After working as a makeup artist for 25 years, Kirsten Kjaer Weis was tired of rejecting and moving on from different luxury beauty products because the synthetics in them, she believed, caused allergic reactions. She founded her brand, Kjaer Weis, in 2010 on the premise that an all-natural beauty brand could also perform like a luxury beauty brand.
“All existing natural products were too dry, too chalky, or the colors weren’t right,” said Kjaer Weis. “The luxury aspect was also missing. There’s nothing wrong with buying beauty products in a health food environment, which was the case at the time, but why couldn’t it also be a luxury company?”
Kjaer Weis joined the Glossy Podcast to discuss the evolution of the green beauty industry, the secret to balancing organic and luxury, and the definition of natural beauty.
On communicating an organic luxury brand to today’s customer
Kjaer Weis said her main goal was positioning the brand as a high-performance product. Otherwise, she didn’t think that a luxury natural brand would succeed, even as more people became pickier about the ingredients in their products. Social media turned out to be the main channel for establishing the brand’s story.
“We are lucky to be in the time of social media. We make a huge effort to explain the story, to our audience, on a platform like Instagram,” said Kjaer Weis. “It’s a little bit of a jungle right now when it comes to what natural means, what is organic. There’s a lot of confusion. Our job is to simplify it as much as possible and keep it an important piece of who we are as a brand.”
On what “natural beauty” really means
To that point, the definition of natural beauty has been twisted and stretched to fit any particular brand’s current positioning. For instance, while Kjaer Weis is a certified organic brand, meaning 95 percent of its ingredients are sourced from supervised organic farms, other brands can say they also feature organic ingredients, diluting the importance of a certified organic brand.
“There definitely has to be trust established with the customer,” she said. “Marketing can do a lot, both good and bad. It can potentially present a brand with green leaves, lab coats, and it gives the association that something’s under more scrutiny than it actually is. We just need to prioritize our message to our customer.”
On balancing luxury and green beauty
Kjaer Weis wanted to reach the biggest customer base by managing not to pigeon-hole her brand as either a natural beauty or luxury beauty brand, instead making it associated equally by both camps. That meant she had to carefully choose her retail partners to get the right message to the right customer at all times.
“The line has the organic feel, but it also has the luxury feel. It’s a pioneer in its field in that way, but it was an issue in terms of where is this positioned — is it green or luxury? It’s both, so we had to channel a new space in the market,” she said.