Interview with Jasmi Bonnén, founder of NUORI
“NUORI was born from the ambition to bring the ideal of freshness into skincare”. All of their products are freshly blended in small batches every 10 to 12 weeks in their Denmark laboratory. This idea came to Jasmi Bonnén, Founder of NUORI, when she was working at L’Oréal. The make-up and skincare industry has longevity standards of over 30 months of use because of preservatives. But the truth is that the active ingredients cannot be effective for 30 months. Time, air and light are the causes of the molecule breakdown. So most people use products every day that don't really have a beneficial effect.
I had the chance to meet Jasmi at Etiket store in Westmount. I already was a customer of the brand. (NUORI is a small but global brand that is sold in 26 countries, on 3 different continents) While I was having an express treatment, I was able to ask all my questions.
What was your biggest fear when you decided to quit your stable job to start your own brand?
“The idea from NUORI came while I was at L’Oréal but at the time - 9 years ago - I couldn’t start a company because my husband was just starting his own and we just had a baby as well. So with this combination of too many things going on, I decided to stay at L’Oréal. I then left L’Oréal and worked as partner/CEO for Denmark’s eldest design and branding agency. I was doing brand strategy, then became a partner and the CEO of the company. My husband, 10 years after he started his company, asked me one morning : “ remember the idea you had about fresh beauty and fresh skincare, do you know if anyone’s done that?” I realized I was onto something and the timing was good so I quit my job. My first biggest fear was not having colleagues! The agency offered me to keep a desk at the office so they could run to me when they have questions once a week, but I would be free to develop NUORI full time (market research, business plan, manufacturing facilities, product development partners, she was able to do in her own office.) This was the perfect setup!” My second biggest fear was… Can I make this work? The beauty standards for shelf life is 30 months and over, which means as a manufacture they can make a very big quantity of one product and at a lower unit price and they put it in the warehouse and then they move on to the next product and start selling. (some companies developed products that can last up to 10 years! Imagine how little these products can in fact do for your skin when they are that old.) And that was exactly what we didn’t want to do. We had to be very sure that we knew specifics such as : Do we have the customers? How many customers do we have? How much can they sell overnight cream in 3 weeks or 12 weeks?” Luckily, we found this manufacturing facility one hour outside Copenhagen who had their own water source (we don’t use any tap water in our products) The team is amazing and they handfill every single product. I am demanding so many things that they have never done before. I’m always asking for the natural variant of ingredients. Finally, my third biggest fear was : How will this concept work in retail? Because the first couple of stores I talked to said I was insane, that they wouldn’t take a product that stays on the shelves for a short period of time. And that’s why I found out we would go in the concept stores because they work with fashion seasons so they are used to constant rotations of stock (every 12 weeks). Then, the word of mouth brought us to work with skin skincare stores like Etiket.
Which product are you the most proud of?
The supreme C serum is a star product because of the idea of actually mixing the active ingredient into the serum at home makes so much sense given what we talk about (the freshness and the break down of the molecules) plus the fact that it really really works! People see a difference in their skin after 30 days and it’s amazing. It turns out to be a best seller. Hong Kong is actually our biggest market, believe it or not, and this product is a huge hit.
Some people think natural products are good for them but can not offer them results. What do you think natural brands struggle with at the moment?
The cosmetic side of skincare. Meaning a lot of traditional skincare that use synthetic often use ingredients that are good for the skin but also some that, per example silicones, blur out the lines. They don’t treat the lines but they offer an immediate effect and that’s obviously very attractive for a consumer. So far, we can’t compete there yet but I know there is a lot of innovation going on.
I am sure your clientele is just like me and doesn’t expect the same from the natural products. If I buy a natural lipstick, I know it won’t stay on my lips for 12 hours and this is what I love about it. I enjoy the process of doing touch ups with a product that is actually good for my lips and for my health. I feel proud of the choice I made. I’d rather reapply my lipstick on my lips than use longlasting products with a weird ingredient list. It is understandable that the natural skincare brands can not compete on all the levels with traditional brands but they’re already so much better than they used to be. It will get even better for sure.
What is your beauty routine?
That’s funny because my beauty routine is getting less and less the older I get. When I was in my twenties, skincare wasn’t my focus, it was makeup. So much makeup. Now it’s the other way around, because I also feel like the more makeup I apply the older I look. I am 43 years old and my focus is skincare but not as much as some of my asian partners in Korea who do a 15 steps skincare routine every morning and every night! I have two kids, I can’t do that! Plus I develop a lot of products so that’s a bit tricky for my skin because I am testing so many formulas, and that can be aggravating. So I cleanse, I use my unifier, and I love to mix products together. At night, I sleep with a mixture of the supreme moisture mask and the vitamin C drops. It works really nicely for me. In the morning, I combine the oil with the day cream for extra nourishment and glow. I also put my eyecream in the fridg (our products don’t need to be kept in the fridg) but in the morning a cool eyecream helps with the puffiness. And then I only use undereye concealer, a little bit of powder and my Lancôme mascara which is a L’Oréal brand, haha! By the way, my favorite natural makeup brand is Kjaer Weis. She is a Danish makeup artist, living in NYC for the last 20 years, and does organic makeup in the most luxurious and refillable packaging. They do this highlighter that is so good. RMS is also a great natural makeup brand!
Last question. What do you do with the products that don’t sell in the stores?
We work with forecasting. Usually, brands work with a minimum quantity per order but we don’t do that. We prefer that the stores order very little but more often. We need to understand what sells and what doesn’t and now after 3 years, we’re getting pretty good at that so we can guide them! A very important part of our concept is that products never stay in the store for their full shelf life, we always stop selling approximatively 3 months before expiry date because I think it’s very important that when the customers buy the product they need to be 100% sure that they always have at least 3 months to use it. So if there is a product that has 3 months expiry and hasn’t been sold, we ask the store to take it off the shelf and we use them as testers. Testers are such an important part of the skincare business and it’s a huge cost because we have to provide them for free. So this is a the perfect solution!
Ok this is my last question I promise! I heard that sun protection is something very hard to deal with when you’re a natural skincare brand. Why isn’t sunscreen included in NUORI’s products?
I am so glad you ask. Natural sun filters exist but they are all mineral based. There’s zinc and titanium oxyde. They are proven to work but the problem is they’re hard to work with because of the whiteness issue. The thing with chemical sun protection is that they’re very simple to work with but they’re very awful ingredients. The solution is we need to push the ingredients suppliers to innovate and I’m actually working on our first sunscreen product with a natural filter. It’s very hard but we’re doing it only with zinc and it won’t be whitening. Because it’s a physical filter, it will never be as lightweight as the synthetic ones. Hawaii banned the use of sunscreens that contains chemical filters because they damage the ocean. California is looking to do the same type of legislation. There are changes in the sunscreen industry!
Special thanks to Etiket store, David, Jasmi and Katherine.