Linda Treska is a beauty product formulator, philanthropist and founder of Pinch of Colour, an indie beauty brand dedicated to skin-nourishing products formulated without the use of water. Linda’s creative brand vision and tireless dedication to the water conservation cause makes her a woman we’re watching.
Pinch of Colour is the first indie beauty brand that marries a foundation of philanthropy with waterless formulas. Tell us what inspired the idea behind your brand.
Pinch of Colour is truly the culmination of my life story. I wanted to create a brand that had a part of me woven throughout, so when I began ideating, I tried to think outside the box. Though I was nearly born and raised in the beauty industry, the core of the Pinch of Colour concept goes very deep—back to my childhood and how I was raised. I began thinking about growing up in Albania: What was missing from my life then that my children don’t have to contend with now? There were many things I didn’t have; but the one that struck me was our lack of water then.
When I put it in perspective of how much water I have access to here, it gave me pause. I didn’t realize the magnitude of water shortage until I started researching. This water scarcity is the reality all over the world. I wanted a brand that stands for something—that advocates, that educates, that heightens awareness of this crisis. I knew that if I wanted to support this issue, I would have to actually partner with charities who have inroads, to be part of their initiatives and development.
One of the biggest pillars of Pinch is philanthropy. This isn’t “sexy” to potential brand investors, but I truly believe this company has to be more than just making a profit. Let’s make money and help—let’s use a part of our profits to promote this cause and teach others about it. Since Pinch launched, we’ve been committed to more than just creating waterless beauty products—we’ve helped with education, sanitation issues and access to clean water.
Through your work with Pinch of Colour, you’ve helped found the Blue Angel charity. Tell us about Blue Angel charity, how it’s funded and what its goals are.
I lost my father the same week I officially founded Pinch of Colour. We had been researching so many charities doing incredible work around the water crisis, but faced with this loss, I wanted to found our own charity. My husband and I founded Blue Angel in honor of my dad, the vision of which is to focus on charity work in Albania. Our goal is to use our support to help infrastructure reach places in need; I want to focus on schools so the youth can grow up better than we did. Blue Angle is a work in progress; the goal is to focus on home-based projects and branch out from there.
Pinch of Colour launched just two years ago, and you’ve already seen tremendous growth. We can now find Pinch in Anthropologie stores, on Amazon, in the Middle East, in the U.K., and you now have your eye on Europe. Congratulations! To what do you attribute Pinch’s healthy growth? What advice do you have for other new brands looking to expand their retail footprint/business?
Our growth has truly been a combination of social media, networking, first-to-market formulas, and a philanthropic mission. It’s hard work, maintaining focus all the time, but we’re building Pinch one step at a time. I always say I want a successful company, but I don’t want success to come overnight. I want to be present and savor the growth every step of the way!
Getting Pinch of Colour into Anthropologie and Cult Beauty UK, along with our other retailers—that’s something I want to enjoy. Social media has definitely helped, and I think the power of word of mouth has been even more beneficial. I think people love to discover our brand; we don’t pay for collaborations, ads or sponsored posts. We’re an indie brand and everything bit of our growth has been organic, which I cherish because it’s authentic. I love when people interact with us because that means they appreciate what we’re doing!
For any brand looking to launch or expand your business, it’s more work than you ever think it’s going to be, but even on the darkest days, the really, really hard days, you can’t give up .You have to see it, and believe it. You are your brand’s #1 fan at the end of the day, and when people see that passion, they want to root for you! You can’t give up.
We’ve had retailers close the doors on us, but we didn’t stop knocking on those doors. Be persistent and consistent. Always work to the best of your ability. I mentor FIT Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing majors and tell them to treat everything as important: You never know how word travels and the impact you’ll have on people you talk to. Every coffee meeting, investor pitch, casual chat in the park—you may find just what your brand needs when or where you least expect it, so always be ready to speak with passion around your business!
To date, what has been your biggest personal or professional challenge in launching your own brand?
Without a doubt, the biggest challenge professionally has been finding the right people. I didn’t realize how difficult it is to find people who “get” the brand, and want to work as if it’s their own company. In my career, I’ve always taken my job very seriously and set my own expectations because I wanted to succeed—I took that very personally. I assumed everyone is the same. In the process of being an entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges is finding people who share this mindset. As much as I’m very hands on, you still need to lean on and depend on people. I consider my team to be partners in Pinch’s success.
Personally, balancing life is also another challenge. Splitting time between being a mom, a wife, a woman running a business, a mentor—that can throw you off balance. It’s hard for women in business—we’re expected to do it all. That can be suffocating. It takes a lot of time to plan a balanced life! I’ve trained myself to be in the moment, whatever it is I’m doing. Don’t do anything just to check a list. If you’re at the park with your kids, be there. If you’re having coffee with friends, be there. If you’re at a pitch meeting, be there. Balancing life and being successful, taking ownership of your life is the biggest challenge—but it’s also the biggest reward.
What’s your favorite part of owning your own company?
Freedom! I feel alive! I have dreamt my whole life to own my own business. Since I was a child, I’ve wanted this. Every job I’ve taken, I’ve wanted to learn so I can understand how to operate my business one day. Now, the best part is leveraging everything I’ve learned—going out of my comfort zone, thinking outside the box, feeding off the energy, utilizing all parts of my brain, making decisions that I truly believe in—it’s all freedom. I love it. I take pride in it. I’ll continue to work very hard to keep this business going because I can’t go back to being restrained or having limitations on my ideas.
You’ve been an integral part of helping to install wells so people in at-risk communities can have access to fresh drinking water. Tell us about this exciting part of your philanthropy.
This is the most exciting part! On a weekly basis, I’m checking out NGOs that share our vibe, that feel like the right partners. We’ve worked with three NGOs so far. Clean Water for Children, Inc. focuses on building wells in very impoverished parts of India. They’re doing incredible things—I had to be a part of it! We sponsored the first well in Calcutta. We have a plaque on the well and it’s so beautiful; I’m so honored to be a part of it.
Healing Waters is a global organization but its main developments are in South America. We partner with them to support education on sanitization and hygiene and programs in Dominican Republic. This year, we’ve partnered with Ekenywa in Kenya; it’s run by a husband and wife who moved from Philly to Kenya. They work with rain-catching systems to capture and filtrate water and use in times of draught. We sponsored a wash program to teach kids how to use the system, to stay healthy and be responsible with water.
Customers today are voting with their wallets, investing in products and brands that share their belief systems. What do you want your customers to know about Pinch of Colour?
Customers need to know that we don’t use water because we want water to be used for life-sustaining purposes. In addition, from a product perspective, we don’t formulate with water because using water actually dries the skin. For years, we’ve been marketed to to believe water is hydrating, but it’s mostly used to add volume. We source materials and ingredients that are water-free, meaning the individual ingredients, as well as the formula, are never created with the use of water. We also offer ingredients that are nourishing to the skin: mango butter, shea butter, botanical oils and extracts. The efficacy and payoff of our products is proof that water-free can be hydrating and beautiful.
What’s next for Pinch of Colour?
We have a new product—Skin Therapy Waterless Face Elixir—coming out this summer. It’s made in the USA, with a French twist!
How do you incorporate joy in your daily life?
By cursing out loud! And never bottling up any emotions… just let it all out! Every time I see something that should upset me, I have to laugh. That’s the only way to overcome challenges. There is always something that goes wrong. I’ve learned to laugh and say, “Of course this is happening!” I’ve learned to turn my challenges into laughter, and that brings me joy. And sanity.
To be sure, there are times I’ve cried from wanting to give up, but at the end of the day, we’re in the beauty business. We have to infuse love and passion and laughter and joy, or what’s the point of doing it? I’m happy the weekend arrives because I get to see my husband and have family time, but I don’t countdown all week because I want to escape my job—this is now a lifestyle for me. That allows the joy to be a part of everyday life.
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