Some of today's biggest players in the beauty industry just happen to be the underdogs. Indie beauty brands are hotter than ever and in our new series, Indie Beauties, we're chatting with the powerhouse women behind these brands to learn how they made their dreams a reality. This week, we're chatting with Kirsten Carriol, founder of Australian brand Lano.
What was your first job in the beauty business?
"I was a marketing executive in cosmetics for an advertising agency! But I got my start in skincare and lanolin as a little girl, making our own creams at home using lanolin."
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting out?
"Definitely finding manufacturers that would work with a start-up was the hardest part of all. I had to knock on so many doors and pick myself up so many times. It took me six years to launch!"
What inspired you to start your own company?
"I had been in beauty PR for around 15 years until it struck me what a lot of hot air and toxic empty promises the beauty industry was selling. And, I realized that nothing was actually as good as the lanolin that I grew up using as a little girl, so I set about developing my own natural lanolin range, I started with Lips (as nothing worked on my lips except lanolin) and then added Hands + Allover."
For those who don't know, what is lanolin?
"Lanolin is a substance that sits on sheep’s wool that keeps the fleece protected and waterproof throughout seasons. After shearing, the lanolin is removed during the wool washing process before the wool is sent away to be knitted into garments in the fashion industry. It’s an animal-cruelty-free by-product of the wool industry—it also happens to be the world’s most perfect skin moisturizer, as the molecular structure of lanolin mimics human skin oils."
You can use lanolin for so many different things. What has been the most creative use you've found for it?
"I have oiled a squeaky door hinge in a hotel room and stopped my flip flops from chafing between my toes!"
You're very determined to combine science, traditional farming knowledge, and beauty. Why is this trifecta so important to you?
"With farming comes the ingredient’s authentic heritage, sciences gives the efficacy, proof, and know-how, and the beauty industry makes it adapt into something beautiful that women can actually enjoy using."
What would you say to someone who says adopting a clean beauty routine is too hard?
"They haven’t been shopping in the right places! There are so many small and large beauty stores now that carry the most comprehensive selection of natural beauty products it’s never been easier to buy something clean, beautiful, and that actually works at the same time. But be warned, once you go clean, you never want to go back."
Where did you see yourself at 20?
"Living in NYC actually—doing something terribly exciting like in media or radio."
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
"Living in a remote castle in the south of France!"
What empowers and fulfills you as a businesswoman?
"Getting emails from women that our products have helped, especially if they have been very sick or down, like going through chemo or have a serious health condition. It’s a privilege to be able to make a real difference to people’s lives."
What is the best business advice you've received?
"'Keep the passion going’ from my only business mentor when I was 20-years-old. He was very right, passion takes you far."
What is the best beauty advice you've received?
"From my Dad—keep the skin super hydrated and don’t put too much crap on your face. He meant unknown chemicals and too much makeup!"
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
"Definitely my children and then my business. I’m really proud to be able to change people’s minds about lanolin as an ingredient, I feel like it’s my number one professional mission in life."
What is one piece of advice you'd give other women looking to break into the beauty business?
"You had better really genuinely love what you do, as this love and passion is what keeps you going when times get tough (and they will). Enjoy yourself and always trust your gut—a women’s gut instinct is her superpower."
Have you tried any lanolin products? If so, what's your favorite? Share with us below!