“Beauty can be about expression and self-discovery not just the rational end result” beauty
Meet the founder encouraging a moment of self-care alongside your skincare routine
Self-confessed innovation junkie Namrata Kamdar created skincare brand Plenaire to provide safe, effective, and pleasurable alternatives for young women and men to care for their skin.
Plenaire is built on a desire to do as little harm to the environment, animals or the planet – not only because this feels like the right thing to do – but because this absolutely reflects the way conscious consumers are shopping and making their choices today.
We sat down with Namrata to find out her inspiration for creating a capsule collection of eight multi-tasking skincare products that encourage customers to take a moment for themselves.
Tell us about your inspiration for Plenaire
“Plenaire is from the French expression for “in the open air”, having the qualities of natural air and light. Holistically it is derived from the 1840 painting technique “en plein air”; emphasising direct observation of nature, over a narrative and stylised depiction. We want to help young women everywhere take pleasure in their skincare again with our range of clean, sustainably designed products that meet every day skincare needs but that also encourage emotional well-being and self-care.
“From the beginning, our approach was to try and be radically different from other beauty brands. We wanted to open a new chapter, rather than focusing on the current competitive offer. Instead, we chose to simply observe the bigger sociological and cultural shifts with young women and men today by simply listening to them. What we have created is as a direct result of talking to them about their daily lives, anxieties and of course, their relationship with skincare and beauty.
“During our research, it became evident that cultural beauty narratives for younger people have most definitely evolved. The everyday products that are marketed to young people as they come of age, we heard from them, felt sort of generic, a bit bland. Many people we spoke to said they felt patronised, and that high street brands were offering pretty basic ingredients and childish ideologies. Beauty myths or overly scientific jargon even, that were hard to believe, and felt phony. Being positioned as either rationally “problem-solution” or just about external appearances felt dated and irrelevant.
“Second, we understood that mental health and well-being, particularly when linked to beauty and appearance were still a clear opportunity. With Plenaire we could see white space where beauty is no longer just about vanity, but about self-expression; not always about a desire for affirmation, but playing a central role in self-care.”
Who is Plenaire made for? Who will enjoy using the range?
“Plenaire is a direct to consumer beauty brand for young women that demand a more modern, curated approach to skincare. Plenaire recreates the classic coming of age skincare rituals with a capsule collection of eight unique products at launch. These products are suitable for younger skin but would work on anyone that wants to care for their skin with cleaner ingredients, beautiful textures, and delicate gentle sensory, suitable for the most sensitive skin.”
Why is Plenaire different?
“Plenaire formulations were created out of a genuine need to develop safe, effective, and pleasurable alternatives for young women and men to care for their skin. Our business is built on a desire to do as little harm to the environment, animals or the planet as we can – not only because this feels like the right thing to do – but because this absolutely reflects the way our core consumer is shopping and making his or her choices today.
“Everything from our ingredient approach** alongside the fact that we are vegan, cruelty-free and proudly sourced in the UK reflect the values of our customer. Ethical practices for us also extend to diversity and inclusion in casting talent and the creative teams we work with. We are passionate about working with younger people at the beginning of establishing their careers.
“Linking beauty to emotional well-being is at the core of our brand. Bringing transparency to topics like mental health in youth as well as working with young people to create platforms of self-expression will always be a priority for us.”
"**Ingredient Approach We formulate without SLS/SLES, Parabens, Mineral oil/Petrochemicals, Propylene Glycol, PEGs, PABA, Silicones, GMOs, Aluminium, Microbeads, Formaldehyde, Lead or Mercury. This is not an exhaustive list, but where our ingredient approach mainly differs from competitors. We will never test our products or ingredients on animals nor do we use suppliers who test them on our behalf. Our products do not contain animal-based ingredients or animal derivatives. Each product is registered with the UK Vegan Society."
Wellness, joy, taking time to enjoy your beauty routine and skincare is important to Plenaire, why?
“When we started looking at the younger sector with respect to skincare, one of the most alarming things we observed was that young people’s happiness with their lives is at an all-time low since 2010.
“According to the UK’s good childhood report, that was published in 2018, the pressure to fit in is making children, as young as nine, unhappy – from how they look, to their sexuality, to increased pressure and expectations from society, exacerbated by social media.
“Twice as many girls are self-harming as boys, and almost half of children that are attracted to the same gender or that suffer gender dysphoria self-harm. While there are positive signs of change, in other ways young people are having a tougher time than ever. They’re maturing in a tough political climate, and are under greater pressure to succeed from a young age.
“This was by no means a “one-off” thing. We saw this reflected spontaneously in many conversations we had with mothers and daughters, as evident here in London, in Dulwich or Hampstead as it was in Orange County or Encino.
“This wasn't something related to socio-economic status or income, it was evidenced across the board. The near-constant digital veil that young people live under today is taking a massive toll on their mental health and well-being.
“Coaching women on their mental health can and should happen from a young age. We were able to identify that skincare and other related rituals were closely associated to wellbeing and in fact one of the key routes into feeling better about yourself was to be able to care for yourself through staying present and focusing on small everyday rituals like a face massage, yoga, meditation. The very process of looking after your skin (and therefore yourself), cleansing and treating it to pleasurable beautifully made products is often underestimated, can be satisfying and powerful.”
Conscious minimalism is important to you – not overproducing, and your focus on multi-tasking skincare, tell us more about this?
“One of the most encouraging things that we heard from younger people was that they were redefining their consumption habits and thinking through the effects of consumption on the wider environment in a much more conscientious way than previous generations. The idea of a shared economy through digital platforms like Depop, Airbnb and Uber were becoming the new normal. But the most interesting part of this shared economy was the message that technology allowed better efficiencies and for people to share resources and do more with less.
“This made us think through our collection in a very different way, and foundationally we began with the premise that every Plenaire product had to feel ritualistic by encouraging the mind to stay present. Second, there was a strong insight around products meeting multiple needs or occasional benefits born from the idea that this customer was seeking to minimise her (and her family’s) wastage and do more with less. She was educating the older generation in her life about conscious consumption.”
Why is being conscious of our impact on the planet so important?
“Because it’s a value that is extremely important to the next generation of skincare users, these users also have disproportionate share of voice as they are using technology and their own social platforms to raise awareness of these issues more effectively within their own circles and influence media in a way that previous generations have not been able to. They question norms and believe in their ability to make a real impact on changing the way that we live.”
What have been the challenges that you've faced along the way?
“The biggest challenge I have faced is people’s lack of curiosity and their close mindedness to new ways of doing things. It is therefore quite fitting that we created a brand that means open minded, and gives people the license to drive their own creative expressions.
“I have always been an innovation junkie and I love new ideas and ways of doing things: I also love the idea of discovery and pushing the boundaries of existing ideas. I think differences in attitude opinion and appearance even are what make people interesting, beautiful and make the world meaningful.
“The idea that beauty can be about expression and self-discovery not just the rational end result is what makes Plenaire an interesting concept to me.”
What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs?
"Follow your gut... intuition is a powerful thing and chemistry counts for a lot. I generally am pretty visceral about the choices I make; people, places and ideas either make me feel good in my gut or they don’t.
Success is a choice – even if things turn out badly or fail, there is a reason that they happened and its important to learn from it and course correct rather than feeling victimised by it, or regretting why it happened. Don’t give away your power by worrying about what other people think, follow your own instinct and learn by doing.
Don’t compare to others – but this is very easy to say, in practice very hard to do – I do this constantly and its normal human behaviour. I think you have to be mindful of what competitors do but comparing too much can perhaps makes you feel less motivated and it eats up energy. Stay present and listen actively: don’t assume you know everything, make sure that who you work with have the same level of intellectual curiosity."
Who do you admire when it comes to innovations in sustainability?
"I love digital platforms like Depop and the Fat Llama as well as One Fine Stay that encourage shared use of owned assets. I probably couldn’t live without Citymapper, Co- Star, Etsy and Calm I am pretty addicted to their brand offers!
Now that we've found out about Plenaire, who else do you think we should FIND out about?
There are so many amazing brands out there but I recently came across Corpus Deos, Kester Black Nail polish and Volition Skincare – they seem like beautiful, sensitive and creative brands with incredible brand stories."
SHOP THE COLLECTION:
Droplet - £34
This lightweight, cool-to-the-touch moisture gel absorbs instantly into your skin to provide a healthy dose of hydration without the heaviness.
Rose Jelly - £30
This conditioning formula has a unique, jelly-like texture that works to rapidly dissolve makeup and impurities while soothing and cooling skin.
Skin Frosting - £36
Developed for dry and sensitive skin, this plant-based intensive moisturising treatment cocoons your skin, leaving it deeply hydrated, soothed, and nourished.
Tripler - £34
This multitasker is a mask, cleanser, and gentle exfoliator all wrapped into one. In minutes, it works to detoxify, polish, and renew your skin to reveal a smoother, naturally brighter complexion.
Violet Paste - £33
Inspired by a 70-year-old French beauty recipe, this violet-tinted “vanishing” paste helps reduce blemishes overnight by drawing out excess oil and calming inflammation and redness.