Beyond the #Girlbossmoment: Why Makeup Artist Lauren Napier Wants You to Take it All Off


“In 2013, I was working at the best job ever: in the Emmy-award-winning makeup department at Saturday Night Live. While the show was on Christmas hiatus, I treated myself to a long overdue trip to Australia, with a pitstop in Dubai. Hot and sweaty in my window seat on the plane, I suddenly experienced a desperate urge to cleanse my skin. I reached into my bag only to pull out a packet of wipes that had become stiff, dry and useless. I was officially tired of not being able to clean my skin when I wanted and needed to. This was the moment that spurred me to think about how we could revolutionize the way we cleanse our skin on the go. And so the idea for CLEANSE by LAUREN NAPIER was born.

Back in bustling Manhattan, jetlagged and freezing, I took pen to paper and hand to laptop, creating a (very unsophisticated) plan of action. I sketched out the packaging and logo. I drew word clouds and made my first budget. Surviving off of pure adrenaline generated from my idea, I pushed like no other, because I was an ambitious a woman with a plan.

The following days came and went, the jet lag wore off, and I went back to work, marching through NYC during a year that would see a snowstorm a week. Unfazed by the blizzard-filled winter, the passion and progress for my business began to snowball. I got very intimate with Google. I made cold calls to chemists, manufacturers and packaging companies. I had no idea what I was asking, but there were people who were generous with their time, walking me through each step of the process. Armed with my tax refund and an American Express card, I was ready to go! 

Six months later, after a few modifications, many nail-biting afternoons, and several bouts of tears, I finally had the samples on hand. Overjoyed, I sent a packet of samples to my sister and mom. Then, I organized a dinner and a few brunches where I shared my blood, sweat and tears with the perfect test audience: a brutally honest gaggle of 20- and 30-year-olds who were deeply submerged in the beauty industry and thus completely jaded from major brand gifting. The response? They loved it! I knew right then it was time to place my first major order with the manufacturer. 

Now, nearly three years since the launch, my product is available for purchase in 31 female-owned-and-operated retail locations in 10 countries. Not only was it was important to me to introduce a high-quality product, but I wanted to produce something that had a positive social and environmental impact, too; CLEANSE is made in the USA and manufactured with solar energy; the packaging is 100% recyclable, and there is no animal testing. I proudly employ the Foundation for the Handicapped, a workplace for special needs adults, to complete all of our packing needs. 

My idea for CLEANSE goes much deeper than an individually wrapped beauty wipe. So much of the beauty industry plays upon our fears and insecurities. Women are often scrutinized and meant to uphold unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards. These are rules that I felt women, including myself, should never feel pressure to abide. I am a minimalist—a proponent of comfort, style and confidence. I am a downtown New York City chick, very busy and always tired. When it’s time to wipe away the day, the long flight, or the pilates session, not only do I want to make it's easy and healthy for my skin, I want the ceremony of makeup removal to be just as treasured as the application. I knew there was an army of women who felt the same, and turns out I wasn't wrong.”


Three tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:

1.) Burnout happens; don’t let it stress you out further. It happens in waves and at various stages in your business. Take a nap, take a walk, talk out your frustrations. Pause, re-calibrate re-energize, then redirect. 

2.) Don’t be timid! There are no stupid questions. Asking a question, no matter how great or small, could save you cash, time or even save your business.

3.) Find or create a community of peers. Listen and share experiences, information and solutions. Running a business can be very isolating in the beginning, and we often find ourselves immersed in our operation. Dialogue with fellow business owners is a resource and connection that is vital to your brand and on a personal level, your sanity!

* // @laurennapier

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