GROWING THE MOST TRUSTED BEAUTY SITE IN THE WORLD: INTERVIEW WITH CULT BEAUTY'S ALEXIA INGE
As the skincare world continues to change, there are few individuals and businesses truly at the top leading the charge. We were fortunate enough to sit down with one of those individuals, Alexia Inge, co-founder of the stellar UK based e-commerce platform Cult Beauty. From her background as a model and fashion journalist, to her take on how the beauty industry is evolving, read this in-depth interview with one of the world's leading beauty pioneers.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and what inspired you to create cult beauty?
My early career as model, then fashion journalist gave me access to some of the top beauty experts in the world. I then evolved into PR and brand building, which gave me some insight into what happens behind the scenes - and what was then - the disconnect between what the experts were using and either what the consumer was told they were using or had access to.
I then met my co-founder Jessica DeLuca, a fellow beauty addict, who was frustrated from many consumer experiences where she had been oversold beauty products. We both found many aspects of the beauty industry to be a patronising and overly-prescriptive to women, with products often sold with misleading, pseudo-scientific advertising and we wanted to offer an alternative solution.
We are beauty curators, the cult in our name represents a culture of perfection. Rather than indiscriminately selling all beauty lines, we've created a shop where every product is chosen by a collection of world-class experts for its stand-alone brilliance; an insider beauty hall of fame that you can shop in the knowledge that anything you buy will be outstanding
What do you think are the most exciting things happening in beauty?
I love the speed at which the industry is changing in line with the needs of the modern consumer. Social-media-fuelled product development has made the whole R&D process so much quicker, trends take a matter of weeks to become all-encompassing. A contrary trend is a re-embracing of old-school values, centered within the natural space, movements like Farm-to-Face where the radical transparency of sourcing and formulation practices sit at the core of the category. The internet has brought about the democratisation of beauty and supported the rediscovery of the niche. Independent beauty is the strongest it’s been in 70 years.
What are some of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur in the beauty space?
The competition is prolific and cutthroat and there are a lot of very average beauty brands in this space - very few diamonds and a lot of rough! Our buying team, headed up by Stacia Prince, are world-class beauty bloodhounds though.
What are your 3 beauty hacks everyone should know?
- Allow me to set the scene: you’ve been longing out your favourite mascara and just haven’t got around to reordering. Inevitably one morning the brush just refuses to give any more. Fear not! Boil the kettle and pour some in a mug, make sure the mascara lid is on tight and pop it into the mug bottom down. Let it stew for one minute to melt the waxes inside and then remove, cool a little and apply. This will buy you two more days to get your act together with express shipping.
- If you can, take your make up off the minute you get home and apply any night treatments then, this way you don’t have to donate any to your pillowcase in exchange for sleep.
- Before you apply nail varnish rub remover over the bed of your nail, it will make the polish last so much longer.
Cult Beauty specializes in some of the best independent brands in the world. How do you decide what makes it into the cult beauty lineup?
We have the following guidelines:
- The minute you discover it you want to call your best girlfriend and tell them all about it.
- It exceeds your expectations and creates new ones - when it’s finished you are compelled to cut open its container to scoop out every last bit
- It endures the fickleness of fashion and micro-trends and is found in every beauty expert’s kit-bag
- It is rhapsodized and raved about by influencers without being paid to
- It genuinely makes your life better, more efficient, more comfortable
- Defining a cult product is 50% gut feel. You know by the hairs on the back of your neck, an almost physical need to broadcast that you’ve discovered the next ‘find’. Then there’s the human story behind the products, how it is made, what need inspired its existence. This is the cherry of authenticity on the top that makes a truly great cult beauty product.
What is your favorite Immunocologie product right now?
Definitely the vital clay mask. It's the Rolls Royce of clay masks. Vital Clay uses four of the most effective, mineral-rich, raw and purified types of earth clay available for skincare. Their minerals are negatively charged – which balances positively charged ions from pollution, UV, phone radiation. This mask essentially swaps your toxins and inflammation for nourished, regenerated skin cells and clear pores!
Favorite travel destination and why?
Japan, from a design, food, beauty and lifestyle perspective this country blew me away.
What is your ideal: weekend, meal, and music?
I love Gypsy Balkan music and festivals in the countryside with a group of friends. There’s nothing like dancing in a field in the sunshine surrounded by the people you love with a cider in hand.
How do you envision the future for Cult Beauty?
I want Cult Beauty to become not the biggest beauty website in the world, but the most trusted. The phrase I hear our customers say that gives me the most joy is, “What I like about Cult Beauty is I know that I can trust anything I buy will be good”. We spend a lot of time and energy making sure as many people as possible feel this way.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to our readers?
I have learned to trust my skin, to spot early signs of a product working badly and stop testing immediately. We are all experts in our own skin, we just need to listen to what it tells us (don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise!!).