Every Friday we like to highlight a founder from within our program that is doing some great things in clean beauty. This week I interviewed the inspiring CEO and Founder of Ermana Skincare.
Claire’s story is inspiring because she is like all of us. She had a passion that evolved into a dream. With a push from her sister, she began to set the wheels in motion and made her dream a reality. Now Ermana is stocked in retailers such as John Lewis and Love Lula and looking to move into spa retailers.
In this podcast you will hear the story behind Ermana, as well as beauty and travel tips to stay centered and soothed at all times. If you are a beauty entrepreneur, this is a good listen as she shares some insights into starting a beauty business. You can check out Ermana’s products at www.ermana.co.uk or check out their Instagram @ermanaskincare.
Now onto the Clean Chat podcast!
Raquel: Hello and welcome to the Clean Chat Podcast. I’m the host Raquel Wing, founder of The Clean Hub. Every Friday we are highlighting and exceptional founder from within The Clean Hub program to share their inspiring story behind the brand. Watch out world because Clean Beauty is a force to be reckoned with. Now onto the show.
Hello everyone, today we’re talking to Claire Twigge-Molecey the CEO and founder of Ermana skincare. Ermana skincare is a natural beauty brand that uses the highest quality natural and organic ingredients in their products. They have achieved great success and have received a lot of press and awards including The Beauty Shortlist. So thank you Claire for coming on the show today to share your story. How are you doing today?
Claire: I’m good thank you and thank you for the opportunity.
Raquel: Oh not a problem. So Claire could you tell us a little bit about your story.
Claire: Okay well, I started aromatherapy myself in my spare time as a bit of break from a high pressure job. I worked in retail buying for fashion retailers over the years and it’s quite stressful so ways of relaxation, I looked into aromatherapy and started experimenting with different essential oils and making some lotions and potions for myself and over time started to give some of these lotions and potions to friends and family and got some really good feedback about it. It was a hobby, but it was a hobby that stuck with me, it was something that I never seemed to get bored of and I was constantly learning more wonderful things about the properties of these essential oils. So that’s what started my interest initially.
Raquel: How long ago was that?
Claire: That was probably about 2004 probably, round about that. 2004-2005 so about thirteen years maybe? But as said I just continued doing it in my spare time until about five years ago, I started thinking maybe this was something I could do as a business. I always wanted to create my own brand and started thinking about it seriously but talked a lot about it and didn’t do anything about it until my 40th birthday where my sister had been giving me lots of pep talks about doing what I said I was going to do and starting my own business, something for myself and for my birthday she bought me this beautiful necklace and on it said ‘Hermana Amor’ which means loving sister is Spanish.
Raquel: Oh that’s nice.
Claire: Yes so that was the point I started thinking maybe I need to start doing what I say I’m going to do and that’s where the brand name Ermana came from so it was my sister that inspired me to start something for myself.
Raquel: Oh that’s great, sisters are good for that. So where the name Ermana comes from, sister. Ah that’s lovely. And you have quite a soothing range, can you tell us about those?
Claire: Yeah, we have a range of Sooth and Sooth Mama products. Although my interest started in aromatherapy and I’ve learned about the benefits of essential oils, I’ve also realised that some people have allergies to essential oils or are particularly sensitive to fragrance of any kind, in particular people who are pregnant usually are advised not to use essential oils, certainly not in the first trimester.
Raquel: Oh I didn’t know that, okay.
Claire: Yes, so some essential oils won’t be as beneficial when people are pregnant so I created a range for them. So though it’s called Sooth Mama and I’ve targeted it to mums to be and new mums it can also be used on babies as well because it’s essential oil free. I’ve realised that we also have some other customers that are maybe men that work outdoors and have Dermatitis and really sensitive skin and again can’t use anything with any kind of fragrance in it. So we initially started with the Sooth Mama Oil and the Sooth Mama Balm, it’s great for any areas of dry skin, it can be used for baby bumps and things like that or just dry patches. And then we moved to hand and body lotion, hand and body wash. Which is more assessable because people are more familiar with those type of products and those are also called sooth and not just targeted in particular to mums to be as such.
Raquel: Right, it’s a relaxing range.
Claire: They’ve got all the key ingredients that all our other products have, so they have all the same base ingredients but they don’t have the essential oils. So you still get the benefits of, in our oil for example you have jojoba, macadamia and apricot oil, so they’re highly nourishing and hydrating oil so you still have all those benefits for your skin in your oil.
The balm contains a range, it contains cocoa butter, Shea butter, sweet almond oil, coconut oil and beeswax so again all very nourishing and protecting for the skin. So our sooth mama ranges have all the key ingredients that our other products contain but they’re unfragranced, you know fragrance free or whatever you want to call it, there’s no fragrance in there whatsoever.
Raquel: So it’s the fragrance, so I’m thinking back. I think it’s really interesting for consumers or especially for expectant mothers who would want to use your products, it’s the fragrance they’re actually allergic to and they’re told not to use or is it the essential oils in general, is that what you were saying?
Claire: There’s both, they can be more sensitive to fragrance, any king of fragrance at all when they’re pregnant but also some essential oils, yes they can just not be beneficial and can cause some harm and certainly you shouldn’t risk when you’re pregnant. Within the first trimester, doctors with probably say to avoid essential oils. Essential oils are very potent. We use them at small dilutions rates so they wouldn’t cause any damage and they’ve all gone through cosmetic testing. You just always should be vigilant when pregnant and using essential oils.
Raquel: Definitely, I like that a lot and also the fact that a lot of times I know brands hide ingredients when they don’t want , they just label fragrance and you guys don’t do that. That’s great.
Claire: No we don’t do that. Fragrance or partum, there’s a lot hidden ingredients in there, we don’t use any fake fragrance at all. We only use essential oils and we list them in our ingredients listing so the customer knows exactly what they’re putting on their skin.
Raquel: That’s great and I think that’s really important for consumers to look for when they’re looking for natural beauty products. Thank you for doing that Ermana. Also, I like your product line because I think that in general to feel beautiful you have to feel very relaxed, very soothed as you said. Are there any beauty tips that you would give to somebody like an expectant mother or just someone on the go and how they could use your products?
Claire: Okay well our comfort balm is probably the most comforting and relaxing product that we have and it’s also the most versatile. So it contains lavender, geranium and ylang ylang which are lovely comforting, soothing essential oils. What we recommend for that is you can use it either a really intense hand cream. So you put it on at night and you allow the oils and everything to penetrate the skin and once the essential oils go in the blood stream and you feel the full therapeutic benefits of the oils. We also say you can massage it onto your temples or on your pulse points, again to experience the full benefits of the aroma therapy oils that way and say if you are pregnant you can use it but if you’re nervous about using it in the first trimester just use the Sooth fragrance-free products.
Raquel: Great, and would you say the comforting balm is your most popular product?
Claire: It is, in terms of the scents it’s the one that everybody likes. Whenever we do a show or a market that’s the one we allow people to test because we’ve yet to find somebody who doesn’t like that combination of the smell of the lavender, geranium and the ylang ylang. It seems to be a winning formula for us.
Raquel: Great, so definitely the comforting balm. So where would be the first point of contact where you feel the relaxation? Is it your temples, would it be your wrists? I know people put it behind their ears.
Claire: Yeah I think temples are pretty key. Pulse points are great also, that was the first way I actually got into aromatherapy was I used to travel a lot with my job and a lot of long-haul flights. I could never sleep on the flights, I’d be really restless and anxious, and lavender oil that for me one essential oil that you should always have and always use. I used to smother myself in it going on a flight and then would be guaranteed to have a good night’s sleep and be a lot more relaxed on a flight so I would put it onto my pulse points and my temples. If you took the time and you massage into your temples, then that action itself is relaxing too. So you’re getting the relaxation mode and the therapeutic benefits of the oils.
Raquel: That’s a great idea and I’ve never thought of it on the-go. I think that’s my problem is that I don’t have it in my purse so obviously your oils you can take on the plane. Thanks for that, I’m going to do that. You know it’s funny, I always have it on my bedside but I never think, oh throw it in my purse.
Claire: Yeah we do a comfort balm in a small travel size so it’s perfect for that, for always having by your side.
Raquel: That is a great plan. Okay, I know you had the idea for Ermana for quite a long time as you said and your sister pushed you to do that. Have there been any ups or downs that you would like to share to help our other natural beauty brands that are looking to start a clean beauty brand?
Claire: Yes I mean there’s been a lot of up’s and down’s in equal measure probably. It’s tough starting a new brand. I mean one thing I knew was I love beauty products and have always been fascinated by skin care products and tried lots of different brands and lots of different products over the years but forgot just how competitive it was and when launch into a market and into an industry like this you’re up against some big players who have huge marketing budgets and well you certainly can’t compete with them on the same level unless you’ve got some great finance behind you. The biggest challenge is to get your name out there, get people to recognize your brand name and get people to even try your products because people are very very loyal to skincare brands. They’re scared to make a switch in case it does something to their face because obviously that’s part of the body that everybody sees , so people can be quite nervous about it and that’s probably been the biggest challenge is getting the brand name out there and getting people to try the products.
Raquel: Is there anything you would have done differently?
Raquel: You kind of had to go through that process right?
Claire: Yes, every mistake I’ve made. You know even a mistake, because people say there’s not a right and a wrong way to do things but you’ve got to try everything I think to find out what works and what doesn’t work. You know we’ve tried small markets. You know even within the small markets and shows that we’ve done, some work and some don’t work and until you’ve tried it you don’t know what’s going to be best for you to get customers.
Raquel: I think that’s good advice, I think people want a very specific road map on how to get from point a to point b but every product is different, every company is different, you all have different customers so you have to just kind of try different things to see what works and it’s going to take time, they’re not going to get it right the first time so I think that’s good advice.
Claire: Unless you’re very lucky (laughter).
Raquel: (Laughter) Unless you’re very lucky, and even then I would be weary that things are happening maybe too fast . So what are the next steps for Ermana?
Claire: Well, we’re quite lucky at the moment, we’re in some good retailers. We’re online with Love Lula and on the High Street and some ethical market places as well. We’re also in John Lewis Department Store, which is fantastic for us, that’s a real coo for us to be in a store like that.
Raquel: That’s awesome.
Claire: Yeah we really want to find some more good quality retailers and we’d also like to get in some Salons as well because we think that’s where the customer get’s to experience the product, has an expert skin care promoting the product as well which helps give the brand a bit more credibility and let’s them experience and gain trust in the product.
Raquel: Do you feel there’s a lack in industry education, like certain retailers have more experience in the natural beauty section so they’re able to provide consumers with that information or do feel retailers are slowly starting to kind of understand what natural beauty is and how it’s helping consumers?
Claire: Yeah I think almost the customers are pushing a bit more than retailers. Yeah we’re finding that the awareness is growing in the same way it’s done with foods where people want to know what is exactly in their products, what ingredients are in the food that they buy. They’re starting to do the same thing with skin and I do believe that they’re pushing retailers towards that because they’re showing they’re more aware of products and ingredients. Like you said earlier on, the term fragrance is hiding a multitude of nasties. They know that it’s out there and the retailers now are looking for brands, natural beauty brands to stock for their customers.
Raquel: Yeah, I totally agree. I think that people are becoming smarter and transparency is important and I see that transporting within the retail sphere as well which is good news.
So where can people get a hold of your products? You’ve mentioned the different retailers.
Claire: Our website, first and foremost Ermana.co.uk and Love Lula which is a great destination online retailer for all natural beauty products. We’re also on the High Street High Streets and online on John Lewis and in their new Oxford store The Westgate.
Raquel: Sounds great, and your website is Ermana.co.uk. Yep Ermana.co.uk so go check it out, check out their Instagram. Take the tips that they learned, I’m going to start using their balm.
Well thank you Claire for coming on the show today.
Claire: No problem at all.
Raquel: And thank you to all the listeners and Viva Clean Beauty.
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