Where did you grow up?
“I grew up in both Canada and Europe. I was born in a small university town, called Kitchener-Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. My father was a professor of applied mathematics and chemistry, and brought the family over to Europe for yearlong sabbaticals many times. Until I started college, I lived and attended schools in France, Holland, and Berlin. We traveled all over Europe during the summers.”
As a kid, were you always interested in science?
“When I was really young, I wanted to be a revolutionary like Eva Perón. Later, I wanted to be an archaeologist and then a brain surgeon. By high school, I fell in love with math, chemistry and physics. I assumed that I would follow in my father’s footsteps and join academia. When I was 17, I was offered an opportunity to study electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo, and I never looked back. Nothing is more rewarding than innovation, and seeing it work, especially when it can improve the human condition.”
Any memorable first experiments?
“I made many messes with experiments growing up. I was the kid who mixed any liquid I could find in the bathroom sink. I even managed to vaporize the kitchen curtains!”
What’s your proudest accomplishment as a scientist?
Providing equipment three months early to a small company making clinical trial material for a muscular dystrophy biotech drug. By cutting the delivery time to half of the industry standard, we were able to help provide a treatment to children who were rapidly degenerating and desperately needed a therapy. When parents sent us thank you letters and pictures of their kids, most of us were in the lunch room crying.”
What inspired you to jump from science into beauty?
“I had spent more than 20 years in the hardware industry, building analytical equipment and biotech production equipment with sophisticated automation. Eventually, I felt that I had “done my time,” and I still felt that my work hadn’t impacted as many people as I always dreamed it would. So I jumped ship into a completely new industry and have been learning as fast as I can ever since.”
Did any eureka moment inspire Codex Beauty?
“There was no specific eureka moment. The real motivation was my now 10-year-old son. Since he was a baby, he has always been allergic to almost all mainstream skin care products. He has an immediate reaction—redness—so I can tell if a product will work for him or not. I was constantly searching for a better moisturizer, diaper cream, wash, or sunscreen. I used to spend 50 to 75 percent of my time traveling for my previous company, so I was often stuck at airports, and I started trolling the stores for local skin care products. This is how I discovered several amazing companies from different parts of the world.”
What’s your goal with Codex Beauty?
“I think that transparency and trust are missing from the skin care industry. There is simply not enough information for people to make truly informed decisions. We would like to change that by being an ‘open book’. We also know that we will never have all of the answers: In biological systems, which are incredibly complicated, this is simply impossible—unlike a chemical reaction. However, we can do our best and share what we do know is healthy, beneficial and effective. I believe that our consumers are intelligent and motivated to learn—we simply need to be enable them to make informed decisions.”