Growing up, Tina Rudolf saw her mom take great pride in her beauty routine. Now, she's sharing those lessons with other women and moms through her spiritual skincare line.

By Maressa Brown
April 01, 2021
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As a child, Tina Rudolf saw her mom doing extensive, daily skincare rituals. Those two-hour, 12-step skincare routines and twice daily showers were a part of something that Rudolf, a first generation Chinese-American, says is deeply embedded in her culture. "She modeled for me that skincare is self-care," says Rudolf. "She really took that time to connect with herself and totally do her."

Watching her mom's daily routine, Rudolf also realized how free she seemed in those moments. "It really was a time where she could finally just focus on herself, nourish and nurture herself," she notes. "That left an impression. It taught me that taking care of yourself is a necessity—and that it really did help her fill her cup so that she could show up for us."

As an adult, Rudolf found skincare presented her with the very same opportunity. Her daily ritual was a time to truly be herself, connect to herself, feel present, and feel free.

At the same time, she was supporting other women as a social worker and life coach. She says she wanted to help them create accessible, healing spaces outside of therapy sessions. "Not only because we don't always have the time for therapy, but also because I truly believe the more moments we create throughout our day just to pay attention to ourselves in a very intentional way, the better it is for our overall well-being," says Rudolf.

When she was pregnant with her first child—a girl she would name Gaia—she began thinking about how she might adapt her professional life in a way that was even more fulfilling. Rudolf, who painted since childhood and went to a performing arts conservatory for undergrad, wanted to do more with her creative side.

"For whatever reason, growing her in my belly inspired me to consider what kind of life I could have, what was possible," says Rudolf. "I desperately missed that creative world and imagined what it would be like if I could create something that uniquely married all of who I was: the artist and the healer and skincare fanatic."

An image of Tina Rudolf and family.
Tina Rudolf and family.
| Credit: Courtesy of Tina Rudolf.

As she ventured into new motherhood, she began to piece together the idea of starting her own business and doing something that would feel "totally authentic" to her. While coaching, Rudolf had been running a small green beauty blog. It had been her creative outlet. Soon, she realized that launching a skincare brand "just made sense."

That didn't mean there would be fewer hurdles along the way. In fact, the main one rooted in Rudolf's own psyche. "The biggest thing I had to overcome was self-doubt," she acknowledges. "Starting your own business is like having a child for the first time. 'Am I doing this right? Will people like it?' And then, also, [there is] just the basic support that you need as a new entrepreneur—or a new mom. It takes a village."

Not only was she figuring out her new role as a mom but trying to manage a variety of other new hats: social media, sales, marketing formulation, copywriting, graphic design. "That was a really crazy time," says Rudolf.

But she was highly motivated to make the business work—not just for herself but for her daughter. "Representation is a huge part of our mission," says Rudolf. "I grew up without seeing myself represented, and I want that to be different for her. I want her to be able to see herself in the world that's around her, so that she can feel validated, understood, and seen."

She also wanted to encourage her customers to think about the "why" behind self-care routines. Although she points out that "there's a spectrum," the fact is that "women, particularly mothers, don't spend nearly enough time taking care of themselves in a way that helps them to build a strong relationship with themselves."

While self-care can often feel like one more box to check, it's the intention behind what we do that makes it truly transformational, healing, and effective, says Rudolf. "How many times a day do you look in the mirror, to brush your teeth, wash your face, get dressed, put on makeup?" she asks. "How often in those moments are you really looking at yourself? Tuning into how you're doing?"

She elaborates, "If we don't know how we're really doing, then how can we help others? When we don't check in with ourselves, our actions start to come out sideways, and even the best laid plans get very wonky results. So nurturing your spirit is not only necessary for your overall well-being but just plain efficient."

Driven by these guiding principles, Rudolf took four years to develop her brand, which she coined Strange Bird. After launching, it didn't take long for her to see the fruits of her labor. "In our first year, we actually made six figures in sales—a huge success for any emerging brand, especially in such a saturated market place," she notes. "I'm really proud of that."

She's also woven a celebration of self-care into the fabric of the brand, creating products with flower and crystal essences—"a modern form of energy medicine akin to homeopathy"—and donating 1 percent of sales to supporting women's mental health.

An image of Tina Rudolf.
Tina Rudolf
| Credit: Courtesy of Tina Rudolf.

Pursuing a more creative, empowering career path has allowed Rudolph to model something incredibly valuable for her children as well. She and her husband Anthony—who is also an "entrepreneur, creator, and dreamer"—are aiming to show Gaia, now 5, and Rudy, 3 that "there's joy and self-expression and creativity and empowerment in going after your dream."

She notes that while it can certainly be hard when they're feeling depleted (another case for consistent self-care), she and her husband are conscious of not making work sound like a burden or something exhausting. Rudolf says, "We want our kids to know that all of the minutes they spend playing, building relationships, and in the future, working, are all the minutes of their life, and those minutes add up to an expression of who they really are and what they want that life to look like."

That echoes the philosophy Rudolf hopes other moms, empowered to prioritize a self-care routine, will bear in mind: "It's not about what you do but how you do it that matters."