Intellinesse offers a noninvasive alternative to Botox, allowing customers to feel their best without the anxiety of a needle. Entrepreneur Lara Kinslow discusses how she utilized business rewards cards to launch her regenerative products.
Lara Kinslow is a 40-year-old mother, wife and co-creator of Intellinesse. While she proudly lives a full, active life and loves the outdoors, the sun exposure resulted in unwanted facial lines.
“Despite a great skin care routine, in my late 30s, I started noticing wrinkles between my brows, around my mouth and sleep lines that went over my cheekbones,” says Kinslow.
“Despite my best efforts, the visible signs of aging were not going away. I was really disheartened that most of the ‘advice’ for women my age was primarily focused on Botox and injectables. This got me thinking that there has to be an alternative way to reverse lines. I knew I wasn’t the only woman out there who wanted a more natural way to address wrinkles!”
With that in mind, Kinslow and her husband spent two years researching, designing and creating prototypes of a product that would mimic Botox by temporarily paralyzing the facial muscles – without the invasive procedure. Once they finally had the perfect product, and located U.S.-based materials and a manufacturer, Intellinesse finally launched in April 2019.
“We are still in the startup phase, and are so incredibly excited to offer women (and men!) a product that is surgical grade, safe, gentle, clean, affordable and effective,” says Kinslow. “I hope that using this product helps more people be able to achieve great skin and reverse the visible signs of aging.”
Here is Kinslow’s path so far, and how a couple of credit cards have helped her get to this point.
See related: Dapper duds and a business card to match
Let’s go back a few years – what was your start like?
In the beginning, we sacrificed family vacations and worked long hours, and just saved money. We saved everything we could and sat around the kitchen table researching and testing materials at night.
We figured there are three ways to get a startup going: debt, equity, or good old-fashioned bootstrapping. And we wanted the freedom to run Intellinesse our way, without having the additional stress of owing other entities. We used cash, credit cards and the cards’ rewards to get the most bang for our buck.
We had some unexpected expenses to deal with. The packaging was definitely a surprise cost and kept the project on hold a bit longer than we wanted. We placed a huge amount of importance on it since it would serve as a first impression – it needed to have strong branding while being functional!
I understand you’ve been using credit cards to get the business off the ground. Which, why and how?
We did, and still are. We paid for parts of our initial run of product and packaging through our credit cards, in order to maximize our savings with cash back rewards, and plan on using them for our advertising / social media costs moving forward.There are a few cards we use. We chose the American Express Business SimplyCash Plus Card [now the American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card] because we felt we would maximize the rewards.
It [used to] offer 5 percent cash back on telecommunications/office charges and 3 percent back on shipping costs. Shipping is one of the largest expenses we have, so this was a major selling point.
[With the update,] we [now] get 2 percent cash back on [up to $50,000 in purchases], so we just have all of our monthly bills added on to that card so they’re easily manageable. If we did more traveling, we would have chosen a different card but being that the bulk of our business is done online, American Express made the most sense for us.
However, we do drive all over Arizona to meet with other beauty and skin care related professionals. So we use a Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi for our gas.
How do you handle the financial aspects – are you usually leveraged or do you remain debt-free?
Currently, we are debt-free. Our aim is to grow steadily and organically – without debt – for as long as we can. But, if a great deal presents itself, we’re not opposed to the idea of adapting to a different financial structure.
Any unique expenses go into running a skin care business?
Ironically, through meeting lots of wonderful aestheticians, dermatologists and others in the skin care field, I’ve adopted a more well-rounded skin care regimen.
I knew I wanted to start this company, but I hadn’t taken into consideration that I would be (quite literally) the face of the company. Photoshoots, outfits and skin and hair maintenance were all unforeseen expenses. I don’t mind these as much, though!
What are your future plans?
I wish I would have started this business five years ago! Right now, we’re just gaining exposure and planning the release of several other products within the next year or two.
We haven’t really decided whether to operate strictly on our own with a simple direct-to-customer operation, or if we want to approach larger retailers once we have a full line.
What is your advice to other business owners who are just starting out?
With how quickly things are moving in technology and communications, I would say the most important thing to do with a small business is to slow down.
Grow organically, create real, authentic relationships and just be mindful that too much growth can be detrimental in a business environment. Patience will be rewarded!
As far as credit is concerned, I’ve learned that as long as you make your payments like clockwork, they can be a great tool. You can really get a leg up as a small business with their help. The rewards and cash back are a huge plus for us!