Tag Archives: packaging inspiration

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


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

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!

Starting So Susan and Sourcing For Primary Packaging

6 Jan

This is my first soft announcement that I’m starting another brand called So Susan Cosmetics, which follows my evolution as a cosmetics entrepreneur to cater to a more sophisticated target audience, one who still buys colour cosmetics, but with the added infusions of anti-aging peptides, amino acids and plant botanicals that target signs of skin fatigue. The past few weeks I’ve been busy testing out formulations from my 2 reliable Italian manufacturers, which is just such a delight to do, I literally jump out of bed excited in the mornings!

Sourcing for the primary components though (the bottles, jars, compacts that will directly house your formulations) has been a huge headache. It’s common knowledge that packaging (both primary and secondary i.e. the boxes that house your primary components) generally costs more than the formulation itself (only in very exceptional circumstances have I come across a case that proves the opposite). Granted, I now have a larger budget than the GBP 700 I started with, but I still don’t want to spend it unnecessarily as in this economy, we all need financial buffers. The good news is that I’m finding lots of packaging suppliers who are also competing in this tough economy and who will go down on their minimums, from 10k to 3k for one based in Taiwan which I’ve found, and with no price increases. They’re called Chien Ching, a family business, and although they have limited choices, are easy to work with, at affordable qtys and prices. We’re talking about lipgloss containers with doe-foot applicators, fully customized with logo/brand print, at something like USD 0.20 or less per unit.

As for glass components and bottles with treatment pumps, airless containers (for primers and foundations),  this is an ongoing mission, and I will spread the word on this blog again once I’ve found a company worth touting.

Inspirational Entrepreneurs : Jeanine Lobell

3 Nov

I’m really loving this article here about Jeanine Lobell and how she first founded Stila Cosmetics. It wasn’t the same brand it is now (the entire line really is full of copycat products, non-inspiring, unimaginative in all sense of the word, whether it’s to do with the product concepts, ingredients or philosophy. What do you expect from an owner who manages a private equity firm for a living?).

In 1994 when Jeanine founded the line, like all great entrepreneurs passionate about making their ideas work regardless of how little money they had, she packaged her lipsticks and eyeshadows in little paper tubes sourced from Custom Paper Tubes (in their website, they continue to show Stila off as the pioneer in this type of packaging). Jeanine also talks about how they managed to get a contract manufacturer to do only 500 pieces per shade for them, an amazing feat considering minimums are now 3000 per shade! When I manage to find out who this lab is, I will sing its praises right here.

I remember coveting every single thing Stila came out with, from the incredible eyeshadows with inspiring quotes from women inside the caps (genius, genius, genius!), to the All Over Shimmer (the blue tube that Jeanine talks about in her interview), I swear it was the world’s first illuminizer.

It was because of women like Jeanine and her incredible story of creation and success that I was inspired later on in life to create Jelly Pong Pong. A line with soul, that tells a story, and that inspires the creative in you.

Ever the avid Stila fan, here are some catalogue pages I still keep (scanned and forever etched in my hard drive!) :

OK, so the concealer pots and loose powders were teeny-tiny, but you can imagine how covetable they were in a sea of boring plastic packaging and super serious makeup lines.

And here the wonderful All Over Shimmers in blue metal tubes. Whoever thought of using metal tubes to packaging cosmetics in those days?

And remember these awesome Stila cans, used to hold everything from brushes to sets of their products? Cans were big in the 90’s, remember Jaqua Girls? The (now defunct line) had a line of Spa Pamper kits (miniature bath soaks, creams, sponges and toe separators) all packaged in a giant paint can for women to have DIY spa days together at home, and was so popular that even Oprah featured them on her show!

Amazing women with amazing stories of entrepreneurship in the cosmetics industry. Thank you Jeanine for having inspired me and so many others to follow their dreams, for always breaking barriers and for creating a line worth touting.

Who Prints Our Packaging?

6 Oct

Just received delivery of the secondaries of our new mineral foundation SPF 15 range. After all this time, I still get excited at the littlest things. It’s a culmination of months of working at every single detail, from formulating with the right ingredients, to designing the packaging (and rejecting soooo many prototypes), getting the text right, proof-reading,proof-reading,proof-reading. I am a stickler for the perfect text with zero typos. Getting every single colour right, this is particularly difficult when working with gradient backgrounds (colours that run from one shade to another, mixing in the middle to create a different one).

OK, one of the questions I constantly get asked by customers, trade press & everyone in between is where we source our fantastic packaging. This is an early Christmas present for you guys, I am finally going to reveal our printing source (yes, we have exclusively been working with ONE printer since we started, literally unheard of in this extremely price-sensitive, fickle industry). His name is… (long drumroll here)…

Chan of Optima Printers and he’s based in little ole Penang, my beautiful island in Malaysia. Here’s his email : optimaprinters@gmail.com.

Sorry no website, Optima is a family business that he runs single-handedly and he’s been with us right from the very beginning. There is absolutely nothing in paper he can’t make – remember those boxes with zips that we designed for our Teint Sublime primer? Or what about those 3D pop-up boxes for Gourmet Lip Therapy? Not to mention those cloth-bound, mini spy-books that we made together for Milk & Liquorice.

Here’s a big THANK YOU shout-out to Chan, we love working with you!




Getting Inspired by Fashion Week Invites

9 Sep

I am loving this post by Refinery29 on fashion week invites & how inspiring they are for packaging design. I’ve always found the best way to inspire yourself when designing packaging is to go to your favourite design blogs. A particularly good one to which I refer over & over again is Creature Comforts. EZ has an amazing way of bringing the best design talents together (established & emerging ones), with great photography which always seems to inspire that aha! moment in me. I love that she categorizes her blog according to colour & not subject matter, pure genius!

For illustrations (and I have discovered these can really bring life & soul to your products), I head over to Pikaland. I’ve been following Amy for so long that it was only recently I found out she’s Malaysian as well! Positively providential!