After dealing with problematic skin for most of their lives, Corina McDonnell and Summer Dinh Manske began formulating their own natural skin products. After seeing results and receiving glowing feedback from the community, they founded Flynn&King, a small company based in Brooklyn, NY committed to creating an all-natural, organic, and multifunctional skin care and lifestyle collection for gender-neutral use.
In this interview, Corina McDonnell talks about starting Flynn&King and meeting Summer, what's wrong with mainstream skincare products, and more.
Why did you decide to make skincare the focus of Flynn&King?
My business partner Summer and I both had problematic skin throughout most of our lives and we weren’t seeing results through use of commercial or some natural products. So, we decided to educate ourselves and start formulating our own natural products. We loved them so much, we gifted them to friends. When we started receiving a lot of amazing feedback, we decided we would try to create a brand focusing on sustainability and hopefully helping people relieve some problematic skin issues, as we were able to do for ourselves. It’s very rewarding to receive emails about how much people love the products and how greatly our clients' skin has improved!
How did you meet your partner Summer Din Manske?
Summer and I worked at a hair salon and apothecary that focused on natural care in Williamsburg, and we became fast friends. I was the makeup artist and she was the front desk manager. We started having Meetups we called Muumuu Mondays where we would wear comfy dresses and experiment with formulating skincare and making soap. What started as an educational club grew into what is now Flynn&King!
What does the average person not know about mainstream skincare products?
Thankfully, I think knowledge is increasing. The amount of plastics in commercial skincare products attributes to cancer and a vast amount of environmental issues as well. Besides being toxic, our skin doesn’t understand what to do with plastic, so most moisturizers will just sit on top of the surface of the skin and not absorb more deeply because your skin has a natural defense mechanism against foreign bodies like plastic.
Natural botanical oils give your skin a chance to absorb and hydrate more deeply since it’s something your skin can understand. I recommend trying to avoid anything with the words “fragrance,” as this is mainly where the phthalates and plastics lurk. All Flynn&King products are formulated and handmade with only essential oils and always will be.
How does your interest in all things witchy, and spirituality in general, inform the way you approach crafting skincare remedies?
We appreciate the witchy ways of life, like living off the earth and syncing with the moon cycles. We always try to set out our intentions when there is a new moon cycle, like the Harvest Moon that just passed. We collect and sell crystals, Palo santo and other witchy products that fit in with our spirituality. We only formulate with botanical oils from the earth and applying these to the skin makes us feel more connected to nature. The scent, the feel and the appearance of the essential oils, carrier oils, flower petals and leaves connect you to the Earth, which I believe is especially important when living in a huge metropolis like NYC.
What’s your favorite Flynn & King soap?
I love all of our babies equally -- it depends what I’m needing at that particular time or season. My go to is generally the Detox with Neem & Activated Charcoal. It helped completely heal my eczema that I suffered with my entire life. I haven’t had a single flare up in almost 5 years, since we started making our own soap! I’m very sensitive to artificial fragrance and I’m sad that it took me so long to understand that was the culprit. Dermatologists kept giving me steroid creams that didn’t work or in some cases, exacerbated the issue. If I had known all along to just remove the chemicals from my products, I would have had way less itchy, uncomfortable days. Summer and I strive everyday to create products to help others suffering with problematic skin.