Buzzworthy Business: Veriphy Skincare
A new Canadian brand is marrying the female-dominated world of skincare and the male-dominated world of STEM
In November 2017, Veriphy Skincare launched its first line of skincare products containing PhytoSpherix™ (phytoglycogen), a breakthrough ingredient extracted from plants that demonstrated astounding clinical results. PhytoSpherix™ was discovered through research at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. According to clinical studies conducted by the university, topically applying phytoglycogen to the skin boosted hydration, improved signs of aging and revealed healthier skin overall.
“The people that took part in the studies kept asking for more, so I thought at that point, ‘Wow I would love to take this to market’ and so that’s what we did,” said Alison Crumblehulme, Founder and President of Veriphy Skincare.
Glycogen stores energy and is naturally found in our bodies. Before this scientific breakthrough, some skincare brands have used glycogen in their products. However, glycogen is traditionally extracted from animals, such as shellfish, meaning the ingredients are not vegan and are less natural.
Veriphy Skincare takes pride in being 98% natural and 100% cruelty-free, so much so that the brand’s name exemplifies just that. “Ver” comes from the French word for green (vert) and “phy” is of Greek origin, meaning “from nature”. It is also no coincidence that the name is pronounced exactly like the word “verify”. This wordplay was meant to illustrate the brand’s dedication to scientific verification, as they back up all their claims with scientific research.
Founded and led by a group of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, Veriphy Skincare deserves to be crowned this issue’s “Buzzworthy Business” because of their support for women in these male-dominated fields. For instance, the Canadian luxury skincare brand offers a $1000 scholarship called, The Veriphy Skincare Award for Women in STEM, which is awarded to any female student entering a STEM field at the University of Guelph, where the brand’s key ingredient was discovered.
Jessica Kizovski, lead formulator at Veriphy Skincare, studied Math and Biology at the University of Toronto. She is familiar with the sexism that occurs in STEM fields.
“One specific time that comes to mind is when I attended a tutorial and I was asked if I was sure if this was the right class for me because it was a math class,” Kizovski said. “It’s difficult for women to really persevere when they’re greeted with that kind of attitude.”
According to Statistics Canada, only 13.7% of civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers and 23.1% of computer and information systems professionals are women. Veriphy Skincare acknowledges the fact that women are still underrepresented in STEM fields.
“That’s why we put together this scholarship: to empower and support women who want to enter STEM,” Kizovski said. “Women should not feel marginalized or discouraged to pursue what they want just because of their gender or sex.”
Statistics Canada also states that although female high school students excel in maths and sciences, very few of them actually pursue a career in STEM.
Similar to Kizovski, Crumblehulme has felt marginalized in the industry because she is a woman. “I attended a lot of industry events and I was often one of the only women in the room. Not that the men ever did anything wrong, but you can just imagine how intimidating it could be,” Crumblehulme said.
When asked about the importance of empowering women in these fields, Crumblehulme said, “It would just be fantastic to get the best out of those bright minds because there’s always more to be discovered.”
Another unique thing about Veriphy Skincare is their campaign, which features influential women in STEM as their brand ambassadors. One of those women is Dr. Leila Jowkarderis, a process engineer at Mirexus Inc. in Guelph, the natural biomaterials company that has patented rights to PhytoSpherix™. Jowkarderis has won multiple awards in her field and was invited to delegate the Canadian students at The Marcus Wallenberg Prize ceremony in Sweden, which has been dubbed as the “Nobel Prize for Forestry”.
Like Crumblehulme and Kizovski, Jowkarderis is familiar with the way in which women are treated in STEM fields. “It may not be intentional that women are treated differently than men, but the general feeling of many women in engineering is that their work does not get the same attention as that of a male colleague,” Jowkarderis said.
Jowkarderis shared an interesting analogy that she found on social media as to why the gender inequality and underrepresentation of women in STEM are not just women’s issues. “Having a murderer in the court is not a problem for the dead people only. It’s everyone’s problem,” Jowkarderis said. “Just because women are the ones targeted by this type of inequality doesn’t mean they should be the only ones trying to solve the problem.”