The Business of Beauty
Fed up with the less-than-sexy colours and bland packaging of organic make-up, Sasha Plavsic decided to launch her own product line. Her goal: organic products that don't scream "green". Her triumph: ILIA Beauty, featuring gorgeous shades, praise from top fashion experts, and yes, even up to 85% organic! I recently had a chance to chat with Sasha Plavsic to talk business, and beauty!
Anna Wallner: What is the story of the ILIA brand?
Sasha Plavsic: My background is in graphic design and I had worked in branding and packaging for major cosmetics companies like Urban Decay. I decided I wanted to do my own thing, and at the same time my mom was taking a more natural route in her life. I looked at her “all-natural” make-up and really did not like the colours that she had, nor the packaging.
AW: I know sometimes it seems like organic and make-up don’t go well together.
SP: Yes, and people always ask me “why don’t you have ‘organic’ on the box?” Or “why don’t you package it in bamboo?” But I felt like that’s what so many others are doing already to say organic.
If you can create a product that performs well, has a good colour selection, feels good, and can be as pure as possible, you shouldn’t have to say it’s organic. The right colour and the performance is what matters, and the ingredients for me are a bonus. I get to make and provide something that is a bit cleaner.
AW: Your products are in Barney’s and Net-A-Porter.com. How did you attract such big retailers?
SP: I saw a major hole in the market. I don’t want to put other brands down when I say this, but I feel like beauty can be kind of cheesy, with kind of cliche aspects to it, and I felt it needed some refinement. I would go to certain beauty stores and they would do my face up and they’d be like you need this foundation and this primer and these 10 brushes and I’d be like “what am I going to do with this?” So I wanted to provide something for women, like me, that is easy to use.
Plus I think it’s important to set yourself up in the right retail stores, and have respect for those retail stores by not selling to other stores that are half a block away from them. And we’ve had some great press, that really helped.
AW: What advice can you give people who might not have a lot of money but want to launch their own product?
SP: It’s a risk. But if you are the type of person that wants to start something, you need a certain mindset, and that mindset has to be GO. There isn’t going to be one wall, but 20 walls to bash through everyday. You need to keep going, and be strong enough to withstand that. Condition your mind to understand there will be problems that happen. And have the right people around you. And you really need to know your market; experience working in that market and with who you are going to be selling to.
AW: On a lighter note, any advice on how to choose the best colour lipstick?
SP: The best way to tell is to test the colour on the back of your finger. If you like the way it looks on the back of your finger, you will like the way it looks on your lips.
SP: Yes, it’s more accurate than the back of your hand.
AW: Is there one colour that works for everyone?
SP: Warm blush tends to work well for a neutral look. Reds can be really tricky. I tend to veer on the warmer side of red because too much blue in red can make your teeth look a different colour. That being said, there have been some major requests for bluer reds so we will be going in that direction.
Arabian Knights (right) is a very berry shade.
AW: I love the berries.
SP: Yes, and you know what, it works really well on people who have blue eyes and blonde hair, and it also works really well on people who have dark hair, fair skin, or dark skin. So I’d say berries are actually easier than reds.
Its almost like two opposite ends of the spectrum. You can have something really light that can work on a lot of people, like Nobody’s Baby, or you can go to something like Arabian Knights that will also work on almost everyone.
To find Ilia products near you check out iliabeauty.com.
|Thanks to our friends at Collage Collage, who let us drink tea and chat in their