Nicole Snoeberger barely has time in her day to breathe. She wakes up early to take her toddler to school, then heads to MIT for her formerly full-time, now part-time, job in the licensing office, and then attends night classes at her MBA program at Boston University. It is only after class that she can dedicate time to her fledgling skin care business, Nico & Robo.
Nico & Robo formally launched in December 2018, but Snoeberger’s work in skin care started long before last year.
Snoeberger immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan to study chemistry. After earning her undergrad at Grinnell College and her Ph.D. at Yale, she expected to be in a lab laboring over academic experiments. Very quickly she became disillusioned with that dream.
“A Ph.D., a lot of the time, is very depressing,” she says. “Your theses don’t work, your hypotheses don’t work.”
Before earning her degree, she had interned with a skin care company in Taiwan and thought it might be an interesting direction to head in. The encouragement of her MBA classmates at B.U. and the entrepreneurial energy at MIT were the last pushes she needed to leave lab life for the beauty counter.
As it turns out, a Ph.D. comes in handy when you want to formulate your own skin care products.
“Chemistry provides a really good foundation of understanding these ingredients, what they’re good for and what they’re used for,” she says. “For formulations, you really need to have experience seeing and feeling something in the lab and watching how different concentrations change the consistencies.”
Snoeberger wanted to create skin care products that would make it easy for busy women to treat their skin well.
“The whole reason I started the company is because I got really busy when I became a mom,” she says. “For a while, I stopped going to my yoga classes, [and] I stopped going to the gym. I just didn’t have time. I also didn’t have time to wash my face every day. I felt so stressed out.”
Today, Snoeberger has brought her skin care products to the market, launching with the tea-infused “Firm Believer” face mask. The easy-to-use mask is large so that it covers your neck, as well as your face, and it has two sets of loops that hook over your ears to keep the mask in place. Doing so creates a lifting and firming sensation. The mask is made from a patented fabric often used for medical products — because it’s both stretchy and absorbent — which makes for the perfect balance of comfort and hydration. The mask’s serum combines three different types of tea, all of which are rich in antioxidants and provide a soothing and brightening effect. The tea comes from farmers in Taiwan, where the manufacturers are also located. “We have really strong tea culture in Taiwan,” says Snoeberger, and she wanted to support that.
It’s also important to Snoeberger that her products are environmentally friendly. She doesn’t use shrink-wrap and limits use of package printing to lower the carbon footprint during production.
Snoeberger hopes that her masks, and future products, allow busy women to pamper themselves without having to sacrifice precious time.
“Then you’ll still have your me time, and you’ll be able to treat your skin the way you should.”