A Chat With Shannon Davenport, Founder of Esker Beauty

Shannon Davenport wanted to create a brand with integrity and honesty as its cornerstones, and to make clean, safe products that nourish the body and elevate the way we care for it. As she discovered the benefits of plant-based beauty and bodycare, she fell in love. 

Esker was born right around the same time as Shannon’s little one.

Shannon introduced the line with three custom-crafted body oil formulas aimed to celebrate the diversity and power of plant oils, and to function as a necessary step in any body care ritual. She pulled from a versatile range of botanicals to create a restorative, clarifying, and firming oil, each one carefully formulated with responsibly-sourced ingredients to nourish skin from head to toe. By leveraging high quality, natural formulations that are beneficial to the skin, Esker aims to transform simple body care routines into meditative rituals that heal, restore, and hydrate skin.

First thing first, talk us trough your personal journey. How did you get into the beauty industry and what led you to launch your beauty and wellness brand?
I’m a native Californian but I felt a real itch to get out and see the rest of the world. After college in Southern California I was dying to go East so I moved to New York City to pursue my dream of becoming a trend forecaster. During my career I helped major corporate brands shape their strategies but after a decade of working as a consultant for huge brands in beauty, fashion and wellness, the job felt really strenuous and I found myself feeling very burnt out from traveling. I always loved natural the world of beauty and felt like I needed an outlet to take a break from my laptop and learn about something different. So I enrolled at a school in the East Village called the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies and got certified, and that was an incredible experience. I was so inspired by the world of plants and skincare that I knew I wanted to craft a really special product line around bodycare a way I hadn’t seen before. Plus after years of stressful work travel the world of rituals and skincare and natural beauty finally made me feel a true sense of calm. No matter how stressful my day was I knew that I could always come back to a warm, soothing bath at the end of the day which made me even more passionate about starting this brand as a way to help women connect with their own bodies.
The term “clean” or “green” beauty is very popular at the moment, yet often used loosely in the beauty-sphere. What does it really mean to you to as a brand founder?
We aim to celebrate the diversity and power of plants, first and foremost. To us clean means formulating with  organic whenever possible, using sustainably and ethically produced and farmed ingredients, using minimal and gentle preservatives where necessary and manufacturing in small batches to minimize our carbon footprint.
Tell us about your ingredients: do you have any favorites to formulate with? What makes them so effective?
Yes! I’m super proud that we formulate with some very interesting ingredients. Our Calendula Hand Cleanser is formulated with clove, palo santo, litsea and helichrysum essential oils, all of which are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. The hand cleanser also has real calendula petals in the bottle which add a bit of soothing properties to the formula.  My other favorite ingredient we use is carrot seed CO2. Carrot seed is an unbelievably powerful skincare ingredient, it’s chock full of vitamin A and antioxidants. When it’s steam distilled it smells a bit overly earthy and pungent but when CO2 extracted the aroma is smoky and lush. Its a very rare ingredient and I love it so much!
Do you have a blacklist of ingredients you strictly avoid in your formulas?
Anything irritating, harsh or drying (parabens, sulfates, phlathates). We also avoid any packaging materials that aren’t readily recyclable (we use PET, HDPE, glass and cardboard only.)
Pregnancy is a big topic when thinking about your expertise and also Esker beauty. Could you please share with us your best advice?
With pregnancy comes a whole lot of transition physically, mentally, and emotionally, I had fairly uncomfortable pregnancies with both of my daughters. As someone who dealt with a lot of nausea, sleeplessness and mood swings I designed our Belly Oils knowing that the senses are in constant flux and your body and mood are ever changing. I lightened the aromas of both botanical oils for a cleaner and more delicate scent as women who are pregnant tend to have stronger sensory reactions. The best thing I did for myself while I was pregnant was take little catnaps here and there without feeling guilty about it!
And speaking about body care while expecting: could you please share with us a recommended routine?
While pregnant I recommend using a dry brush on legs and arms before the bath or shower to stimulate the lymphatic system and help with swelling and stagnation. After taking a tub (making sure it’s not too hot) I would follow up with an oil all over the body, especially around the thighs, butt, bump, breasts and hips. When you’re pregnant you’re often looking forward to winding down or trying to summon energy so lavender is a great choice for evenings while something stimulating like ginger or lemongrass is a good option for the daytime or to help combat nausea.
What does self-care mean to you?
To me self-care is super simple. It’s making a moment for yourself no matter how crazy or busy or stressed or depressed you might feel. For me its running a bath after I put my kids to bed and listening to podcasts in the tub. Lately I’ve also been doing nail wraps at home which makes me feel really good too. It’s the little things we do for our bodies that make all the difference in the world.
What is your favorite way to pamper yourself?
I love having nice sheets and towels. We recently got Matteo linen sheets which are made in LA which I love, and we have some great towels and robes from Coyuchi which is a beautiful sustainable brand. They were splurges but they make climbing into bed feel like such a luxury.
Three beauty products that you always have in your handbag?
Lip balm and SPF.
You’re in a gorgeous spa, what treatment do you ask for?
I love facial massage and gua sha. I’ve also recently been dying for an eyebrow tint and lash extensions!
Your favorite holistic destination?
I love Maui, especially the area of Hana which is really quiet and much less developed than the rest of the island. A long super windy road called the Road to Hana takes you there and there are so many incredible little gems of natural beauty along the way. There’s a special grove off the road of eucalyptus trees that have rainbow colored bark, all of these hues or orange, green, light pink and yellows. It’s completely otherworldly.
First thing in the morning?
I have a baby and a toddler so definitely coffee!
Last thing before bed?
Water (a nursing mom’s constant companion).
Any must-hear advice that your mother or grandmother shared with you?
I come from a long line of animal lovers (my grandmother and my mom). They taught me compassion and kindness for animals and also to respect the earth and find peace in nature.
One dream you still have to accomplish?
I have so many! There are so many countries and parts of the world I’d love to see. I want to build a dream house some day (with an outdoor tub). I want to continue to grow my business and build our team.
And last but not least, what is your favorite thing about being a woman?
I’m so glad I am a woman. My relationships with my female friends mean the world to me and I’m so grateful that as women we can share our lives with each other.
Credits Ph: Esker Beauty
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