[8 MINUTE READ]
Welcome to the weekend everyone and back to another Friday Founder interview! As we find ourselves slap bang in the middle of the summer, you might be using a little more colour on your nails than usual. We know we are! We love a bright red for summer or some lovely pastel colours that look great with any outfit. Thus, comes the inspiration for this week’s interviewees...
This week we were excited to have the opportunity to interview sisters Hamida and Yasmine Smatti, co-founders of L’ATELIER GREEN, the green, biologically-sourced nail polish brand that equally values caring for your nails and Parisian chic. Plus stick around to the end for an exclusive 15% off!
The girls talk about everything from the importance of non-toxic varnishes to their all-time favourite product. So, if you’re in need of some nail inspo pour yourself some coffee and just keep on reading.
Morning ladies! Thanks for joining me today! Could you begin by telling me a bit about your childhoods and how you feel they have influenced you today?
Y: We are part of a big family and all of our siblings are very close to each other… We used to spend weekends at our grandparents’ house; they had a big farm with lots of animals including sheep and chickens and they grew their own organic vegetables and fruits. Some of our earliest memories are of helping our grandfather with the herd and cooking Mediterranean dishes with our grandmother.
Our grandmother was a wise woman and had the best natural and effective beauty tips. She loved applying olive oil and honey to her flawless skin and hair. Today, we follow her in her footsteps and are very aware of what we put in our skin and in our products; beauty is our passion.
"We saw first hand the need for a product that not only gave the desired colour, shine and long-lasting effect but also a product that cared for and nourished the nails."
How lovely! I love it when families have that special passion for something and it filters down the generations. How did you both get started in the beauty industry?
H: Like our grandmother, I have always been passionate about natural beauty. She would always read the labels of all the products she used and even started making her own beauty products. This slowly led to her doing beauty tutorials for family, friends and then friends of friends… Today, I’m the one that makes sure every single ingredient in our products is safe and pure.
Y: My background was a little different; I was a flight attendant for BA, but after a difficult period in my life, I decided it was time to follow my dream career of becoming a nail and make up artist. After multiple beauty awards, TV and press appearances, Hamida and I launched ‘Rouge Fast Beauty Bar’ together; the first mobile beauty service to use only natural products.
Wow! Way to identify a customer need and go for it. So, when did you decide to start up L’ATELIER GREEN Paris and why? Was the timing important?
H: Over the years we have found ourselves facing the same scenario time and time again; countless beauty fans would come to us asking for help to repair their fragile nails, damaged from years of acrylics, gel manicures and toxin-filled varnishes. We saw first hand the need for a product that not only gave the desired colour, shine and long-lasting effect but also a product that cared for and nourished the nails. Three years later, we launched L’ATELIER GREEN Paris.
So L’ATELIER GREEN Paris was born directly out of customer need too? Awesome! Would you say L’ATELIER GREEN beauty considers issues relating to sensitive skin/allergies throughout the manufacturing process?
Y: Definitely! Studies show the body absorbs chemicals through nail polish so non-toxic varnishes are proven to be kinder to nails. Our nail polishes are formulated without any major harmful ingredients such as DBP, toluene, formaldehyde (13 free). They are permeable to air and water and, are enriched with organic oils and superfoods. L’ATELIER GREEN is the girl’s best friend of nail care.
That’s so cool! How does L’ATELIER Paris consider sustainability?
H: The glass bottles and lids of bottles are made with 100 recyclable materials and are recyclable. Our bottle manufacturer specialises in glass recycling. The collected glass is then turned into raw material that is ready to be re-utilised in the furnaces. There are real, concrete benefits in terms of eco-saving, less consumption of virgin raw materials and CO2 emissions. It was important to our brand ethos that our nail polishes are manufactured on an eco-friendly site.
The thought and care you have put into the manufacturing process really shines through I think. Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?
Y: With digital technology it is so easy to research and access information, so people understand much more about what is in their products and how ingredients work. They are also more concerned about the environment and how our consumer decisions have an impact on it. This is why people are now looking for brands that align with their values, whether that means the brand is vegan and cruelty-free, sustainably sourced or use organic beauty ingredients.
I totally agree. And what were your biggest challenges in starting up a business?
H: I think it was finding the right contacts, so manufacturers, suppliers, etc. You can’t just google what you are looking for. You have to go to exhibitions and really spend time researching; we found that asking the contacts you already have can work well.
Y: I also think that making people believe in your project and take you seriously is tricky at the beginning. Working with genuine people you can trust. We love working with friends and it worked wonders for us!
That’s wonderful to hear! There is nothing better than sharing your passion with close friends and family. What strategies do you think have been key to the success of your business?
Y: We wanted to be ‘green’ but not ‘bohemian’. Our products are eco-friendly, but also embody ‘Parisian Chic’; women don’t have to choose between clean ingredients and chic style.
H: We did not want to be another green or breathable nail polish brand, so it took us three years to develop something that didn’t already exist: the first breathable and bio-sourced nail varnish.
Wow. You can tell how important getting the balance right was for you, and I love what you said Yasmine about not compromising on chicness. What is your favourite thing about your job?
Y: Creating clean beauty products that we are proud of and receiving amazing feedback from our customers.
H: We also love sharing tips with our amazing community #LAGteam.
Customer experience is clearly so important to you both. Which is your favourite product that you’ve ever created?
H: SOS DAMAGED NAILS. It’s a wonder Base Coat and Hardening Treatment that stimulates nail growth; infused with cocoa butter, bamboo, biotin, silicium and acai extracts. It immediately infuses nails with moisture, nutrition and strength. The ultimate brittle and weak nails saviour!
"L’ATELIER GREEN nail polish is the first bio-sourced and breathable nail varnish."
I need to try this! What do you think makes L’ATELIER GREEN stand out?
Both: L’ATELIER GREEN nail polish is the first bio-sourced and breathable nail varnish.
And could you please describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
Y: Just three weeks after our launch we were contacted by a trendy Parisian concept store asking us if we would like to be stocked in their worldwide stores.
What a strong start! What inspires you?
H: We love being surrounded by nature. There is nothing more relaxing than walking early in the morning in the woods, hiking, gardening or spending time in a public garden. Nature is what inspires us.
Me too! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
Y: After drinking warm water with lemon, we start the day with a Yoga or Pilates session. Then, it’s time to take the kids to school, and finally, we head to work where we answer emails, work on our social media and think about the development of the brand. I live in London and Hamida in France, so we allocate work every Sunday. We spend a lot of time on Whatsapp and Zoom!
H: I always try to finish the day by meditating before bed.
That is a great idea! Do you think you both have a work/life balance?
Y: We breath, eat and sleep L’ATELIER Green nail polish. This is our baby, we are so passionate about our work that is difficult to disconnect. As a young company there is so much to do and so many products we would love to create. However, as mothers of young children, it can be difficult to juggle family and work. You have to be very organised and learn to prioritise, but sometimes that means working late at night when your family is asleep…
It’s tough. When you create a business the world never stops! What words do you live by?
Both: Life is short. La vie est belle. Never give up. Believe in your dreams. Follow your dreams.
Beautiful words. What’s next for L’ATELIER GREEN nail polish?
Both: We want to continue to develop our zero-waste approach with our new GOTS-certified organic, reusable pads. We are also planning an exciting brand development for the Middle East.
Like what you read? L'Atelier Green is offering 15% exclusively to CarolinaGMX readers with code: LAGXCAROLINA on their site. Head to L'ATELIER GREEN to shop!
Alternatively, if you fancy checking out some of our previous interviews, you can find them here. Want more from CAROLINAGMX? Check this out: Face Wash For Sensitive Skin; The 10 You Need To Know