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Today It’s All About Me…

3 Aug

There are some days when I wake up and know that today is rest day, today it’s all about Susan the living, breathing person rather than Susan the entrepreneur, or the founder of a cosmetics company, or Susan the employer. I take 3 deep breaths while still in bed and do a silent prayer, thanking God for the blessings I see in my life and asking Him to further give me the wisdom and courage to pursue the tasks of the day. (Yes I really do live by the day, maybe not so quite in the moment – it’s something I’m still learning to do ever since I read Ekhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” – but neither do I wallow in too much worry for what’s to come next year or the year after that).

And of course, after my morning coffee ritual (these 10 minutes of just making my espresso is what I call my “minutes of reflection and peace”, extremely invigorating when it’s just you pottering about in the kitchen, watching the coffee brew and taking in that delightful aroma), I curl up on my sofa and go straight to a good book. At the moment, it’s Paolo Coelho’s “Aleph” and oooh the quotes in that book are life-changing! My favourite is definitely the one about going for your dreams (see below for today’s Beauty Tweet and share it if you agree)

Later, I do what is becoming a near-obsession lately i.e. reading business blogs mostly recommended by other female entrepreneurs (and no, they don’t all have to be written by women, as long as they’re inspiring and nurturing). A few good ones I’ve been following are :

  1. Marie Forleo
    I think she single-handedly reinvented the whole concept of life & business coaching.
  2. Melissa Cassera
    Melissa makes me smile (always a good thing during your downtime), she has some seriously good tips on PR and Marketing yourself and your brand, done in a big, brazen way which I love!
  3. Mastin Kipp’s The Daily Love
    I sometimes wish I came up with this, little snippets of how to love yourself and others in your mailbox every fortnight. Helpful, Hopeful, Heavenly.
  4. Angela Jia Kim’s Savor The Success Videos
    When Angela first started vlogging her experiences on starting her Om Aroma brand, she had less than 10 followers, and I was one of them. Fast forward 6 years later, and she not only has a successful skincare brand, but a business network for female entrepreneurs making at least 6-figure sums (yes, that is a pre-requisite to joining her Savor Success Circle!).
  5. Neil Patel
    A british transplant now based in Seattle, Neil is a serial entrepreneur and I’ve used most of his companies’ services since starting out in business myself (the Hello Bar, Crazy Egg, etc…). A great marketer that we can all learn from.

Another thing I like to do on my “It’s All About Me” day is to work, and I know that sounds counter-intuitive but when I say work, it really has none of the negative connotations relating to doing something that someone forced upon me, or the daily humdrum of having to complete a project when all you really want to do is bask in the sunny outdoors with a lemonade. I L-O-V-E the creative part of my work, so it really is something I jump out of bed excited to do, especially when designing packaging, creating colours and tweaking our formulations. You can see from below, my hands are constantly (and I meant constantly!) covered in makeup. The picture below was taken when I was trying to compare whether the fill would fit in nicely with the injection colour of the primary component samples that I’d received just a couple of days ago.

Photo 03-08-2014 11 56 59

And below another shot (sorry I could have made it clearer but it’s my “All About Me” day today :)) of the 2 primaries which I have to choose from, a really fun part of the creative process as you look for brand & design consistencies.

Photo 03-08-2014 11 50 28 copy

 

TODAY’S BEAUTY TWEET : “Don’t be intimidated by others’ opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do”@sosusanbeauty

Creating a Cashmere Blush

9 Jul

So here’s another project I started working on, oh about 8 months back when a girlfriend mentioned how she would love it if she could magically infuse the perfect shade of blush into a powder primer (yes I think that’s a genius idea too, why are primers always in liquid form? After our moisturiser, eye cream and sun screen, do we really need to slap any more gook on, and then follow that up with foundation?!) to both give colour and a smoother complexion . So of course I had to send an email that very evening to Lara, our trusty cosmetics chemist to see if anything could be done, and even though she often tries to talk me out of the zany ideas I have (normally emailed over to her in the middle of the night and then expecting an answer first thing the following morning!), she was really excited about this one and got to working on it very quickly.

FirstVersion-CashmereBlush

The first version (as you can see above) didn’t quite meet expectations as the powders often came loose, adhering to the mirror and sides of the packaging, not a pretty sight if our whole point is to delight our customers each time they open our compact. It was however a really remarkable formulation as it went on smooth as a velvety cream and reduced the sight of small pores, so technically it worked a treat. But the aesthetics needed to be improved.

The next version was infused with small amounts of silicone (the main ingredient in most primers), which I believe not only locked in the amazing texture and reduced the flyaways but when applied, seemed to minimize even further the appearance of small pores.

CashmereBlushShades

We chose (as you can see above) 7 multidimensional shades, 3 with shimmer and 4 without, to flatter as many tastes and skin tones as possible. Not an easy task after having been shown 25 beautiful colours! I wanted them all!

Now onto the packaging which I wanted to be as bright, happy and optimistic as the promise of the Cashmere Blush. After having worked with amazing illustrators like Bijou and Lucy, I knew I wanted to work with unique illustrations that were both cheerful and upbeat, so I contacted Ning (whose email I now have approval to release in case you were looking for something similar : ning.illustrates at gmail dot com) who is also one inspirational lady herself as she works 12 hours as an investment banker, coming home to then do her sketches at night (whoever said bankers didn’t have a soul hasn’t met her yet!)

Illustrations

She put together 2 amazing little sketches for me (above), and even though they were just rough ideas, I loved them so much they were immediately scanned in, tweaked (just a teeny tiny bit), and incorporated into our secondary packaging with a wonderful quote on beauty and youth by Franz Kafka (see below for today’s Beauty Tweet and share it if you agree)

And voila…A final view of our Cashmere Blush (with PoreFade™ Technology) in both its primary and secondary packaging…

CashmereBlush

TODAY’S BEAUTY TWEET : “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” @sosusanbeauty

Working with Bijou Karman

16 Apr

Out of the many hats I wear as an entrepreneur (and I know many of you will be familiar with this – from trying to make sense of all your accounts, being your own bookkeeper, organizing the logistics, packing the products, designing your packaging, making sales pitches, updating your website, etc…), my one favourite thing I truly truly delight in is working directly with illustrators. They are an integral part of the So Susan brand, not only as a direct contributor to many of our packaging and collateral designs, but once a day, for an hour or 2, I allow myself to simply switch my emails off, turn my phone silent and browse Behance, Pinterest and my ultimate favourite Trendland for inspirational artists who really have a story to tell.

so susan banner

When I first came across Bijou Karman’s illustrations via Fashionary.org, I just knew I had to work with her, have her tell the story of So Susan and by extension our unique formulations. Her works have such a haunting, unconventional yet beautiful, delicate quality to it that I couldn’t stop looking at her girls, each facial expression and thoughtful gaze conveying their life stories, making you wonder where they came from, what their dreams were, what or who they were thinking about at that moment in time. I immediately drew parallels with the whole ethos of So Susan, that we are a cosmetics company but one with soul, with a story to tell, with one-of-a-kind formulations that are made not to cover imperfections, but to reveal the beauty of skin and celebrate the whole idea of uniqueness.

 

I keep going back to the phrase “telling a story”, but honestly this is what makes a brand tick. If you don’t have a story to tell, it’s as though your brand has no voice and when it has no voice, it’s unable to shout out to the masses and make them gather round, listen and be captivated. So thank you Bijou for being such an amazing ‘collaboratrice’, you’ve made our products come alive and you have inspired me no end. Here are some of my favourite works of hers :

concealer quad box

UniversalBlush-Secondary Screenshot 2014-04-16 13.02.48

edgar allan poe quote

Weekend Spent Formulating Foundations

17 Mar

Buriti Foundation Samples

OK, so not quite the weekend (that itself was spent just finalizing the colours), this has been in the making for 2 whole months trying to get the texture just right while being able to incorporate the various peptides and botanical oils that I wanted. Ever since trying Buriti Fruit Oil on my hair and mixed in with my facial oils, I’ve been quite obsessed with this slightly orange, matte oil that just moisturizes everything (hair, nails, skin) without leaving an oily residue or any nutty, cooking-oil smells (think : Argan!). Also as I’m now in my early thirties, the word “anti-aging” appears more and more in my vocabulary and in nearly every other sentence I utter when I’m in the lab formulating and even though I still sometimes get asked for my ID when buying a bottle of wine at my local Waitrose, lines and wrinkles (and my near-obsession with preventing them from appearing on my face) are still a big worry. So I had Lara (our cosmetics chemist) incorporate the trusty Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamins C and E and the Buriti Oil into a few formulations (matte, waterproof, dewy, light, tinted moisturizers, etc…) and she very kindly (and quickly! – which I’m always grateful for) developed samples for me to test at home on myself and absolutely everyone I come in contact with.

Foundation Shades

Help A Reader!

20 Dec

Name: Jasprin Smith
Email: jlasbeautique@gmail.com
Your Questions: Susan,

I am looking to start a lip gloss line to go with a business I am starting.  I don’t want a full blown cosmetics line, only lip gloss.  Do you have any recommendations for companies that do packaging and labeling of lip gloss?  I am going to use my own formula, I just need the packaging.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Jasprin

Collaborating with Amazing Illustrators

21 Nov

In this business where I have to say I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many talented artists, graphic designers and creative minds, it’s sometimes so difficult to decide with whom I’d like to collaborate most. However once in a while, the stars align, the creative gods smile upon me, and I have the honour of meeting incredible illustrators who just epitomize our brand and the message we want to send out. One such person is Lucy Joy Oldfield, whom I worked with over a year ago to develop some illustrations for Jelly Pong Pong’s catalogue.

I spend hours upon hours reading design blogs, sitting on my sofa with a cup of rooibos tea & going through these blogs are a HUGE part of my life! It’s one of the ways I inspire myself and my team to create wonderful products in unique, one-of-a-kind packaging. It was through one of these blogs (I’m sorry, I completely forgot which one as I go through too many!) that I spotted Lucy’s playful yet sophisticated illustration for a tea company and I just knew I had to meet and work with her. You’ll see why below :

I love everything to do with desserts! Lucy very beautifully incorporated our Soap Popsicles (below) into this particular illustration of the inside of a girly fridge. It cemented the fact that she really thought about the design and about making it relevant to the Jelly Pong Pong brand.

 

 

 

Our irresistible Soap Popsicles lovingly made by hand, which we could never keep in stock, each time we brought them out, they’d sell out! I love that Lucy drew them upside down in the fridge, as though they were just being made & were still freezing in their little moulds.

 

 

 

My other favourite image is this baking scene with magical sprinkles, our “Jelly Pong Pong” branded mixing bowl and a little recipe book inspired by our Gourmet Lip Therapy spy-book packaging. The detailed patterns on the cleverly placed fork, salt & pepper shakers and butterflies are just incredible.

 

 

 

Simply the most girlish, adorable bubblegum machine in the world. This particular image so captured everyone’s imagination and hearts in the office that we decided to further immortalize it in the form of a product, an ingenious lip & cheek stain by the name Jelly Stain (see below).

 

This is the new Jelly Stain with Lucy’s incredibly sweet rendition of a bubble gum machine. Due to printing restrictions, we had to limit the entire tube to just 3 colours, but it works really well together with the unique, multifunctional formulation, sending a consistent brand message and creating excellent shelf presence. The lower count print also financially made sense for us without jeopardizing overall product impact.

A big Thank You to you Lucy, our design heroine!

Sneak Peek : Featherweight Cream-To-Powder Blush

23 Apr

I’ve finally managed to put together the formulation and primary packaging of So Susan‘s new Featherweight Cream-To-Powder blush, which is my version of a creamy silk-based blush that even oily skins can wear for colour that lasts up to 8 hours. Here’s a picture of it (sorry I didn’t manage to get it professionally taken, but seeing as it’s for my blog, I think this is much more authentic!) :

I think the most difficult thing for any formulator is to choose the right shades as well as the right NUMBER of shades. I had over 200+ shades to choose from and let me tell you, whittling it down to just 7 took me 2 full weeks, and hours upon hours of testing it on different skin tones (thank you Shabana, Lee & all your amazing volunteers!).

This formulation is one I’m extremely proud of. It lives up to So Susan‘s mantra for solving skin dilemmas and I’m ever so grateful to my italian counterparts for making it just the way I want it. My apologies Federica for what may have seemed like hundreds of tweaks, but a big thank you for making it happen! And within budget too… that always puts a huge smile on my face.

The primary is a mirrored 37mm compact electroplated in gold. It feels lovely and heavy in my hands, and gives just the right “click” when I close it (very important!). My next post will be about an amazing courier company (yes, even better than Fast Lane Couriers which I spoke about it this post), which has allowed me to send & receive packaging samples from China & Taiwan at amazing prices, and even better service. They were instrumental in delivering these gold compacts to me on time, so keep your eyes peeled for that post!