Lauren Napier On Revolutionizing Skincare and Keeping It Real on Social Media
Sometimes putting an innovative spin on an existing product has the biggest impact. That’s what happened when Lauren Napier changed up the formula and fabrication of makeup wipes with one simple trick, she packaged each wipe individually. If like me, you’ve purchased a big pack of wipes only to be horrified by how quickly they dry out, you know that simple step makes a huge difference. Skincare lovers around the world flocked to her line Lauren Napier Beauty and today you can find her brand in high-end retail stores on almost every continent. On her social media, Napier speaks about beauty, the hustle of running your own company and is also an outspoken critic of the current administration. I caught up with her in a café in New York to discuss business and politics.
With Lauren Napier Beauty you completely changed how we use beauty wipes. How did you come up with the concept?
Lauren Napier: I was traveling when I came up with the concept for Lauren Napier Beauty. I was on a flight in a window seat and I had a package of makeup wipes. It was one of those huge baby wipes size packages and it had completely dried out. To be honest I’ve never been a huge fan of makeup wipe formulas but I was always a fan of their function. However, in that instance, my product was dried out and the function was lost as well. So I thought here it is, this is the idea that I’ve been waiting for. Here’s something people like to use that could definitely use improvement and innovation. That’s when I reinvented the makeup wipe. By reinventing, I mean that I reinvented the packaging though making the wipes single use — you can take one or three, they don’t dry out, they’re TSA-approved, lightweight, and the packaging is recyclable. It reduces our overall waste since a lot of people toss their makeup wipes packages halfway through because they’re dried out. Sure you might only have spent $5 but you’re not getting their money’s worth at all.
I have multiple types of wipes, I started with Cleanse, now I have Flaunt and this year I will be launching La Rose which is for oily and acne-prone skin.
How does being a makeup artist inform your product?
I was a makeup artist for ten years, so I know what works and what doesn’t work. I also have a deep knowledge of formulas, so it was very easy for me to pinpoint what I wanted to change. With Lauren Napier Beauty I completely changed the formulas of wipes. I wanted makeup remover wipes to become more multipurpose and function like a three-step cleanser — something that would cleanse, moisturize and hydrate your skin all in one wipe. My wipes act more like a skincare product than as a disposable product.
How are your wipes different in each category?
Cleanse was the original and it really meets the needs of normal to sensitive skin conditions. Flaunt came out in 2015 and it meets the needs of normal to dry skin conditions. It contains noni extract, Vitamin K and lycopene so it’s great for drier and more mature skin conditions. La Rose is so lovely, I can’t wait for it to come out.
What’s your beauty routine before bed?
It depends on how much time I have but I definitely incorporate my products into everything that I do. I always use my wipes to remove my eye makeup and get into my lash line. My products are designed to be gentle on lashes and not be disruptive with their growth. I also love Mario Badescu Green Enzyme Cleaning Gel and Natura Bissé which has this exfoliating cleanser. I like to mix them, using a pearl size of each, rub them together and wash my face. Then I use a moisturizer and that’s it.
What are some of the most challenging aspects of launching a beauty business?
It’s not something people prepare you for, especially if you don’t have a formal business background which I don’t. I only had the creative but I launched a brand that is available in 22 countries around the world in the span of four years. You need to follow your vision but also be open to direction, criticism, and people out there just trying to help you. If you’re taking advice however make sure it’s actually good advice, make sure it’s people who know about business or your brand.
How did you land in so many countries and stores?
I think it really speaks to my brand’s products. Beauty editors and buyers used the product and then fell in love with it. They saw the benefits and how the product could appeal to most customers. After that, it just took off like wildfire. I like to say that I have a quiet but cult following. That how I got on Net-a-Porter, six countries in the Middle East through Bloomingdale’s and Harvey Nichols, and Mecca Australia. Those are my big retailers who’ve given me global visibility.
You help other black entrepreneurs with their brands, what exactly do you do with them?
A lot of conglomerates are creating the appearance of diversity in their advertising but it’s not matched in the retail products they carry. How many products are owned and operated by people of color? Not many. I’m working with ten brands in the luxury space created by people of color. People of color spend billions of dollars and we want to shop from people who look like us and have brands that represent us. We want to support brands that speak to our needs. Two examples of who I work with — Kitiya Mischo King who owns Mischo Beauty which is a vegan nail polish brand, and Caroline Owusu who created a body exfoliator called The Luv Scrub which is sold in luxury spas and retailers. We’re mentoring each other, talking to each other, working as a community, and sharing contacts.
Do you think that travel beauty is growing as a category?
I definitely feel that travel retail is going to be the next big wave. That and athleisure beauty are not going anywhere. People are really time-poor and anything that makes people’s lives easier and more convenient is something they are going to opt into.
Slight change of subject, I saw that you posted on Instagram about Megyn Kelly who ended up getting fired for her comments about blackface. What are your thoughts on what happened?
My thoughts are, it pays to be racist. She walked away with $69 million. I know the president makes $400,000 per year. I know the commentators at Fox news are making six figures. They are destroying the country and destroying civility. And there aren’t people on the other side doing the same or saying vile things. This is especially true about race which is to the detriment of our culture and safety of people. I’m really disgusted that by the fact that Megyn Kelly got paid to be racist and walked away with 69 million dollars.
You are very vocal about your politics on social media. There are a lot of brands that don’t talk about politics because they are worried they may decrease their audience. Do you feel that talking about political or social issues is part of your brand?
My brand bears my name, that’s a choice that I’ve made. It speaks to who I am and what I believe. Lauren Napier products are eco-friendly, made in the USA, and designed to serve all communities. It speaks to the ethos of my brand. Social causes are something that’s very important to me. In the end, if you’re a decent human you’re always going to speak up.
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