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Welcome to The Quality Makers, an interview series highlighting pioneers in the direct-to-consumer space. Join us as we get an inside look at the world of digital shopping through the eyes of the individuals shaping it.
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It is without question that the evolution of clean beauty has changed the way we think about skincare and makeup products. When given the option, most everyone would prefer a safer alternative when it comes to choosing what we put on our skin – but it wasn’t always that way. When Kirsten Kjaer Weis was working as a professional makeup artist in New York City, she quickly realized that the standards that her clients – and the industry as a whole – had for their beauty products were hardly acceptable. With years of beauty industry experience and a deeply-rooted organic lifestyle in her arsenal, Kirsten set out to create Kjaer Weis, a company that offers the best of both worlds. A company that could provide natural makeup and skincare products without sacrificing performance.
From growing up in the Danish countryside to her time spent as a top makeup artist in New York City, Kirsten’s innate passion for organic beauty led her to create her own company that strived – and succeeded – to offer natural alternatives that delivered results, without sacrificing luxury. Kirsten’s innate belief in the power and benefits of organic beauty shine through her company, products and ethos.
As a big fan of Kjaer Weis products (especially The Facial Oil – I can’t get enough) I was eager to interview Kirsten to learn more about her past that led her to found Kjaer Weis, and the future that she sees for the company.
What led you to start Kjaer Weis? How did your childhood growing up in Denmark impact your vision and direction for the company?
I had always dreamt of creating something that could be a force for good. As a child I remember making plans so to speak, I just didn’t know how and when. My background working as a makeup artist for over two decades became the lead into developing a cosmetics brand, seeing firsthand all the negative effects conventional make-up had on the women I was working with. I realized nothing existed in the natural space that could come close to the performance of conventional – the few natural brands that did exist at the time, German brands like Weleda and Dr. Hauscka, had the beautiful ingredients list but were missing the luxury performance. In essence, that became my aha moment, realizing I could combine the best of the two worlds; natural and conventional and turn it into a new category where all boxes were ticked off and the customer was left with no compromises.
My upbringing most certainly had an impact. Growing up on a farm, it was very minimalist yet with a deep love for and reverence of nature, which has translated into the values for KW.
What did you learn from your days of working as a makeup artist for beauty empires such as Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire?
I learned that collaborative teamwork can generate immense creativity and beauty, and that being part of an aligned team is incredibly powerful.
What sets Kjaer Weis apart from other natural beauty companies?
In my POV, what sets us apart is the product itself and the incredible quality of our ingredients; they are certified organic or biodynamic ram materials, which in essence means the purest and most vital form of an ingredient in combination with our manufacturing process which is rooted in energetic love infusion and reverence for each individual raw material. The vitality of our products can be felt, however it can be hard to verbally express, it’s a transcendent feeling. Beyond that, the performance shows in the health and wellbeing of the skin and the immediate payoff in terms of textures and colors. It’s luxury built into the product – it resides in it, and we call it inherent luxury. In addition to that, I believe our thoughtfulness around sustainability when it comes to our packaging, without compromising on the luxurious feel, sets us apart, as well.
Where do you garner inspiration and innovation for your products from?
From envisioning (and listening) to our loyal customers and their needs. Does a new innovation make sense for them and us? I don’t live under a rock, yet I am not one to follow trends for the sake of following trends. We have a solid DNA and I like to operate from that DNA with a belief system - that we have something unique to offer, genuine, purpose driven innovation that naturally has longevity.
Outside that I look to art, design, nature – it’s a constant source of inspiration.
For anyone looking to revamp their skincare and makeup routine with a more holistic and natural approach, where would you tell them is a good place to start? Do you have any simple but effective swaps or must-use products?
I suggest starting with anything that goes on your lips, as you will ingest it, or any products that go on larger surfaces of the skin. What we put on our skin gets absorbed into our system, so any skin/body-care product that stays on the skin all day or night, foundations, tinted moisturizers, etc.
What does a typical day look like for you, the founder of a successful beauty company? What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?
I’m an early riser. Early morning is an important time for me. I have a routine of exercising, meditation, ultimately getting into the right state of mind before starting my day in the business.
Then I spend my day, typically until 1pm, in meetings and the remaining part of the day is allocated for creative content/deadlines and answering emails – the non -stop stream which we all get. At night I like to cook and spend time with family and friends.
What are your dreams for expanding and continuing to grow Kjaer Weis? Where do you see the company in ten years?
My vision is to have KW be available to as many customers as possible and to keep educating on the importance of what we put on our skin – how it matters for us as individuals, the body being a holistic experience, but also for the planet overall. The beauty space has come a long way in the past decade, taking the concept of natural and clean from niche to the new norm. I am very happy for that, and my vision for us in ten years is to have that conscious awareness be as normal as not smoking in restaurants.
When a company comes along that truly appreciates the meaning of clean beauty – with a founder that truly values creating healthier products for her customers – it resonates within the beauty space. Kjaer Weis is the definition of just that.