On July 5, Caroline Calloway announced her latest business endeavour via Instagram stories: A $75 skincare serum called “Snake Oil.”
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This week, Caroline Calloway announced her latest business endeavour via her Instagram stories: A $75 skincare serum called “Snake Oil.”
“Okay, so, we all know that I have amazing skin,” Calloway starts the series of videos officially introducing the product. “I have the skin of a viral 18-year-old TikToker and I’m turning 30 in December,” she quips, though it’s seemingly true.
“It’s sort of a running joke that I’m always the one to get carded. I have never bought alcohol without a problem,” she tells us of her youthful facade — we miraculously got her on the phone within minutes. “If I forgot my ID, I’m not getting into the club. I have to go home and get it.”
Calloway’s serum may be called Snake Oil, but she insists she’s not a scammer as her reputation implies. Instead, Calloway seems more like an underestimated marketing mastermind who just so happens to look amazing in selfies.
“I think a lot of people think that I want to be a scammer. You know, like calling my book Scammer or calling this snake oil,” she admits. “I don’t want to be a scammer. I’m smart enough to know how to steer the ship I’ve been given through the choppy waters of the internet in the smartest way possible. And this is this is the smartest way possible.”
Calloway has always been passionate about making things by hand — she famously loves crafts and creating “potions,” as she calls them. Plus, the inspiration behind that lifestyle — and Snake Oil — isn’t one you would necessarily expect from a new downtown Manhattan fixture.
“The inspiration behind this was my first job was working the Fall’s Church Farmers Market,” Calloway recalls. “There was a lady who sold soaps, homemade lotions and face mists. It just seemed like a really pleasant thing to do.”
“I know most people with any kind of following approach their business from the Kardashian money making model,” she continues. “But the woman who sold soaps at the Falls’ Church Farmer’s Market was so nice. She seemed so happy.”
And that’s what Calloway wants for herself, too.
“I love making [this serum],” she adds. “I really feel like I stumbled onto something incredible just googling which oils help regenerate properties of DNA collagen, spot correction, protect against free radicals pollution, reduce the appearance of fine lines.”
For years, friends have encouraged Calloway sell her concoction, though she’s simultaneously aware of the entertainment industry’s toxic ideology when it comes to the aesthetics of ageing.
“[Entertainment] culture has a really poisonous attitude towards ageing,” Calloway admits, adding, “I’m painfully aware that my ability to be palatable to mainstream culture, in large part depends on my ability to slow down the appearance of ageing and myself. So I think that’s where that fiery burning interest came from.”
She also hasn’t exactly had time to pursue the aesthetic industry until now.
“It occurred to me one day, that it would be so funny to one day sell this under the name of Snake Oil. But for the past five years non stop, I’ve had much more pressing issues.”
Calloway then casually launches into a monologue detailing her remarkable life over the past decade, yet delivered a tone so nonchalant it’s as if she’s detailing especially temperate weather. In reality however, Calloway’s chronicles are worthy of a novel you just can’t put down — or full blown series, a la Gossip Girl or Bridgerton.
After recovering from her addiction to Adderall and getting sober, Calloway returned to New York to put the pieces of her life back together, devoting her time to finishing her long-awaited book, Scammer. But time and time again, Calloway’s life and subsequent projects imploded on themselves, coming to a head in 2019.
In September of that year, Calloway’s former best friend published an essay on her friendship with Calloway in The Cut. Just two days later, Calloway’s father was found dead in her childhood home: He died by suicide.
Calloway used art to cope with the series of tragedies, reflecting on the period in her book Scammer. But it was set to release just as the Covid-19 hit the States: March 15, 2020.
“Not only did the printing presses close, but the whole plot of the book sort of became irrelevant forever. Had to delete the whole manuscript. Start over from the beginning.”
Ever the entrepreneurial spirit, Calloway still found a way to make quarantine lucrative — or at least enough to pay back her publisher the $100 thousand she owed them. Amid lockdown, and from her grandmother’s condo in Florida, Calloway created an OnlyFans, raising money from the app to help return her debt. “You know, so I wouldn’t be scamming them.”
She’s since had success and bought back the rights to her own life story. Thus, she’s finally “able to write Scammer into the book that I always wanted to write, with all the glamour and Cambridge balls and the darkness that I left out the first time around.”
Calloway won’t say when her book is set to be released, as she “wants the day Scammer drops to be an absolute Taylor Swift style surprise.” That said, she does acknowledge she finally feels ready to tackle a new business venture.
Hence: Snake Oil’s long-awaited debut, finally coming to fruition.
“I just really enjoy making it. I have no plans to scale up, particularly. I just like making it and it’s one of many projects I’m excited about,” she says.
Since speaking with Indy100 however, Calloway has posted a full list of Snake Oil ingredients to Instagram, and seems to have increased production: Calloway shared a mock-up of a Snake Oil label with a new logo, and requested followers DM her to join the waiting list for the product, which drops July 7.
Before we hung up, I asked Calloway she chose the name “Snake Oil,” aside from it being funny.
“Oh, there’s no other reason. It’s f**king hilarious. Are you kidding me?”