14th Aug 2020
I am so excited for this blog post as hopefully, it will become the first of a little series here on the WowHow blog space, called “beauty in-depth”. This is where we will speak to people in the beauty industry about their experiences, starting their small businesses and even their favourite products.
Personally, having found the opportunity to work at WowHow through an incredible girl power graduate platform on social media, I thought what better way than to find a small business driven by a girl boss, that was also a member of the community. That is when I came across the incredible Isobel Perl, who is the founder and CEO of her very own skincare company, PERLcosmetics. I found her social platforms and business story so amazing, so I am incredibly excited to share our little interview all about her brand and products. I hope this will be the first of many!
Obviously, it’s been a difficult few months so how have you found lockdown?
Lockdown for me has been a strange one.
I was so used to running at 100 miles an hour in my life. I’d be up at 6:45 and wouldn’t return home till past 10 pm. I had an incredible inability to say no to things, and as such would end up with a social calendar booked out for months. As my mum would say, I was burning the candle at both ends. As such, I ended up burning myself out multiple times.
Lockdown forced me to slow down and the change from being on the go constantly to being confined to my flat was a big contrast. I was incredibly thankful we were able to go for an hour exercise a day as it allowed me to clear my mind.
I was adjusting to lockdown life as well as I could, however, 6 weeks in I found out I was losing my job. This is when things started to get tough and I decided to move back to my parents’ home to wait out the rest of lockdown. Sometimes you just need your mum around to lift your spirits!
After a week of feeling despair, frantic and worry about my future, I decided to see losing my job as an opportunity rather than a setback and I used this time to start working on an idea I’d had back in November 2019.
Now lockdown is easing, I’m finding it slightly difficult to settle back into a way of normal life. I definitely don’t want to go back to being on the go 24/7 and burning myself out. I want to be able to find a happy balance of plans and free time, so I’m making sure I have a few plans but also free time to be more spontaneous (COVID dependent of course!).
We absolutely love your brand so would love to know where your inspiration for Perl Cosmetics came from?
The idea was dreamt up last year, when I was going through quite a difficult period in my life. I was really struggling with finding my purpose in life and felt totally lost. I was working in a job that I knew wasn’t for me and on reflection, I realise I was miserable and really lacked passion. I remember meeting a friend for dinner who I hadn’t seen in some time. She was so passionate speaking about her career, and I came away feeling so deflated and as though I had just moaned the entire meal about my life and career going nowhere.
When back at home, I broke down to my parents and realised how lost I felt. I decided to take action into my hands and needed to find direction in life. I began writing down my passions in life, which of course included beauty, skincare and cosmetics. I wondered how I could direct my career into this industry. It was around this time I also read an article online about two young e-commerce guys who started a hugely successful skincare business in Australia which sold only clay masks. I thought to myself ‘What is their competitor in the UK?’ and I couldn’t think of one single skincare business that is known only for clay masks. On top of this, if two guys could make it in this industry than why the heck can I not?!
I bought the domain name, perlcosmetics.com, and set up my Instagram @perlcosetics. However, wasn’t the start I had imagined for the business. I knew setting up a business would be hard work, and alongside a full-time job I realised I wasn’t in a position to get it up and running.
I hopped back onto the hamster wheel of the corporate world and deep down I knew I’d never leave job security to set up the business. Which is why for me COVID-19 has been a bit bitter sweet, as I had the choice taken out of my hands.
Since losing my job in mid-May, the idea of PERLcosmetics has come to life and has evolved into what it is today! I am so proud of what I’ve achieved in such a short time, I just can’t wait to hopefully see it continue to grow!
Have you always had an interest in cosmetics and skincare?
I have been OBSESSED with both cosmetics and skincare for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I worked on the Benefit counter in my local Debenhams and I absolutely loved it. My draws are overflowing with the latest makeup palettes and skincare sets. It was only fitting I’ve ended up turning this passion into a business!
How did it feel to launch your own brand at such a young age?
It’s been daunting for sure, however, I am so passionate about what I am doing, and I believe wholeheartedly that I can make it work. I’m lucky that my dad has set up his own businesses in the past so have been able to ask him for advice and help with respect to business matters. I’ve also had so much support from strangers, friends and family which has really given me the confidence to carry on!
The skills I’ve learnt from my 9-5 jobs have helped me enormously too, in understanding how businesses function, how to manage time and all those other key skills you learn. I think I would have found it a lot more difficult to start a business fresh out of university. Although it definitely can be done!
We love that the ingredients are so natural so how did you choose them all?
I did a lot of competitor research and looked at what ingredients were used in other clay masks on the market. I made a spreadsheet of all the ingredients and then began researching the benefits of each one. It was actually at this point that I decided to include the oil to accompany the mask. I realised that the pre-mixed masks on the market had some wonderful oils in them, which I really wanted to include and hey presto came the illuminating oil!
With my surname being Perl, I knew I had to include pearl powder. At the time I didn’t even know if it was used in skincare. It quickly became apparent that pearl powder has been used in skincare and medicine for thousands of years and has amazing benefits for revitalising and illuminating tired and dull skin.
Once I refined my ingredients it then came trials and formulating using different ingredients to create the formula I use today! It was during trial phase that I decided to include the elderberry powder, which adds a beautiful earthy aroma (as the product is fragrance-free!) and also a gentle exfoliant on the skin.
Who is your gorgeous mask suitable for (skin type/skin concerns etc) and how does it leave the skin feeling?!
As the mask is customisable in texture and amount of oil it is suitable for all skin types! We use a mixture of kaolin clay which is perfect for sensitive, dry and mature skin. We also use calcium bentonite which is a type of clay that is brilliant for oily complexions as it helps to remove excess oil from the skin.
By being able to alter the amount of illuminating oil, you can mix your mask to suit your skin. For oily complexions, we suggest using up to 10 drops of illuminating oil and for dry/sensitive complexions we suggest using up to 20 drops of illuminating oil.
Once you wash the mask off, you can instantly see the glow. It’s incredible! The ingredients work to remove impurities from the pores, stimulate collagen, calm and soothe irritated skin and replace lost moisture. Your skin is left feeling fresh, soft and illuminated and your pores will be almost invisible!
Is it important for you to have a sustainable brand?
It was so important to me to try and make my brand as sustainable as possible. I knew I wanted to use glass packaging which can be reused and upcycled. I’m also going to be looking into a way to have the pots refilled, or perhaps offer a scheme to return the packaging and offer a discount once the business is more established.
As I formulate and produce the masks myself, I know there are no harmful fumes emitted due to factory use or any waste of materials. All packing I receive is recycled or reused too. I currently have so many boxes from orders that I’ve repurposed for storage.
You’re on a desert island and you can have one cosmetic and one skincare product, what do you choose?
For cosmetics it has to be my Anastasia Beverly Hills dip brow, I am ADDICTED to it. For skincare, it’s got to be Clinique take the day off cleansing balm. Always remember to take your makeup off ladies! Your skin will love you for it.
What’s next for Perl Cosmetics?
Now I’ve officially launched, and orders are somewhat flying out (!!) the next thing is to order more stock. I initially started with a very small launch of 150 masks. However, seeing the business is growing, I will need to upscale to meet demand!
From this, I really want to expand my product range. I’ve been toying with the idea of a cleansing balm or facial oil. I’d also love to expand into a cleanser, exfoliator and moisturiser to complete the set with the clay mask.
Honestly, the sky is the limit and I have big plans for this brand! I’m so excited to see it grow and see my customers reap the benefits of the mask. I can’t believe my little passion project its now a reality and I’m so humbled by all the support I’ve had!
Wow … what a woman with an amazing business. I know I cannot wait to see PERLcosmetics grow, so make sure to check out their Instagram page and website. Don’t forget to get your hands on the amazing pearl powder clay mask, we know you will absolutely LOVE IT!
Make sure to let us know what you think of the start of our little series, and if you are a small beauty or skincare business who would like a little extra shoutout to an amazing and supportive community, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
We have some really exciting things in the pipeline for small and indie beauty businesses which we cannot wait to share with you all. In the meantime, make sure to download the WowHow app on the App Store or Google Play to try, apply and buy a range of beauty products and techniques.
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