Soft and smooth Serena Sirena’s natural, vegan skincare products Story and photos by Lee Ann Jastillana
Acne can easily drain one’s self-confidence. Maria Hendricks, founder and owner of skincare company Serena Sirena, struggled with her sensitive, acne-prone skin for years, covering breakouts with makeup and trying expensive skincare regimens. She started making natural soap bars for her daughter who had eczema, and after research about the chemical ingredients that comprise many skincare lines, began making products for herself. Her skin found the relief it sought, and Hendricks hasn’t looked back since.
amed after Hendricks’ daughter, Serena Sirena carries a variety of skincare products including facial cleansers, toners, mists, facial oils, serums, masks, lip balms and bar soaps. The Guam-based company began in 2016, but Hendricks says she’s started to focus on her social media marketing and online presence just this past year. “I’ve always wanted to start something of my own,” she says. “It’s lots of research and looking into what ingredients are effective and the difference in issues.” All products are made in small batches to ensure customers receive them fresh. Hendricks uses only plant-based, natural ingredients and provides a complete list of everything she uses on her website. To her, it’s important that people are able to pronounce and recognize the ingredients they put on their skin. The different combinations of natural ingredients set Hendricks’ brand apart from others. She also makes it a point to pack in as much nutrients and skin benefits she can into one product so her customers get their money’s worth. “Other businesses are putting fillers — the first ingredient is water and everything else is in small amounts, and I really try to avoid doing that,” she says. “If someone is paying for something, then it should be something that isn’t just fancy water.” Hendricks works from home, spending at least three hours a day designing and making products depending on the amount of orders she receives. She says she’s very meticulous about her process, maintaining a clean work space, sterilizing her utensils and testing products on herself and her family before putting them out for sale. If she gets a single breakout from a product she’s testing, she does not sell it. “My bathroom is literally filled with products that didn’t make the cut,” Hendricks says. “I’ll still try to use them — they still have
great ingredients — but I’m not going to sell them to anybody.” Although her products can be used on every skin type, they are generally created for people with oily, acne-prone skin like hers. She says that often, those are the people in search of better skincare alternatives. She recalls the damage acne used to do to her self-confidence and encourages people struggling with it to keep their routine simple and ensure the products they use are compatible with their skin type. Hendricks’ products can be bought online through Etsy and the Serena Sirena website or in-store at the Guam Art Boutique in Hagåtña. She says she’d like to keep the business small to distribute freshly made products but is interested in potential collaborations with other businesses. In the future she looks forward to adding new products to her line of skincare. She says she’s constantly coming up with new recipe ideas and definitely tries to cater to her customers’ requests and suggestions. Hendricks plans on introducing deodorant, hair products, tinted lip balms and different makeup items to her brand. She’s also looking to create a subscription program in the future where people who consistently buy a product receive a discount. “I want people to enjoy the products,” she says. “I’m not trying to make a lot of money; I just want to make enough money to continue.” Eventually, she hopes the products can become staples in people’s skincare routine. So far, she’s gotten good feedback from customers which has motivated her to keep doing what she loves. “I like giving people something that they can use that’s effective and safe,” Hendricks says. “I’m glad to have made this option for myself, for my family and for others.”
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