When Gregory Starkman and Judie Maginn decided to create an organic beauty company, they drew on more than 40 years of combined experience in the hair-care industry along with a passion for developing safer, toxin-free products.

The result is Innersense Organic Beauty, an 18-month-old company dedicated to providing consumers with gentle, yet effective products for their hair and body while sharing organic philosophies and practices to live healthier lives.

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group shows that women use an average of nine personal-care products each day, exposing themselves to 126 unique chemical ingredients. And 25 percent of women use 15 or more products daily.

“We were surprised by these numbers,” says Maginn. “Our goal was to formulate products that were as gentle as possible for those consumers who are seeking healthier alternatives. We strived to take out all harsh, irritating ingredients and replace them with gentle, organic ingredients — creating concentrated, yet mild formulas.”

Although the Europen Union has banned more than 1,000 ingredients, only two dozen ingredients have been banned in the United States, Maginn says. All Innersense products have been developed to comply with Europe’s stricter regulations, she says.

Check out Innersense products in CurlMart!

The founders of Innersense traveled different roads to the beauty industry. Starkman grew up with a mother and uncle who were beauty professionals. As a teenager, he got an early start filling beauty products for his mother’s cosmetic line, which she sold at her Beverly Hills Salon. Over the course of his career, he worked for hair-care companies such as Joico International, Helene Curtis and Nioxin, most recently serving as president of the Institute of Trichology.

Maginn, the oldest of eight children, grew up cutting or styling the hair of friends and relatives. After high school, she decided to attend Barber College against the wishes of her friends and family. Her success led her to get her cosmetology license and begin a career as a stylist. While working in salons, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Systems, later getting her MBA in marketing from DePaul University. She has worked at companies such as Helene Curtis, Redken and Matrix, spearheading some of the companies’ most successful product launches.

Their paths first crossed at Innovative Styling Options (ISO”> in the early 1990s, where Starkman was director of sales and Maginn was director of marketing. Even after they went on to other companies, they kept in touch through industry events.

They discussed the idea of creating an organic hair-care company on and off for years, even as their jobs took them to different cities. Then, through serendipity, they both ended up in California and decided to make their idea a reality with the help of angel investors and a dedication to their idea. They found a good lab that worked with a lot of natural and organic product companies and developed their line, officially launching Innersense last year.

The company’s name came from a wise psychologist who counseled Starkman and his wife, Joanne. As parents of a child with special needs, they worried that they wouldn’t always know what to do. The psychologist told them to “trust your inner sense.” And they did.

Innersense currently has three skin products and six for the hair. One of the company’s most popular products has been Quiet Calm Curl Control. Maginn says they saw a need for a moisturizing styling product that could naturally define curls and fight frizz.

Two new products will launch in June — a pomade and a whipped texturizer. Both products. which are enriched with certified organic olive oil, will be especially good for curls and kinks, Maginn says.

A huge growth area for Innersense is the spa industry, where much of the emphasis in the past has been on skin care rather than hair care.

“Rarely were there any good professional hair-care products that are natural and organic,” she says. “For them, it’s been a lost opportunity. A lot of women were taking their own products into the spa for their hair.”

Maginn says Innersense takes a holistic approach to the products. The founders were inspired to include a series of simple meditative self-care rituals that let the user focus on the application and benefit of each product.

“We think of our company as a consciousness and a culture,” Starkman says.

Michelle Breyer

As co-founder of, a website for curly hair she began with her business partner and friend, Gretchen Heber, Michelle Breyer helped create the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Frustrated by the lack of information on curly hair and the limited products available in the marketplace, the duo launched the site in 1998 with the help of a 14-year-old web designer. When Procter & Gamble called three years later to advertise to the® audience, Breyer knew they had indeed created a force in the industry, providing helpful information and unparalleled expertise for what was then considered a niche market.

No comments yet.