[8 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday everyone! As we journey towards Summer and *fingers crossed* better weather, you may be thinking about paring down your skincare routine.
This week, we had the pleasure of chatting to Josephine Banks, Co-Founder of The Seated Queen. The Seated Queen is a U.K based skincare brand that aims to pare down your skincare routine with their multi-purpose cold cream.
Josephine talked to us about her personal experience with eczema, how The Seated Queen considers sensitive skin in its formulations, and revealed the brand’s future plans. So, to learn more about the new brand on everyone's lips, grab your espresso and just keep reading...
"We believed that there was a disconnect between complex evening skincare routines vs the realistic time that we could devote to our skin."
Morning Josephine! Delighted to have you chat with me today. Please could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
My sister and I used to be obsessed with making ‘perfumes’ from petals in the garden mixed with any old beauty products that our mum would let us have from her bathroom cabinet.
How sweet! Clearly creating products was always something you were interested in. How did you get started in the beauty industry?
Well, it is something that we have always done for our friends and family. I trained as a facial massage therapist and have worked on an informal basis for about five years. On a personal level, I have suffered from eczema and contact dermatitis, and my sister, Libby, has always experimented with different skincare formulations that work for my skin.
That’s wonderful that you worked together to help target your skin concerns. So, when did you decide to start up The Seated Queen and why? Was the timing important?
We had talked about it for years and put money aside, but it was never the right time for us career-wise. Then, there came a point about three years ago when we both moved out of London and felt like we could actually give our all to the project.
We believed that there was a disconnect between complex evening skincare routines vs the realistic time that we could devote to our skin. It was something we kept coming up against whenever we wanted to buy skincare products. Our idea was to create a more pared-down approach to skincare that easily slots into anyone’s evening routine, and leaves their skin feeling amazing. The Seated Queen is about creating an everyday moment of luxury that leaves skin feeling marvelous, replenished and hydrated.
I really love this concept! It just makes sense. Does The Seated Queen consider issues relating to sensitive skin/allergies?
Yes, creating products that are soothing and anti-inflammatory is important to me as I suffer from eczema and contact dermatitis.
I bet! And in what ways do you consider sensitivities and sensitive skin throughout the manufacturing process and when selecting ingredients?
Every ingredient we use has an essential role in the final formulation. We use ingredients that are from traceable single-source suppliers, are organic (where possible), and use minimal processing methods (e.g. cold-pressing). We aim to use ingredients that work well for sensitive skin, such as organic rosehip, bisabolol, shea, glycerin, borage seed, apricot kernel; these work on strengthening and building the skin barrier.
It’s clearly a priority for you. How does sustainability factor into your business?
Every element of our packaging – from postage to the lid, is recyclable and (where possible) made from recycled materials. The cold cream is Vegan Society accredited, with sustainably grown ingredients from traceable sources, including women’s cooperatives in Ghana and Morocco.
That’s brilliant! And in terms of changing consumer mindsets, would you say that people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?
Yes, and we think it’s wonderful because it has created space for independent beauty companies like us to make and sell products that we love and are truly proud of! I think it is thanks to people like you and your sister; the amount of information and advice available online is mind-blowing. It means that our clients always ask really smart questions and often already know what their skin needs. That is why we don’t like to be too prescriptive about how to use the product. Our clients know what their skin needs on any given day, whether they choose to use the cold cream as a makeup remover, cleanser, facial and/or an overnight mask.
I completely agree! In terms of starting The Seated Queen, what were your biggest challenges?
We launched in February last year, so just before the first lockdown. For that reason, the timing wasn’t ideal, especially as skincare is such a sensory experience.
We wanted to start off by doing one product really well, but I think this can be hard for some retailers to get their heads around. Luckily though, some really great retailers like Cult Beauty, Content Beauty and Harvey Nichols were quick to grasp where we were coming from.
It’s fantastic that they believed in the brand. What strategies do you think have been key to the success of The Seated Queen?
An honest and open approach, rigorous research and listening carefully to our clients.
And what is your favourite thing about your job?
Working with my sister and people that we truly love and respect! Also, having daily contact with the fascinating collection of individuals that comprise The Seated Queen community; they are brilliant.
"We have one product but it took us 18 months to perfect, so it is, without doubt, the thing we are most proud of."
Aw, that’s lovely! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
There isn’t really an average day, to be honest. We have been working remotely, so Libby and I are constantly on calls. We both have small children so our hours tend to be a little erratic as well.
And what are you most proud of since starting The Seated Queen?
We have one product but it took us 18 months to perfect, so it is, without doubt, the thing we are most proud of.
What do you think makes The Seated Queen stand out?
I think the fact that cold cream is often seen as quite an old-school product. There is an inherent glamour and versatility to cold cream; think 1930s Hollywood and chic Parisians. However, we felt like it was time to reinvent the formulation with lightweight non-comedogenic seed oils that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids like GLA and Linoleic acid. We felt there was a mismatch between complex evening skincare routines vs a realistic amount of time we could devote to our skin. Therefore, the in-built versatility of cold creams really appealed to us.
That is such a clever solution to the problem you identified in the market. Please could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
We are currently in the windows at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and that felt pretty amazing to see. Also, being recommended by people and retailers we really respect, for example, This Morning by Sunday Times Style Beauty Director Sarah Jossel, or becoming part of the Cult Beauty family.
The Seated Queen community is growing! What inspires you?
People who are true to themselves and aren’t afraid.
Absolutely! Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Haha understood. What words do you live by?
Nora Ephron’s words “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim” are hard to beat.
I love Nora Ephron; what a fab quotation. Finally, what is next for The Seated Queen?
We have three more products launching in the autumn; all aiming to give our clients a complete evening skincare wardrobe. We are really excited about these products!