I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Steph Kelby, founder of Pure Savvy at the Formula Botanica conference last year. Today I’m getting up close and personal with Steph to learn more about her journey and brand.
Hi Steph, tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a busy working mum, I call myself a former corporate workaholic as I used to travel the world with my previous job working all hours, with precious little time for myself. I still have little time for myself but have a gorgeous 8 year old daughter and a side hustle so I wouldn’t change it for the world!
I’m a born and bred Lincolnshire lass with a special knack for talking incessantly and getting things done. I love reading thriller novels (if i get the time), learning new things and laughing,
I love my family, Häagen-Dazs Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream (although I’m also partial to any brand of mint choc-chip) and sunshine, which I would love more of!
What inspired you to formulate your own skincare products?
I started formulating products for my daughter when she was a baby as she has extremely sensitive skin and everything I put on her skin or bathed her in would inflame her skin. It’s awful as a parent when the things you do to make your child feel better make them worse!
I then played around with making things for myself, bath products, shower gels, face creams and so on. It was only when I was buying skincare products for myself that I started to find that I couldn’t find any natural brands that really resonated with me. Most brands at that time were all about ‘me time’ and I just didn’t have any! I wanted fast, efficient products that delivered instant results – I just couldn’t find them, it was then that I decided to formulate them myself.
Tell us about your experience studying with Formula Botanica
Before I studied with Formula Botanica I had spent a number of years formulating by myself without any kind of formal training. I was a qualified aromatherapist so I was familiar with essential oils and carrier oils but not familiar with any more than that.
I decided that in order to ensure I was formulating to the best of my abilities I would undertake a formal course and Formula Botanica stood out to me from the start for its professional outlook and comprehensive courses.
I undertook the Advanced Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation and loved it. Since then I’ve been a member of Formula Botanica’s online community and attended their Skincare Conference in November last year which was amazing both in terms of content from the speakers but also the chance to connect with people from the online communities that I interact with regularly from all over the world. What I love about Formula Botanica is their constant striving to improve their courses and provide the best online training facilities for their students that they can.
How did you decide on what products to formulate?
I wanted to create products that could be used for more than one purpose. I wanted to be able to go away for the weekend for example, without carrying too much stuff so actually once I had decided that simplicity, efficiency and performance were the key things for me, the products started to leap out to me.
I wanted to cleanse my face but not have to worry about a toner and so the Micellar water was an obvious product (especially as it can be used for so many purposes). I love facial oil but I wanted it to be rapidly absorbed and to use it on my body and hair. I wanted a face mask that didn’t stop me talking (!) and was fast acting. From there it was a case of researching the ingredients for the right ones and lots of formulation and reformulation when ingredients weren’t right or the texture or effectiveness weren’t right.
What inspired your brand name?
Now that’s a long story! I struggled for months to come up with a good name and I won’t tell you some of the options as they were truly terrible. The products came long before the brand name. I even read books about naming your business but still couldn’t find the right name. At the time I was working with a mentor and we brainstormed lots of names that summed up my ideal customer.
I am all about savvy women who know what they want, so that was an obvious part of the name but the brand also represents stripped back, simple yet efficient, natural products and from that description came ‘Naked Savvy’.
I tried to trademark the name but unfortunately ended up in a legal dispute with a rather large global beauty brand who objected. At this point I was back to the drawing board and pretty fed up, but from more brainstorming came the word ‘pure’ which ironically was on the big list of possible words at the very beginning. Everyone I speak to says Pure Savvy is much better than Naked Savvy so it just goes to show that sometime setbacks happen for the right reason.
What challenges did you face starting your own brand and what advice would you give to aspiring beauty entrepreneurs?
I faced lots of challenges but by far the biggest was packaging! It was a long process to get it to a position where I could launch. It started when I had branding done and had very clear requirements for my packaging. I spent almost a year searching and trying various routes / suppliers etc but it was clear that unless I was willing to order 50,000 (yes, really!) I couldn’t have my branding on the bottles and jars I wanted. To say I was devastated was an understatement and it took me a long time to see clearly and work out another way forward.
What I would say to aspiring beauty entrepreneurs is find someone that has been there and done it and can help you through. A mentor will be worth their weight in gold and even if you feel you cannot afford someone, the money you will save in mistakes and time will pay for itself. Most of all keep persevering and don’t give up at the first or second challenge as it will be a journey of challenges and finally enjoy the ride!
Tell us about your products and what makes them unique?
I currently have 5 products, all multi-functional, simple to use yet effective. Every ingredient in these products is there for a reason as I believe that ingredients really do matter.
MULTI-TASKER Beauty Balm – there are lots of balms on the market that can be used both on the face and the body but what makes Multi-Tasker unique is its combination of high-performance and targeted ingredients.
COME HELL OR HIGH WATER 3-in-1 Micellar Water – there are lots of less expensive Micellar waters out there but some of the ingredients, especially the High street versions, are truly shocking and not what I wanted to put on my face. Our Micellar water contains snow mushroom and rose water and is soothing, refreshing and hydrating all in one go. I love this as a spritz on my face in the dry, air-conditioned office I work in and its incredibly versatile in how it can be used. I’ve not seen any other micellar waters containing snow mushroom so think I can safely say that makes it unique.
POWER SURGE Instant Skin Boost Facial Oil -again there are lots of super facial oils out there but I’ve chosen ingredients to be both super nourishing and fast absorbing. I want results and I want them fast and I don’t want to have to wait ages to apply my make-up!
EYE-TO-EYE Revitalising Eye Serum – This eye serum contains snow mushroom and rose water again and is such a fabulous cooling serum, I use this over make-up to cool my computer weary eyes but its also great around those fine lines around your mouth.
JUST A MINUTE! Brightening Face Mask – There are lots of face masks out there but I wanted something that I could use when I’m getting ready in the morning, was fast and efficient and didn’t stop me telling my daughter to get ready for school! The mask is really easy to apply, you can brush your teeth, talk to your daughter and even brush your teeth (my favourite) when using it and there’s not many masks that are so quick to use.
Describe your brand in 3 words.
This is a hard question for a chatterbox who always uses more words than necessary!! I’m going to choose pure, savvy and rebel as they pretty much sum up the brand ethos.
What are some of your favourite natural and organic ingredients?
There are so many to choose from and what I love about being a natural skincare formulator is that you can experiment with some of the latest ingredients on the market and react to new ingredients much faster than a big skincare company can.
Some of my favourites are marula oil which is just packed with antioxidants and vitamins and boosts the skin’s ability to regenerate and repair itself and strengthens the skin’s ability to produce collagen. It helps protect against environmental elements so sun, wind and cold as well as pollution. It suits all skin types, is especially hydrating and rapidly absorbed into the skin. I love it not only for my skin but on my nails too as its really good if you have weak nails that are prone to cracking and breaking.
I’m also in love with snow mushroom! Its an active ingredient that deeply hydrates and has similar abilities to hyaluronic acid, but it is made of smaller particles which means it can penetrate the skin more easily when applied topically.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? What does a typical day look like for you?
The most rewarding part of my job is when I get messages from customers telling me that they love my products or when I get an alert on my website that there’s a new testimonial. It never gets boring to hear that others love your products as much as you do!
I don’t have a typical day as I still work full-time so juggle my day job with being a mother to a very active 8 year old and running Pure Savvy! It’s very easy to lose yourself in social media for hours so I’m careful to limit myself and I typically set aside different days of the week to create content, reach out to customers, research and reach out to potential retailers and fine tune processes and systems in the business. It’s a learning curve for sure but the more I plan ahead the more I get done and like most busy mums flexibility and multi-tasking is the key 😊
What is your morning and evening skincare routine?
In the morning I use my COME HELL OR HIGH WATER Micellar water to cleanse my skin but its so cooling and refreshing it’s a bit of a wake up for my skin. As it cleanses and tones I don’t need anything else before I moisturise. Depending on how my skin is I use either POWER SURGE, my Instant Skin Boost Facial oil which is deeply hydrating but super fast to absorb so perfect before applying makeup. If my skin is feeling a little bit drier then I apply my MULTI-TASKER Beauty Balm. I always apply both facial oil and balm to a damp/wet face.
I use my JUST A MINUTE! Facial Mask 1-2 times a week and apply after the Micellar water and usually brush my teeth whilst its on! It only takes 60 seconds but can be left longer.
In the evenings I use MULTI-TASKER to remove my makeup and clean my skin before bed and then I apply either MULTI-TASKER as a night moisturiser (applied over wet skin) or my new CLOSE OF PLAY Overnight Radiance Serum.
When my skin feels drier due to air conditioning, winter winds and central heating I often apply my facial oil and then a layer of balm over the top to really moisturise and the MULTI-TASKER can also be used as a mask by applying a thicker layer and leaving on for 15 minutes then either wiping off the excess or massaging into the skin. If you do this you’ll be amazed at how much your skin absorbs!
Even though I use my own products, I still get tempted by other products so often try out the latest products on the market but still end up going back to my own 😊
Oh and it’s not facial skincare but I always, always apply MULTI-TASKER to my feet before bed to moisturise them overnight.
What’s next for Pure Savvy? Any new product launches you can share with us?
I’m just in the process of launching my 6th product called CLOSE OF PLAY Overnight Radiance Serum. It is designed to gently exfoliate and hydrate your skin overnight doing the hard work so you don’t have to!
It has Papaya Fruit Extract a marvellous natural enzyme that gently removes dead skin and leaves the skin brighter and fresher, Willow Bark Extract which is a multi-tasking botanical powerhouse rich in antioxidants helping to cleanse, tone and balance skin, the more well-known Hyaluronic Acid and CO-Q10 as well as Spilanthes Acmella a flower extract proven to restructure and firm the skin.
It is fragranced with Neroli and Frankincense and other essential oils all chosen for their amazing skin benefits and also for their uplifting and balancing fragrance.
Many thanks Steph for taking out time to share your journey with us.
Shop the products at www.puresavvy.co.uk