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Spotlight on Jenise Lee of CertClean: Turning Loss Into Motivation to Solve a Problem

Lauren Marinigh | March 14, 2016

As a solopreneur, Jenise Lee had to learn quickly how to balance the demands of starting her own business. For many entrepreneurs, other aspects of their life get put on the side burner while they navigate the start-up world, but for Jenise, not only was she starting her business, CertClean, but she was also caring for, and later grieving for her brother who had stage four brain cancer.

Jenise explained that the challenges of regaining her work rhythm after her devastating loss, or even just getting out of bed to push her business forward was overwhelming. “Yet, during my own introspection, I realized that during the best of times, I loved working on CertClean, and during the darkest moment, I learned that there was no other problem I wanted to solve other than getting rid of potentially cancer causing chemicals in the world,” Jenise explained.

CertClean is North America’s certification for safer skincare and the first certification of its kind. CertClean focuses on vetting cosmetics and personal care products which are formulated without ingredients that may post risk to human health. So for beauty brands making safer or clean products, the certification is a way to give these products authentic distinction in the marketplace so consumers feel safe buying them.

In Canada, the terms “natural” and “organic” are not governed in the beauty sector, and depend solely on marketing regulations. Jenise explained that as long as one ingredient is natural, the entire product can be labelled as being natural, and the same goes for organic. “We have big brands using all the right buzzwords while the smaller brands, which manufacture products free from harmful ingredients, and typically all-natural ingredients are going unnoticed,” Jenise described.

It is clear in today’s society that consumers prefer and demand healthier products but it’s difficult for them to confidently determine what’s safe and what isn’t. This is why Jenise launched CertClean, not necessarily because she wanted to be an entrepreneur, but because the irony of us beautifying our bodies with products that may be intoxifying our bodies had to be addressed.

CertClean is currently only for Canadian companies, but Jenise will be expanding the United States later this year, and they already have a waiting list of American brands. In order for Jenise to grow and continue to grow her business, she applied to and was a recipient of the Spin Master Innovation Fund this past year. The program provided her with financing, mentorship, and exclusive opportunities to network and meet industry leaders to help launch and grow her business. Jenise explains that this program couldn’t have come at a better time as she was building a team to continue growing her company, and was juggling the loss of her brother.

On top of mourning the loss of her brother, Jenise had some other hurdles she had to overcome as a new business owner. “There were many moments throughout the entrepreneurship journey where I suffered analysis paralysis—over-thinking or over-analyzing, resulting in no actions taken,” Jenise explained. “However, I have learned to embrace that I will never have enough information, nothing will be perfectly planned or executed, and I will never obtain experience through endless thinking and planning.”

Jenise wanted to leave aspiring entrepreneurs with one piece of advice: “Don’t fall in love with your business idea, fall in love with solving the problem. The passion for solving the problem will fuel you to create the best solution—one that your prospective clients would be happy to pay for.”

To learn more about the Spin Master Innovation Fund and how it can help you start or grow your business, click here.

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada