Premae Skincare is the world’s first allergy-free, candida-free, botanical based luxury skincare brand.
Founded by Clare Eluka in July 2011, the London based company currently employs a team of five.
The need for allergen-free cosmeceuticals was established first-hand by Clare as a result of her personal struggle with Candida Albican, a wheat, dairy, sugar and gluten intolerance.
Clare’s seven year search for a cure led her on research journeys around the world, which revealed the huge gap in the market for allergen free skincare.
Premae Skincare operates a strict disciplinary approach to production and manufacturing with 100% vegan and natural and unrefined ingredients.
Why did you decide to start your company?
Back in 2010 I decided that I didn’t want to spend 20 years teaching or working for a brand I didn’t believe in.
I hit a glass ceiling in both careers. In retail I wanted to become a formulator or production specialist but was always given the cold shoulder. Teaching seemed more like behaviour management instead of fostering learning.
I decided to combine my love for creating innovative blends and my academic attributes with my personal battle with allergies as the cornerstone and USP for Premae Skincare.
What was your career path prior to starting your first business?
At 16, I worked for the Body Shop as a part time makeup artist. I was studying A-Level Theatre Studies, English Literature and Language plus Media Studies. I went onto do my BA joint honours in Drama, with Film and Television whilst I worked at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics as a senior artist.
I loved working for Bobbi. It was here that I was trained in 10 step makeup and built a strong clientele in order to go freelance. After I graduated in 2006, I worked as a freelance makeup artist-training juniors on my directory and then began beauty journalism, reviewing brands such as Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown and NARS.
In 2009 I decided I needed a back up plan, as the freelance work started drying up through the start of the recession. When I was 24 I qualified with a PGCE in GCSE/A-Level Teaching and worked supply teaching around London.
I created a small vegan skincare brand where I test marketed my formulations on whilst working nights at MAC cosmetics to pay the bills. Once the formulae were finally perfect, I began focusing on the branding and cultivating the brand message and image.
What’s the story behind your brand name?
Premae Skincare is a raw food diet for the skin. Due to the 2.5 billion allergy sufferers worldwide, I suffer from four core allergies, it was imperative for me to bring sustainable beauty products to the market.
After working for 10 years in the beauty industry and teaching A-Level English & Physical, Social, Health Education, I embarked on formulating and began researching into living with intolerances and allergies.
The name Premae is two words put together -Premium and Formulae – epitomising the brands uniqueness and prestige.
Did you always know that you would start your own business?
I‘ve always been interested in business. The small handful of people who know me, know my passion and drive for creative enterprise and that inventive leadership is my only goal.
I remember being six years old and selling chips wrapped in newspaper from my mum’s front door on our estate. Kids used to buy them for 20p. I remember being 9 years old with my friend Kerry, we sold ice cream from her balcony for 45p. That was 5 pence cheaper than the ice cream man but with double scoops.
I‘ve always had an eye for quality and listening to the consumers wants and needs whilst staying true to my ethics. I always knew whilst working for the other brands that one day I would create my own.
What steps did you take to launch your business?
I created a solid business plan, with optimistic and realistic profit and loss. I reviewed the USP and did massive amounts of research on my target audience.
I spent two years trying and testing the formulae on humans. I am completely against animal testing.
I got rid of all the toxic and negative people in my life who were draining my energy and blocking my success. This is truly the key; cleansing your home, relationships and spirit through replenishment, meditation, prayer and open honesty – which may hurt or upset people, but as long as you are just in your actions, you will overcome every obstacle.
I only network with other entrepreneurs and business people as they understand the pressure and mental state you are in, which can sometimes be frustrating to friends.
What are you working on at the moment?
We just opened our weekend pop up store in O2 Centre in Finchley, which ran throughout January. It was a great opportunity for me to connect with new and existing consumers, re-learn my craft and test the retail market. I’ve learnt a great deal and have analysed the pros and cons of running your own premises.
The team I’m building at Premae Skincare is expanding with innovative production strategies, procurement and constantly introducing luxury healthy skincare products.
I am writing a book and finalising my first pure parfum ready for 2013. Lots of other things will be happening this year, but I’d like to keep an element of surprise.
Can you describe your typical working day?
No two days are ever the same. But this is a snapshot of how it looks. I wake up at 6.30am, check emails, talk with my staff team, contact my marketing team and I process orders.
I finish work at 7pm and tell everyone to stop working promptly at 7pm. I believe in work/life balance.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
Having products I have formulated with my bare hands be nominated for awards. That is the best recognisition for my hard work.
Another highlight is when I give a skincare consultation and watch the monthly progression of a person’s skin develop from troubled to balance. I feel like I’m changing the world and building people’s esteem and confidence.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Finding cost effective ways to market the brand to a wider audience can be a challenge.
Maintaining relationships can be difficult. I see my business as my first love and my child. Also, finding passionate people who you can trust. Loyalty is the key to growing an empire.
What has been your proudest business moment so far?
My proudest moment was launching in Africa in October, ahead of our London launch. The warm reception from Uganda was incredible and spurred on my excitement to release it in the UK. Uganda supplies our beautiful cocoa butter and aloe vera.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
Coco Chanel inspired my brand image. I wanted something timeless and classic, a symbol of class and sophistication like Chanel. The Premae P logo, was a seal of approval stamp, like a British wax seal with a royal shade of green. I looked to pioneers like Tom Ford and Marc Jacob too for that simple chicness.
My younger sister, Emma is my life coach and advisor. She motivates me to keep on going when I feel overwhelmed and blocked.
Innovators inspire me, people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ginger Rogers and Naomi Campbell who took risks and broke new ground. I want to be added to that list.
People told me two years ago that I was a small fish in a massive pond that I’d be eaten up by the big brands. But here, I stand today making waves in the industry and forcing bigger brands to compete with me. How uncanny!
Watch how many brands become allergy focused over the next two years. They’ve already become vegan savvy due to my first brand.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a beauty business?
Study the business side first. If you are a creative person, do the maths side first. If you are a business person, go and study chemistry or work in the beauty industry for at least five years. Get some solid experience in both sectors and combine them.
Trust nobody with your finances and formulae. Get a strong marketing team and proceed with shroud caution. Maintain quality and integrity at all times.
Fast forward five years, where do you think your business will be in 2017?
Without giving too much away, Premae Skincare will have multiple divisions ranging from bath and body to well-being supplements and become a household daily consumer brand, worldwide.
Clare, is there anything else you’d like to share?
You can read my blog, a daily source for allergy-free news, advice and lifestyle choices at www.alifelessirritating.wordpress.com.
There is a Premae Skincare range for multiple skin types, let me recommend one for you to order:
The Clemensy range contains Ugandan avocado butter for hypersensitive skins, including infants, severe allergy sufferers and those with candida albicans, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
The Gallant range with East Indian sandalwood oil, is aimed at men.
The Harmony range contains Indian mango butter, and is aimed at combination skins, including adult acne.
The Premae Youth Treatment range contains American peppermint oil for troubled teenage pores.
The Supreme range contains Ugandan cocoa butter for extra dry skins.
The Triumph Range caters for mature skins, and boasts Ethiopian harvested frankincense oil.
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Clare Eluka was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Do you have a question for Clare? If so, please feel free to post a comment below: