Business may come and go but family is forever. For sisters, Sarah and Lauren they get to enjoy both, together.
In 2012, while one sister suffered from Leukaemia, the other set about a dedicated search for gentle and effective skincare on her behalf in order to help heal Lauren’s fragile and suffering skin. What started as a mission of compassion for a sibling soon grew into a fully-fledged business. Following full recovery from Leukaemia, completion of Lauren’s law degree and Sarah’s continued commitment to the cause, the pair came together to launch BY SARAH LONDON, with a bold and empowering mission of bringing greater clarity, authenticity and simplicity to skincare.
We caught up with the sisters for the inside scoop on how they got started, the process of product creation and what they wish more people understood about their business.
“Skincare should be transparent and empowering and that’s what Lauren and I have set out to do at BY SARAH LONDON.”
Tell us more about how the brand got started and why full transparency in your products is so important to you?
SARAH: My sister, Lauren, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012 and after months of treatment, her skin was very dry and sensitive. It was an experience that made us both look really closely at what we were eating and what we were putting on our skin; we did a 360 review of our lifestyle.
We’ve always made healthy choices but as Lauren’s skin was as fragile as a new born baby’s, this made our search for gentle and effective skincare that much more important. I tried to find skincare to help but even many natural and organic ranges had long, cryptic ingredient lists that left me confused and disappointed. So I turned to my childhood hobby of making skincare and formulated plant-based blends to soothe her skin. The result? They worked!
I shared my blends with friends and family who also loved them. They connected with the simplicity and ease with which they could understand the skincare I created, with just a few high-quality, totally natural ingredients. It wasn’t just friends who had sensitive skin or eczema, but those that had normal skin and were looking for an alternative to mainstream, conventional skincare which they knew wasn’t good for them, but didn’t know where to go or what alternatives they had. I wanted our total transparency and authenticity to be an integral part of the design. It’s why we detail the full ingredient list on front label across our collection. It’s a legal requirement to list the scientific names (the INCI list) on the product, but many brands include this on the reverse in small font and all the jargon can be really confusing, let alone barely pronounceable.
Skincare should be transparent and empowering and that’s what Lauren and I have set out to do at BY SARAH LONDON.
As a brand you have quite a personal and I imagine, emotional story. Did you ever imagine what started as a way to help out your sister would evolve into a business?
SARAH: I’ve always loved skincare and Lauren often tells the story of me giving a presentation on skincare at school when I was 13! We grew up enjoying healthy food (our mum is an excellent cook), so I understood the benefits of choosing plant-based and organic from a relatively early age. Though I never would have imagined as a 13 year old how my path to BY SARAH LONDON would come to be; it’s the journey that has made the brand what it is today. And I’m incredibly passionate about helping others benefit from beautiful, organic plant-based skincare.
Lauren, upon your recovery, how did the dynamics of you joining your sister in the business look? Was it a natural progression?
LAUREN: After I made a full recovery from leukaemia, I went back to finish law school and started my career as a lawyer. Sarah was also working full-time, but in any spare minute she had, she was creating skincare, sourcing new ingredients and researching the best ways to look after our skin. We lived together in London and I was so close to Sarah’s vision of the skincare she was creating. I could see that I could help Sarah make her dream a reality; we reached a point last year where we were ready to take the leap, quit our days jobs and commit heart and soul to starting the business. And on 1 November 2017, we launched the business together and haven’t looked back since!
Can you talk us through the process of creating that very first product? What were the first steps you took and how long did the process take?
SARAH: The very first blend I developed was an organic facial oil and I looked to recognisable plant-based ingredients as my inspiration. I spent hours at weekends and during the evening, alongside my full time job, researching and studying organic, plant-based skincare to better understand their powers and the benefits for our skin. I spent 6 years behind the scenes continuously learning, testing and refining the blends I was developing for Lauren’s skin. The stars then aligned in November 2017, when Lauren and I decided to launch BY SARAH LONDON and share our blends with the world.
What has surprised you most about creating the products?
SARAH: It has been incredibly rewarding seeing just how much our customers and press are enjoying our skincare. Our multi award-winning Organic Facial Oil has become a cult favourite, and it’s a delight to see both men and women, and skins of all ages experiencing the transformative benefits of our plant-based blends.
Is there a particular skincare product you would love to tackle with a more natural approach? Or a particular product you’d love to make?
SARAH: My approach to skincare has always been using less, but only of the very best. When formulating blends for Lauren’s skin, I came to develop a very curated edit of products that would nurture and comfort the skin from head to toe, without the need for many different products – we now have 7 products in our collection. There are no excess products or packaging which are not only an unnecessary strain on your wallet, but also the planet.
“My approach to skincare has always been using less, but only of the very best.”
What do you feel differentiates By Sarah London from other skincare brands, more specifically other natural skincare brands in your industry?
LAUREN: It has to be the transparency of our ingredients and mission to empower you to make more conscious choices. We’re making it really easy to understand what you’re putting on your skin – using only the finest all-natural and certified-organic, plant based ingredients. This is the new standard in conscious living that Sarah and I are advocating; it’s only with this knowledge that you can make choices that are better for your skin and Planet Earth.
What challenges have you faced as a start up and how have you overcome them?
LAUREN: It’s the number of different hats we wear every day. As a lawyer, I was focused on a handful of things at any one time; now, it’s several handfuls! It’s been a steep learning curve over the last year or so, but I love learning and so this is a dream challenge to have.
Staying curious is key.
“Staying curious is key.”
What excites you most about the brand and what it stands for?
SARAH: The opportunity to empower other’s skincare choices is incredibly exciting. When looking for skincare for Lauren (to complement what I was developing at home), I would often feel frustrated or disappointed by the lack of transparency, with long, cryptic ingredient lists across even many natural skincare brands, and often confusing and misleading labelling. Just like the food we choose to eat, we should feel empowered knowing exactly what we’re giving our skin, and skincare should be a delight to use!
“We should feel empowered knowing exactly what we’re giving our skin.”
What are you most proud of this far in By Sarah London’s journey?
SARAH: It has been a truly amazing year since our launch in November 2017. Our Organic Facial Oil was awarded the “Best New Skincare Product Launch 2017/18” by the Beauty Shortlist just four months after we launched! And we went on to receive a further four industry awards. Hearing first hand how our customers are enjoying our collection motivates us to continue in our mission – to empower conscious skincare choices and pioneer greater transparency in the industry.
Tell us about your top three skincare tips
1. Drink plenty of water, this is so important!
2. Be kind to your skin each day by using an Organic Facial Oil and plant-based cleanser (try our Green Clay Cleansing Balm) as your everyday skincare essentials.
3. Don’t forget to schedule 10 minutes once a week for a face mask (try our Green Clay Face Mask) that will remove dead skin cells and leave skin positively brighter and healthier
What’s on your beauty wish list this year?
LAUREN: A new product we’ll be launching next year. Watch this space…
What do you wish more people knew about your business?
SARAH: Choosing organic skincare is the best investment you will make in your health and also the health of our planet.
LAUREN: That choosing skincare is like choosing nutritious food: if you can pronounce all of the ingredients, they’re plant-based or come from the earth’s mountains or seas, that’s the healthiest skincare choice you can make.