We spoke with Yasuko Brander, managing director of Derma Wise Skin Care Ltd. TheraWise is her line of bioactive, truly natural, therapeutic skin care ointments. We found out how she gets over a cold, the business goal she shares with us at Borden Communications, and the lie she feels guilty about telling her kids.
Have you always used clean plant-based skin care products?
No, not always. I’ve suffered with chronic atopic dermatitis since I was an infant and I used to use corticosteroids and petroleum based ointments and creams for more than 20 years. They made my skin very weak and thin. Any time there were weather changes, or I experienced stress or hormone changes, my skin couldn’t adjust and I had really bad flare ups.
I finally made a switch to plant based products after moving to Canada from Japan. At that time, my skin was getting worse and I realized corticosteroids or petroleum ointments were not working for me, so that’s when I started looking for clean plant-based topical products. I found many “natural” products that were petroleum based with a little bit of botanical extracts added, but that wasn’t good enough for me, so with my husband Warren, we decided to create our own. Today, I use our SHO Natural Skin Healing Ointment for any skin issues, except Acne (which I’d use this cream for instead).
Is working with your husband Warren a dream or a challenge? (Spill it!)
Both! We almost never fight in private life (we are both very easygoing), but when we started working together, suddenly ego kicked in. There were some things that I couldn’t give in to, and I admit we had some unpleasant times. And our conversations became all about work, even when we were at home.
After working together almost 10 years now, we understand each other’s way of working and have accepted each other’s differences, and we’ve became much more relaxed. We also now have a 5 month old baby which creates a bit challenge for time management, but we’ve gone through it once already, so we try to enjoy every moment of this blessing.
Do you ever lie?
I try not to lie especially because I need to be a role model for my children who we are trying to teach not to lie on any occasion. But I feel a bit guilty about Santa Claus. I need some advice on how to explain it to our children one day, or maybe they will figure out by themselves?!
What makes you feel better when you’re sick?
Last time when I felt sick, my 6 year old daughter came to my bed and hugged me gently, rubbing my head and asking me “Are you ok?” with such a pure and sincere face- I felt so much love. My daughter and I switched positions at that moment, and she was taking care of me. I felt so warm inside. Also, I can’t forget about our VpR Vaporizing Rub, honey(from our backyard bees) and lemon, Umeboshi congee and miso soup too. (Our tips and tricks to feel better, including TheraWise’s VpR Rub, in our Get Well, Stay Well Guide).
You claim your children’s toothbrush doesn’t require toothpaste (sounds reckless!). Why not?
Our Thera Wise Crystal Animals Children’s toothbrushes have a natural mineral (that’s only found in south Japan) and hydroxyapatite in the bristles, which creates negative ions and an anti-bacterial effect, and it helps to improve plaque removal and eliminate food build up.
You can definitely use our toothbrushes every day. There’s no need to switch it up and use toothpaste every now and then, but if you do feel that using toothpaste refreshes your own/your baby’s mouth, you can put some on our toothbrushes too.
As a Canadian company, do you like to do business in Canada or elsewhere?
We are proud to be a Canadian company. It’s our home and where we would like to continue to dedicate our efforts.
It was our initial goal to challenge the OTC (over the counter) market in pharmacy in Canada. We wanted to give consumers another choice, when for over last 50 years it’s been mostly petroleum based products on the store shelves.
We didn’t want to be just another “Natural” product, because as I mentioned earlier, products in this category don’t usually meet our standards. When the NHP (Natural Health Product Licence) was introduced by Health Canada, we went through the application process, and we now have a licence to be on pharmacy shelves.
To obtain this licence was quite lengthy process to prove the efficacy and safety of our products. And it required us to do extensive chemical testing for each raw material, and finished product for production. However, we are concerned NHP is creating a situation which prevents some other great products (especially from outside of Canada) from appearing on store shelves because of the lengthy process, or because some of the ingredient don’t have the scientific evidence (even though they’ve been used for many years in other cultures).
I think we as consumers, need to keep raising our voices so that we can choose products not by authority or manufacturer. We feel fortunate to work with great retailers, not only pharmacies, but also health food stores, boutiques and online stores too.
Your dream business goal is…
To be able to work from a tropical island during the winter months. (Seriously! We hope to see you there!)