Janette Brin sat down with Bermudian lawyer, entrepreneur, owner, and founder of Asevida, Shannon Cann, to talk about the Caribbean-owned vegan skincare line. Find out about her journey to herbalism, the inspiration behind the products and so much more!
Janette : An absolute pleasure to meet you. And thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I know you’re getting ready for your launch so I imagine things might be a bit hectic …. How are you doing?
I must big up the fact that you are a Caribbean sister doing amazing things. So congratulations on your recent achievements …
Shannon: Thank you. Thank you.
I am hanging in there. I’m doing well. I’m doing well. This is a hectic time. We are pushing to launch with the aim of launching on April 1st. That’s just in two weeks. So, now I’m just sort of crossing the T on the I’s and making sure everything is ready for launch day.
Janette: Awesome. So, I understand you are born and raised in Bermuda. Nice. Tell me about home; things that you miss about home, where you’re based now and perhaps those things from home that contributed to what you do.
Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. So, I am born and raised in Bermuda. I am back in Bermuda now, so I do live back in Bermuda. And yes, definitely Bermuda did inspire what I do, you know – growing up on an island where the trees are around and plants and herbs. I grew up in this environment, and I grew up with an appreciation for nature and for natural things. So, when it came to launching a vegan skincare business, I did take inspiration from my upbringing and my access to plants, my knowledge of plants, and my respect for nature.
Janette: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve never been to Bermuda, but I’m dying to go and I love your accent.
Shannon: Thank you, please come.
Janette: So, what’s interesting as well is that you are a lawyer and a herbalist, that is so cool. A unique, yet pretty awesome combination. As far as professions go, would you say these career paths chose you, or you chose them?
Shannon: A bit of both. So, in terms of becoming a lawyer, I definitely chose that profession in school. I really loved to analyze, I wanted to dig deeper into different issues and law was such a perfect career to do that. And, in terms of becoming a herbalist, I feel like that chose me. After law school, I suffered from a near-death experience. I had pneumonia; I was in the intensive care unit for two weeks. I was sedated. My family was till, you know, the doctors, weren’t sure that I would even survive. And once I recovered, I really wanted to change my lifestyle. I went to become healthier and that wasn’t just sort of what I consume in terms of food but also I went to learn more about herbs and other things I can take to help my wellbeing. So that’s how I got into herbalism. I started to research different herbs initially for my lungs, because I did suffer from pneumonia, I wanted to strengthen my lungs. And then also I got into herbs that could help with stress management throughout my legal career and then herbs to help with your skin. So, it all came together and, and that’s how I started getting into the journey of herbalism.
Janette: So, what would you say is your favorite thing about being a law lawyer and what would you say you love the most about being a herbalist?
Shannon: Well, with respect to being a lawyer, I like how every day is different. It’s always something different and new, and it’s not boring. So, ‘things different’ in terms of working with different clients. They all have different needs. They all have different goals in terms of what they want to do. And as a lawyer, you know, my job is to help them achieve that, provide advice to help them as well. So, every day is different. And every day is a challenge. So that keeps it exciting. And it means that you are always learning and that it’s not boring. And then I also have clients that are from all over the world, so they’re not just based in Bermuda.
So that means, I’m interacting with people from all walks of life. And that keeps it interesting as well. And in terms of being a herbalist, I guess what I love about it is that it’s also an area where you are always learning. You’re never going to know every single plant and all the benefits of every single plant. So, I feel like it’s a constant journey of learning more, and that keeps it exciting as well. And it always feels good when you find something new that you love.
Janette: Well, you are a busy, busy lady. Yeah. I’m, I’m surprised to learn, not too surprised, but I’m surprised to learn it. You’re not just a lawyer, but you’re a practicing lawyer and an entrepreneur at the same time. You know, you’re busy, you’re busy, but that’s great. That’s awesome. So, I read that you are a believer in mission-based business. Can you tell me a bit more about what that means to you and the steps you’ve taken to stay true to that?
Shannon: Sure. So, I know that as a business, every decision that we make as a business and every product that we create has a lasting impact. So, I wanted to make sure that we weren’t negatively affecting the environment or harming anyone with our products. One way we do that is with testing. All our products are made in FDA-registered facilities, but they also are third-party tested. Our skincare products are tested by dermatologists to ensure their safety. And then we also believe in ingredient transparency. There is nothing worse than having a product and you’re looking at the ingredients and trying to figure out what this is.
Yeah. So, on our website, we list each ingredient, and we list what the ingredient is and the benefit. So, customers know exactly what they’re getting. Another thing about the mission base is that we want to give back. We have partnered up with an organization called One Tree Planted, which is an organization that plants a tree with every product that a customer would buy. And that’s a great way for customers to be involved with global reforestation.
I’ve also started a give-back initiative whereby every year we would donate a percentage of annual profits to non-profit organizations and charitable organizations.
Janette: That is amazing. Beautiful! So, you have three products the Vitamin C Adaptogen, the Serum and Daily Zen Radiance Cream, and the Matcha Glow Latte. Can you take me through each product, the benefits and what makes them unique? I’m dying to try all of them by the way.
Shannon: Okay, great. Yeah. So, our first product, the Vitamin C Adaptogen Serum comes in a recyclable glass bottle and glass jar, sorry, the recyclable box. It’s a facial serum that combines vitamin C. Vitamin C is basically your skin’s best friend. It helps with brightening. Likewise, it helps with getting your skin those nutrients that it needs. The inspiration behind this product mainly has to do with the effect of stress on the body. That is actually the inspiration behind all the products. Through my legal journey, I learned that stress hormones have a profound impact on the skin. It can cause dry skin, and oily skin, and for some people, it can increase hyperpigmentation and it can also increase premature aging. So sometimes you can look at someone, and you could tell. They seem older than they are. A lot of times this has to do with how they feel; in terms of the stress that they feel.
This product helps with those concerns. It hydrates the skin. It has an ingredient in here called hyaluronic acid. That is an ingredient that’s actually in our bodies already. We’re born with, and as we age it gets reduced and then stress also reduces it even more. So, it has hyaluronic acid in here. It also has adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs that help your body adapt to stress and things like aging. Reishi mushroom and other types of adaptogens are all in here as well. And like I said, the aim is to hydrate the skin and help with those effects of stress.
Similarly, we have our Daily Zen Radiance Cream, which also comes in a recyclable glass jar and box, and it’s a facial cream. And it also has hyaluronic acid. It also has those adaptogens that help lock in moisture. It also helps with fine lines and wrinkles and with premature aging as well. And, dark spots, which are prevalent among people of color. It also helps with age spots, as you know everyone gets age spots. So, it’s a product that helps with all of that.
Lastly, is our Matcha Glow Latte. So, because my aim is to help with stress, I know that it all starts internally. I wanted to create a product like that. The Matcha Latte is a tea blend of MAA, which is a powder green tea as well as ingredients that help with the focus, like lion’s main and also ingredients to help keep you calm, like Reishi mushroom, and also has Tremella mushroom, which helps with collagen production. It has Acerola Cherry in here, which also helps with collagen production and Vitamin C. And the reason being is that stress can also reduce the collagen that we have in our bodies already. So, this really supports everything in terms of what stress can have on the body.
Janette: I love it. So you drink that as tea?
Shannon: Warm or cold. Yep. You would, so heat helps to sort of activate and pull out those benefits. So you’ll always start by pouring hot water. But then you could also add ice to it once you do that, to make it an iced matcha latte. Okay. And you can add oat milk or whatever milk that you drink. You could also add it to your smoothies, you can bake with it. So it’s a lot of ways that you can use it.
Janette: Nice. Nice. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. Yeah. So we are currently celebrating women’s month. Who are some of the women that have inspired you throughout your career? And, with beauty and health an ongoing concern for women, what advice would you give to women who might be trying to figure out ways to live well?
Shannon: Yeah, so, so I guess in terms of women that have inspired me there have been many women. So I guess I would just describe, you know, why. I was inspired by women who have been able to achieve balance in their life and in, in their careers as well. So that’s balancing in terms of their own definition of what successful means for them, whether that’s successful being a mother in their family life or with their career and doing it in a way they still take care of themselves.
A lot of times, you know, I think there’s this belief that you have to work extremely hard and suffer from burnout in order to be successful, but there are people who are successful, and they don’t do that. So I think that ties into your second question in terms of my advice to women who want to live well. I would say really get in tune in terms of what your body needs and what you need, what lights you up, what makes you happy, and then create habits in your life to meet that as a goal.
So, for instance, for me, I know that one of my goals this year was to get better sleep because I stay up quite late. How I’ve done that is that I’ve created an evening routine that I love, and I look forward to. That’s drinking tea, it’s reading a book, it might be catching up on a show that I love, and I do it at the same time every night. So my body is programmed, and it’s something that I look forward to. And that’s my way of self-care, a bit in terms of what I would do on a daily basis during the week. So it’s really important to figure out, you know, what is something that you need and then sort of create habits to make sure you get that on a regular basis.
Janette: Yeah. I love that. I’ve been trying to do the same. Getting to bed at a decent hour. So programming my body to get into that rhythm.
Shannon: Yes. It’s hard.
Janette: Yes, it is. So, I noticed one of your commitments noted for your brand is inclusivity. Tell me about that and why that was important for you.
Shannon: Yeah. I definitely wanted my customers to feel like they can see themselves using the products. They are not just marketed to women of color. They are for everyone. And I do that through my promotional marketing material. So for the photoshoot that we had for the brand, we show all women.
So, not just people of color. I want to address the concerns of people of color, especially the hyperpigmentation, but I also wanted people who didn’t have that as a skin concern to also feel like they can use our raw products as well. So, in a nutshell, I wanted people of color to be shown and ensure that it’s inclusive. But, I also didn’t want to exclude anybody. Right. And then also with the packaging. In terms of the colors, I also didn’t want to make males feel like maybe they can use it either. So it’s very neutral in terms of the packaging colors as well. So I just wanted everyone to be able to use it. So, it can be a household item and not just targeted at women.
Janette: That is awesome. Yes, you’re right. Because if a guy sees something too girlish looking, they’re not going to want to use it. Oh gosh! LOL. What would you say are some of the biggest challenges or difficulties you face in your career, and how do any of those difficulties include gender bias, if at all?
Shannon: Yeah, I would say that the main difficulty has been societal pressure to do more. Mmh. I think every day if there is a podcast or something coming out saying, you need to be doing more, you need to be doing this. And I feel like I feel pressured sometimes to keep doing other things and doing more and instead of focusing on, Hey, you know what, I don’t really want to do that, but I’ve been told I need to do that so many times that now I feel like that’s a belief that I have. Right. So I think my challenge has been to be clear as possible; clear on what I want and what I like and making sure that I stick with that.
And, in terms of gender bias, I think it also extends to that in terms of gender roles. I think in terms of being a lawyer, in the past, there was a belief that a woman might not be able to have a great family life and be a successful attorney because there’s a belief that attorneys work very late hours. You know, you can’t go home and cook for your family and spend time with your family. And I think women have tried to change that stereotype, and I think that’s great. I think women can do it all. I think fun and balance are so crucial. And I see that the industry is changing and allowing more balance for women. And I think men are also starting to be more involved in the family as well. So, I think it’s, it’s getting better.
Janette: What advice would you give to young women, particularly Caribbean women, who are thinking about starting a wellness brand?
Shannon: My advice would be to believe that you can do it. And I know that sounds very simple, but you’ll be surprised in terms of how we have some limiting beliefs that are ingrained in us, especially when we come from countries in the Caribbean, the love of the brands that we see on TV commercials or in the huge stores are usually U.S based brands or brands from some other larger countries.
So sometimes we can internalize that and think, okay, maybe I could just be big in my country, and maybe I can’t be big worldwide, but you know if your aim is to be a global brand, I think we really have to program our minds to know that we can do that; to try to track and see if we do have those limiting beliefs address, where they come from and sort of take steps to address and clear our minds of those. And so that we can be programmed with the belief that we can be a global wellness brand if that’s someone’s goal. Or, if it’s just the goal to be the best brand in that area or in that country, you have to believe that as well.
Janette: Awesome. Awesome advice. Thank you so much. And you know, I’m so glad we met and I can’t wait to, I mean, you’re awesome. Thank you for being such a great example for not just Caribbean women, but women as a whole. That is always an amazing thing. We, I can’t say that enough. Now, where can we get your products?
Shannon: Sure. So, like I said, we’re launching April 1st, and everyone can find our products on our website and that’s Asevidaskin.com. And then we are also working on getting retailers. So, they’ll be based in Bermuda and also based in the U.S, but in terms of people who are not based in those countries, they can get them on our website, and we will ship worldwide. Yes.