Sarah Brown of Pai Skincare by Danielle Shepherd.
I’ve been a big fan of Pai Skincare for some time – and it seems I am not the only one. This small ethical beauty brand has quickly garnered a huge celebrity following that includes the likes of Natalie Portman. All products are certified organic and formulated in house by inspiring founder Sarah Brown. I asked her to answer a few questions:
You were inspired to start Pai Skincare after suffering from your own skin allergies. What were you doing previously and how did you set about creating the brand?
I was previously PR Manager for E & J Gallo Wines. The inspiration for Pai came from my personal battles with difficult skin and my disillusionment with the lack of transparency in the natural beauty sector. I came to the task with the mindset of a frustrated customer and fixed all the things that bothered me about the other products I’d tried on my aggravated skin and rejected. I’d always harboured ambitions to develop my own brand – there is something profoundly rewarding about creating something meaningful from nothing but your own hard work!
Pai Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream.
And how does it differ from other beauty skincare brands on the market?
The complete Pai range is certified organic by the Soil Association and is designed specifically for people with sensitive skin. We formulate all our own products, so we’re experts on ingredients and don’t compromise by adding irritating chemicals or alcohol. All the manufacturing is done in-house as well. So many other natural brands use contract manufacturers to formulate and make their products, so I think they don’t have the same connection with their products as we do at Pai. We also list all ingredients in plain English so you know exactly what’s in the bottle. We’re still the only beauty brand to do this. Most ingredient lists appear in the obligatory Latin, which we don’t think is particularly reader-friendly!
What have you learnt along the way and what has been the hardest part of setting up your own business?
Stick to your principles, don’t compromise and keep striving for perfection. The hardest part has been lack of money – the recession hit just when some investment would have been useful to get things moving. However, it has meant that Pai has been profitable from day one and it is really satisfying to have built both a brand and a business.
Illustration by Erica Sharp.
Where do you source your ingredients from?
We try and source the majority of our ingredients from Europe to keep our moisturiser miles to a minimum. Some of the more unusual plant extracts do come from further afield.
One of your latest products is the wonderfully named Fragonia and Sea Buckthorn Instant Hand Therapy Cream. Why did you decide to formulate it with these ingredients, and how did you find out about their properties?
We designed this therapeutic cream for particularly dry, sensitive and chapped hands. Fragonia is an exciting new ingredient from Australia that is similar to Tea Tree oil. It has the same anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties but without the irritation. It is far kinder on the skin and has a softer, sweeter aroma. Sea Buckthorn is bursting with anti-oxidants and carotenoids which nourish and regenerate damaged skin. What’s clever about this product is that it absorbs instantly. My central aim was to create a cream that packed a punch (from a skin conditioning perspective) but without leaving the usual greasiness you get with hand creams. I like to apply a hand cream and be able to hold a pen afterwards!
Pai Skincare by Abigail Daker.
Your website is really clean and easy to use. How important are online sales to you?
Pretty important – it helps to give us a voice and international distribution in markets where we don’t a have physical store presence. We built the website ourselves to keep costs down, and manage it all in-house. We have just opened our US West Coast warehouse to make delivery a bit quicker for our fast-growing US customer-base.
You’ve had a lot of high profile celebrity endorsement – why do you think this is (apart from your brand obviously being very good)? Do you have a high profile marketing strategy, or is it merely word of mouth?
I think it’s a combination of marketing, word of mouth and a bit of good fortune. We have a number of make-up artists who swear by our products so word has spread quickly in Hollywood and Pai is now a regular fixture on a lot of film sets. Our Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream is a great base for make-up.
Pai Skin Care by Karolina Burdon.
Which celebrity would you most like to be using Pai Skincare in the future, and if they were reading this blog now how would you persuade them?
Natalie Portman has recently declared herself a fan of our products – particularly our Chamomile & Rosehip Cream – so for me it doesn’t get much better than that. Kristen Scott Thomas would be a great customer to have – she seems suitably discerning. And Simon Pegg because he’d be a fun ambassador for the brand… and real men need organic skincare too.
Why is a good night’s sleep in the dark so important?
Total darkness stimulates the brain’s sleep chemical, melatonin. So results in a higher quality of undisturbed sleep.
You keep a wonderful blog – how is this important in promoting the brand and keeping in touch with what customers think and want?
My blog is really important as it gives me the chance to talk about wider skin health rather than just plug my products. I write about all sorts – from why chocolate really does give you spots to natural remedies for cold sores. Anything that interests me, and that I think (or rather hope) might be interesting to others too.
Pai by Gilly Rochester.
What retail outlets can people buy Pai Skincare in?
We’re stocked in a number of specialist beauty and health food chains throughout the UK e.g. the lovely CONTENT in Marylebone and Whole Foods Market. People can also buy online from our website – www.paiskincare.com.
What is keeping you busiest at the moment, and what new ideas or products are you working on?
Ideas for new products always keeps me busy. We have some great new products in the pipeline – keep an eye on our website for more details soon. Or check out our Facebook page – for a little sneak preview.
Don’t forget to check in with Sarah’s wonderful blog – there are some real pearls of wisdom on there, especially if you suffer from skin problems.
Abigail Daker, Beauty, Chamomile & Rosehip Cream, Content, Danielle Shepherd, E & J Gallo Wines, Erica Sharp, Fragonia, Fragonia and Sea Buckthorn Instant Hand Therapy Cream, Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream, Gilly Rochester, Hollywood, Karolina Burdon, Kristen Scott Thomas, Marylebone, Natalie Portman, organic, Pai, Pai Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream, Pai Skincare, Sarah Brown, Sea Buckthorn, Simon Pegg, Skincare, Soil Association, Whole Foods Market
- Is the beauty industry moving towards a more earth friendly narrative?
- Willow Organics: Luxurious Organic Skincare
- Herbfarmacy: Pure Herbal Skincare from Seed to Skin
- Akamuti: natural organic skincare from Wales
- Christmas Gift Ideas 2012: Best for Natural Skincare and Beauty