There's this famous René Magritte painting titled The Treachery of Images — you probably know it. It's simple: a painting of a pipe, with the words "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe") beneath it. Coincidentally, it's exactly the piece that comes to mind when you consider Klur's new Surrounding Surfaces Aromatic Hand and Cuticle Oil, a February launch in honor of Black History Month. On the surface, the hand and cuticle oil is just that — a luxe addition to your at-home mani from an esthetician-led brand currently blowing up on Instagram. However, like that pipe, this is not only a cuticle oil.
For one, the oil represents a donation, rather than a simple transaction. Klur created Surrounding Surfaces to support Summa Everythang Community Center, a Los Angeles organization that provides free organic produce to local families. Donate a minimum of $44 to Summa Everythang, send Klur your receipt, and the brand will send back a one-time code to receive your Surrounding Surfaces oil upon check out. In other words, 100% of Surrounding Surfaces profits will be donated to the community resource.
Then, there are the ingredients that went into Surrounding Surfaces. The oil is created from food waste — avocado and tomato seed oil — while the fragrance itself was inspired by Klur's active Instagram community. The end result? A product that gives back, transforms waste, and centers Klur's ever-growing fan base.
Ahead, Klur founder Lesley Thornton on caring for community, adding a new body care product to the brand, and how she created one scent out of thousands.
Why was now the right time to launch a hand oil, and how does this fit into Klur's body of work as a whole?
Lesley Thornton: Surrounding Surfaces was inspired by the global lockdown. With strict stay-at-home orders, all we had were our "surrounding surfaces." Our hands, souls, and emotional states were depleted, and 2020 exhausted all of us. Every day I would look down at my poor toes and hands and yearn for a proper mani/pedi. In the grand scheme of things this wasn't important, so I began doing hand treatments and spa nights alone, which made me feel some level of normalcy.
I wanted to create something that made us feel a little more grounded. The idea of functional aromatherapy is essential to Klur; our sense of smell connects us to memories past and present. The oil itself is like a silk glove, one application looks like you just had a manicure, and the aroma is light and therapeutic; some days I use it before bed and in my breathwork during the day. In using Surrounding Surfaces, we hope it will remind others that "self-care is preparation for community care" — inspiring people to do more collective good.
What does "community care" mean to Klur?
Thornton: Community care means true wellness, because when you have a community, you will always be taken care of. Humans seek community because it is a fundamental need; like air, water, and food, a sense of community nourishes our hearts, allowing us to thrive. Before anyone would pay attention, our community always reminded me there is a place for brands like Klur and the ideals of eco-inclusivity, humanity, and sustainability meant something. We built a community around human commonalities and products we love, not products then community.
How do you create a functional oil from food waste?
Thornton: For the past 2.5 years, we have been sourcing various food waste ingredients and materials, mainly exploring how to utilize by-products of waste instead of sourcing and cultivating ingredients. In this process, we came upon a small supplier who experimented with many of the same sustainable concepts. We toyed with many vegetable oils, but the two that worked best on hands were tomato and avocado seed oil; both have superior absorption rates. Tomato waste is produced in making ketchup, sauces, juices, and paste. The seeds are usually extracted from the tomato and discarded; this is common in food manufacturing. Our supplier collects these seeds and through cold-pressing methods, extracts a beautiful, antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense vegetable oil.
Once the oil is created, how does Klur make it smell good?
Thornton: The aroma was created using data and input from our Instagram community. We surveyed scent profiles and had thousands of responses. The most popular scents were various citrus notes. I took this feedback and blended the compatible notes with a therapeutic blend I had created specifically to put on my mask, which helped calm my anxiety during the early days of the pandemic. The result was a beautiful therapeutic blend of sandalwood, clary sage, sweet orange, and eucalyptus.
Why did Klur choose to support Summa EveryThang?
Thornton: Firstly, I wanted to celebrate and support a local organization that I knew did positive things for the health, well-being, and betterment of Black people in the Los Angeles area. And last year, I was regularly volunteering there. I always left feeling inspired but wanted to give back; after a couple of months of helping out, I realized this was not only the best day of the week for me, and everything else could wait, but working with organic produce completely changed my relationship with food and helped me heal spiritually and physically.
Summa EveryThang is a small grassroots organization, and for it to sustain, it requires constant donations and awareness. Black-led non-profits fall under the radar, not getting the support they truly need to make real progress, but they are the closest to the community; on the ground doing the work, and [they] can evaluate people's needs in the community better than anyone else.
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This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.