Entrepreneur Lev Glazman, 53, is the co-founderof Fresh, a beauty brand that originated in Boston. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Glazman immigrated to Israel at the age of 10. After finishing his compulsory military service, he moved to the United States at 23, settling first in New York and then in Boston. With his partner, Alina Roytberg, he founded Fresh in the early ’90s, starting with soaps and eventually expanding into a global skin care, fragrance and cosmetics brand.
Lev Glazman: Well, ever since I was a little kid, I was always very sensitive to fragrances. Especially growing up in Soviet-era Russia, in the mid-’60s, because there was only one fragrance for men and one for women, called Red Moscow. It smelled like crap. My mother took me to a black-market place where they smuggled in French fragrances, and it was sort of like the first time I fell in love. The seed was planted. I connect emotionally to it, and I find beauty and fragrance very transformative. It’s also very affordable, so anyone can do it.
There are quite a few, but we’re really not connected to the celebrity thing. I’d go more with someone whose lifestyle aligns closely with Fresh. The problem with endorsements or brand ambassadors is that I would need to connect with them personally. They’d need to capture my imagination. But if I had to name one person, I’d say someone like Anouk Aimée.
Scent you abhor? Garlic.
I’m a huge fan of vetiver, but it’s very polarizing because it’s so animalistic.
The industry is pretty careful, but I’m not a big fan of mineral oils because they clog the skin. Also, petroleum-based products, because they do nothing.
When you were doing QVC a lot, how much product did you move? I think my record was 7,000 bottles of fragrance in 12 minutes.
Whoa! Ingredient you avoid? Well, the thing I’m most turned off by is extractions from animal glands or testicles. I really don’t see a need for it.
Most exotic ingredient in one of your products? I guess the noni fruit in my Black Tea Eye Concentrate. I love it. It gives you a lot of hydration, and the area around the eyes is so thin that it really needs it.
We’re very popular here, and we have a very loyal customer base, but Asia is becoming a huge market for us. Hong Kong and mainland China.
Your personal beauty secret? Great skin starts with clean skin, so cleanser is really important, as is exfoliating. Plenty of masks to detoxify. But most important is to drink lots of water and sleep at least seven hours each night. That, and don’t eat a lot of sugar.
Product that you made that flopped? Our least successful one was geranium and pepper. People seemed to think it was too effervescent, or sharp and overpowering. But fragrances also go in cycles, so maybe our timing was off.
I use cannabis in one with chocolate. It’s one of our top fragrances and pretty unique to Fresh.
Most expensive ingredient? Probably jasmine. It’s very, very costly, and it comes in varying grades. It goes from $2,000 per kilogram to $75,000 per kilogram.
Choosing the wrong cleanser. Using one that strips the skin of all essential nutrients. Cleanser has to be gentle and soap-free.
How much of selling beauty products relies on the packaging? Well, I’m a perfectionist, so I think everything is important, but I believe in aesthetics from beginning to end. Our products have always looked chic. The packaging has to appeal.
Is smell your most refined sense? One of them, but flavor is also very acute. I can be eating dessert and be inspired to create a fragrance. Taste is a huge and inseparable part of smell.
The smell of my grandfather. He used this incredible cologne. I have no idea what it was, but it was like Acqua di Parma. He was a superstar. Very Cary Grant.
Most overrated beauty products? Well, BB creams can be challenging. It’s a new wave of creams that have hydration, tint and SPF, and I think they’re trying to deliver too much in one product.
Not really, because I witness scientifically what it does to the skin. I see the improvement of our customers’ skin. I see the transformation. The technology and science of skin care are so advanced these days, it really isn’t selling hope in a jar.
Cosmetic surgery: yea or nay? Sure! Why not? Any way to defy gravity and aging is OK with me.
There is a correct way. First of all, you want to make sure you have no other scents on, from body cream or soap or whatever. I like to apply it on the back of the neck, the clavicle and upper arms. But the habit of spraying your wrist and rubbing them together is wrong, because you’re interrupting the way the fragrance is meant to unfold, rubbing off the top notes.
Without naming names, there are some that are done in a way that’s just not well-balanced.
Well, they’re a must, especially with drivers farting. But a lot are just overpowering. It should be gentle and understated. We’re talking about doing home fragrances in some form, so we’ll see.
Single favorite smell? Bread baking. It’s so warm and cozy.
God, it’s such a big word. It’s the knowledge, the emotionand the passion a person projects. Self-awareness. Knowing how to embrace every stage of life. Knowing how to live in the moment. That’s pretty much it. But great products always help to enhance it.