A Moment With Function Of Beauty

A Moment With Function Of Beauty



While getting his PhD at MIT, the computer science expert first applied his interest in sustainability to the world of beauty, creating The Argan Tree, a cooperative that gives 100% of profits back to producers and their communities. Reactions to the products were positive from the onset, but very individual, and he began to see the potential benefits of a more custom beauty line. Ultimately, he established Function of Beauty, a collection of sulfate-free, paraben-free, non-toxic shampoos and conditioners based on each person’s particular needs. Customers begin the process by taking an online “hair quiz,” and are ultimately rewarded with one of 12 billion ingredient combinations that arrive with their name on the pretty, simple bottle.

Here, Dr. Dossa explains the importance of figuring out exactly what makes you happy:

"Dr. Zahir Dossa wants to meet your unique needs."

LTP: What inspired the idea for Function of Beauty?

Dr. Zahir Dossa: Through my PhD at MIT, which was concentrated in sustainability, I established The Argan Tree. The idea was to directly connect a cooperative of 60 women in Morocco, producing and manufacturing argan oil, with customers who wanted argan oil-based products. While it was a successful brand and we were growing rapidly, every time I asked for feedback from customers, they all gave different (and often conflicting) answers. Based on this, I had the idea of starting another shampoo/conditioner line that allows everyone to completely customize their own beauty products and gives each person exactly what he or she wants.

LTP: What are some other ways you live sustainably or keep yourself feeling healthy and balanced?

DZD: This is a cool and very interesting question that I don't get asked very frequently. One of the benefits of shifting our headquarters to NYC is being able to decrease my footprint significantly. I walk to work instead of driving, live in a micro-apartment and have awesome food options. I recently decided to become predominantly vegetarian, which has been a nice change. While I stopped doing it recently, I used to wake up at 4am to meditate: I’d do 30 minutes of concentrating on nothing, and 30 minutes of freethinking. 

As an aside, after I finished my PhD, I accepted a post-doc at the IMD Business School in Switzerland, focusing on sustainability—particularly corporate sustainability. In a couple months, I have a book coming out that I co-authored from MIT Press called Beyond the Triple Bottom Line: Eight Steps Toward a Sustainable Business Model.

LTP: What does happiness look like to you?

DZD: I think happiness is a function of expectations and outcomes, i.e. people who have high expectations run the risk of being unhappy if things don't turn out phenomenally well for them (from their own perspective). I have high expectations and always fear being unhappy, but thankfully, things have been going awesome so far and I would describe myself as a happy person. Shifting “happiness” to less tangible things (experiences, memories, friendships, relationships etc.) is always extremely important.

LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?

DZD: That’s a tough question. I think it's a two-step challenge: 1) figure out exactly who you are and 2) do what makes you happy, as often as possible. Life is tough and stressful, but it’s also joyous and fulfilling. I don't pretend that I love every single thing that I do. But I try to maximize the things that bring the most fulfillment to me—spending time with the wifey, working out, laughing with friends, taking trips and even challenging myself at work.