In 1998, Miri Torres was 16 years old. Instead of experiencing the normal life of a teenager – going to parties and hanging out with friends, she was diagnosed with stage 4B Hodgkins Lymphoma disease and spent most of her time surrounded by the walls of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel. But it was Miri's discovery of the healing effects of the Dead Sea and the doctor who diagnosed her with cancer that inspired her to start Arianna Skincare.
As Miri was finishing high school, she found herself in what she describes as a crisis. The lasting effects that chemotherapy had on Miri's body were a lot for your average teenager to handle, but rather than succumbing to her ailments, Miri decided to turn her life around. "I had this crisis, I gained like 60 pounds, I had all of these scars, [but] I said to myself 'if you're going to get better and get healthy, your mission is to always be the best version of yourself and never feel this bad again.'" So as soon as she finished chemotherapy and her doctors told her she was healthy, she revolved her life around a healthy lifestyle – fully immersing herself in fitness and cosmetics. Miri was born and raised in Israel and would make frequent trips to the Dead Sea throughout her childhood, but it was during her post-chemotherapy journey to a healthy lifestyle that she discovered the healing benefits the Dead Sea had on her own skin – knowledge that she would later turn into a skincare line. According to Miri, the quantity of salt in the sea is so high that it is basically renewing your skin and ridding it of all the bacteria. While she couldn't go to the sea as often as she would've liked while she was recovering from chemotherapy, when she did go she saw the difference in her skin almost instantly – the eczema and tiny stretch mark scars that were a result of her chemotherapy, became almost nonexistent.
Upon completing high school and restoring her health, Miri joined the Israel Defense Force (I.D.F.). Typically, the I.D.F. does not typically consider people who have previously suffered life-threatening sicknesses as qualified to join the army, but Miri was determined to not only restore her health but become healthy enough to volunteer. After serving her country for two and a half years, Miri moved to the United States, settled in Boston and decided that starting Arianna Skincare was what she wanted to do.
Having learned what the components of the Dead Sea did for her own skin, Miri launched her first product and best seller, the Ultra Exfoliating Body Treatment
. To create the salt scrub, Miri sought after TDOT Industries to produce her products, the largest cosmetic manufacturer in Israel and maker of products that contain the essence of the Dead Sea. For creating this first product, Miri explains that she used crystals and raw salt from the Dead Sea and combined them with water from the sea, avocado oils and natural fragrances, and boxed it up for the customer. Then came the opening of the first Arianna Skincare store in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Arianna Skincare is named after the doctor who diagnosed Miri with cancer back in her teen years, a decision Miri made to show her appreciation for her doctor's work. "I went to the highest stage, [there are] four stages and then A and B and I got to 4B, and I was so lucky to meet the doctor who knew how to make the right move and the right treatment. I owe her so much and so when I launched [Arianna Skincare] I thought that would be the best way to show my appreciation."
Miri's entire journey with Arianna Skincare has been self-funded, never taking an investor – something that Miri claims was made possible by simply doing the right thing. "When we opened the first store, it was a very small pop-up. I was working as a waiter and saving my money. It was an investment of $10,000. It was so successful then I engaged my current business partner and we took off together, literally by ourselves, we never used funding. It was a lot of doing the right things that really worked well."
Among the various decisions that seemed to work really well? Staying strictly direct to consumer brand that allowed for building strong relationships with the Arianna Skincare customer. After opening the Martha Vineyards store, Miri received an overwhelming amount of positive customer feedback that would go on to prove how successful the line would become. "We saw a lot of people liked the product, and it was inspiring a lot of people so I started getting a lot of phone calls. Since I'm coming from a wellness field, I learned a little bit about nutrition and also personal training.
I started coaching people who felt very insecure about their body and looks. I know there are a lot of people that if it's a hard time in life, it's very hard for people to put themselves together and go on the right track. So the entire idea for Arianna skincare – even customers coming into the store and speaking to our sales representative – it's not just about buying a serum, it's to change your vision and love yourself and treat your body the way you should treat it. This is my personal idea that I'm trying to deliver out there."
Fast forward six years, and Miri now lives in Brooklyn, New York, where Arianna Skincare is headquartered. It has two main collections: the Spa Collection that targets the body, The Elite Collection which contains luxury anti-aging products for the face, a men's collection, and six freestanding Arianna Skincare stores. Miri will be honored as a cancer survivor at the Annual Taste of Hope event
on May 9th in New York City. The Taste of Hope Event is the American Cancer Society's signature culinary, wine and spirits event that is held to raise money in the fight against cancer. Each year, the American Cancer Society chooses to honor two people: a Culinary Honoree and a Cancer Survivor. This year, when being honored as the Cancer Survivor, Miri plans to show her appreciation for the honor by continuing to help sick people and empower women.
"Everyone feels like they're in a dark spot in their life. [So] when they told me they were honoring me, I said 'Miri, you have a stage to put this idea out there'."
As far as the future is concerned, Miri shows no signs of slowing down: in 2019, she will introduce a new collection; the Mother Pearl collection, which will use pearl dust to combat discoloration and skin pigmentation issues. In addition to a new collection, Miri hopes to expand her philanthropic efforts with plans to introduce Arianna Pink, a project that will donate 20 percent of all online sales to the American Cancer Society.
The Quick 10
1. What app do you use the most?
2. Briefly describe your morning routine.
Wash my face with a gentle cleanser, apply moisturizer and sunscreen, and drink 2 glasses of water with lemon. I keep it very simple and productive.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of Alex and Ani.
4. What product do you wish you had invented?
The cure for stretch marks (cream or laser).
5. What is your spirit animal?
6. What is your life motto?
Be the best version of yourself.
7. Name your favorite work day snack.
Nature valley - almond snack.
8. Every entrepreneur must be what to be successful?
9. What's the most inspiring place you've traveled to?
Western Wall, Jerusalem.
10. Desert Island. Three things, go.
Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the views. and get some vitamin D.
This article was first published 8/17