Behind every inspiring brand, there is unwavering passion. We loved working with Lissette Monzon, founder of organic skincare and aromatherapy brand Lilly Be and see the amazing dedication and heart she puts into all her products. Let’s dive right into the interview!
Hi Lissette! We're loved having you in our January 2021 box (which sold out by the way!) and are so excited you've rejoined us for our June 2021 box with your new perfume oil! Please share with us how you started Lilly Be.
Lilly Be has a long history that only until recently grew into fruition. As a teenager, my mother introduced me to my first aromatherapy kit. I quickly studied the text and began mixing concoctions and formulas for health and beauty. Upon entering University I inquired to be an Aromatherapy major. Back in the 90’s before it was a popular topic, the school told me this did not exist and redirected to a more stable career. So, I earned two Master Degrees in the field of Education and worked eleven years as an Educator and Curriculum Specialist for the Miami Dade District’s 25% lowest performing schools.
Throughout those years, I enjoyed my work, but I couldn’t shake the urge to know more about plants and oils. I took it upon myself to become a Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist because I just loved the idea and I wanted to create beauty and health products, even if it was only for family, friends, and myself. I actually secured my company Lilly Be and website, although I didn’t do anything with them for over 5 years. Lilly Be was just a dream.
"It wasn’t until having my children and experiencing the miracle of birth, while simultaneously witnessing my father battle cancer living in a hospital for 3 months, that I understood how precious life is and that I should live fully in every moment."
Going back to a 9-5 meant working only to pay for daycare. My husband and I made a decision and it was one of the best decisions we have made. I joyously became a stay at home mom. I have been raising my children for the past 5 years and loving every moment of their first years of life. I stayed home with them during the week and, in need of supplemental income, I attended farmer’s markets on the weekends. I sold my products that I had been creating for years as my hobby. You see, I didn’t know I was starting a business. To me I was simply making ends meet. But, my beautiful customers and a series of serendipitous events revealed otherwise. It was here, that Lilly Be was truly born.
After a few short months, I realized that people are in search of quality, organic beauty products and I actually know how, and have known how for years, to produce them. Every day I followed my intuition and pushed fear aside. I listened to my customers, independently studied and learned about entrepreneurship, and built my brand.
Today, we have completed a total brand refresh to truly reflect what our products do for your mind and body. Lilly Be products are not just about skincare, they inspire a state of being.
"You will notice each product name begins with “BE” as in “to be”, “becoming” and “being” who we really are. This is what connecting with nature is to me. A synergy between mind and body."
I am grateful every day to do what I love – work with organic elements from nature and bring people happiness and health all in one!
A lot of growing brands have a strong message as well as a vision from their founders which is vital to securing customer loyalty. What is your vision for Lilly Be?
This is my mission : Lilly Be is grounded in gratitude. We value the most precious parts of life i.e. family, love, friendship, being present in each moment, pushing fear aside and pursuing dreams. We look to nature as our original medicine and as a true example of what it means to simply BE.
I definitely feel we are on track and staying true to weaving gratitude and passion into every project, product or event we do.
"Part of my mission is to have organic products as part of mainstream choices. I would love to see my organic skincare and aromatherapy offered in doctor’s offices as alternative or complimentary care."
I work closely with a charity and raise funds for childhood cancer awareness. I also donate products to families who are newly diagnosed with pediatric cancer to help them manage the stress that comes with those challenging times.
Given how saturated the beauty industry is, what do you think is your brand's competitive advantage?
I am a Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist. I am also finishing an Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science. I was a teacher for over 12 years, with 3 degrees in the field. I have met and worked with so many different people. I have witnessed people from all walks of life manage various forms of stress. I’ve created personalized blends to help them with their needs.
My method of blending is synergistic to target mind and body in a holistic way. I believe other aromatherapist create beautiful blends. Each founder puts a unique part of themselves into their product. Mine is that I formulate with synergy. Many areas of need are reached with just 1 product, from our physical need to emotional and mental. We are certified cruelty free with Leaping Bunny as well.
Do you have a specific audience you look for?
My target audience is wellness seekers. They are balanced individuals (mostly women in their 40’s) who eat well, exercise, and have learned over the years that their skin is just as important as their insides. They have been thoughtfully eliminating toxins from their diet and would like to do the same with their product choice.
What do you look for specifically when sourcing ingredients for your products?
I first seek organic ingredients from suppliers who are registered cruelty-free. I also make sure that they are sourcing ingredients ethically and with fair trade.
"I do not use palm oil in any form of sourcing. I do not use Indian Mysore sandalwood or rosewood as these are both endangered."
I am always looking for new, organic ingredients to continue creating innovative products for my customers.
What do you feel has been the biggest challenge you faced when starting your brand?
I have faced so many struggles. The main struggle was when I started selling at farmer’s markets my first few years.
"Many people would ask if I planned on returning to “work” as a teacher. I kindly explained that I was working."
In fact, I was working harder than ever. Raising children during the day, making product in the evening, selling on the weekend, and trying to figure out how to grow a business! Trusting that I was on the right path was the first challenge I had to overcome. Staying true to my passion, pushing fear aside, and working through challenges with a lot of prayer, visualization, and support from my husband and family are ways that I have continued this journey for 5 years. The challenges are continuous being an indie beauty brand.
Is social media an important part of your distribution strategy?
Yes absolutely. Especially now since quarantine began. I moved my D2C from in-person events and markets to strictly online only. I have my website where I direct all my traffic to now. I use my newsletters and social media channel on Instagram to do so.
In order to replicate the relationships I normally develop with my customers at in person events, I began Instagram Live sessions on Sundays. I showcase how to use products or I bring on special guests who are experts in the wellness industry.
We'd love for our subscribers to know more about the amazing essential oil perfumes that Nourish Beauty Box will be featuring from your brand.
You will be showcasing our Bamboo essential oil perfumes, Be Refreshed and Be Energized. Our glass rollers encased in natural bamboo are also refillable by lifting the roller ball and filling with your own favorite blend of essential oils. Enjoy your keepsake bottle for years to come.
I developed each oil blend to target multiple needs. They can also be enjoyed as an all-natural perfume.
Be Refreshed combines Lavender, Lime and Bergamot in Coconut Oil and Jojoba Oil. This Caribbean blend enhances relaxation and happiness. The aroma transports the wearer to a calm, tropical vacation atmosphere. It specifically targets stress related to nervous energy as the citrus oils work so well with our nervous system. Be Refreshed also promotes a positive state of mind and relieves tension from headache.
Be Energized is my newest blend. It utilizes nature’s energy boosting ingredients of peppermint, rosemary, ginger, and grapefruit. This energizing blend awakens the mind, combats fatigue. It makes a perfect companion for travel, work, study, or any moment in need of clean, energizing aromatic bliss.
Earlier on you mentioned you donate funds to raise childhood cancer awareness. Can you tell us more about your initiative?
Yes, I support local charity Sofia’s Hope, fighting childhood cancer with hope.
I met Marta Blanco, Founder and President of Sofia’s Hope, at a local market here in Miami in 2016. She invited me to be a vendor at their Spring Trunk Show. It was there that I learned that Marta started Sofia’s Hope in honor of her daughter, Sofia who at the age of four was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Sofia endured a year of chemotherapy after which she resumed a relatively normal life. Unfortunately, the same chemo that saved her life also damaged her heart and eight years later, at the age of thirteen, Sofia passed away from heart failure.
Since then, Marta has made it her mission to fight childhood cancer with HOPE by spreading awareness and understanding of childhood cancer in our community, providing service and comfort to the children and their families, and by providing much-needed support to research the late effects of treatment, specifically in the area of pediatric cardio-oncology.
Since 2016 we have been helping Sofia’s Hope raise funds through our participation in their Trunk Shows, Holiday Bazaars, and Silent Auctions. In December 2018, I decided to make a greater impact by contributing products to their Newly Diagnosed Family Kits. I knew our Be Dreamy pillow mist and Be Sunny body balm (both pediatric-oncologist approved) could help the children and their parents with the stress and unrest of their journey and with unwanted side effects from treatment (sensitive skin) and the dry hands from over sanitizing. Both have been very well received!
"This year, we joined forces to create this custom blend, Be Hope, and are donating 50% of the proceeds during September – Childhood Cancer Awareness Month."
Lilly Be joined the fight against childhood cancer because I myself have witnessed the trials and tribulations of cancer within my own family. Although all were adults, I understand the challenges families’ face when a loved one is battling cancer. Having to endure that struggle in your own child is a fate that only those families can understand. My hope is that our products can make that struggle a little easier.
Apart from Nourish Beauty Box, where else can our customers learn more about your products?
You can visit my website or if you are local in Miami you can visit one of my partners : Grown, an all-organic restaurant, or Coconut Grove Village Market Place, the official welcome center of Coconut Grove. Both of these locations are amazing and have so much local, organic goods to offer.
Do you have any upcoming launches or news you'd like to share with us?
I will be launching a new exfoliating cleanser and summer cooling mist in 2021. They can sign up for my newsletter to stay in the loop here.
In addition to that, I'd love to offer Nourish Beauty Box subscribers a discount code. Please use NOURISH10 for 10% off their entire order here!