First Person

An MIT grad leads a beauty company built on bacteria

Jasmina Aganovic combines science and creativity as president of the skin-care line Mother Dirt.

Pat Greenhouse/Globe staff

Mother Dirt is a brand built around bacteria. It’s meant to nurture the good bacteria of the skin. It’s the first and only line developed for the skin microbiome. Like our gut needs good bacteria in order to be healthy, the skin is the same. We have a product called AO+ Mist that contains this live culture of this bacteria. You spray it on after your shower, and our users [are] able to cut down or cut out other products that they’re using: deodorants, moisturizers, things along those lines.

I had really bad skin when I was a teenager. I was interested in the industry starting from that, because it came from a place of “This is how I can better take care of myself.” I loved turning that into a product. Seeing people interact with it is fulfilling. There’s a feedback loop, which I appreciate: putting something out there, seeing how people respond, and tweaking.


[AOBiome, the research company that founded the Mother Dirt brand] hired me because they wanted someone who would understand and respect the science and figure out how we could channel that to a consumer business. This is harder to do than it sounds, particularly at companies that are scientifically grounded like ours. We get very excited about the science, and you think that everyone is going to get excited about the science, but that’s not reality. It’s very difficult to sell science, but you can sell shared values. But we are a scientifically grounded company, and we didn’t want to hide that. It was really important for me to make sure that I was still infusing that into the different parts of the business in a way that made sense and worked to move the business forward.

BEST FACE FORWARD Aganovic will speak at the IDEAS UMass Boston conference on October 28. For tickets, go to umb.edu/ideas. For more on Mother Dirt, visit motherdirt.com.