In conversation with: Namrata Kamdar – founder of Plenaire
The UK’s answer to Glossier is FINALLY here. Here’s is what the founder had to say about launching her new brand.
Tell me a little bit about your background, what did you study at University and how did you get into working in beauty?
Everything about my background is available on linked in.
I studied business and economics in undergrad from Delhi University and then did an MBA from UT Austin in Global Business management and marketing.
I have worked in beauty for 16 years across global markets, though I started my career ironically in colas and snack foods with FMCG giant PepsiCo/Frito lay.
At what point did you realize you wanted to create your own skincare brand?
I think I have wanted to run my own brand since I was 16 – I was really inspired by Anita Roddick and her company back in the eighties before they sold to L’oreal. I remember reading her book and her activism was very inspirational to me. I have been a beauty junkie since I was 12.
How did you take your first steps into transitioning from working for someone else to becoming your own boss?
I burned out at work after having my two kids and had a mental health/ mid-life crisis. I did a lot of work on myself to get to a position of mental strength and create my own vision, brand and creative culture – that powers Plenaire.
You can read Namrata’s post about some of the most important changes she made to go from employee to business owner on medium here.
Your brand has been dubbed as the next Glossier, but what does Plenaire mean?
It’s really flattering being compared to a brand like Glossier- they have transformed the space- a true disruptor. I do think we are similar in some ways but we are more focusing more deeply on rituals in skincare and linking them more directly to well-being. Sustainability and mental health with young people is the core of our mission. Also we want to really focus all our efforts on skincare at this stage rather than body care or makeup. Which are super exciting categories but are not our focus.
Plenaire is from the French expression for “in the open air”, having the qualities of natural air and light. We see it as a reflection of a broader shift in beauty today, to a more relaxed, pleasurable and open approach.
Holistically it is derived from the 1840 painting technique “en plein air”; emphasizing direct observation of nature, over a narrative and stylized depiction.
Plenaire is very much a social commentary on our existence, popular culture and what it means to be young today.
It is based upon what I have seen first-hand as some pretty major shifts in beauty with younger consumers. But there are also, undeniably implications from my own experience of motherhood and what it means to raise a young girl today- how to have equal conversations and not rush to judge each other’s choices. To give prominence to that voice that says – it’s OK to be wrong, make mistakes and try stuff out. The I am still figuring it out but that’s OK place, where experimentation, exploration and self-discovery are necessary to growing up and finding who you were meant to be. And to enjoy that process, as agonizing as that maybe. We stand for a movement and a community that challenges predictable, stylized and overplayed conventions in skincare and beauty to recreate them for young women in a more airy, open-minded, empathetic, and fluid way.
The process from getting an idea of your perfect product into something you can actually hold must be thrilling! Can you share a little bit on how you developed your range?
We looked at art, nature, technology, food, retail, culture, fashion, and did a lot of research. We tried to ignore our competitors – and forget about the current beauty offer. That felt super limiting, narrow and one dimensional. We are a multi-dimensional brand – linking many aspects of life, not simply beauty.
I’ve read that you worked closely with Gen Z to develop your range. Can you divulge a little bit about why you think Gen Z holds the key to Plenaire’s success?
We wanted to create an enlightened, aspirational, fresh brand for young people because we felt it was missing, and a real business need gap. We want to help people discover who they are and ask questions, rather than recommend or push the idea that we have all the answers.
What is one of the hardest parts of being a business owner?
Having to multi-task, look after your own health, well being and that of your families while making sure the business stays on track. Being a good example for your kids – on things like setting boundaries or not overworking.
Stopping to really enjoy and “smell the roses” everyday and feel present in a tactile way and remember what made the brand great. To not rush through and take time to polish and craft everything. But also not to become obsessed with perfection and stay balanced in the pursuit of something game changing.
Shop Plenaire here and if you’re in London they’ll be at Liberty’s from October 7th for a 10 day pop-up.