English Rose Cosmetics
Visually English Rose Cosmetics, is a delightful combination of kitsch and glamour of a bygone era symbolised by the image of Rose, with her victory roll hairstyle and “English Rose” complexion, she depicts British women during the 1940’s. The skincare formulations take us into the modern day with velvet, silky sublime textures that are highly skin compliant and have subtle divine fragrances which delight. Then we get to the heart of what makes English Rose Cosmetics really special, the use of high levels of natural actives with impressive claims, supported by clinical evidence to deliver maximum benefits. Ingredients are ethically sourced and many are Ecocert approved. There is a non-animal testing policy which applied to ingredients too. English Rose Cosmetics is against animal testing, is approved by PETA and has a policy not to use ingredients that have been animal tested in in recent years. The brand is proudly Made in UK and supports UK suppliers.
Renaissance of an English Rose
English Rose Cosmetics was founded in 2012 by Karin Mckay from Reading, UK a qualified CIM Marketer with over a decade experience supplying and marketing ingredients to the personal care industry.
How it happened…
Due to a road traffic injury, her career had come to an end, she was unemployed and finding it difficult to get part time work. In an attempt to improve her job prospects she took up blogging about her favourite products under ‘Beauty Knowledge’ and started sharing her extensive knowledge on ingredients that really work in cosmetics. “Blogging about my favourite cosmetics got me thinking about how I would make the perfect products, and the positive response I got worldwide to my blogs inspired me start working on my own formulations”. The final push came in December 2011 whilst wandering around a cosmetic department. She was struck by how generic most of the brands looked and the idea came to her to develop a character that would celebrate the beauty of an English Rose. From her own experience of austerity whilst not working, Karin had become fascinated by how women living in war-torn Britain in the 1940s managed to look glamorous despite having limited resources. She decided that this would be the brand ethos – ‘naturally active ingredients to protect and maintain a beautiful complexion whilst providing excellent value for money’. By having a fictional character, she would never have to use expensive models for photo-shoots that are far removed from ordinary women. So over the next month the story and image of English Rose Cosmetics took shape and in January 2012 the website domain was registered and her vision of a 1940’s English Rose made into a graphic.
It’s all about the ingredients …
Researching the perfect ingredients for a particular skin problem and sourcing them was easy for Karin , and she feels this is her main cost advantage over other brands in as much as she understand the science and the clinical studies and doesn’t need to outsource this to a consulting company. The main criteria for choosing ingredients is firstly whether it offers real benefits, the list is whittled down to choose the most natural, not animal tested, Ecocert approved and sustainably and/or organically harvested. Formulations are tested to meet EU regulations and an additional bacteria test is conducted on each batch.
Ingredients like petrolatum or paraffin liquidium are never used, and Karin considers it “a big rip off to sell a premium product which contains, what is essentially, scrappings from an oil refinery”. Aggressive surfactants such as SLS/SLES are not used, and care is taken to use non irritating, non-disruptive chemicals. However, Karin dislikes using terms such as “chemical free” as this can be misleading to customers. Instead she likes to use the analogy that “an egg is natural but an omelette is chemistry” and that the planet is made up of chemicals, they occur naturally in our foods e.g. Parabens in carrots, alpha-linoleics acids in fish and plant oils, and in our own bodies; hyaluronic acid.
Karin’s biggest challenge was understanding design, packaging, printing and selecting the correct components and there were mistakes made along the way. Fortunately they were not too major, and those customers who have been with the brand from the beginning have seen improvements along the way. Being a small start-up limits the packaging options considerably, however, Karin feels she has been lucky to find packaging she likes that she can purchase in small quantities, but dreams about the day of having beautiful bespoke components!
Reaching out to customers …..
In the beginning there was simply no budget for advertising or PR so when the first 4 products were ready in August 2012, she started selling direct to customers and regularly has a pop-up stall at various craft & vintage events around London and the Home Counties. “It was very important to meet customers face to face, discuss their skincare concerns and get a response to my product, as well as ideas for future products” says Karin, “it has been truly rewarding to get such a positive response and to build up a loyal customer base this way”. Once people have experienced the textures and benefits of English Rose Cosmetics than they become loyal customers, and brand ambassadors.
An addition 3 products have been added to the collection with another 5 in development stages, including a moisturising lip gloss with a very high pigment loading, which there is already a waiting list for!