The Organic Evolution of Luxury Skincare and Spirituality
The Organic Evolution of Luxury Skincare and Spirituality

"If you have a dream and a vision, focus on that and don’t get caught up in the noise and what others are doing" 

- Lejla Cas

This week's guest on the podcast is Lejla Cas, the founder of Knesko, a luxury skincare line that combines science and spirituality with revolutionary gem clinical skincare technology. Lejla is an internationally renowned celebrity skincare specialist, esthetician, makeup artist, and Reiki master. Chances are, you’ve seen one of KNESKO’s beautiful gold face masks or jade rollers online. During the episode, Leila shares her journey from growing up in Australia to becoming a globe-trotting entrepreneur, and how she got started in the beauty industry. She talks about the inspiration behind her brand, the influence of Reiki on her personal wellness journey, and the importance of self-care. Leila also shares some of her favorite skincare tips and advice for launching a business.

Try KNESKO Skin for yourself here and use code purely15 for 15% off.


    Elizabeth Stein 00:00
    Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, Founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey. This week's guest is Leija Cas, Founder of the luxury skincare line KNESKO and Reiki master, internationally renowned celebrity skincare specialist esthetician and makeup artists. KNESKO bridges science and spirituality with revolutionary gem clinical skincare technology. Their serum infused collagen gel masks, which I'm sure you've seen all over Instagram, use precious gemstones and minerals to activate the chakras and rejuvenate the skin. In this episode, we talk about Leija's journey from her childhood in Australia, to her life as a globe trotting entrepreneur and getting her product in the top luxury hotels around the country. She shares about her philosophy behind the brand, the influence Reiki had on her personal wellness journey, and how it's infused into her collection today, the importance of slowing down and taking care of yourself. Plus her favorite tips for skincare feeling your best and launching a business. I'm such a huge fan of her products. If you want to try for yourself, use code Purely15 for 15% off all her products on I'm so excited to share with you that our number one selling granola is now available at over 3000 Walmart stores nationwide in the cereal aisle. This is a dream come true to have our granola more accessible in so many locations across the country. Our original granola was my very first granola recipe and has been a favorite of our fans ever since. Our recipe is made with organic oats, superfood grains and seeds, lightly sweetened with coconut sugar and a hint of cinnamon. It has a delicious, salty, sweet taste and that perfect crunch. To make it easy, I have a link in the notes section of this episode to help you find a Walmart near you. Happy Shopping. Leija, welcome to the podcast. I'm so excited to have you on today. I'm such a big fan of your brand.

    Leija Cas 02:19
    Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth Stein 02:22
    So we always start the podcast with a background into your personal wellness journey. And really what inspired you first, what inspired you to get into skincare, let alone starting the brand? But what inspired you to get into skincare?

    Leija Cas 02:36
    Yeah, oh my gosh. So I love beauty. I've watched my mom do her makeup when I was a little girl. I think a lot of us women have that story. And I just loved it. I love when she used to dress up. But I think for me, what really inspired me into this industry is I love people, I love my ladies. And I said and I really feel like women, we can be so hard on ourselves. And I love making other people feel good. That's kind of been like my story. And so I remember right after high school, I was talking to my parents and they're like, what would you like to do in life? Right? Like, do you want to be a psychologist? Or do you want to, you know, like all the big jobs. But family wants their kids sometimes to do. And I'm like, I think I want to be a makeup artist. And you know, I want to go to beauty school. And I my dad looked at me like what like he was he was so confused. But I felt like... Where were you growing up at the time? Yeah, so actually I was born in Eastern Europe. My family immigrated after Civil War to Australia. So we moved a lot. So I literally was I was born in Bosnia, actually. And then we moved to Slovenia. And then I ended up in Australia and and later on, I ended up in Los Angeles because of my work because I actually used to work for an Australian cosmetic company that sponsored me to move to LA and little did I know that I'll end up staying here and my little family. But yeah, beauty has always been part of like, I knew he was a career for me. It wasn't like a side job. It was just intuitive. I've always really followed my intuition I felt it was I can make an impact in the beauty and wellness space. And I didn't necessarily know how back then, but I just had this gut feeling that if I just put one foot in front of another things will unfold for me. And that's kind of been how I how I grew in this industry.

    Elizabeth Stein 04:36
    So you knew you would always be in skincare, I love that you went with your gut. I'm a firm believer in that as well. So what were you doing in Australia that brought you initially to Los Angeles and then both see how the rest of the story unfolds from there?

    Leija Cas 04:53
    Yeah, so I'm an esthetician. I've been an esthetician for over 22 years so I went to esthetics school and I ended up getting a job with a day spa and another cosmetic company. And so I lived in Perth, Western Australia, the most isolated city in the world. I love my Perth, I, you know, I go back twice a year. And you know, I worked at department stores really the old traditional way, working my way up in the industry that is truly my story. And if anybody's listening that's behind the counter, or just looking back and you never know, you just got to work hard. And honestly, all I did was I worked hard so management noticed my efforts. And then when this company was growing, they wanted to expand and US was the next destination. And then I got nominated. And at the age of 23. I flew to LA and ended up working with this company, about 10 years between Australia and the US traveling all across the country back in Australia as well as here. And again, just really getting a good feel for clients all across the world women men but as I said, I love my women and I just love like talking to them while I was talking about skin doing their facials makeup back then I used to do makeup. I don't do that anymore. But I did that then. And yeah, I just felt like we were both getting healed. And we were like making each other feel good. And I just always knew that was my career. So yeah, just organic, traditional, working your way up into the owning of your brand.

    Elizabeth Stein 06:32
    So from there, where did the idea to start your own brand manifest?

    Leija Cas 06:36
    Yeah, so I've always had a dream of starting my skincare line when I was younger, I was always about makeup, like I want to have my own makeup line, but

    Elizabeth Stein 06:44
    Which nobody can see but your skin is beautiful, as is your makeup.

    Leija Cas 06:49
    Thank you. But then as I got older, like I really started taking care of my skin and I believe in maintenance, so I knew that it was gonna become a skincare line. But where my story starts and how KNESKO became is, through my previous jobs in the beauty world traveling, as I mentioned with several cosmetic, like global brands, I always meditated I was into my like crystal therapy. I'm also a Reiki Master, that's something that I got initiated into back in Perth, so it was always part of my wellness journey. But what happened and this is full transparency, life just got busy, right? There's just so much going on. And so with my career in my 20s, I'm like traveling the world, sleeping in different like hotel rooms, it was very difficult to like maintain that balance. And I just at one point really hit that low point in my life where I call it around and Mercury like like the retrograde period. If you heard about it, that 29 the magic 29, it was really hard. And I developed anxiety and depression. And I realized that I was going way too fast. And I decided to leave my job and just take time, take time for myself. I met my husband at that time, who was actually co founder of the brand and he saw my passion, he knew that all I knew was skincare and beauty. And there was always going to be my career path. But that moment I said, I cannot function from an empty vessel like I have to take care of me. And I took time off to heal, and to rest and to recharge and to find my identity because I was so lost in just working and traveling. And I realized that no matter what I do next, it has to be connected with wellness, and educating my clients who take care of themselves and that it has to be approved for many reasons, my way to heal others and also at the same time to heal myself. So I would say KNESKO skin was really founded based on my greatest love of energy work skincare and crystals and it manifested into a brand that is there to heal others. I call it beauty from the inside out. Because we really talk a lot about self care about slowing down about like mantras finding these little like rituals, these opportunities to really like disconnect from the busy world that you're in. And so yeah, it's really a vocation for me. I love developing beautiful skincare results driven skincare. But at the same time, I'm realistic. And I think we all are we're all ag we're all going in the same direction. So it's not about like being afraid of that. It's about celebrating, being alive. And celebrating every decade. They were lucky to come to and doing it in a fun way and that's where KNESKO is for me it's truly has healed me in so many ways and I see it really making a difference for my clients.

    Elizabeth Stein 10:01
    That's amazing. So stepping back a little bit. You were doing Reiki in Australia. So you've been doing it for a long time. Can you just help educate our listeners on what Reiki is and then how to use that today? Because I know you're incorporating that into all the products that go out.

    Leija Cas 10:20
    Yeah um, so Reiki is a healing modality. It's a lifeforce energy that flows through all things. Some people call it chi prana. Reiki, for me is truly as a channel. So I don't make any energy of just the channel, I was initiated into the energy by my Reiki master who's based in Australia, and it's simply a healing wellness practice that I actually use to help balance my energy centers in my own body when I meditate, but also charge all my KNESKO products with healing Reiki, like energy and what that really means. And for those that don't know what Reiki is, it's love. Like I really it is the most purest form or universal love, intention straight from my heart to my products, and as one little human being I can only do so much, but I believe in power of intention. And I believe in power of just having the pure unconditional love. And that is truly what Reiki is, to me. That is the simplest way I can describe it. Like, love is everywhere, and love heals. And I really feel that self love, it's so important. And as busy women and men on the go, it's so important to love ourselves, because as I mentioned, we cannot function from an empty vessel. So Reiki is part of my daily practice, I charge my products with distance healing Reiki, so symbols, they are sacred symbols that I meditate with and send them into the universe and where they go is where they're meant to. It's not none of my business. So yeah, it just part of KNESKO brand is that love and intention behind the product. While we of course back it up with results driven ingredients and technologies for those that are maybe not into that because they can find what they're looking for from us.
    Elizabeth Stein 12:14 So when you first started you, as you said, you were certainly doing your own healing, and this was helping and then wanting to help heal others. How did you decide that the vehicle for that was initially because it was initially masks, right? You didn't have the serums to begin with? So how did you decide on masks and what was like that the beginning stages like at the business?

    Leija Cas 12:37
    Yeah. So again, going back with my my life experience working in the beauty industry, at that time for over 10 years, I knew that there's so much products out there, and I wanted to make something extremely niche that can be incorporated into anybody's lifestyle. And that will inspire again, that self care opportunity, that self care moment that spied home that is luxurious, that you know that works. So I actually developed our first mask, which was our nano gold, the repair collection. And it was the face mask and the eye mask. And I didn't want to do just another sheet mask that is just like on your face for five minutes and dries out and I want it to be a real experience. So I decided to do fully biodegradable, the hydrogel technology that feels substantial feels amazing. Yeah, shows the results on the skin, but also, okay, so here's the fun part strategically tricks my clients to slow down. Because it's so heavy. You know, if you're trying to like do the dishes, or like vacuuming be like, it's a bit heavy. There's a lot of serum, let me actually lie down for a minute. Next thing you know, you're lying there for 40 minutes, and you feel so good. So I feel like it goes with a whole philosophy of self care cooling, we use beautiful, like the essence and ingredients. And there's an ounce of serum for every face mask so that you can treat your whole body as a temple. There's just so much to it. So it just felt right, based on what I was going through at that time, that I wanted a product that really promotes self care and slowing down and that is very luxurious. I'm a Libra and I love my aesthetics and it had to look great, and then perform at the same time. So there was a lot of work in r&d just to get the first product out.

    Elizabeth Stein 14:34
    How long did that take from idea to getting the product off to shelf for the first time?

    Leija Cas 14:39
    I would say three years. Yeah, even with my serums now that took three years r&d developing fully custom packaging, custom formulations. We don't do any stock. We do everything from scratch. So everything I waited 10 years to launch my serums I'm going to do it right you know, serum again.

    Elizabeth Stein 15:02
    So when you first started out, I mean, and to this day, I think you have like the most beautiful luxurious masks on the market and something that's truly differentiated and unique. I'm curious to hear how are like, what the moment was that you really felt like, Okay, we've made quote unquote, we've made it and or starting to get those big press hits or you have a lot of celebrities who are wearing them. You're in some of the top luxury resorts and spas. How did that all happen?

    Leija Cas 15:40
    I'm very humbled. I'll be honest with you. I still feel like there's so much we can do. And we are fully self funded like company truly like the American dream, right hustled through I just think when we first started, my first client was four seasons, the Wilshire hotel, like the Pretty Woman movie. Yeah, I truly walked in cold called that place, That story is over my bio, because I believed so much in my vision, like having that tunnel vision. I know, there's something here. And I didn't get. I wasn't reading too much about what other brands were doing. I just knew I had to follow my heart. And I knew that I had something and I went straight to the number one hotel. I think that's the beautiful thing about starting your business at younger because you're not worried about them saying what are you doing here, we don't have people cold calling at the Four Seasons. Now, maybe I'll think twice, but that then I just went in. So I gave them the products. And I kid you not. They called us back three days later. And apparently, that's the esthetician tried it and they're still my client today. Like we have such an amazing relationship. And she's like, call her back. This is amazing. And so that was like the beginning of these moments. That was beautiful special moments, I would say I love the clients that gave us a chance back then. And to this day, I really respect them because we had no budget for branding we had, you know, we were just making it you know, I just one thing at a time. So you know what, I think I made it I mean, obviously being represented in some of the most prestige, luxurious resorts and spas, the retailers in the world. It's pretty impressive. And it makes me really proud.

    Elizabeth Stein 17:23
    Was there one particular thing that like flipped the switch that it was, you know, a celebrity posting, or it was getting into that first four seasons that really pivoted the business?

    Leija Cas 17:36
    I honestly cannot say it was just one it's the special moments slowly accumulate. snowballing, you know, being on the like reality TV shows, of course, celebrities posting KNESKO masks and tagging the brand organically. Like we never pay for that. It's like it's not part of our budget. And then kind of like, just seeing the organic evolution. It's not sometimes you see brands like that come to market. And next year, they're like, bought out like, I don't even know how that's not my story. My story is true American hustle one at a time and slowly adding up to this beautiful, healthy business that's made from love. You know, so I'm sorry, I can't give you one point. There's just they're all kind of special. I, I respect and appreciate every single one of them.

    Elizabeth Stein 18:33
    That's awesome. I love that. So if someone's new to the brand. Let's get into the product a little bit, what's your skincare routine, and then if someone's new to the brand, what they should start with?

    Leija Cas 18:44
    Okay, so I mask daily, I use my eye treatments pretty much every morning, I have two little kids like three and six. So mornings are hectic. So I kind of mask on the go with my eye treatments I put them in the fridge next to my eggs. So yeah, so my oxygen mask, literally is my KNESKO eyemask because I take all the serum and massage it all on my face and then I put the eye treatment on and then I start functioning you know, then I grab my coffee and then I can deal with them, you know that you know gonna take care of yourself and then you can be there for everyone. Right? So that's kind of one thing I do. And then I mask always at least once or twice a week. And then I'm a big believer in SPF, which I hope to bring in the future but I really believe in self protection. So that's always part of my deal. Even if I'm just working from home and I don't put any makeup on it's like my mask my serums and an always SPF.

    Elizabeth Stein 19:43
    Alright, so as far as starting with something in your portfolio, and you have a wide range now of the different gems and minerals. What should someone start with and what are some of the key benefits in in a different line. So what are the different gemstones bring? Sorry?

    Leija Cas 20:04
    Yes, yeah KNESKO uses the proprietary technology which is the gem clinical skincare technology, where we bridge gemstone therapy with clinical actives. So every so we have five collections and each collection is targeting a certain or a key skin benefit. So for those that are really familiar with like, what benefits they're looking for, we simplify really, nano gold is all for repair. So it's like firming, lifting and repair jobs. So anything in the gold collection is gonna help with that and it's using the colloidal gold mineral which helps to balance the Third Eye Chakra. So the mantra for that is I honor my intuition. So I love that and that's kind of like the key kind of focus of the gold so it's all about honoring that third eye that central all knowing so when I'm mapping a mask with a gold, I love to do if I'm like trying to make like a decision maybe and like I'm trying to like figure out where to go. So you know this is opportunity to meditate, listen to inner voice just kind of relax, remove all the outside noises and just go with them where the truth is, and I really kind of use the gold collection if I have like a lot of thinking to do but of course it's firming so who doesn't want that like a serums peptide serum it's like, you know like killing two birds with one stone. Diamond is radiance. So radiance, even skin, luminosity, dark circles, it's infused with actual diamond powder. So the mantra for that is I am connected. So feeling connection with your highest self just if you feel disconnected, a lot of things can go wrong. So just really reaffirming that connection. And while you having this gorgeous brightening skin we have all the clinical actives, like bakuchiol a nice cinema and vitamin C Lectron exam that really helped with brightening and actually feeding age spots and pigmentation. Rose Quartz is antioxidant. So protecting the skin from blue light from like free radical damage smog and pollution in the air. And of course mantra for rose quartz the gemstone is I Am Love. So Valentine's Day is coming up that's all about that. Well, it was just here actually it's all about this month is all about like I am Love and just giving you a doubt that sense of unconditional sense of love and I love rose quartz in fact gua sha I have it with me everywhere. It provides that sense of calm and soothing and peace but I use it for meditation. And I actually do wash out like face sculpting but I also love to sleep with it and I literally hold it like this under my pillow. It just provides some some sense of calm Yes, I sleep with gemstones. I love that. And then Black Pearl is our detox and resurfacing collection. So that's all about feeling grounded. I am grounded is the mantra. And we use the Tahitian black pearls and obsidian. And this whole collection is about resurfacing your skin. The serum is incredible. I know you mentioned you love that. It helps to renew retexturize the skin and just help speed up that cell turnover. Amethyst hydrate collection. That's our newest collection. It's all about the healthy skin microbiome that we're all talking about. It just has qualine and ceramides and it just provides that nourishment that hydration into the skin. And the mantra is I am like protected. So I am protected. And yeah, they're all so special. So the way I say to people that haven't tried KNESKO is one you can look at the key benefits such as repair, radiance, antioxidant, low resurfacing, or hydration. Or if you're into metaphysics and into gemstone therapy. So look at that and see which stone really calls out to you and a lot of our VIP clients they really interchange collections based on the skin and spirit needs and that's essentially how it's designed. So it's not unusual for you like to pick up black gold today because you're feeling like you need that lift and firming and maybe you want to honor your intuition more today than like the yesterday but then at the same time the next day you can truly pick whatever else that feels right for you.

    Elizabeth Stein 24:28
    That's so special. And so...

    Leija Cas 24:31
    Like it's a jewelry box of your special jewels that you pick based on your skin and your spirit needs.

    Elizabeth Stein 24:37
    So what's next what are you working on? To come out? You mentioned SPF but what's the vision for brand?

    Leija Cas 24:45
    Yeah, it's I that's probably like one of my favorite things about owning my company is product development. I'm a Libra I love creating and it's like I'm making my own jewelry. So it's a really fun. My skin jewels actually have one more collection launching in a couple of months, it's the green Jade, calming collection. So this is all about calming skin, great for sensitive skin rosacea and just, you know, any sort of sensitive, like the SOS for the skin. So that's coming up, we have a body line launching, and then in 2024, we actually expanding into skincare. So more coming soon. I'm very, excited thank you.

    Elizabeth Stein 25:31
    So as you think about how the business has evolved, and grown over the years, what would you say has been some of the hardest aspects of growing the brand? And certainly the last couple years, you know, has been challenging I know, for many of us.

    Leija Cas 25:47
    Yeah, I think, probably balancing like product development, marketing budgets, and just kind of like financially balancing where you need to spend the money. As a fully self funded company, obviously, you don't just have money sitting there, you just tap into it, and just go crazy, right? Everything has to be thought out slow steady, versus doing it all at once. So just really having that fine balance of reinvesting into your brand the right time, while still being able to grow, and not put yourself in trouble. So I think just having that healthy what's the word just not going crazy. So that's why I have my business partner, Sean, who is the co founder and family we have, you know, like, like the family together. And he says he always likes to kind of slow me down when I get too excited.

    Elizabeth Stein 26:45
    And what would you say, has been one of the best ways that you have grown the brand. And I don't know if that would be, you know, from an outsider's perspective, certainly seeing it in so many locations, spa locations is a great awareness tool. But what's been some of the ways that have really helped you grow?

    Leija Cas 27:06
    Oh, I think just being very hands on founder like I have relationships with all my clients, they know who I am, I know them, I that's been my secret really making long lasting like relationships, and treating everybody special, like they all have their own needs and wants and thankfully now I have a team, a much larger team and people that see my vision so that we can really continue that customer service. So I really think what's helped us grow, is being able to maintain now for over, you know, like a decade, a lot of like relationships. And, you know, people love that it's just so important to do business with people that you like, and vice versa.

    Elizabeth Stein 27:45
    Yeah, I am such a firm believer in that I think one of the best things of coming out of COVID now, and at least for us, we're back on the road traveling and going to all of our retail partners and having those in person meetings. And it just makes sense to be with your business partners and be there in front of them. And that it's all about those relationships are so important. And I think for anybody starting out on a business, that being such a focal point is such a differentiator, I think compared to if a buyer is working with a big brand, versus being able to sit down with the founder and the CEO is a much different scenario.

    Leija Cas 28:26
    Yeah. And things can get done so much faster to right because there's a lot of like the rat race. So if you see the growth that you see the passion, and you know, this makes everybody so happy, and makes it easier to do business. So yeah, that's for sure. It's been great for us.

    Elizabeth Stein 28:39
    Yeah, what's some of the best business advice that you've learned throughout that you could share tips...

    Leija Cas 28:45
    if you have a dream and a vision, focus on that and don't, don't get caught up again, in the noise and what others are doing, and you know what's out there because it can become very intimidating and scary place. So I think for me, just kind of, again, going back to what I said earlier about following my intuition, having that courage to just move one foot at a time and just focus on my vision really helped me to be where I am today. But I was. So I was trying to do a lot of like the researching and because there's brands out there that just do so much and I didn't really care. I just want to focus on what I was at and really helped me so focus.

    Elizabeth Stein 29:25
    Did you put together a business plan, or did you just go for it ..

    Leija Cas 29:27
    We did, yeah we did. And funny enough, the business plan still like is relevant. Sometimes, yeah. It's obviously it looks like we were just getting into it back then. But I love it. Yeah, we do put a business plan. The philosophy stays the same, but a lot of things changed, obviously. So we didn't necessarily follow it the whole time. We're just kind of following the relationships and when those relationship took us, but yeah, just follow. Follow your vision, follow your goals, believe in yourself and do the work. You gotta work hard. That really does make difference.

    Elizabeth Stein 30:00
    Do you think that there's any, any tips that you have as far as our for you, you know, when you were starting out, and I think a lot of founders is, you're coming from a like fearless place that you just said, I don't care. Like, I'm gonna go walk into the four seasons and see if they want my product because I'm fearless and just so passionate about that. But in reflecting back to that time, is there anything that you can think of that really helped you to get to that point of that confidence and fearlessness? Was it you know, you had to be in a good place personally, I think, to probably do that.

    Leija Cas 30:42
    I mean, like I said, I had this full career since right after high school. So I traveled my jobs and did so many things. And then I burned out, right, so that before I walked into four season

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