern. Implementing sustainable practices can help mitigate these issues. This includes reducing single-use packaging, promoting recyclable or biodegradable materials, and prioritizing responsibly sourced and ethically produced ingredients. Brands can also embrace eco-conscious manufacturing processes and support initiatives such as carbon offset programs or sustainable packaging collaborations to reduce their environmental footprint.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

Practice Self-Care: Take time for yourself and engage in activities that promote self-care. This can include indulging in a relaxing bath, practicing mindfulness or meditation, enjoying a hobby, or spending time in nature. Prioritizing self-care nurtures your well-being and helps you feel more beautiful from within.

Embrace Your Unique Features: Focus on embracing and celebrating your unique features rather than comparing yourself to societal standards. Recognize that beauty comes in diverse forms and that your individuality is what makes you truly beautiful. Appreciate and highlight your favorite features with makeup, hairstyles, or clothing that make you feel confident.

Cultivate Positive Self-Talk: Pay attention to your inner dialogue and consciously replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Practice self-love and self-acceptance by acknowledging your strengths, accomplishments, and inner beauty. Surround yourself with positive influences and uplifting messages to boost your confidence and promote a sense of beauty from within.

Nourish Your Body: Prioritize a healthy lifestyle by nourishing your body with nutritious food, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular physical activity that you enjoy. Taking care of your physical well-being can enhance your energy, radiance, and overall sense of beauty.

Express Yourself Creatively: Explore different forms of self-expression that align with your interests and passions. This can involve artistic pursuits such as painting, writing, dancing, or playing music. Engaging in creative outlets allows you to tap into your inner beauty and express yourself authentically.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

Focus on Brand Authenticity and Storytelling: In an increasingly crowded market, authenticity and storytelling are essential to stand out. Define your brand’s unique identity, values, and mission. Share your brand’s story and connect with consumers on an emotional level. Authenticity builds trust and fosters a loyal community of customers who resonate with your brand’s purpose and vision.

Prioritize Consumer Engagement and Personalization: In today’s beauty industry, consumer engagement is crucial. Build a strong connection with your target audience by actively engaging with them through social media, email marketing, and other channels. Listen to their needs, preferences, and feedback, and tailor your offerings to provide personalized experiences. Understand that consumers seek customized solutions that align with their individual desires and values.

Embrace Innovation and Stay Ahead of Trends: The beauty industry is continuously evolving, driven by advancements in technology, changing consumer preferences, and emerging trends. To succeed, it’s essential to embrace innovation, stay updated on the latest developments, and anticipate future trends. This includes being open to new techniques, ingredients, and technologies that can enhance your products or services and provide a competitive edge.

Embrace Sustainability and Ethical Practices: Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impact of the beauty industry. To succeed, integrate sustainability and ethical practices into your business. Consider using eco-friendly packaging, sourcing ethical ingredients, and promoting transparency in your supply chain. Adopting sustainable practices and communicating your brand’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility can attract a loyal customer base.

Collaborate and Build Relationships: The modern beauty industry thrives on collaborations and partnerships. Identify potential collaborators, influencers, or complementary brands that align with your values and target audience. Forming strategic alliances can amplify your reach, increase brand exposure, and foster new opportunities. Building strong relationships with suppliers, retailers, and industry professionals also plays a vital role in long-term success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would love to start a movement where people start asking for help when they need it. I would love to see a trend like that go viral on social media, because we all have the power to help others, but we don’t always know how to help until someone asks and shares what they need.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I started the company, I was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words “I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” I even put it on the box of all our beauty products. This quote really embodies how I choose to live my life. It continuously reminds me that as long as I have the mental strength to persevere then I will always be able to keep living my life’s purpose, which is to help women feel more confident.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.