This Woman-Owned Hudson Valley Beauty Brand Is Powered by Plants
After making their mark at luxury brands like Burberry and Ralph Lauren, Bronty Beauty founders craft eco-friendly facial tonics in Columbia County.
Photo by Rebecca O'Donnell
It’s rule number one at Bronty Beauty, and it’s a good one. After all, who wants to put “nasty” chemicals and additives on their face?
“There are so many shortcuts and chemicals that are hidden in beauty products,” observes co-founder Rebecca O’Donnell, who’s originally from Sydney, Australia. “We feel it is essential to know exactly what is in the products that you use.”
O’Donnell would know all about top quality beauty. Over the course of her career, the industry guru has led the way at some of the nation’s leading lifestyle brands, serving as Senior Vice President of Brand Design at Victoria’s Secret, Design Director of Beauty at Burberry, and Creative Director at Fresh, to name only a few. Of course, she’s not the only one with a laundry list of credentials. Co-founder Susie Coulter, who was born in Cape Town, South Africa, is a girl boss in her own right, having cut her teeth as President of Victoria’s Secret Beauty and Polo Ralph Lauren, respectively.
Photo by Rebecca O'Donnell
Impressed? Yeah, we were too. That’s why we couldn’t help but wonder how these two powerhouses made their way to Stuyvesant, located just outside of Hudson in Columbia County. As O’Donnell describes it, their path to the Hudson Valley began with nothing more than a simple cup of coffee.
“I was working for Burberry in London and Susie was at Victoria’s Secret in NYC. She flew over and we had a lovely chat and a coffee and it all went from there,” she says. After relocating to the U.S. and joining the team at Victoria’s Secret, she and Coulter ultimately chose to leave the brand to start a new project together.
And thus Bronty Beauty was born. Given their longstanding backgrounds in the industry, Coulter and O’Donnell had a firm grasp on what worked – and what didn’t – in the world of beauty. They also knew what worked for themselves.
“We wanted a really easy product to take us through the day that would keep us hydrated and glowing, as we were traveling globally every month,” O’Donnell notes. “It had to be clean, green, and portable, and something we could use all day, every day and proudly share with our friends and family.”
Bronty's founders with their signature facial mists / Photo by Bronty Beauty
For two years, the women plugged away to design, test, and retest the facial tonics that define Bronty. They placed priority on wild harvested Australian active ingredients, which they chose for their hydrating, restorative, anti-aging, and protective properties. As O’Donnell explains, the actives are processed via cellular extraction, which harvests nutrients through water while the plants are still alive to capture the most potent essences.
Forgoing powerful chemical additives, the women opted for low molecular hyaluronic acid to moisturize and soothe. They threw in aloe vera, a vitamin-rich humectant, and wild harvested Australian Kakadu plum, an antioxidant packed with vitamin C, to seal the deal. The results of their efforts are six supercharged facial mists that treat different needs, moods, and times of day. For early mornings, “Refresh,” a cool blend of mountain pepper leaf and coconut, is simultaneously soothing and energizing. Come midday, “Glow,” with rosella flower and Rosa damascena (Damask rose), is an optimal deskside pick-me-up. In the evening, the aptly named “Sleep” spray regenerates the skin overnight with the help of Davidson plum and lavender.
While Coulter and O’Donnell love all their sprays, they do have favorites. Coulter likes Detox for its “mega dose of greens and loves to keep it in the fridge to spray first thing” in the morning, while O’Donnell reaches for the Restore tonic, which soothes with Manuka honey, aloe, and ginger.
“We call it our hug in a bottle!” she enthuses.
Bronty Beauty made its grand debut in the Hudson Valley in May 2019 with a pop-up shop in Hudson. Currently, the tonics are available online and at Source Hudson, which is set to open at 608 Warren Street in September. In the future, Bronty hopes to make hyperlocal products to sell in the upcoming Columbia County space as well.