It is not every day you get the chance to have a refreshingly honest, down-to-earth conversation with the founder of a beauty brand that is taking the world by storm. Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare, joined podcast host and Formula Botanica CEO Lorraine Dallmeier for an epic Green Beauty Conversation that takes us on Pai’s journey from garage start-up in 2007 to being voted the 5th most popular skincare brand in the world in 2021 with almost 5 million global online searches*.
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A proudly independent, organic brand and unswerving in its commitment to making products in house, Pai stands out as not only one of the first natural cosmetics’ brands to arrive on the scene, but also as one that has stayed true to its founding principles. Financially viable, forward thinking and walking the walk on sustainability, Pai is at heart still very much an indie brand and a rarity in a beauty industry rife with greenwashing, buyouts and hype.
This episode is a mine of information with behind-the-scenes insights into the daily life of a growing brand, and a valuable listen for any would-be or early-stage beauty entrepreneur. Sarah Brown tells it straight with no fluff. If you want to know just what it takes to build a business born of a personal skincare need and grow it into a brand that has gained customer loyalty and is driven by ethics, passion and purpose, then settle in for 45 unstoppable minutes of beauty industry hard talk.@FormulaBotanica podcast talks to Pai Skincare founder Sarah Brown @paiskincare_sarah on what it takes to go from garage start-up to being voted the world's 5th most popular beauty brand. #paiskincare #organicbeauty #beautypodcast Click To Tweet
In this episode with Pai’s founder Sarah Brown, you will hear:
- Why Pai Skincare opted for organic certification only (with the Soil Association/COSMOS) and has remained loyal to that standard rather than adopt other certification schemes and labels now common in the beauty world.
- Sarah’s opinion on greenwashing in the industry and about self-certifying statements such as ‘non-toxic’ and ‘clean beauty’ which have no meaningful currency for consumers.
- How Pai’s recent rebrand was more than about updating its looks; the two-year exercise was spearheaded by the need to adopt more sustainable packaging.
- Why Pai chooses to retain its manufacturing in house in order to ensure it has total control over the quality of its organic ingredients and complete understanding of its supply chains.
Key takeouts for skincare entrepreneurs
- Sarah recommends that would-be skincare entrepreneurs think twice if they are going into the beauty business for cash reasons alone. Experience has taught her that the beauty industry is not a get-rich-quick option and demands hard work over the long-term if you are to succeed and wish to run an ethical brand.
- In-house manufacturing is advantageous especially at start-up as you can pivot and be flexible creating small batches on demand and responding to customers. It also gives you control over supply chains. But be aware that as you upscale and grow, in-house production requires enormous investment in plant, premises and personnel.
- Ask yourself if your proposed product range is really doing something different. Does your product address a real customer need? The world has no need of yet more lookalike balms and facial oils.
- As a new skincare entrepreneur, you need to stay focused and do one thing well and succeed with it rather than be distracted by opportunities – such as new markets or serving more retailers – especially if you don’t have the capacity to run with them.
- Get to grips with business planning. Growth needs to be planned for well ahead especially if you need larger premises and more manufacturing equipment, both of which require serious capital outlay and may need third-party investment.
Meet our podcast guest: Sarah Brown
Sarah launched Pai in 2007 as a certified organic skincare line for sensitive skin. Pai formulates and manufactures all its products from its custom-built facility in London. Previously, Sarah was International PR Manager for E&J Gallo Wines. In 2015, she joined the Board of CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women).
Find Sarah and PAI Skincare:
* LookFantatastic research.
If you enjoyed this episode, you might also like to listen to our other episodes on sustainability issues:
Biodegradable beauty: a license to greenwash the beauty industry?
Top sustainability challenges and concerns for the beauty industry
Are indie brands falling behind on sustainabiity?
Can a beauty brand ever be carbon neutral?
Are beauty brands falling behind on sustainability?
Green Beauty Opinion – Podcast 90: Everyone can formulate
In the last episode above, we heard how Sarah Brown started Pai literally from her garage. This is very much a route to beauty entrepreneurship we believe in at Formula Botanica. Everyone, anywhere can learn to formulate and acquire entrepreneurial skills to launch a beauty brand. If you thought that cosmetic formulation was only for big brands with sophisticated labs, listen in to this Green Beauty Opinion in which Lorraine explains just why natural, organic formulation is a skill very much within your reach.
Listen to Lorraine’s Green Beauty Opinion:
Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Formula Botanica Green Beauty Conversations podcast. If you enjoyed listening, please share, subscribe and review this episode on iTunes, Spotify or Youtube so that more people can enjoy the show. Don’t forget to follow and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.