Knowing the beauty brand from afar and enjoying using their products is one thing, but meeting the founder allows you to view the brand in a completely different light and from multiple angles. You observe the person ‘in action’, talking about their passions and products, while you innately decide whether what they tell you makes sense to you or is more about trends and mass market mentality that prevails in the beauty marketplace. Some play the role well in order to charm you, other allow themselves to luxury to be themselves and letting you be the judge of their character. Meeting Annie Tevelin, an American founder of a natural beauty brand Skin Owl, didn’t go to plan, but allowed me to meet a woman who is not only passionate about her day job, but clearly see that she holds women and their skincare needs deep inside the confines of her heart.
Originally I was supposed to meet up with Annie at the brunch that she was organising during her visit to London from the US. Annie used to live and work in London, so the city holds a very special place in her heart and so she wanted to get together a group of women, who didn’t know each other and forge new connections based on the female spirit and interest in natural beauty. However on the eve of the event Annie had to cancel it, due to unforeseen circumstances, and we both tried to juggle our busy schedules in order to meet up before she flew back home. On a cold morning I arrived at Camden’s Triyoga and settled myself in a corner sofa of Nectar cafe with a cup of warming matcha latte.
Annie arrived quietly, but her wild mane of hair and a coat in an eye-catching shade of coral red, accompanied by her wide smile, which seemed to draw people towards her (one will later spill water over her, eliciting first surprise and then an understanding giggle from Annie) and within minutes, joined by a fellow beauty blogger Ailish Lucas, we all chatted away like old friends.
Time flew by, with us discussing our opinions on the problems we all face, busy schedules, skin woes, travel, love & relationships, favourite products and skincare tips. Annie is good at listening and asking you with genuine interest about things that matter to you, but when you ask her questions, she is engaging and open as well. She is a realist and doesn’t promise magic, but there is a strong undercurrent of passion that must be one of the ingredients that she infuses her products with. There is no doubt in my mind that at the centre of Skin Owl is Annie’s desire to help women feel good in their skin, because it is something that affects the self-esteem of many. Throughout life we are affected by our hormones, every day – from our moods to our skin. There are many beauty products and even more promises thrown at us daily from the press pages and tv and phone screens, yet not many brands engage with consumers and try to tackle the problems that negatively impact us. Treating healthy young skin is easy, dealing with problematic skin is another story. Annie, who has suffered from acne and eczema in the past, is the vocal advocate of looking after our skin and she makes sure she gives you ammunition with her helpful advice, if you ask for it. Being privy to one person’s discontent with one of Annie’s products, I promised that I will talk to Annie about it. When I did, I passed Annie’s comments to the person, made sure she got in touch with Annie and by the time Annie was back in the US, overpowered with jet lag again (she battled it fiercely in London, attending to her very busy schedule come rain or schedule crumbles), the problem seemed to be in the process of being resolved. If that isn’t customer care you want to receive when something doesn’t work for you, I don’t know what is.
‘Skin Owl’s sole mission is to educate you about your skin & deliver the best products, so that skin “care” can be the catalyst to caring about every genuinely important facet of your life. And why not? Your happiness is worth all the world’s weight in gold.’
Before we met, Annie asked me what Skin Owl products I was already familiar with (a few already had their moment in the spotlight of my bathroom, including Annie’s original Beauty Drops) and so she brought along her recently launched Beauty Drops PM with Maqui Berry, a glass vial of ‘Lovey Dovey’ Beauty Steam and one of her latest launches, this time for the body, called ‘Body + a crystal inspired illuminator’ which you can also use on your face. She armed me with tips for each product, which I will share with you later and did the same with Ailish. It has to be said that after smelling ‘Matcha Beauty Bar’, I was so spellbound, I ordered one for myself from Cult Beauty, as it refused to leave my mind alone. The bar also arrived with a promotional gift of the ‘Beauty Whip’, which I tried a few months ago, when it arrived in one of my Beauty Heroes subscriber’s boxes and a mini version of ‘Body + Amethyst inspired illuminator’.
In a way Annie is like many of us, a woman and a consumer when it comes to beauty products. In the past she struggled with her own skin grievances and after spending a lot of money on dermatologist appointments and countless skincare products, she didn’t feel she was any wiser, nor has seen a significant improvement for the better in her acne and eczema prone skin. Eventually Annie made a connection between ingredients and the effect they have on our bodies and skin, which led her to create Skin Owl and then release it into the world.
While working on commercial and music video sets as a professional makeup artist, as well as for a top luxury brand, Annie enrolled in a post-graduate program at UCLA & received a certificate in Cosmetic Chemistry. Then, through trial and error, she learnt what her skin reacted to and what produced a happy balance, so one of the founding principles of Skin Owl is making sure that the products allow your skin and YOU to look and feel good.
When creating the products, Annie has the following goals in mind:
- products need to smell good, so you enjoy using them and your skincare becomes a component of your daily self-care rituals.
- products need to produce results that you see fairly quickly
- the brand needs to offer women a reliable place to ask questions and receive quality, individual advice about their skin
- the brand’s mission is to educate you about your skin and help you be ‘matched’ to the best products for your skin’s needs
What else do you need to know about Annie and Skin Owl? Here are a few more thoughts shared by Annie in her ‘manifesto’ to her customers, old and new:
You Can Sit With Us
‘We believe in having a very inclusive work environment. We are invested in each
other’s well-being and aim to support each other wholeheartedly. Whether it’s making fun of each other on Instagram or becoming “top friends” on Snapchat. While we all started off as strangers, we strive to build relationships that feel like family’.
Who CAN’T Sit With Us.
Parabens, Aluminum, Animals oils and fats, Chloride, BHA and BHT, Butoxythanol,
Coal Tar, 1,4-dioxane, Formaldehyde, Hydroquinone, Lead, Mercury, Methyl Cellosolve, Mineral Oil, Nanoparticles, EDTA, PEG compounds, PPG compounds, Phthalates, Polysorbates, Propanol, SLS (Lauryl or Laureth), Triclosan and Synthetic Fragrances of any kind.
Do Right By The Earth
Our products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free and gluten-free.
95% of our packaging materials are recycled – from our glass bottles and packing peanuts to our Beauty Bar and Eye+ boxes. We ‘upcycle’ our bottles into bud vases and invite you to join in the DIY fun on the blog.
It All Matters
In growing a business from the ground up, mistakes and errors are bound to happen. In challenging times, we believe that it is important to acknowledge our frustrations and then dust the dirt off. We are journey and results-driven. Ultimately, when the shimmering body oil finally launched after three label changes, we embrace that many of the values gained were in the journey, not the destination.
And above all…
Transparency, Authenticity and Vulnerability Will Get You Everywhere. We want SkinOwl to be as transparent, as our ingredient decks. We invite our clients
and fans to join us in times of celebration and challenges. We believe in dealing honestly with each other, our customers and our vendors; working in a supportive workplace; and, most of all, being good people. #TeamSkinOwl
One more thing that I want to share with you, before I sign off on this post – some time ago Annie had to make changes to her first and much loved product, the cult Beauty Drops. She penned an open letter to her customers and retailers, sharing it on social media channels. Annie explained honestly, openly and coherently the reasons behind the changes. She took the time to answer questions and to reassure those who were nervous about the demise of a product that they came to love and rely on. She didn’t falter and stayed the course, even if the process itself wasn’t easy. In the end Beauty Drops PM Maqui Berry turned out to be worth staying the course, as customers loved it and many actually thought it was a beautiful improvement on the original formula. Just shows you the power of integrity, bravery and holding the customer at the centre of what you do as a brand.
To find out more about all things Skin Owl, please click here
P.s my review of the products that I mention above will follow in a few days, so keep an eye on my website and social media updates