One woman’s journey to clean up the beauty industry (No, not *that* clean)

May 12, 2022

Part 1

It’s no surprise that ClearForMe’s editorial journey starts by interviewing Sabrina Noorani, Founder & CEO.
Join us as Sabrina recounts her lightbulb moment for founding the company, the first product build, and key lessons for finding product-market fit.


A Foundation in Data

Before founding ClearForMe, I was working as a derivatives trader, interfacing directly with market makers. Every day I’d look at what was happening in the market: how performance, risk levels, and sentiment changed alongside current events.

As I created data models, I’d think about how we could tell the story behind the numbers in a user-friendly way—how we could make a more “human” version of the numbers. I’d work to creatively approach trades from multiple angles, while taking the emotional needs of buyers and sellers into account.

This balancing act and approach to problem-solving carried through to ClearForMe: I’m not only advocating for consumers and their demands for transparency, I’m considering the needs of our partners and what they require from a business standpoint.

I’m not only advocating for consumers and their demands for transparency, I’m considering the needs of our partners and what they require from a business standpoint.


The Turning Point

I knew I was making an impact at my small trading desk, but over time I began to feel a lack of fulfillment and purpose, and craved a job where I could clearly make a meaningful impact on the world around me.

During this time, the skin around my lips started to tighten, puff up, and peel—without warning or clear explanation. It happened so severely that I began to get staph infections every other week. I quickly began to research what ingredients in my beauty routine could possibly be causing these reactions. Just as quickly, I learned how overwhelming it is to navigate products’ ingredient lists. If it was so confusing and complex for me, a data analyst, how difficult was it for the average consumer?

The allergic reaction defined a problem that (I suspected) was applicable to most humans, and that desperately needed a solution.


Defining The Product

I envisioned the first iteration of ClearForMe as a consumer-facing app. [Editor’s Note: Instead, Sabrina ended up creating an enterprise-focused, B2B SaaS product, but we’ll get to that later.] It was meant to be a digital solution for the problem I was facing in my day-to-day: I couldn’t efficiently find products that contained the specific ingredients I was looking for. This became the original use case for ClearForMe’s technology.

In this hypothetical app, you could create your profile, select the ingredients you want (or don’t want), hit “Apply”, and view relevant search results. The process I envisioned was:

1. Listing exactly what I want or don’t want in my products
2. Searching a database based on that criteria
3. Receiving personalized results showing products that work for me.

Creating the database appeared to be a major opportunity, because a database containing all synonyms for each ingredient simply didn’t exist.

I started by modeling my idea in Excel, starting with the “Top 10” facial cleansers that were used nationwide. I manually copied over the ingredient lists for each product, extracted each individual ingredient as it’s own data point, and assigned synonyms to each one. The synonyms accounted for the fact that most ingredients have multiple names used widely across the industry; I wanted the model to spit out accurate search results.

Building my idea in Excel—taking the use case I had in my head and putting it on paper—was Step 1. Once I built that, I thought, “Now, how do we bring this to consumers so that they don’t have to rely on an Excel model? How can this be user-friendly?”


Stay Tuned

Watch this space for Part 2, in which Sabrina illustrates the challenges (and triumphs!) of building and selling the first iteration of ClearForMe.
In the meantime: are you curious about a specific ingredient? Don’t hesitate to send us a DM on Instagram (@clearfor_me) or Twitter (@clear4me).

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