Alexandra is a serial multi-hyphenate — she is a freelance brand strategist at her studio Digital Brand Stylist, a content creator, course teacher, and the founder of ALIGN a skincare brand with the mission to simplify our skincare routines. Alex specializes in working with creative entrepreneurs on strategic positioning, social media strategies, and personal branding. Her passion project Align has been a long time coming and she thrilled to bring intentional, skincare products to market.
Tell us all about Align.
Align is setting out to simplify skincare starting with a hero all-purpose skin oil—made for all skin tones and genders. In an effort to achieve “the natural look,” our regimens have become anything but natural. Endless products. Dozens of ingredients. Too much time. It’s no wonder most men tend to stick with soap and water.
We’re stripping it down with an all-purpose oil (without the oily finish). It nourishes, hydrates, and soothes, with all-natural (or certified organic) ingredients individually sourced for their specific superpower.
I felt that skincare is very segregated — it's either very feminine pink bottles or clearly very masculine or you only see 1 type of skin colo using it on Instagram, I didn't feel that there was an in-between for those who want a simple, beautiful, effective skincare routine.
It also stemmed from the idea that our routines don't need to be 10 steps long, but 2 or 3, and the oil can replace many of those unused bottles on your beauty shelf. Moisturizers and lotions can have lots of harmful and toxic ingredients, rather the oil is 5 ingredients that all serve a purpose. The oil also has MANY uses from an overnight facemask, mixed with your foundation for a flawless application, all over your body, beard oil, hair oil, post sunbathing, etc.
How did you figure out how to bring your idea to life?
I've been brewing on ALIGN for years — as a marketer and branding nerd, I knew very clearly what I wanted this brand to be and be positioned as. I finally took the leap to bring it to life in March 2020, when the pandemic hit, I felt like I needed a hands-on project. So the first thing I did was find a designer I could collaborate with and who just got my vision from the start, I'm such a visual person I needed to get that ball rolling. I also hired Carolyn :) to take all of my thoughts and turn it into brand copy and that was SO helpful to refine my vision. I did ALOT of googling honestly and I love reading/listening to biographies and interviews of successful entrepreneurs so I picked up lots of little tips from those. Honestly, since day 1 ALIGN has been an intentional and "organic" (as much as that word is overused) project, I took my time finding the bottle and curating the ingredients, refining the design, it all naturally came to life.
How do you source your ingredients?
My mom and I have had THE OIL formula for years and had been using it religiously, we would go through a bottle a month. That's when my wheels started turning and I had the idea to market it, so I knew exactly what ingredients I was looking for and had high standards for the bottle and packaging quality.
Besides that, Google is my best friend, but seriously, I found everything on Google. Once Freelance friends starting hearing about my project, they would connect me with people who knew about the manufacturing or production phase. My designer put me in touch with a paper company in NYC who was able to find me a sustainable, recycled paper for all the packaging. I found recycled glass bottles & certified organic oils through different manufacturers. It was a lot of trial and error as well, I probably tested no joke, 30 bottles because I wanted to have the best user experience with how it felt in the hand and worked.
Tell us about your freelance work.
I am a serial multi-hyphenate — I offer brand strategy, day rates for brand design, Squarespace design, content planning, I'm a social media manager/strategist, online course teacher through my course Brand Camp, and I also offer content creation and photoshoot styling/art direction. I love being a freelancer because I can offer all of these things — working in the corporate world was my worst nightmare I felt so trapped and bored. Now, I can have a new project using a different set of skills every day. I've tried to niche down who I work with and what industries, and I've found I work best with creative entrepreneurs, people like me hustling, putting themselves out there and running multiple businesses, and building digital brands, that's what I geek out about.
How do you manage to own multiple businesses?
It's tough — I feel like my brain is needed in 5 different places at once and I really don't work well like that. I am very strict with my time blocking and how others take my time. I never used to be like that until one day I realized how burnt out I was from taking client calls, it's so draining and then I had no energy or brainpower left to do my own work, I had given it away. I know I'm a digital marketer, but I truly hate sitting behind a screen all day, and when running multiple businesses that are often the reality so I ensure I block time off for walks, coffee, friend dates, or creative Fridays to spend time doing what I love and what fuels my creativity.
How would you describe your creative process?
I like to work in creative sprints, one project at a time, without distractions. I consider myself a visionary and I'm an Advocate INFJ personality type, which means I need to have a "why" behind the work I do and I want to know that my work helps people. I like to spend a good amount of time brainstorming and planning my ideas or strategies in my mind and then when I feel energized or hyper-focused that's when I sit down on my computer and work it out into something tangible. I'll sit on it again for a day and then edit once or twice, I'm not *really* a perfectionist, I'll definitely mull over details, but at the end of the day, I like to put things into action.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I crave inspiration every day — I aspire to make living itself an art and obsess about surround myself by beauty. Often throughout the day, it's a simple as sunlight reflections off a glass vase that inspire me, or Pinterest, magazines, architecture, Instagram, my creative friends, and our conversations about business and freelance life.
What impact (if any) does your Side Hustle have on your freelance client work?
I treat Align like a client, I built a strategy, business plan, styled photoshoots, built the website, and so much more. It's helped in that it's kinda like a case study for me of "look what I can do" I love when my work can speak for itself. It's also so sweet to see how supportive my clients are, they are all women entrepreneurs with product brands, so they have 100% been where I am and are excited about the possibilities.
Favorite place to travel?
Usually Europe, but since I haven't been able to travel there in over a year my favorite place to travel is Nantucket. There is something so pure and serene about it, there are so many beaches and hidden gems, you can bike everywhere and find peace & quiet, I constantly crave that. Nantucket was actually a huge inspiration when creating align, I wanted to bottle up that feeling of post-sun and salt water dip for your skin.
Any advice for aspiring Side Hustlers?
Just start — seriously. Don't let doubt hold you back or that feeling of "there isn't space for me" or "this product/service is already out there", no stop that. Each of us has something unique to offer the world and with every product or service, we each put our unique spin on it. So do it, just start, consider this your sign.
Anything else you'd like to share?
If you're a freelancer and have a service to offer or want to work with Align DM me! I want to support freelancers as much as I can and I'm always looking for talent.