Have you found yourself in a skincare spiral? Before starting their skincare brand, Covey, co-founders Emily DiDonato and Christina Uribe were using complicated 12 step routines with enough products between them to “stock a Sephora”. After going down a Reddit rabbit hole, the supermodel and Google exec decided to create their own brand featuring three essential products; a cleanser, serum and a moisturizer all made without fragrance and all of the things you don’t want to put onto your skin ( i.e. sulfates, synthetic dyes, silicone, gluten, essential oils, phthalate).
In this interview Emily and Christina share about how they met, what sets Covey apart from other skincare brands on the market today and a peek into the process they went through before The Covey Routine was ready to revealed to skincare lovers everywhere.
First of all, how did the two of you meet?
Christina Uribe: Emily and I met through our husbands five years ago.
Emily DiDonato: We’ve been inseparable ever since I decided Christina needed to be my friend after meeting her for the first time on a double date.
As business partners and friends how do you balance running a business together and friendship?
ED: Adding ‘business partners’ to our friendship resume has been such an amazing experience. There are so many challenges when it comes to launching a business, and having each other to lean on has added another dimension to our friendship. We each have such complementary skill sets and strengths.
CU: Usually, you call a best friend after a great day, or bad day to celebrate or vent – but experiencing the wins and losses side-by-side has been an indescribable experience.
When did you first come up with the idea to co-found a skincare brand?
CU: We were on our first couples’ trip to Iceland and had both packed enough beauty products, specifically skincare, to stock a Sephora. It’s shocking that the TSA didn’t stop us.
ED: We both had invested into elaborate 12-step routines that we had spent hours and thousands of dollars into creating. As we spent the entire trip getting ready and un-ready together, we kept swapping product tips and tricks. But what kept coming up in conversation were the questions we still had about skincare and our shared frustration around these time consuming routines.
CU: Once we were home, we couldn’t stop – what we like to call – our skincare ‘spirals.’ We fell down Reddit rabbit hole after rabbit hole to find the answers to our questions. We realized that if a supermodel and Googler couldn’t figure out the answers to our questions, who could? We knew we couldn’t be alone. We went on to analyze 500,000 comments in forums like Skincare Addiction as well as skincare product reviews and found that consumers had the same questions as us: What were the most essential skincare products? Do those products work together? What order should I use them in?
ED: We decided to create the answer to these questions: The Covey Routine.
Is there a story behind the name, Covey?
ED: Covey (pronounced kuh-vee) means a flock of birds – they care for and protect each other. Christina and I see ourselves as a covey, I see my community online as my covey, and as we created this tight knit group of essential products, we realized they were a covey too.
What do you feel sets Covey apart from other skincare brands on the market?
ED: Our dedication to simplicity and compatibility. Because skincare, and beauty, have become such crowded spaces, you have to become a Reddit-certified ‘scientist’ to create a skincare routine. You end up playing product roulette using multiple brands, swapping products in and out for day and night. And even then, you may end up wreaking havoc on your skin by mixing ingredients that cause irritation when paired, or even negate each other’s benefits when combined.
Covey’s three foundational products were formulated to take the guesswork out of skincare. It’s a simple, science-backed routine that works both day and night. All three products work in harmony with each other and your skin’s natural functions. The Covey Routine is so simple that even our product names tell you what order to apply them in!
You partnered with Dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak to create the formulas for the three step routine. How long was the testing process before you decided it was time to release the products to consumers?
CU: It took three years to develop the brand you see today. We went through a dozen iterations of our formulas, had a focus group of 150 people who have been providing feedback since the conception of the brands. Dr. Russak has been by our side throughout the process, guiding us on what the most essential products were and advising us on the most modern and effective workhorse ingredients to include in each.
As someone who has dealt with fragrance allergies for years, I love that the Covey skincare products are fragrance free. Was this part of the plan from the beginning or did you decide to leave out additional fragrances during the formulation process?
ED: One of the biggest pieces of consumer feedback that kept coming up in our research was that so many products contain fragrance (even unscented ones!) and because fragrance is a known irritant, customers were experiencing aggravated skin as a result. Christina and I both have sensitive skin and had experienced this ourselves. That’s why keeping Covey as gentle, yet effective, as possible was so important to us.
But one of the most important takeaways from Dr. Russak has been that ingredients in your products may be irritating your skin, even if there isn’t an immediate visible irritation. Ingredients like fragrance can sensitize skin and over time, cause damage. We left out a long list of ingredients, including sulfates, synthetic dyes, silicone, gluten, essential oils, phthalate and fragrance so that all of Covey’s formulas are non-irritating.
Covey has been featured in notable publications such as Harpers Bazaar and Byrdie. What was the best part about seeing your products in the press for the first time?
CU: It made things truly “real”! Especially after a year like 2020, seeing Covey come to life through editorial eyes was one of the highlights of the process.
ED: It’s been so rewarding for me to be recognized as the founder of a brand, rather than the ‘face’ of a brand – and seeing that in writing for the first time was surreal.
Your moisturizer can be followed by SPF for morning routines. Do you have plans to release your own SPF product in future?
ED: Covey was created in response to a consumer need for a simple, effective skincare routine. While we can’t say much yet, all of our upcoming launches will be guided by that same approach. So tell us what you want to see from us next on Instagram @covey!