Lauren Jin, creative director and CEO of budding California-based minimal beauty brand, CLĒ Cosmetics, chatted with us about the importance of being a cruelty-free brand, the one product she’s most proud of, and the self-care her products provide.
What does your position at CLĒ Cosmetics entail?
It's crazy how in a little over a year things can change so drastically. But I imagine that's the fun bit of an indie brand! At the moment, I oversee a little bit of everything, mostly product development. I'm constantly trying to think 1-2 years ahead and looking out for innovative Korean products. I also relay with my team constantly on visual input and how to better communicate our ethos to our customers (existing & future). Also, I still answer some customer inquiries personally!
Where did the idea for CLĒ Cosmetics come from?
Such a coincidence how you ask this question and then the next question! When CLĒ came about, it highly corresponded with my imagined woman that I created in my head for many years as a Womenswear designer. It was the answer to what beauty products she would have in her lifestyle. Which is also where the ethos, concept, and embodiment of the minimal 'modern' woman comes from.
Do you have a background in/with beauty and cosmetics? Did you go to school for it? If not, what did you go to school for?
No, I don't. I went to Parsons the New School for Design for my BFA in fashion and upon graduation I took a year off to travel. Then I applied and got into the Royal College of Art in Womenswear. It was when I was in my final year at the Royal that I created CLĒ! And this goes back to the previous question on where the idea comes from. CLĒ's concept is interlinked to my design ethos/manifesto of what I think a 'modern' woman is.
Why the choice to go with the concept of less is more, in terms of beauty?
There is too much "stuff" in the world. I don't want to just churn out products for the sake of creating a full product line-up to sell. I think when the brand is at a point where a complete line-up defined by my outlook has been established, I am not going to create any more products. I would rather keep on updating, improving and refining products that already exist.
For me, each and every product has multi-functional elements that provide a wide enough spectrum to cater to refining the face. Less allows the face to breathe and not cover up what is there. Again, we, as a brand, are trying to emphasize that natural beauty is beautiful, that one does not need to hide behind a mask in a sense.
What is it about the beauty industry that fascinates you?
Oh gosh, this is so hard. I love the concept and theory of beauty. I grew up in a household that held physical up-keeping higher than grades! Yes, my Asian parents cared less if I got an A on a test than if I was presentable in their standards. The idea of looking presentable and personal hygiene was highly, extremely emphasized by both my mother and father. So ultimately as an adult, I strived to experiment with makeup and skincare products, and looks/trends constantly. It became a part of who I am and at the end of the day, it's just fun! Beauty to me is organic (constantly changing), and I feel that the industry follows the intangible shape of what beauty is. Which makes it so fascinating and fun. I see no limits within the industry.
Why did you decide to make the products cruelty-free?
Personally, I think we are at a point in time that is beyond creating products that have to hurt animals and use synthetically harmful ingredients. I know I would appreciate a product much more for its ability to be aware and also the CLĒ girl would as well. I just find it unnecessary to use such methods (cruelty and synthetically harmful ingredients) in the process to achieve such results. Completely meaningless. We plan to further our hands into getting certified and being as natural as possible. We are taking baby steps, but I believe we are heading in the right direction!
Where do you source most of the ingredients used in your products?
All our ingredients are sourced from Asia! That is also the concept behind CLĒ, taking sourced goods from mostly Korea and utilizing the advanced technology developed there to present to the Western market. It’s about the integration of multi-cultural aspects in creating products & the brand. We also make sure to integrate ingredients (natto gum, bamboo extract, snow lotus extract) that benefit the skin into our makeup, which helps nourish the skin as much as possible.
What is the one product you’re most proud of?
I would definitely have to say our Melting Lip Powder! This product defines what CLĒ is. The Lip Powder is for the 'modern' woman who works and doesn't have time to sit in front of her vanity for an hour in the morning to do her makeup perfectly. It's designed for the woman who would rather sleep an extra 20 mins because she was busy the day before. A product very multi-functional (can be used for eyes, cheeks, & lips) that you can grab and go out the door! And effortlessly create a subtle finesse look.
What is something you wanted young women to take away from your brand?
At the end of the day, I would love them to find self-love. To understand that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, in the sense that no one will be convinced of your beauty unless you yourself are. (Trust me, I learned that the hard way.) That is why our brand focuses on highlighting one's natural beauty. We are simply providing the tools to do so. And again, this comes back to my concept of embracing the self. It took a while for me to understand that my face and body is beautiful, I was just comparing it to society’s standards, which is not always the best. I think each individual is beautiful. Also, that is why our main colourway is white. To me, the colour white allows breath, it allows space for someone to fill, like an empty canvas.
Watch our beauty editor, Heather, try out a few of CLĒ’s products, in a get ready with me on our Youtube channel.