Welcome to the next instalment of the #beautyinsider Q&As, where you can find out who is behind some of your favourite beauty brands, what they are working on and how they got there. This month’s guest is Sarah Brown, Founder of Pai skincare. Created with sensitive skin in mind, Pai offers a range of gentle and calming products that are certified organic, vegan and cruelty-free. Hailing from London, the brand’s name is actually inspired by a Maori word meaning ‘goodness’. As a devoted user of Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Radiance Mask I can testify to the formula’s impressive power to restore my skin to its best. And judging by the incredibly healthy-looking glow emanating from Sarah’s skin, the Pai products’ goodness certainly seems to be working. Here Sarah shares her proudest moments with the brand and what makes Pai different from any other skincare offering.
1. Hi Sarah, thank you for being my Insider Q&A guest this month. Let’s start from the beginning: what motivated you to launch Pai, a range of organic skincare for sensitive skin?
I developed a condition that made my skin so sensitive and irritable that I would come up in hives. I lived with this condition for a very long time and in that process tried every single hypoallergenic product known to man. I was in a miserable place and that’s when I started to think that maybe plants and botanicals might be kinder to skin.
2. What is it that makes Pai stand out from other skincare brands?
We’re very clear on our mission, we have a sensitive skin mission and we’ve never deviated from it. Actually in the early days this was considered very niche, but I didn’t care. Pai was born from my personal experience, I created this business because I felt there was a real need. We are committed to sensitive skin in all its complexity. We’ve developed our expertise to understand all the factors that influence sensitive skin. The products are one piece of the jigsaw puzzle, so with our free 30-minute consultations that we offer our customers, we look at the whole picture, from the way they sleep to what they eat. It’s very much tailored and done on a case by case basis.
3. As the founder of a certified organic skincare brand, what so far has been your proudest moment?
That’s a very easy question! Two things for me.
The first is maintaining manufacturing. We do all of our formulating, manufacturing and distributing in-house, and doing that as the brand grows and scales up is hard and can be very expensive, it sucks cash out of the business. We built our own factory and it’s been an extraordinary journey because it’s been so hard, at every step. Even trying to raise money was hard because investors thought we were fundamentally crackers, making our own products when there were what they considered perfectly good factories that could do it for us. I had to persuade them that I wanted to retain creative direction, as well as control over quality, and to be organic that, for me, was the only way to do it. Because this was such a commitment to the cause, such a labour of love, this is what I’m most proud of.
The second is when we won our Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Going to Buckingham Palace felt very special. We’d been going for nearly 10 years, it had been a long journey, building the business very slowly, brick by brick, with no money. Receiving this recognition was a very defining moment for me. When you run a business you never stop, so actually pausing for breath and recognising how far we’d come, what we’d achieved and enjoying it was a great moment!
4. Insider news please! What natural beauty trends would you say we should look out for?
When it comes to organic beauty, I think certification is increasingly important, in a way it’s never been before. I’ve wanted this moment for a long time – I’ve been on my soapbox a lot! There’s been such an influx of ‘clean’ and ‘natural’ products flooding the market, there’s a real need for certification. This helps customers understand the authenticity of the claims. Customers are looking for guidance and reassurance, particularly if they’re paying a premium for it. As awareness grows, I believe more and more brands will apply for a certification such as The Soil Association, I feel this will be a big shift in the next 5 years.
5. And how about trends in natural beauty ingredients?
When I started the business there were very few natural beauty ingredients to choose from, but now there are so many, it’s brilliant. Everyone is talking about CBD [cannabidiol is a naturally occurring substance from cannabis which relaxes without the psychoactive effects] and retinol alternatives. The idea that you can’t get high performing natural ingredients is nonsense, we’re spoilt for choice now!
6. What exciting projects do you have coming up in the next few months?
Christmas! We have some beautiful sets this year. And we’ve got our new Cleansing Oil enriched in rosehip oil which is renowned for its skin healing properties. Beyond that we have a big change coming up, mostly around packaging. We’ve been working on it for years, it’s very exciting! We’re still a little way off but it will definitely come to fruition next year.
7. And finally – what do you get up to when you’re not creating organic skincare for sensitive skin?
I have two young children, 3 and 6 years old, so when I’m not working I spend time with them. We went camping last weekend – it was freezing but they absolutely loved it! It’s all about trying to steal these moments while they’re still small and making the most of it.
If you’d like to find out more about your skin and how to support it, you can book a 30 minute phone consultation with one of Pai’s trained skincare coaches here. And if you have any burning questions you’d like to ask Sarah why not leave a comment below? Or you can get in touch with her and her team @paiskincare