When I first noticed Kid Sister Skin Care’s ‘Super Ego’ face oil, it was because of the fantastic green packaging. As it turns out, Maxine Tamoto, founder of Kid Sister, not only has an eye for aesthetics, she also has a knock-it-out-of-the-park knack for developing effective products.
I recently caught up with Max to ask a few questions about her move into the world of skin care and the challenges of launching a small business…
Right off the bat, I’m going to ask the obvious: are you a younger sibling?
Yes! I’m the youngest of two kids and the youngest of all the cousins in my family.
Where did the inspiration to start Kid Sister come from?
Back in 2020, on my 28th birthday, I decided I wanted to do something for myself before I turned 30. With a love for skin care and a stubborn “I can just do it myself” attitude, I decided to make a skin care product that I would use every day. I thought, “I already use skin care, and if this doesn’t work then out at least I’ll have a product that I love that’s available to me for the rest of my life”. I love the idea of a skin care line for everyone – no matter your age, gender, ethnicity, or experience. I wanted to start a business where everyone felt included. No fear mongering if you don’t do “XYZ” or shaming for not starting earlier or doing it “the wrong way”. Just positivity and taking care of yourself.
Super Ego, your first product, is an antioxidant face oil made with ingredients like buriti fruit and tomato seed oil – why these guys?
Growing up, everyone would call me “Tomato” because of my last name (Tamoto) and I thought adding tomato seed oil would make the formula special to me. It just so happens that it’s also really beneficial in skin care! As for the buriti fruit, my chemist is an absolute powerhouse who did lots of research on antioxidant-rich ingredients, and basically landed on buriti fruit oil because of its incredible benefits.
This oil comes with a heads-up that the wearer might experience ‘warming’ or tingling with use, what’s that all about?
We added a warming agent in our formula to help boost circulation and promote skin cell turnover, but from the feedback I’ve received, and from personal experience, the warming sensation isn’t very intense. If you have dry patches (like eczema or psoriasis) or damp patches (most commonly under the nose, around your mouth, or around your eyes), the tingling sensation will be more intense so we added it on the packaging to let you know!
In addition to starting your own skincare line, you are an accomplished photographer. Beyond the obvious advantage (cool-as-heck product shots) what skills did you develop as a successful self-employed photographer that have helped you in your new business?
Being honest and realistic. When I first started out I would just say “yes” to everything and everyone – this made me burn out hard and fast because I would over-promise, over-deliver, and put myself in sticky situations because I had no set boundaries or expectations. Over the years, I learned that honesty is the best policy. Sometimes it’s hard to hear but it will save your and whoever you work with from burning out or missing deadlines.
What is the single most valuable piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in the business of small batch skin care or cosmetics today?
Research and development is SO important! Make sure you test your products on as many people as you can and take their feedback seriously. Test the packaging to make sure nothing is leaking and it has a good user experience, because it won’t matter how good the product is if the packaging is faulty. Taking the time to check all of this before going into production will save you a headache in the long run.
What was your brightest business moment this year?
Making connections with other businesses. I knew there was a tight knit community, but now that I’m experiencing it myself, it’s wild. I’ve already met so many great people and they’ve been so supportive!
Did you have a mentor through the evolution of Kid Sister, or did you do it all alone?
I’m lucky to have an amazing group of people in my life. Beyond the tremendous support from my parents – not only with the free labour, free office space in their house, and business advice from their 35+ years of running their own business – I’ve also been able to lean on some good friends who own their own businesses for guidance. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to give shout outs, but: Sean, from Kilig Candle Co has helped me with small business advice, and I basically owe my first born to Chad and Fero from Elevin Elevin marketing agency. I’m so lucky to have incredibly smart and generous friends.
Do you have a background in business? Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?
I graduated from BCIT with a diploma in Business Management in 2012. At that time I had no idea I would be running my own business because I was working in the film industry, but I’m thankful I did it. I also grew up with my parents both running their own business full time, and grandparents owning their own businesses, so I’ve been surrounded by it since I was born. I consider myself to be a hereditary entrepreneur, if that’s a thing. I think I was destined to run my own business.
Do you have any plans to expand into other products?
I do! We have a few things in the works right now but I’m not quite ready to talk about it. We’re still very much in the early stages.
If you are interested in trying out Super Ego, check the Kid Sister website here. This product is hand made is small batches, so be patient because it does sell out.