Inspiration Matters: Where Indie Beauty Brand Founders Find That Spark

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 11 founders and executives: What do you draw inspiration from?

Kristen Runvik Founder, Lagom Body Co.

I'm inspired by the raw beauty of the natural world, minimalist design, moments of solitude in nature, the warmth in the air as spring returns, and vibrant pink and orange sunsets. I not only draw on external experiences for inspiration, but my own thoughts, feelings and desires, and how that relates to the world around me.

I go deep, but I'm also easily excitable, and I pay attention to what excites me. That's when I know I'm in close to something that resonates. Then, I take all that passion, energy, and creativity and use it to create something, whether that's a new product collection or a new class or workshop.

Joy Yap CEO and Founder, Wyld Skincare

Like many entrepreneurs, we wear many hats, and we’re so busy that sometimes we get caught up in the doing and the daily execution, [and] not enough time is spent on the things that spark inspiration and creativity. I make a point of setting aside time each week devoted to planning creative brainstorming strategy, the big picture stuff.

Ideas and inspirations are all around and constantly barreling toward and passing by us. We just need to be open and mindful to receiving and nurturing them. I think there’s creativity in all of us, but we have to be willing to put in the work to find it. How do I tap into that creativity and be inspired?

I draw inspiration from social media, following people and brands that inspire me from Instagram, Facebook Groups, Reddit beauty threads, YouTube beauty tutorials, Ted talks and Podcasts. I’m currently loving Breaking Beauty and Fat Mascara. I also surround myself with people who are equally as curious as I am and who inspire me. I always carry a journal with me to jot down random ideas and inspirational quotes that come to me because you never know what, when or who will help spark that big idea that will change the entire course of your business.

Danielle Conte Founder, Conscious Coconut

I’m privileged to work with amazing souls who day in and day out inspire me. From friends to store owners, coconut farmers to postmen, customers to mentors. Their energy and gentle encouragement keeps me going.

Also, my relationship with the MacDonald Training Center is extremely important to me. To spend time with adults with disabilities who have this awesome, creative energy never fails to put a big, goofy grin on my face. You can find me there several times a week when I’m in town. And, of course, I’m inspired by farmers in Asia to the kids we’re feeding here in the States. I take little bits of everyone, everywhere I go.

Candice Jatib Owner and Creator, Sea of Elements

A Los Angeles native, I grew up spending time by the ocean and in nature. Encouraged by a family who valued eating fresh, healthy and seasonally, the beauty and power of nature influenced me early on and was simply instilled as part of my childhood.

Discovering Yoga and Ayurveda later in life provided a nourishing reconnection for me that brought forth so many of those familiar interests, relationships, feelings and tremendous inspiration as well. I instantly began incorporating these teachings into my daily life practices and self-care rituals.

Alongside all this, I focused my studies on the efficiency and effects of natural ingredients for physical health and beauty rooted in the core values of Ayurveda. This deeper connection to nature has cultivated within me a whole new appreciation for the elements, a true kinship to the leaves, fruit, roots, birds and bugs, a love that once revealed, I now crave to discover in all aspects of my life. Nothing makes me happier than being a salty little garden gnome, toes in the wet sand and smelling the Earth after a fresh rain.

Toks Fahm Ajayi Founder and CEO, SKÔT Beauté

I can honestly say my inspiration comes from my travels and connecting with people from different cultural backgrounds. When you travel, all human emotions are magnified. You open up to love, kindness and tolerance for all. You're constantly reinventing yourself.

I'm a dreamer, a Pisces with a creative mind that's always on the go. For instance, my latest product, Elysees Rejuvenating Oil, is named after the famous Champs Elysees in Paris. It's a luxurious oil formulated to deliver optimum benefits for all skin types. I liken the product to the famous street that's home to the world's finest luxury designer boutiques and the most culturally diverse people you'll ever come across. That's truly is how I stay inspired and creative.

Phoebe Song Founder, Snow Fox

I'm inspired by the minimal natural beauty of the Arctic. Our fox face mascot was etched directly from a real Arctic fox portrait, so its facial dimensions are completely unique. There's just something so perfectly flawless about geometric symmetry in design.

Music that inspires: Atlas, Year One - Sleeping At Last, my favorite track is Saturn and The Projectionist. Words that inspire: Currently, it's writer Rupi Kaur from her book “Milk and Honey.” There aren't that many writers who can pierce the heart in such few words. Check it out, you'll see what I mean.

I don't really follow any particular Instagram accounts. It's going to sound a little cliché, but I get my real inspiration from raw, real living environments instead of anything pre-curated. I travel a lot, whether it's a snowy lake in Switzerland or the wild jungle terrains of Chiang Rai where our parent company owns a wild-harvest production facility.

I use those real-life experiences for design and formulation inspiration. In fact, our new range coming out has a strong herbal and rainforest concept to it. I designed it after visiting some hill tribe farmers in the mountains of Northern Thailand. They use only salt for pesticides and have passed down agricultural knowledge for generations, which they're still implementing for the most beautiful herbal crop I've ever seen.

You can see some of this on my IG @phoebe.spamonkeys. I'm not really an office-bound founder since I'm always searching for new exotic plants, so it's wonderful that I have such a strong team behind me to organize things.

Aly Korchemniy Founder, ANFISA

My personal creativity and inspiration are drawn from nature. Going on a hike or even walking through the park is incredibly calming, peaceful and somehow centering. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, burnout or stressed, a hike in the beautiful Pacific Northwest can cure it all. Nature awakens my senses. The sounds distract me from the stress of the daily hustle and bustle, helping to clear my mind and allowing the creativity to flow.

Nina S. Naidu Founder, Anokha

I'm most inspired by my eight-year-old son. He's smart, kind and wise, and always keeps me on the right path.

Graydon Moffat Founder, GRAYDON

The quick answer to this is superfood ingredients as well as the wellness and mindfulness community. I literally hunt for the best superfoods that support skin health. Some people tease me that I am like an ingredient anthropologist. The longer more in-depth answer to where I draw my inspiration is very personal and comes from a time in my life filled with angst and despair.

Riddled with eating disorders having spent years living in Paris as a young woman, I paid my bills working in packaged goods marketing and part-time work as a pastry chef, the latter of which fed my unhealthy indulge-then-starve food habit. I found myself in absolute burnout after fainting one day and an ensuing trip to the hospital resulted in being put in a mental health ward for a couple weeks.

Afterward, I was determined to get better and create a new me. I took my power suits to a consignment store, cut my hair super short, left my marketing gig, signed up to do an intensive yoga program and started making my own skin concoctions in between having anxiety attacks and downward dogs.

I got heavily into the vegan, whole food world and my once unhealthy fascination with food became very health oriented. Thus, began my obsession with superfoods and leveraging their power. I also found that I had an undiscovered gift for nurturing others. It was gratifying to see so many friends and clients changing their diet and lifestyle. But, generally speaking, they were still clinging to their big brand beauty products despite knowing they should be using products with cleaner, more nourishing ingredient lists.

Slowly but surely, this community of women coming to my self-care yoga classes also started buying my products. I love that they affectionately liken my creams to being comparable to a salad for your skin. More than that, I am supported by an active community of engaged and inspired customers in the ever-evolving conscious and mindful beauty and lifestyle movement.

Ebru Karpuzoglu MSc. PhD, Founder and CSO, AveSeena

Inspiration is found in different places for each of us. I find my inspiration in nature, its delicate yet unbelievable balance, the moods and beauty of changing seasons, and the science of the immune system – to be exact, how the immune system works and defends us every day. They all work in this beautiful harmony. It never ceases to amaze me how they just flow effortlessly with everything just in the right way and right time, which inspires me and fuels my creativity to design healthier better products.

When a person takes their precious time to send us a heartfelt note on how their skin transformed after using one of our products, it makes my [heart] and our whole team’s hearts sing. Their happiness inspires me and all of us. It’s the reason and driving force for what we do. The thought that we can contribute to someone’s happiness or make them smile, that’s what inspires my creativity to innovate and to push for excellence.

Julia Teren Founder, Thesis Beauty

Inspiration comes from nature escapades, art, history, classic literature, several types of music, traveling, yoga, change of seasons, interesting gift boutiques or artist studios, and everyday big and small things that spark emotions.

I am crazy about old world apothecaries and PBS “Masterpiece” series, too. At the same time, I like to contrast those experiences with contemporary, bold wackiness of avant-garde couture and hair design. But, then again, when we go to the local farms for apple picking and pumpkin shopping, the primitive crafts feel so heartwarming and sincere. I do have my very strong preferences, but I am trying to keep an open mind and appreciate various forms of expression.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to [email protected].