“If a product is hard to wear, difficult to incorporate into my lifestyle, or unattractive, I just won’t use it,” admits Cleo Davis-Urman. Sitting in the Condé Nast café in a tea-length layered tulle skirt that dusts a tiny bit of glitter onto her seat, this ethos makes sense. Today, we’re talking about her company Barrière’s futuristic line of vitamin patches destined to become a street-style wellness story. (Let’s not forget Meghan Markle’s anti-stress sticker.) When we met more than a decade ago, though, before her role as contemporary fashion director at Saks but after her internships at Vogue and DVF, it was fashion that brought us into the start-up Moda Operandi’s early Madison Avenue office.
“I always saw fashion as the art of self-expression—if I looked good, I felt good,” she says, admitting that the pandemic changed her focus when, “like most people, I became obsessed with self-protection.” Soon she and friend Alexa Adams, who had a background in technical design and the health care supply chain, decided to launch medical-grade masks that offered more than the familiar blue aesthetic. “We created Barrière to provide products that are protective and pretty,” says Davis-Urman. What started with masks evolved into “a broader self-care and wellness mission when we realized that our customers wanted protection against everyday threats,” she says. Their popular sun hat that shields from harmful rays and DEET-free bug spray that hydrates skin are solutions meant to be “safe, easy to use, and yes, stylish.” It all led to their newest creation, designed to deliver the vitamins you may be missing in a format you’ve likely never tried.
Each of the sticky patches “goes on as easily as a Band-Aid and looks like a fashion accessory,” she explains of the clear material printed with colorful florals, gilded astrological symbols, or cute little cherries. “Our designs look beautiful on the skin while they transdermally deliver a powerful blend of vitamins, nutrients, and adaptogens.” Right now they have a couple of prints for each of the four different formulas (Brains & Beauty, Skin Support, Travel Well, and Daily Defense), and the handful they seeded to VIPs are already a hit. “Jill Newman, a leading authority on jewelry and gemstones and my favorite source for new artisans, wore a Barrière patch on her wrist as if it were a precious bracelet,” says Davis-Urman. “It doesn’t get any better than that!”
Here are highlights of our conversation with Davis-Urman, from the vitamin B12 deficiency that inspired it all to The Beauty Sandwich–approved skin transformation.
You said the patches came from a problem-solving space. What brought you here?
A standard blood panel revealed that I had dangerously low levels of iron and B12 even though I had been taking oral supplements with those very ingredients from a trusted vitamin brand. To raise my levels, I was treated with an iron transfusion and went to a hospital for weekly B12 injections, a process that was painful, time-consuming, and cost prohibitive, so I was eager to find a different solution.
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