This past August, Naturopathica named Cathy O’Brien its new CEO, a beauty veteran with more than 25 years of experience in building businesses and identifying and launching emerging talent. Cathy is a co-founder of Bona Fide Beauty Lab, a beauty brand accelerator that works with brands at all stages of development. Prior to Bona Fide, Cathy founded AAM Brand Management Group, an organization that builds and executes branding and marketing strategies for female-focused clients, including LVMH Brands, Hermès, The Kellwood Company, Marimekko, Sam Edelman, Avon, Juice Press, Penhaligon’s, and HINT, among others. Cathy has also held senior positions at Estée Lauder (where she was Global Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Jo Malone), La Mer, Tommy Hilfiger, Prescriptives, and Kate Spade. Before entering the beauty world, Cathy was a leader in music and entertainment at BMG, where she was head of the International Division of Arista Records under Clive Davis, representing Whitney Houston, Puffy Combs, Usher, Outkast, Notorious BIG, Pink, and others. She also worked at Sony Music and Capitol Records in global marketing and creative leadership roles.
Here, we caught up with Cathy about what brought her to Naturopathica, and her plan to build the brand in today’s wellness-focused world.
Beauty News: You have such a rich corporate and brand background. What attracted you to Naturopathica?
Cathy O’Brien: Naturopathica has always been a love and a resource for me. I believe in and practice, as best as possible (but not perfectly) an informed approach to my own wellness. I strive to be thoughtful about what I ingest, without being rigid. I work on moving my body every day and I go through cycles of different levels of fitness. But I’m always moving and stretching—no matter what. I believe in meditation—even if it’s for five minutes a day—to ground my head and energy for the day. It really helps. I know that ingredients in all products matter. I’ve always been conscious of their impact through what we inhale and what we put on our bodies topically. Toxins are everywhere and the increased rates of illnesses show that, which has been a concern of mine for as long as I can remember.
The foundation and essence of Naturopathica is a complete approach to the awareness and practice of how to tend and care for yourself. Every day, in small, manageable practices—in feel good, and smell good ways. Physical and emotional care and health are linked. The rituals embraced by Naturopathica support and help emotional wellbeing every day, empowering people with bite-sized tools of their own.
BN: What is Naturopathica’s point of difference?
CO: Naturopathica offers an inside-out opportunity. It’s a practice—and a way of being. A collection of choices and rituals that provide a strong, healthy, physical, and emotional basis for living.
BN: What has been the brand’s growth journey to date?
CO: Naturopathica is beloved by anyone who has known it over the years—in large part because of its founder, Barbara Close, who introduced the idea of holistic wellness and clean beauty before anyone was talking about it. Naturopathica’s first Holistic Healing Arts Center was established in 1995 in East Hampton, New York and remains there today, offering tinctures and teas, aromatherapeutic rituals and remedies, meditation, sound baths, facials, and therapeutic massages. Skin care products made with botanicals and clinically supported ingredients were created then, and remain today having evolved over time, to continue delivering the highest quality found anywhere in clean beauty.
The methods developed in Naturopathica’s Healing Arts Center have been shared with high-end spas and are offered to guests in those spaces. Practitioners are taught by Naturopathica teachers to share its message and employ its nurturing techniques. As the pandemic kept people at home these past years, Naturopathica extended the at-home practice of WellCare online, continuing to educate and empower people on their own journey for personal wellness. Now, with our world living together again communally, Naturopathica continues to grow and expand its reach through high-end spas, to share the message and ritual practices of self-strengthening and holistic care.
BN: What are Naturopathica’s immediate and long-term growth opportunities?
CO: Naturopathica will continue its path of education and empowerment through our Healing Arts Centers in New York, in nurturing and expanding our partnerships with our forward-thinking spa partners, and through the evolution of an interactive website. People need and want to know how to stay well and to feel good. It is our responsibility and our purpose to teach and provide choices for them to do so.
BN: How does a wellness brand embrace social media?
CO: We love social media because it brings to life the expression of the feelings that you get when you practice Naturopathica rituals or have one of our treatment experiences. It gives the ability for anyone to share their own practices—and the results—that they feel from personal rituals with other people—which spreads our word of emotional and physical strengthening beyond the actual spa/healing arts center. This is a very important part of our messaging because it’s personal, and experiential—which is what all of our treatments and rituals are.
We work closely with people, and will continue to do so, in their efforts to spread the word though social media—inviting them to our Healing Arts Centers as individuals and as groups, as well as hearing shared experiences from our spa partners.
By Amber Katz