Interview Series: Q&A with Dominika Minarovic and Elsie Rutterford, Founders of Clean Beauty Co
Euromonitor International is pleased to present an interview with Dominika Minarovic and Elsie Rutterford, Founders of Clean Beauty Co.
Clean Beauty Co started with a shared love for health and wellness. It began with a natural beauty blog, workshops, and a beauty recipe book, which quickly transformed into the launch of beauty products under the brand BYBI, which stands for ‘By Beauty Insiders’, in March 2017.
What made you decide to start Clean Beauty Co?
We saw there was a disconnect between people scrutinising labels and being picky about what they eat, but not applying the same rules to their use of cosmetics. This disconnect made us question the labels of our favourite products, and what we found propelled us to become more educated consumers. We documented this journey across our blog and social media, and Clean Beauty Co was born.
We started sharing beauty product recipes on the Clean Beauty Co platform, which quickly developed into a series of DIY workshops. These workshops started in 2016, and gave us a few hours with our audience to understand their concerns, what they’re thinking about the market, while they are walking away with knowledge and beauty products. We also published our book “Clean Beauty” in January 2017. From then we started seeing revenue coming in even without launching any products. Next came our product range, and we launched Babe Balm and Prime Time in March and May 2017, and we have plans to extend the range this year.
Transparency and integrity are the fundamental pillars of the Clean Beauty Co, which is split across the content and BYBI Beauty, the product arm of the business.
When you talk about the Clean Beauty Company, what does ‘Clean’ mean?
Clean beauty is for us, about stripping away the fluff and pointless fillers found in mainstream beauty products, and formulating with purpose. Every ingredient used has holistic as well as functional benefits, and we find that this philosophy is best aligned with natural formulation, so we don’t include synthetic ingredients in our products.
How important is the online channel to communicate with the consumer?
Online for us is a huge platform to be able to communicate with customers and get them to try our products. People feel much more comfortable buying beauty products online these days. And while there is the element of wanting to touch and smell the product, it is easier, particularly when it is a repeat purchase, to sell online. And this takes us back to our community and how we started, by being content driven. Because when someone learns with us online, and sees that we are not just trying to sell the product but share recipes, content, events and a book with them, they connect with the brand emotionally. I think across the board consumers are moving away from mass production. People are thriving for that connection with the brand, whether it’s researching them or communicating with them, but even knowing that they are produced locally, they have good ethics behind the brand.
Do you think that the demonisation of “unnatural” ingredients could be of detriment to the beauty industry?
Fundamentally, the shift that we’re seeing in the beauty industry as a whole is the demand for transparency. Brands are responding to this by not necessarily re-formulating and making their products more natural, it’s about them being more open about how they produce things. And I think that this demand will mean that brands will have to shift the way that they market and produce their products. But I don’t necessarily think that would turn people off buying beauty products.
Do you think the clean beauty recipe book could encourage cannibalisation of sales of your products?
It probably seems like it doesn’t make a lot of sense commercially that we give away recipes and then try to sell products. We think what worked in our favour, which are two things: firstly, not everyone is going to make their own beauty products; they don’t have time or can’t be bothered. Secondly, what separates us are the two brands with the two offerings which is for one, the book, workshops and Clean Beauty contents that is about very simple recipes that we share and people can make themselves, such as face masks and body scrubs. While the other is the brand product side of it, where we offer products which are not as easy to make, which for us is about driving innovation, by saying natural doesn’t have to be five ingredients or less, natural can be as scientific as mainstream beauty. It can be really unique ingredients and can be about high performance skin care, and feels luxurious.
Have you come across any difficulty in, for instance, legislation?
The issue around legislation is that there isn’t any when it comes to the terms of natural, organic, clean, and green. So it leaves the door wide open for us and what we call ‘green washing’; often bigger brands take advantage of packaging something as natural or organic, when actually it is not and nobody can actually call them out on it. The issue we have is that at the moment there isn’t really in the UK a certification for ‘natural’, but that is about to change. There is an organic certificate from the Soil Association, which is very well respected and has a very rigorous progress.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re focused on skincare, but if anything we will move into colour but that would be hybrid as we would never launch a mascara, for example, rather a tinted version of Babe Balm, or something similar.
That bespoke element is a very nice part of making your own beauty products. The way that we are incorporating this into the BYBI brand is around customising through different products. For example, you may mix the Babe Balm with our Detox Dust, which is going to make a moisturising mask for dryer skin types. As far as the brand’s next few months, we will launch a booster set, little droppers that you can drop into your existing skin care, which will be based on the customer’s skin type, environment, and night and day use.