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 spotlighting a woman dedicated to making her products as healthy as possible. Meet Susie Wang, Co-Founder of 100% Pure.
What was your first job in the beauty business?
"I had the great honor of developing formulas, creating concepts, and innovating for three of the world's largest cosmetic companies when I was 18 for a period of five years."
What was your biggest challenge starting out?
"I was extremely comfortable, experienced, and thoroughly knowledgeable with the technical side of creating the fantastic formulas, but it was the soft skills I lacked. I'm naturally a bit awkward—not the best socially, shy, terribly introverted, etc.—so my biggest challenge was being a good manager. Unlike computers and chemistry, people were unpredictable and each person reacted and behaved differently, and this forced me to be become a better communicator and develop my interpersonal skills. I knew growing the team was needed, but I was unaware of the amount of time and effort it would take. Growing up, my parents were strict about spending excess time on education or other activities that either enhanced my mathematical skills (example: music) or my discipline (example: ballet) rather than socialization. Needless to say, out of necessity I’ve overcome this challenge, which has resulted in a 200 plus size team of very talented individuals."
What inspired you to start your own company?
"When I was a freshman at UC Berkeley, I bought a vitamin C serum and became extremely disappointed when the white serum turned brown after a few weeks. I immediately knew it was oxidation. Once oxidation occurs, not only does the vitamin C lose its potency, but it also turns into free radicals—the actual elements that damage and ages skin. I figured out a way to stabilize vitamins from oxidizing in skincare and filed patents. In doing so, I got the attention of three of the world's largest cosmetic conglomerates who recruited me. I put school on hiatus and started working on technology and innovation, creating story boards and formulas for the most iconic beauty brands.
One day, while formulating an eye cream, one of the chemicals spilled onto the lab table. After a few minutes, the chemical eroded the hard plastic lab table. If a chemical was so harsh to damage a lab table, I wondered what kind of damage it could do to human skin. This prompted my curiosity and investigation into finding out the ugly truth behind the beauty business. After discovering how many toxins are used in cosmetic formulations, I left the big companies to create the healthiest line of cosmetics in the world and launched 100% Pure. As an innovator, I continue to think up different technologies in cosmetics, such as the use of fruit dyes to color makeup instead of harmful synthetic dyes and minerals. It is this commitment to purity and my new brands I'm currently working on that remains at the heart of all our product development."
Your company's name, pretty much says it all: it's 100 Percent Pure. Why was this such an important goal for you when launching your own line? What was the spark that made you switch to all-natural?
" It was more than a spark. It became and obsession. After finding out cosmetics contained poisons that were clinically proven to cause cancer, caused life-long birth defects, and a slew of other horrible effects, I made it one of my life's missions to create the healthiest line of cosmetics in the world."
You get very creative with your ingredients—gem stones, fruit pigments, etc. Where does this inspiration come from?
"My sole inspiration is health. So the gemstones were a healthier alternative than other 'glitter;' the fruit pigments to color our cosmetics contain an exorbitant amount of vitamins and antioxidants; etc."
You take a very scientific approach to creating your products. You were the first to do many processes and create the quality natural products you have, why do you think the industry has been so slow to adopt these practices?
"When Ric, James and I started 100% Pure, it was never for the purpose of getting rich. Of course, we love the perks but our sole drive was to create better, safer products while doing the absolute best for animals and the environment. With that said, we never hold back on creating the highest quality, the absolute best products. To ensure our highest quality standards, we conduct many studies that aren't standard in the industry to make sure our ingredients are free of chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers; our packaging doesn't contain pthalates or BPA; our formulas are cohesive and don't cause a negative chemical reaction; to make sure our formulas don't give any negative reactions on the skin (to most people); and that our products actually do what they are supposed to do."
What would you say to someone who says adopting a natural beauty routine is too hard?
"I would say it's just as easy to buy an organic facial cream as it is a chemical filled facial cream."
Where did you see yourself at 20?
"Well, when I was 20, I was already two years in formulating and creating innovation and technology for the world's largest cosmetic brands."
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
"Twenty years out is a tough timeframe—so much can happen! Several certainties do come to mind. Married, yes. Children, of course. Spend more time with my parents, absolutely. Helping animals to the best of my abilities, definitely. That said, I live to create, so for me to continue to produce the least harmful, highest quality products through more brands and companies is an absolute certainty for the next 20 years and beyond."
What empowers and fulfills you as a businesswoman?
"I'm most fulfilled knowing I'm creating the healthiest and the best quality products in the world. What empowers me is helping needy animals and ending animal cruelty."
What is the best beauty advice you've received?
"My parents were vegan, so I have always had a plant-based diet, and I believe that is the key to staying healthy and youthful because plants are full of vitamins and antioxidants. The best beauty advice I've ever received was from my parents who told me to rarely, if ever, eat meat. This was great advice because I later found out that in the process after a cow is butchered, they hose it down with an undisclosed preservative solution to keep the meat fresh enough to go from the slaughter house through the many different chains of distribution before it gets into your refrigerator which makes sense considering it's a rotting piece of flesh."
You're very adamant about your nine-step quality process. Why is this such an important aspect of your business to you?
"The nine-step quality process goes above and beyond what's typical in the beauty industry, but these multi-step testing process ensures we remain our highest quality standards."
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
"A lot of my technologies and patents are things I'm very proud of. I've discovered a way to deliver active ingredients in the deeper dermal layers of the skin without the use of plastic or petro chemical-based polymers; I've developed unique preservative blends that can give a beauty product two to three years shelf life (unopened); I've worked with food companies to produce 100 percent natural aromas, and I'm extremely thrilled of discovering plant pigments as colorants in cosmetics. A few companies are saying they use plant dyes, but their label always says may contain iron oxides, which is probably because their products are colored with iron oxides and the plant dyes are there as color enhancers whereas our color cosmetics are entirely colored from plant pigments."
What is one piece of advice you'd give other women looking to break into the beauty business?
"The very best advice I could give, above all, would be to focus on the best quality. People will buy anything once, but our repeat purchases happen from quality products and when customers are happy with the results. It also helps to find your own unique niche, like I did with fruit pigments."
What are the top three products from your line you can't live without?
"Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Ultra Riche PM Treatment. It's such a luxurious cream that gives my thirsty skin the intense hydration, deep moisture, and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and youthful. Lip and Cheek Tint in Peach Glow—I love the baby pink coral color and that the product is dual functioning. It gives me a healthy flush and just the right hint of hue. Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara because I always feel more confident with longer, fuller lashes, and this mascara is in a base of lash conditioners; it's free of toxins that can't harm my sensitive eyes; it doesn't smudge or flake, and it's colored from micronized black tea leaves and berries."
Have you tried 100% Pure? What's your favorite product? Let us know!
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