Tegan Klenner and Lindsay Sjoberg were both working in coffee shops when they decided to take the plunge to work full-time on their blog, Treasures & Travels. What started as a passion project discussing recipes, do-it-yourself projects, and jewellery was slowly overtaking their time and interest—so they rented a studio in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood, set up shop, and began their professional blogging journey.
That was nine years ago. Since then, the sisters—who grew up in White Rock, B.C.—have grown an incredible following (42,000 on Instagram, for starters); quit taking sponsorships from big beauty brands, even though it cost them a lot of potential income; and took over their late mother’s line of natural beauty and skincare, called Pink House.
While sipping matcha lattes at The Garden in Strathcona, Klenner and Sjoberg discuss the incredible ups and downs that their careers have taken thus far. And really, it’s only just the beginning.
How has Treasures & Travels changed since you started it? You mentioned that you stopped working with non-natural beauty and home brands.
Sjoberg: That’s been a funny transition. I remember one of the big moments for us was when Lysol wanted to sponsor us. They were promoting a baby-safe spray to disinfect your home.
Klenner: We were like, ‘Spray Lysol around your kids?’ It was a bit of a shift for us.
Sjoberg: I remember it was the first time we turned down a bigger brand. And there’s a lot of money in those bigger companies, too. Around that time, our mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. And she and her sister couldn’t find any beauty products that were clean—especially deodorant, and deodorant that worked. So they decided to just make their own.
Also, we were part of Procter & Gamble’s beauty program, so they had flown us out to Toronto a couple times. At this one event, they were throwing product in our hands to make us promote it. I remember one switch for me: they had a new deodorant and they were like, “This is a two-day deodorant, you don’t have to shower for two days. It’s so strong you won’t sweat at all for two days.” I was just like, “What? That is not okay, you’re supposed to sweat.”
Klenner: After that trip we were like, “We need to make a statement. This is important. What you put on your body is important, and we need to share that.”
Sjoberg: We just did this one blog post, and it was called, “Why We Quit Working with Beauty Brands.” We got such a crazy response from it, we were blown away with how many people were so on-board with it and wanting to change themselves. But it’s so overwhelming. Women are so loyal to their beauty products in their lives, they’ll stick with a mascara forever. So for us it was really intimidating to switch over to natural products, and I think a lot of our readers felt the same way, too. So it was us saying, “We’re not going to promote products that are unhealthy in any way, we’re only going to promote natural beauty. We don’t really know what we’re doing but we’re slowly going to figure it out and work hard to get there.” And that was a huge mentality switch for us after seeing that feedback and being like, “Ok, we feel so much better about what we’re doing with this blog and where we’re going with it.”
Do you have any advice for people who are looking to transition to more natural products?
Sjoberg: Do one thing at a time.
Klenner: It can be so expensive, and hard, because you can go buy everything and then not like certain things, or how they work together. I think when your foundation runs out, then go replace that. When your mascara runs out, replace that.
How did it come about for you to start working on Pink House?
Sjoberg: About six months after that Procter & Gamble trip, our mother passed away. After that our aunt was still working on Pink House, but it was hard for her.
Klenner: She was like, “I want to keep doing it, but I can’t do it alone.” She has two girls who are young teenagers, they were kind of helping her with it, but they were in a different phase of life. So we joined with her. They had so many products, so we were like, “Let’s get it down to just 12 products, all our favourites.”
Sjoberg: Really brand them well.
Klenner: We relaunched it that summer. We have a lot of loyal customers, which is awesome. Hearing feedback of it helping people, I love it. “I finally found a natural something!” Yes! One more person that it’s making a difference for.
Do you hope to expand the product range?
Sjoberg: We created the Glow Sticks, that was really fun to create those. We have a bunch of lotions that are in the works. We’ll usually make a product, make a few different versions of it, and then try it out for a few months and give it to different people. So it can take a long time to find the right product.
Klenner: We have a lot of ideas.
How are the products made?
Klenner: We do everything. Make it, bottle it, label it, find suppliers, prep all the online orders.
Sjoberg: Our aunt moved on and handed Pink House over to us—that was a bit of a shock, we weren’t ready for it, but it was really a cool time for us to dive in and really learn. It was a lot of failed deodorants and a lot of failed face creams, but we learned how to make them, and now we know so much more about the ingredients.
Klenner: I don’t think we have dreams to be so big; everything is handmade in small batches and that’s the beauty of it.
How do the two of you work together as sisters?
Sjoberg: We figured it out! It’s funny because we’re very opposite. I always say when we started the business nine years ago, it had no pressure because we weren’t making money—so we worked out the sisterly kinks and how to work together without the pressure of it being our business. So we’ve had nine years of knowing each other and how we work. Now I think we work really well together. We’re a good team.
Was it hard to give up your studio in Gastown and begin working apart?
Klenner: Yes. And it was such a beautiful space, being in the heart of Gastown. I look back on it with such nostalgic memories.
Sjoberg: It was so beautiful, but we’re just in such a different space. We could never make our beauty products there. Tegan’s first daughter took her first steps in the studio. She was there every single day with us while we were working, so that’s so special. That’s been hard for me, not seeing them every day. She put our Glow Stick on the other day and called it Cheek Gloss.
Klenner: She loves working with me. “Mom, can I help you?”
This interview has been edited and condensed.