Meet Paula Begoun, the founder of Paula’s Choice, a brand synonymous with safe, smart skincare. Paula was here in Mumbai to launch her highly popular skin care brand. A well of knowledge on skincare , she was more than ready to share some with guests present at the launch. Bursting with questions post her talk, they could not get enough of her expertise as she patiently answered them all. Down to earth, friendly, and comfortable in her own skin, Paula took time out from her busy schedule to chat with me. Get a peek into what goes into creating a globally successful skincare brand. –Priyanka Sippy.
Q: Paula’s Choice completes a 25 year milestone next year. How do you plan on marking it?
A: By taking a nap! I need a vacation. I leave the marketing to my company. I am minimally involved in that aspect of the business. With age and with the growth of my company,I have people who handle the business end too, and I can do what I love, which is this-formulating, research, creating products. Incidentally, my 65th Birthday was last year, and celebrated it by throwing a Bollywood themed party for my company, we had Bollywood dancers, and I wore a beautiful Bollywood inspired outfit. We were preparing to launch in India so it was timely.
Q: What inspired you to get into Skincare?
A: Growing up, I had eczema and acne and anything I used, any doctor I saw, just made it worse.I don’t know how to describe the emotional torment for someone suffering from acne. When I was in school, I was majoring in Science and I would look at research on dermatology and skin physiology and researching that knowledge was when I started writing my books. It really was a mission at first because I did not want to feel ugly anymore, I wanted to solve my skin problems. Gradually, as I learnt more not just about my skin, but skin care in general and skin physiology, I decided that I did not want any woman to go through what I had gone through and I started creating for me and it became a career. I formulated my own products and continued writing my books. That is where we are. It wasn’t a straight journey.
Q: What were the challenges you faced?
A: There’s always challenges in business , but though I’ve founded a successful company, that wasn’t the goal.I didn’t need to be an Estee Lauder,Loreal or Chanel, I just wanted to pay rent and make the best products possible.I think the reason that I did not have lofty sales goals is why I stayed alive. Creating the best products and not borrowing money, is great for profits! State of the art products are a challenge to create. My Retinol product took 5 years to formulate. Sun screen formulas are very complicated. It all takes time and research to perfect. An elegant texture, that’s another challenge
For me, because of what I love, it’s the formulating challenges that I get excited about
Q: Expound on your philosophy, which is Smart, Safe Beauty
A: Smart Safe Beauty for me, is about beauty begins with truth. Smart beauty is about what really works and doesn’t work for your skin. Safe beauty is where you use products that are safe for skin, helpful for skin, do what they say they are going to do and really deliver what a woman wants, as much as possible. The big deal for all of us is to look in the mirror and feel confident and feel happy with who we are. That’s the best. And that begins with fact, with truth, with safety, with effectiveness. That’s what we do.
Q: What would you do if not skincare?
A: Well, I actually wanted to be a scientist, a researcher. I went into skincare so quickly. I was studying neurology and I never got a chance to know what part of scientific research I really wanted to follow. I also wanted to be a reporter because I loved writing. I’m a writer. The world of my beauty books gave me the most excitement, the most satisfaction. I’ve been doing it so long. In some ways I have a combination career.
Q: Name a favourite product from your line?
A: The 2% PHA. Most skin care products are a long term relationship, they do not give results overnight. Fighting pollution, fighting sun damage, keeping skin healthy. The silicic acid is one of the few ingredients in skincare where you can get overnight results from the second use.No one wanted me to launch it because it had a very unusual texture. It is kind of slippery. From the day I got the prototype I have used it, over 15 years ago, after all it is called Paula’s Choice! For most it’s a daily use product. It is our Global Bestseller and quite a saga for me personally.
Q: You have wonderful, glowing skin. Share your skincare regime.
A: I use my cleanser and toner from my skin balancing line, my 2% PHA Exfoliate, one of my anti-oxidant concentrates as well as a moisturizer around my eyes. I also use one of my sunscreens and a foundation with sunscreen if I am going anywhere!
Q: Which are the other skin care brands that you admire?
A: Clinique and Estee Lauder
Q: Share with us some future plans for the brand?
A: Continually improving the formulations of products, trying new combinations of ingredients and see how they work together. Try and make them better than anyone else, as stable and as multi-functional as possible. The world of peptides is exploding, research about micro biology is fascinating. We are always investing in research.
Q: Is there a launch product for India?
A: No, we just working on importing the products for now. Phase One- we are live on Amazon. By Diwali 2020 the entire range of products will be available in India
Q: How excited are you to be in India?
A: Very excited! I have been coming here since 12 years and the lifestyle here is like nowhere else. It’s a different world.
Q: Which city in India do you love?
Q: Your favourite motto?
A: A quote next to me on my desk that says, “The person who says it can’t be done should get out of the way of the person doing it”.