The future of beauty retail seems to be taking shape in a tiny jewel-box boutique on the Upper East Side’s Lexington Avenue. It’s where Cayli Cavaco Reck has permanently set up shop for her hands-on concept, Knockout Beauty. Cayli is the daughter of two New York fashion legends, her mother Kezia Keeble (who sadly passed away years back) and father Paul Cavaco created what is now the global fashion pr powerhouse, KCD Worldwide; Paul has also worked with every major photographer and was a (and sometimes The) top fashion editor at Vogue, Allure and Harper’s Bazaar. I worked under Paul at Bazaar—he is, hands down, the nicest, most easy-going man in the fashion business. It is no surprise that Cayli is just, or even more, personable. She loves talking with women. And she geeks out on the science of beauty. Cayli doesn’t just want to sell you products, she wants to get to know your habits, what you use, and help you find a path to better skin. She wants to be your personal beauty guru. It’s why her nightly Instagram live chats, which she spends cleansing her skin and discussing her products are gaining popularity. And why Bloomingdale’s just installed a Knockout Beauty mini boutique in their Soho store last week. Her Hampton’s store—the Lexington Avenue pre-cursor pop-up last summer will also be returning. I expect they are the first of many Knockout Beauty emporiums to come. Here Cayli talks with TFI on how she became fascinated with beauty, why a dry scrub mitt might change your life and how beauty should start from the inside.
Tell TFI a little bit about your background, and how you started Knockout Beauty.
I’ve always had a healthy lifestyle, I grew up macrobiotic and used things like Weleda, Toms of Maine and Dr. Hauschka, before most people knew what they were. My mom was never into beauty. It wasn’t her thing. Being on set with my dad and backstage at shows peaked my interest in beauty, but much more the cosmetic world of things. That’s where I learned a bunch of tips.
In terms of Knockout Beauty, that journey which is much more about skincare, wellness and hand holding, started at a young age, but not in the way that when you hear a designer say, “I was, you know, making little dresses for my Barbies.” I wasn’t. I was much more problem-solution oriented. I had really bad bumps, but not acne, on my forehead that started when I was 18 and lasted all through my 20’s. That journey of trying to figure out what that was and trying to deal with it lead me to ask a lot of questions of all the people that I met, all the practitioners, and to do a lot of research.
I recognized it was an environmental thing that was happening, and a body thing that was happening and that combo was creating this perfect storm. That was the first time where I thought, ‘All right, this is something to hang onto.’ Then I became, to my friends, the person they would ask, ‘who should I see when I go to this place to get a facial.’ It was still much more aesthetically driven, not with the scientific part of it. As I started to age, it became more interesting to me to think about the science of beauty and how if aging is science, then there’s got to be science to combat it, so what does that look like?
Then I started knockingonforty as an Instagram just to talk to women my age and people like me. Through that I realized that maybe this should be something. Then that’s how Knockout Beauty happened.
What’s the concept behind Knockout Beauty?
It’s conscious beauty which is not necessarily green or organic by design. It’s really about efficacy. The product has to be as clean, but also as efficacious, as possible.
What is the scope of brands that you carry?
We have a brand like Environ which is created in South Africa with the most incredible attention to detail to the way the product is made and what goes into it. They create tools, like facial rollers that I use. Their skincare products do have retinol. So their products are certainly not organic, but they are free of a lot of horrendous things. Then the other scope of that would be something like Uma Oils that are purely organic, but medicinally based. They have been around for 800 years, they’ve been the family physicians for the royal family of India.
That’s amazing. Beauty with history.
Yes. Organic, but still super luxurious and really effective.
What do you think the biggest advances in beauty are that have happened in the last couple of years?
I think things that have existed, but now are more in the forefront are a topical neurotoxins. Rather than using Botox, really using something on the surface to combat wrinkles. I think that’s interesting in conjunction with using a Derma Roller. Again, Derma Rollers aren’t new, but I think there is more awareness both–to Derma Roll and then apply a topical neurotoxin.
What is Derma Rolling?
It is fine needles that you roll over your face creating teeny tiny punctures in the skin that allow the products to penetrate deeper, and also create stimulation for collagen elastin.
Like micro-needling, but something you can do at home?
You believe that tackling skincare is important from the inside and the outside as well.
I do. I think that maybe is another point of difference that we have. I feel like a lot of issues in life from the body begin in the gut and the same holds true with skin. Inflammation is one of the major causes of melasma and acne. That begins in the gut.
What sort of products do you find that help with that?
I like Lumitay, an amazing supplement which has all your regular vitamins. The reason I like that is because it really helps with your circadian rhythm and really good sleep helps with the way your body’s running, but particularly with your skin. I also like Catalyst Gold which is basically a super food in a capsule and that has tumeric which helps inflammation and dandelion root which helps with bloating so you just feel better. Then there are things for your hair and your skin and your nails in it. It’s really a beauty supplement. We also have Moon Juice, so something like a pearl powder.
You’re also a big proponent of finding the balance in your skin. That sure, everybody has issues they need to tackle, but that balance is really key.
Everyone talks about work-life balance. I think this idea of balance is key in all areas and particularly in your skin. If your skin is not balanced, it will break out. It will be dry. It will age. It will do all those things. Basically what happens is a lot of people who to come to me and say, ‘I’m really noticing signs of aging,’ are often people who broke out as a younger person, dried their skin out, got used to that and now their skin is not balanced.
When you are young, that’s what we were been taught; you combated breakouts with acids. Your skin does like to be acidic. Your skin, the acid mantle of your skin likes to live in an acidic state. It’s the only part of your body that really should be in an acidic state. The rest of it, your body prefers to be in an alkaline state. That’s how disease doesn’t get in, but the skin needs to be in an acidic state.
What do you find the women coming to your store seeking out?
I think women come to me, because they want someone to be invested in them. The average person spends close to an hour in the store. I think they’re coming for communication, for sharing. A lot of times women come in and they tell me things. A lot of times, I learn something when they’re there. I think that in terms of concerns, a lot of it is skin-related, although I do have a lot of people that come for makeup, but they want to have a whole new makeup regimen. They don’t come in and say, ‘Oh, I want a lipstick.’ Very infrequently. They want to be taught. A lot of it is about the education part of it.
Do you find that women are asking for one thing more than anything else? What are your best sellers?
Because it’s so unique, it varies, but we sell our dray scrub mitt really well. It’s for lymphatic drainage, exfoliation and circulation, because when your circulation is going, you look more vital. You look more alive. What you find, again is the whole body piece of it. People come to me to help get a handle on all of it together, not just, ‘oh my eyes’. People often come asking for a glow.
I think that’s what every woman wants.
I want a glow too. The glow does begin on the inside. It begins through the body. Interestingly, your whole body will have new skin in six weeks, but your face turns over the fastest. You could laser something on your face and in about seven to ten days it will be gone. If you lasered something on your leg, it would take three potentially four weeks to be gone. That’s a circulation thing, but it’s also just the usage of it, washing your face. You’re not washing your body in the same way, but you’re also not exposed in the same way. Your face gets a lot of exposure to a lot of free radicals and sun and wind and extreme temperatures.
You do nightly live Instagram chats when you’re cleansing your face. What made you decide to do them?
I do them every night at 8:30pm. I do them in the morning too sometimes. I was watching other peoples’ live chats and I felt like this was an interesting vehicle. At first I tried different things, now I have a crew of women who watch everyday and it grows and they will DM me if I’m not on, ‘Are you not going live tonight?’ It’s funny because it appears that only maybe 20 people are watching at a time, but it’s on for kind of awhile. Then you get off and you realize how many people were watching. It’s much, much more. It’s a fun little hangout. It’s a bathroom hangout.
What inspires you?
Kindness. I’m always drawn to people who are really nice, and through them I want to be a better person. My dad is very kind and you can see that people are moved by that. People will always say, ‘I love your dad. He’s so nice.’ That’s inspiring to me. To be that person is inspiring to me.
Three words that describe you: Honest, silly, kind.
Three words that describe Knock Out Beauty: Community, education, sincerity.
What’s next? The new Knock Out Beauty at Bloomingdale’s Soho, which hopefully more people will experience and enjoy. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do the live [Instagram] instead of YouTube videos, so that people can still visit with me, they can ask me questions. It’s a similar experience to being in the store. It’s intimate.
You don’t sell online yet?
Not at the moment, people call and place phone orders. I’d prefer to talk to them and diagnose. Otherwise they see something that I use on live and they want it and I’ll say, ‘Talk me through what you do–maybe this is the right thing or maybe it’s not the right thing.’
You really want it to be much more personalized experience?
Don’t you want your face to be personalized? I mean, that’s how I feel. It’s my face. I think also doctors are paid for their time, so the faster they can get you out of there. Facialists are paid for their time and then they make their money as an add-on through their product.
When I go to get a facial, I don’t necessarily want them to talk me into $600 worth of products. That’s why I never walk into a department store to buy anything–I can’t stand the sales push. At the same time, the problem with Sephora is you go in and you get no help.
Exactly. That semi-assisted model is tricky when you’re dealing with really active products like those that we carry. Also I don’t want to be that person that says throw away everything in your medicine chest. It’s like a decorator who comes in, redecorates your whole house and then you think, ‘Geez, this isn’t even me anymore.’ I want to hear what the person has to say, what they love, what’s working for them. Then from that, hopefully find something that makes them feel like they’ve been heard and that we can together create or meet their skin goals.
Follow Cayli: Instagram.
Follow Knockout Beauty: Instagram.
Knockout Beauty, 1031 Lexington Avenue between 73rd & 74th Street.