The Inquisitive Olive

Liz Whitman

The woman behind line of highly potent active serums that are mixed in real time to ensure ingredients are as effective as possible.

TIO: Liz Whitman

Kosterina Family,

Have you ever had a work spouse? Historically on Valentine’s Day, we’ve highlighted traditional epic love stories but this year, we decided to highlight a different kind of love that’s rare and special. The kind where there is no one else you’d rather walk to the coffee shop with for some good office gossip at 3pm. Work spouse love is real!

Liz Whitman, or Lizzie as I like to call her, (no one else does, I’m that special) started as my teammate but then she became one of my closest friends and then my co-founder. The company we launched, Manicube, was created to provide in-office services to women to level the playing field in a world where there were tons of in-office services for men (think: shoe shines, dry cleaning, etc). After an exit to The Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, we went our separate ways for a bit and then found ourselves founding companies as solo founders but still working together to share knowledge and build amazing products independently.

And as it turns out, we work well together and so do our products. Liz created Exponent Beauty, a line of highly potent active serums that are mixed in real time, right in your hand to ensure those ingredients are as effective as possible. If you’d like to try Exponent serums – the Retinol and Vitamin C are my favorites and then our Kosterina Extra Virgin Moisturizer goes on top – please use code ExponentKosterina20 for 20% off anything on Read on for our Inquisitive Olive interview with Liz.

Whitman is a beauty industry insider, a former corporate executive and a serial entrepreneur. After 15+ years retailing “potent” clinical skincare products, Whitman had her AHA moment while President of The Red Door by Elizabeth Arden: estheticians optimize precious active ingredients by mixing skincare fresh, in the moment. This led her to question: how effective can premixed retail products be? This insight led to the invention of Exponent Beauty the first skincare system that protects active ingredients for peak clinical potency.

Today, Liz shares some of her greatest insights in all things wellness & beauty, imparting some of her wisdom to living a fulfilling, joy-filled life.


What about you surprises people when you first meet them? 

Oh boy, probably a bunch of things. I’m funnier than you think I'm going to be. What you see is truly what you get, I can’t put on different personalities in different contexts. I pretty much only wear dresses, I don’t wear pants. I also disappear into bathrooms a lot to scam on people’s skincare and take powder room selfies (provided they have cool wallpaper or décor). It seems to confuse people.

Where do you live, and what do you love about your home/hometown? 

I’m a native New Yorker who now lives in San Francisco. I love both cities for very different reasons—the energy of the crowds and sheer scale of NYC is unparalleled and contagious and so many of my friends and family are local; but the scope of the natural beauty of the Bay Area is astonishing. Before moving to California, I would’ve said I'm an ‘active’ person but not an ‘outdoors’ person. But once you’ve seen a 350-foot Redwood tree perched on a cliff overlooking the angsty Pacific Ocean, you change your tune. Both cities have an incredible food scene, which is a non-negotiable for me!

Culture & Relationships

What values did the people you consider family instill in you? 

Get up, dress up, show up, speak up.

Who do you call family?

As an only child with a very small extended family (I only have two first cousins!), I have a very broad definition of family—of course, my amazing husband and dog, Edith; my nuclear family; my aunts, and cousins; but also, my wide group of friends from all walks of life—people I've met at school, through work, struck up a conversation in a bathroom somewhere (you seeing a theme yet?). I adore spending time with them and their families, getting to know their kids, being a part of their worlds. Family is both born and chosen. 

Food is love, so tell us: What’s a comfort food that you associate with family? 


Do you have a home remedy or family secret you’d like to share? 

Order the strangest thing on the menu.

How do you balance the responsibilities of family life (to kids, partners, parents, or others) with self-care? 

It’s tough! For me, I find the balance is a pendulum which never fully sits perfectly still in the middle but sort of swings gently one way or another depending on the circumstances. Ultimately, no matter what is going on in my family or work life, I have a few non-negotiable basic, self-care rituals that I stay consistent with: sleep, exercise, and, of course, a full skincare routine.


What sparked your wellness journey? 

To be honest, when I was living in NYC, I was always go, go, go, go, GO. It was really only in moving to California that I started to get curious about wellness practices—it’s a slower, more deliberate pace and I've found that culturally, there’s a celebration of one’s vulnerabilities and journeys.

What part of your morning ritual helps you start the day on the right foot?

My skincare routine. Truly. It's a quiet moment for myself—cleanse, serum, moisturizer, SPF—while taking sips of my morning coffee. This the critical first step in the “get up, dress up, show up, speak up” routine.

What’s your favorite place to unwind?

A maximalist, over-the-top, wallpapered bathroom-- it transports me to a more tropical location and I get to be alone and quiet. I cannot wait for the day that I own an apartment or a house and can go bananas on wallpaper.

Do you have rituals before bedtime? How do you unplug? 

Reading on my Kindle. This is not a ritual per se but I do not bring devices into the bedroom and I keep a notepad and pen by my bed to capture any creative, bright ideas I might have while I'm sleeping (vs. keeping to do list anxieties in my head as they pop in). When I wake up in the morning, 50% of what I've written is total gibberish and makes zero sense but sometimes, there’s a gold nugget idea in there!


Take us with you on a grocery shopping trip. What’s always in your cart (real or virtual)?

Bone broth, greek yogurt, pistachios, coffee beans. California has some of the most amazing fresh produce in the country and there’s a special farmer’s market in the park every Sunday across from where I live!

How do you stay healthy?

Exercise (running, pilates, weight training), lots of sleep.

What’s the one ingredient or spice you can’t live without?

Curry powder. I put it on everything

What’s your favorite Kosterina product and how are you using it?!

I truly love them all! Clearly, the original EVOO is my go-to for dressing any salad, the cooking oil for my veggies, I put the chocolate balsamic vinegar on greek yogurt (my husband puts it on ice cream, I'm just not an ice cream person—too cold!), and I use all of the Kosterina skincare products (the body oil is my current fave: not greasy, absorbs beautifully). 

Do you like hosting dinner parties?  If so, do you have a dish that’s your claim to fame?

Okay, so this is a bizarre dessert hack for the time-strapped who wants to ‘wow’ with something a little different... ginger snap cookies with a small slice of blue cheese on top and a raspberry on top. Never disappoints and always dazzles.

Have you been to Greece?

Yes, at least five times! My favorite people in the world, including Katina, are Greek and I've been lucky enough to hitch a ride on some trips with them... including Katina & Kosta’s epic Greek wedding in Koroni. I’ve never eaten such fresh fish... and I've never danced so hard.

Say you only have 10 minutes to squeeze in a workout. What do you do? 

Weight training! Sit ups, push ups, squats, glute exercises.

How do you keep your mind and body fit? What are your routines for movement and mindfulness?

I love to dance and mobility is really important for me as I have herniated disks in my back. Even just throwing on some tunes in the kitchen and dancing around keep me both mobile and stretched and, bonus: it puts me in an immediately good mood! Double bonus if I can get my dog, Edith, to dance around with me.

How do you stay the course when you’re not feeling motivated? 

I tell myself "you can do anything for 20 minutes."