A Q+A Session with our Founder - Sonam
Diving into the world of clean and natural beauty can be overwhelming. In a world where intricate face tools and exotic ingredients can get complicated, what should be “basic” can actually seem like the opposite. Founders Beauty was created to demystify clean beauty and make it accessible to a wider audience. But beyond practical reasons, Founders Beauty is a movement that calls for a return to nature and to ourselves—away from the artificial.
Below, we spoke with Sonam Uttamchandani to get a first-hand look into the Founders Beauty brand, the journey, and what it really means to be clean in the realm of beauty.
Hi Sonam. How are you? Tell us what you're doing at the moment or before this interview.
Having an afternoon cup of coffee.
Okay, let's get right into your relationship with clean beauty. Have you always been passionate about clean beauty? Can you tell us about your journey?
My journey towards clean beauty started in 2012, when I was first diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. Being 22, and having skin as yellow as a lemon was definitely traumatising. I couldn't understand what was going on, and neither could the doctors I worked with initially. Yes, odd, I know. Thankfully—and I will always be grateful to my family for this—my parents flew me to Singapore, wherein the doctor knew exactly what it was and asked me to trust him. I remember it like it was yesterday when he said, "Look, Sonam, you're currently at the top of the mountain, we don't want you falling over, so let me walk you back down, trust me." And so, that's what I did!
One of the first few things he asked me to do was to stop using all skincare products, as most storebought products contained ingredients that were harmful to me at that point in time. In addition to telling me not to do anything with my skin (which was in dire need of some rejuvenation and detoxification), he also asked me to go on a low-sodium diet, and walk for two to three hours a day (yes, two to three!). While all of this was daunting at first, I did see the merit in these drastic measures, and I saw the healing process begin immediately.
That said, my skin, was still suffering, and I was told that I couldn't use any products or treatments. So what could I do? Because of this, I took to Google and began looking for ways to treat my skin naturally. To my surprise, there were millions of ways to do this—and most treatments could be made right from my kitchen counter! According to my doctor, as long as I could ingest it, I could put it on my face! Excitedly, I started cooking up a million different things for my face to see what the after-effects were. Eventually, I found a few great recipes and skin hacks that significantly cleared up my skin!
You built this brand from the ground up. Run us through how Founders Beauty started, especially how you started in—and maybe even studied—skincare.
2012: I discovered the world of clean beauty.
2013: My friends and family started to notice my skin clearing up and began asking me for products so they could try it too! However, they would complain about its lack of shelf life and asked me to consider manufacturing. But at the time, I was focused on healing and recovering, as well as completing a course in Psychology and helping with the family business.
2014: I completed and earned a degree in Psychology, and went on to start obtaining a health coaching certification alongside working on the family business.
2015: I earned my health coaching certification and started to coach one-on-one privately while still with the family business.
2016: Got married and continued on my general plan.
2017: Went on my honeymoon, and started to think about curating for an online skincare platform, but to my surprise, the first office I called was actually a lab!
2017: Started formulating my products
2020: Completed the formulation of three products, and am now getting ready to launch!
2021: Currently furthering my knowledge in formulation.
What were the challenges you faced as you were making the brand?
- Ideation: This wasn't too much of a challenge, I knew exactly what I wanted and what formulas I loved, the challenges started later in the game.
- Planning: The planning, in terms of what the brand stood for and what we aim to do, was fairly simple as well. Transparency has always been key and we figured it would be important to TELL it like it is!
- Branding & Communications: Branding for me was one of the more challenging parts. Knowing what we wanted to share and having the exact formula we wanted definitely made it easier. That said, transcribing all of this visually was definitely one of the harder parts of building Founders Beauty
- Production: Formulation and Logistics! Knowing the ingredients you want to use is one thing, but being able to turn it in to a product that will stand the test of shelf life and achieve your desired consistency is definitely hard. Logistics is a challenge too, as we want to ensure that our consumers receive the product at its best—but this requires air-conditioned storage as well as quick delivery. So looking for a facility that would look after your products as you would your own is definitely a challenge too.
You mentioned T.E.L.L. (Transparent, Empowered, Lasting, Love) as your brand values. What were the motivations for you to create a brand that reflected these values?
- Transparency is something I've sincerely valued since day one. I'd like to ensure our consumers are given the opportunity to know exactly what is in their products and what we stand for as a brand, just as we firmly love being true to oneself, we would like to be true to all.
- Empowerment is twofold, we would like to provide skincare to empower women while propelling a sense of routine in terms of self-care. The power of routine and being able to look after yourself can be truly empowering. On the flip, we also wanted to empower women with the knowledge to make the right choices when it comes to buying skincare. Consumers should be able to understand exactly what each ingredient does, and how it could help them.
- Lasting means we aim to ensure that the products we offer provide lasting effects that do not harm one's body. Our skin is our barrier to the outside world. It absorbs everything. If we put too many unknowns on there, we will damage that barrier and eventually everything else in our bodies can be affected as well.
- Lastly, we value love because it's essential that everything should be done with heart. Everything that was created, and this brand as a whole has been driven by Love. The amount of care we've put into this brand is unparalleled, and we want that to reflect in all that we do and share. And of course, it is an added bonus that love reduces stress—thereby reducing inflammation in your skin and improving it as a whole.
Sustainability is at the heart of your brand. What are the key ways in which you are doing this at Founders Beauty?
First, we make sure to use ingredients that are sustainable and grown with care. We only use materials that have little to no plastic. If any, we ensure that packaging is recyclable. Second, we aim for carbon efficiency by reducing our carbon footprint during the production process. Lastly, we donate a portion of our profits to a number of causes—particularly towards protecting our environment.
You also told us about how meticulous you were about the science behind the products. Would you say this is what sets Founders Beauty apart from other skincare brands?
We have been meticulous not just with the science of the product and working closely with our chemist, but we ensure that the formula had reached its peak before testing. Should any problems arise, we are not afraid to make changes even if it means delays and extra costs. We pride ourselves in empowerment and transparency—this is what sets Founders as a whole apart.
Why is the conscious and clean beauty movement important to you? And why is it so relevant for our time today? Are there any areas of concern most prominent in the industry?
Clean beauty is so important to me as a result of what we went through as a family when I was diagnosed. Today, it's extremely relevant because people, in general, are now leaning towards the basics—simple, clean, and natural. The main thing about the skincare industry is that it isn't as regulated as it should be, thus people should be able to understand the labels of all their products, which will empower them to keep their bodies safe.
Has the pandemic affected the way you think about skincare and beauty? Tell us more about your insights on this.
Skincare has been of great importance to me since I was diagnosed and began the healing process. Hence, I don't feel the pandemic changed the importance of that for me, but it had given me a little bit more time to experiment again, which was an incredible experience!
What are the biggest misconceptions about skincare, particularly natural skincare?
Not all products that are labelled "organic" actually are all-organic. As in the skincare industry, even if you use just a small number of natural ingredients, some might still tout it as "organic." It's actually quite complicated, but we aim to make it simple and easy for consumers.
What steps should every good skincare routine include?
Cleanse, tone, treat, moisturise, protect, and nourish! One must have a good cleanser. And if you wear makeup, a great makeup remover too. Then, followed by a toner, a serum, and moisturizer. If you are starting your day then you have to add sunscreen. Every now and then, a mask is a great addition too.
What is one ingredient you can't live without?
Let's make that two! Strawberries and clay!
How would you define beauty?
Beauty is boundless, it is in everything and everyone, it is essential for us to recognise it, care for it, and enhance it.