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The Duo Behind Austin Austin

The Duo Behind Austin Austin

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background?

I grew up in the rural Norfolk countryside in the East of England where my dad Richard founded one of the first wholefood shops in the UK and my mum Annie is a homeopath. Organic food and natural products were a staple in our house. I went off to university at Central St Martins in London then did my degree in English at Cambridge. Afterwards, I moved back to London and back to art school to study interior design. The relationship between language, art and architecture has always fascinated me and I still go to lectures when I can. Before Austin Austin I worked in both advertising and interior design.

What is your favorite product out of the range that you carry and why?

I love the shampoo because before we made one ourselves, I struggled to find one that was certified organic, worked well and had a contemporary fragrance. I'm also proud at how well it foams without the use of SLS and adore the fresh woody scent - it's a world away from the organic shampoos I remember from my childhood.  

Are there any particular designers/brands that inspire you?

I was very inspired by editorial publications and sites such as nowness.com. I love how they curate the work of interesting people and are so skilled at providing a platform and a blank canvas. 

What inspired you to start Austin Austin?

There are very few certified organic beauty products on the market and with Austin Austin we created a company driven by environmental principles, the ethics of the Soil Association and quality of certified organic ingredients. All of this inspired by my dad, Richard, the other Austin. I was also determined that the aesthetics of our company should contribute creatively so set out to work with artists. The real inspiration was a coming together of two ways of doing things to create products as well-considered on the outside as in. 



What was the first product you made?

We're still in our first year since launch so the collection of six that we have today were the first products of Austin Austin. We created the essentials for hair, hand and body - each very carefully crafted with complimentary unisex fragrances and certified organic ingredients. 

What’s next for you? Do you have any new products in the pipeline?

Developing Soil Association certified products takes time but we are keen to expand our collection and we're working on some exciting new products for 2019.  

What would you advise to anyone who would want to start a new venture that leads to success?

Make plenty of time for friends and sleep, both are invaluable at providing a fresh perspective. 

Tell us something we don’t know yet about you!

I'm an enthusiastic gardener (and only very recently got a garden in London). I'm growing my very first tomato plants and they're making good progress in the heatwave that we're having here in the UK. 

 

 

Changing The Rules Of The Game!

Changing The Rules Of The Game!

 

What inspired you to start AN Other?

As I was watching the prices of beauty products change over the years, I realized that while some markets were being shaken and changed, the perfume market was basically immobile. The established perfume houses are constantly introducing new perfumes, there were always niche and indie brands, but not one of these players was actually changing the rules of the game. They all seem to be following the same playbook that was written many years ago.

A while back my husband showed me Barbara Thau’s article “Behind the spritz: what really goes into a bottle of $100 perfume”. As with many other consumer goods, significantly more money is spent on marketing and overhead than is invested in the product itself. It is one of the products where there's an enormous disparity between the cost of the product and the cost to the consumer.

Add to that the fact that there has been no significant change in the way perfumes are marketed – they rely heavily on celebrity campaigns and endorsements, scantily clad models and yachts, and departments stores that display hundreds of fragrances at a time, completely overwhelming the customer. As we started learning the industry, we were also disappointed to learn that the “noses” behind the perfumes, the artists that create the scents, are rarely given credit for their work.

We thought we could do better than the existing model – by offering the consumer a better product at a lower price point. Our Parfum grade perfumes are made using the very best, eco-sustainable, responsibly sourced, non-toxic, dye-free ingredients. Our perfumers are at the front of the brand. They were given unrestrained creative freedom and they delivered 4 unique gender-neutral fragrances that are offered to the consumer at a fraction of the cost of similar perfumes. For a change, the perfumers are also recognized for their talent and given all the credit. This brand defies the notion that a product should be inaccessible to be luxurious and says high end Parfum grade fragrances can be within reach.

What is your favorite product out of the range that you carry and why?

Surprisingly, I wear all 4 fragrances. I find that surprising, because the perfumes are so different from each other as each represents one of the four main olfactory groups – Fresh, Oriental, Woddy and Floral. For years, I wore the same perfume regularly and felt like I had a signature scent. Now I am much more open to mixing things up and wearing more than one fragrance. Our collection is truly gender neutral, so even though I never had a problem wearing men’s fragrances, it’s nice not to have the gender conversation.

 If I had to, I would say that I wear FL/18 (by Nathalie Benareau) more often than the others, because I love the way it wears on me – floral yet not too sweet, with a beautiful long-lasting kick of leather.

What was the first product you made? What’s next for you? Do you have any new products in the pipeline?

This is our debut collection.

We are currently growing the brand. We launched a few months ago, and we are growing our base and our sales mainly through word of mouth. We do not want to make our customers pay for glossy magazine advertisements but would rather put the money in the product itself. In addition. we are working on some new products and items that we plan to launch next year, that will follow in the footsteps of this collection.

What would you advise to anyone who would want to start a new venture that leads to success?

For me, launching A. N. OTHER was an opportunity to start something that will be guided by my value system. I find that if you see it way, it makes it easier to deal with the stress of starting a new business. I can’t emphasize how important it is to build a good team. When you find good people to work with, you find a way to stick together and maintain the relationship. When something goes wrong you don’t start by pointing fingers but focus on finding a solution. You can pivot on the execution, but you should stay true to the values.

We focused on simplicity. It is very difficult to design and create something that does not require extensive descriptions and explanations, and we struggled to bring our products and our website to market in as simple a form as possible. We are not playing according to the rulebook, so we were able to simplify the whole process by laying some ground rules – creative freedom, sustainability, uncompromising quality and providing our consumers with a great experience.

 

Tell us something we don’t know yet about you!

It is common practice in the perfume industry to have numerous iterations of a perfume before it is brought to market. Some brands will use focus groups, evaluators and other experts to choose between the different iterations or will ask the perfumer for more iterations till they find the right one. I didn’t think this process was right for us – how would a focus group evaluate a perfume better than a perfumer with years of experience? I decided to simplify the process and told the perfumers there would be no iterations. We produced the submissions as is.

The Hidden Benefits Of This Powerful Fruit

The Hidden Benefits Of This Powerful Fruit

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background?

I was definitely born with a strong interest in design and entrepreneurship. While studying at USC, I worked various different jobs and internships within the world of fashion and beauty which gave me so much insight into how to build a brand. I was a PR assistant at Giorgio Armani, design intern at Rodarte, Beauty Editor at Signature Magazine and assistant to the CEO/Creative Director at Mother Denim. All were such fundamental experiences and I’m grateful to have learned those various sides of the business from the ground up. It was incredibly helpful when we made the decision to launch Le Prunier. 

 Are there any particular designers/brands that inspire you?

In terms of the world of beauty, I’m constantly inspired by Emily Weiss (Glossier) and Tata Harper. The other day I listened to a podcast with Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice. I think she is so awesome and love what she’s building. 

What inspired you to start Le Prunier?

Our family has been farming the central valley of Northern California for over 100 years. Agriculture is something that is deeply rooted within my sisters and I. We worked farmers markets during summers and would help out during harvest in order to earn spending money, but it wasn’t until we started traveling to Asia with our father that we realized how highly regarded the plum is as a superfood. We felt there was so much more potential and wanted to understand the full range of plum benefits from a beauty perspective, so we spent two years testing our cold-pressed plum beauty oil. My sisters and I have all struggled with problematic skin at one point or another and wanted to create a hero product that was completely free of toxins, safe for all skin types, packed with antioxidants and incredible for your skin. Ultimately, we wanted to continue the family tradition yet innovate and commit ourselves to sustainability. Le Prunier is a culmination of all of our passions and interests. 

What’s next for you? Do you have any new products in the pipeline?

Yes! We have some exciting projects and potential product launches in the pipeline. Stay tuned! 

What would you advise to anyone who would want to start a new venture that leads to success?

The first step is the hardest but don’t be afraid to just do it. People waste so much time considering all the reasons why something might not work. Be willing to have faith and commit yourself fully. 

Tell us something we don’t know yet about you!

I love to sing! A few of my songs have been used in film and television. 

At Work With Lilian L'afshar

At Work With Lilian L'afshar

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in London, then moved to Vancouver. From there, I moved to Marbella and now finally I live in Dubai. My parents are both Iranian. I studied Fashion design & Pattern making between London & Dubai.

 

What is your favorite product out of the range that you carry and why?

The Eugene crushed ice, the chain and handle make it so versatile. I have a thing for small bags as you can tell, it just adds a spark of elegance to your look.

Are there any particular designers/brands that inspire you?

Yes a lot, I love minimal brands such as The Row, Totême & CÉLINE. Phoebe Philo has been such a strong source of inspiration from the day I decided to study Fashion. I really admire Kelly Wearstler's aesthetics and designs, I have always been into homeware and her creativity is always so eye opening.

What inspired you to start L'Afshar?

L'Afshar first started off as an idea to create one piece only for my graduation collection. Once creating that piece, a lot of people started asking where they can purchase it from. It was a very organic start. 

What was the first product you created?

I created a very simple acrylic clutch with the logo engraved on the front in transparent Red. 

What's next for you? Do you have any new products in the pipeline?

We just launched 2 leather styles last season and they have been doing really well. I love contrasting the acrylic/resin with leather. So more leather styles to be launched!

 

 

What would you advise to anyone who would want to start a new venture that leads to success?

If you are not willing to give 110% then don't start. Having your own business is very demanding, you have to have the passion, drive and just don't stop.

Tell us something we don't know yet about you!

When I was a around 6 I had an obsession with buttons, I would grab buttons anywhere I would see them. Think my fascination with fashion started at that age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside The Atelier Of Urban Arabesque With Aisha Al Mannai

Inside The Atelier Of Urban Arabesque With Aisha Al Mannai

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background?

I've always been fascinated by art and finance. I pursued the latter in my academic career and graduated in 2016 with a Banking and Finance degree from Royal University for Women. I currently hold an exciting position in an International Bank that allows me to find new solutions to banking practices. While working, I was able to further explore my love for art and launched Urban Arabesque; a boutique atelier and design studio that crafts one-off pieces inspired by my travels and surroundings.

 

What is your favourite design out of the range that you ever designed and why?

Every collection has its own sentimental value to me, but there's always that one piece which is particularly special to me; whether it's because of the story of the fabric and how I got it or if it's simply because of the hard work and dedication it took to finish the design.

Are there any particular designers/brands that inspire you?

A lot of my inspiration comes from my mother's closet or from my travels. I have a strong affinity to form and function, and believe that all my creations should be comfortable and versatile. Brands such as The Row and Irnce do this particularly well.

What inspired you to start designing clothes or kaftans?

I was interested in pairing pieces together but designing my own line grew organically. I started off by collecting fabric from different travels as a hobby and interest in the different textiles. Later, I began commemorating each of these travels by making kaftans and other clothing pieces for myself and for my family. It wasn't until all the positive feedback that I was getting, that gave me the courage to create my own brand.

What was the first design you made?

My first design was a Sleeveless mid length kaftan made of Hand-printed cotton material I got from my trip to Istanbul. I made 5 samples just to perfect it!

What's next for you? Do you have any new designs or collection in the pipeline?

My next project is the Summer Collection which will include daily wear and linens. I'll also be exploring different mediums of making in the future so I'm excited to go into a new real of design.

Tell us something we don't know about Urban Arabesque?

Urban Arabesque is a Home-based studio and our first exhibition just involved friends and family in our living room.