Today’s interviewee is the creator of a charming makeup brand that is taking over the world as we speak: Kristen Kjaer Weis.
While doing these interviews has made realize how grateful I am to be working with natural cosmetic brands, what I find especially wonderful is getting to know these brands in-depth. Each has a story and philosophy that I feel connected to, and with which I can easily identify. These companies and their inspiring stories provide a new level of meaning to the consumption of cosmetics, and through them, we are able to pay forward the gifts they’ve given us. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on them, but I would no longer dream of buying the products of some faceless, multinational brand.
Without further ado: Kjaer Weis – a makeup brand with a heart.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from and what did you do before creating your own makeup brand? How did you start doing makeup?
I grew up on a farm in the country side in Denmark surrounded by nature, forests and animals, installing a deep love for nature, however at the time I dreamt of nothing but travelling and big cities, art, culture ect. After finishing school I travelled to Paris and the US for a year and though I had planned to go back to architecture school, but seeing the world made me realize I wouldn’t be able to sit down for another 6 years. I came across a great make-up school in Paris, Christian Cheauveau by chance and joined for a 1 year program. I loved it and it became my path. I never knew the job ”make-up artist” existed but the creativity it provided was fun and fed my soul.
What is the philosophy behind Kjær Weis makeup?
I have worked for over 20 years as a make-up artist and throughout my career, a pattern came up constantly regarding the brands I had in my kit, at the time all conventional brands. The women sitting in my chair, would repeatedly point out this or that product as a product they were allergic to. I saw first hand the short term effects of wearing conventional make-up and started wondering what the long term effects would be? Plus it was absurdly normal to buy a product for $30 plus dollars and put it aside because one was allergic, it’s not normal, it’s wrong. I felt there was a big open gap in the market for a brand that was natural, preferabley organic yet had equal or better performance as the big conventional companies out there and where there was emphasis on packaging as well. Merging green with luxurious, basically taking any compromise out of the mix. Equal emphasis on ingredients, perfomance and design!
What is beauty to you?
In a person, it is first and foremost inside, sounds like a cliche but absolutely true. I have worked with many physically beautiful people, however that quickly fades if the personality is rude or non pleasant. Beauty is an open, loving heart, beauty is kindness, but beauty is also in things. I love beauty, sorrounding myself with things I find beautiful, flowers, art, textures, nature, it’s a sensation.
I can see that you’re very creative. What inspires you and how do you integrate your ideas with the brand and business?
I love being creative, it makes me happy, feeds my soul and I can get ”lost” in it. I get inspired by so many things, art, nature, textures, architecture, unexpected color combinations, a faded t-shirt will get me thinking of how I can recreate that in a color, patina in things, it has an emotional aspect to it. I am very visual, always getting ideas for products, images ect. from what I surround myself with, it can be a cassavettes movie from the 70’ies or music. Private and ”work” merge in my life, so they are very integrated.
How do you select the ingredients for your products? Creating good formulas for natural makeup isn’t easy, but your products are really high quality. Where does all the knowledge come from and do the ideas of key ingredients come from you or the chemists?
I’m not a formulater, but I have a huge interest in natural ingredients and a holistic lifestyle. I have teamed up with an amazing formulater in Italy, that supports this passion, yet they also have a deep knowlegde of formulating natural product, that combined with my knowledge of what works in the field as far as textures and colors, make it a great partnership. We source the organic raw materials from all over the world to have the highest quality. Basically the ingredients used in the KW make-up, are ingredients one looks for in skin care, however in this case they just happen to have the extra benefit of being make-up.
What is it like to run your own makeup business? What is your average day like?
I love it, always dreamt of having my own business, however it’s a 24/7 undertaking. Many things I have had to ”learn by doing”, but it’s good and highly recommended to get to know your company from all angles. I get up early to get some me time/meditation time in before the day starts. Then since I’m based in NY, I deal with Europe early morning and then move into the US as things open over here. It’s a long day, but as the company has grown, I now have more people within the organization, I’m doing my best to step away to do other things, it’s important.
What has been the most challenging moment with your brand? Do you have a mentor in case you need advice?
Stepping into a world of business that is not naturally my back ground. I kind of just jumped in there and went for it, again learning by doing. That can get you shaky sometimes for sure, but I have felt the entire time, that this is what I was meant to do, so trust and my gut has been my strongest allies. Plus I have surounded myself with great consultants on everything I needed help on, it’s essential. What has been the highlight with Kjær Weis makeup so far?
I feel it’s ”small” to ”big”, from having women feeling confident and more beautiful from wearing KW, educating and inspiring women to step away from synthetic products to getting amazing, prestigous press from around the world to winning awards. This year we won the Allure Award. All are high moments.
How about the future? Are you planning to create more products?
Yes, absolutely, there are many products in the pipeline, this year we plan to launch a lip stick, exiting, I love the product development side of the business.
What is the biggest dream for your brand?
I want it to be a global brand. Women around the world deserve clean, non harmful yet beautiful make-up.
What would your advice be for people who are dreaming to run their own business some day?
You have to really want it, I would say it has to be a calling, since it’s going to consume your life as well as give you many sleepless night… because of that it has to be a commitment of passion or you will loose interest.
What makes you happy?
It’s an inside job first and foremost. Feeling centered and aligned, but love, laughter, creating, beauty, connecting, feeling like I make a difference are all players…
Translation Katja Nikula