Over to Denmark – An interview with the founder of o’Moi

Let's start by you introducing yourself and your company.
I'm Kristèle Sun, born in the beautiful island of Mauritius and naturalised French.
I studied Beauty Therapy and Management in the UK and finished my studies in Montpellier, in the South of France.
I then moved to Paris, where I had been living for 12 years, working in the cosmetic industry, first as an International Trainer for By Terry and Decléor and later as the International Training Director for La Colline, a high-end Swiss cosmetic brand. I travelled about 70% of my time for work and suffered from eczema which worsened due to the jet lags and hectic lifestyle.
When I finally left Paris and moved to London, my eczema and skin condition was so bad that I decided to work on my own natural balm with high-quality natural ingredients. It took me almost 2 years to be fully satisfied with the texture, the scent and the result of my balm. Surprisingly it helped reduce significantly the use of cortisone cream that I had to apply on the itchy and red areas where I had the eczema-like condition. I also gave it to several friends, who simply loved the balm, which was meant to be multi-purpose and practical as I was still traveling a lot, working as a free-lancer for the French companies.
I then decided to launch the "All In One Balm" for face, body and hair online and that's how the first o.Moi product was introduced.
The name o.Moi came into my mind as I truly needed some "down and me time" to escape the daily stress of my hectic lifestyle. I had acquired all my experience and knowledge during my years in Paris and this is why there is a French touch to the brand. o.Moi is the contraction of the French words "Oh Moi" for a Me Time philosophy.
My husband and I then decided to move to Denmark, where he had a new job.
Since the formulations of the other products were already being tested and under the process of being validated by the Laboratories, I decided to start afresh in Copenhagen with o.Moi.
The brand logo and packaging evolved to a more Scandinavian feeling and image and all the products are manufactured in Denmark.

Why is natural and organic skincare important to you?
I have always felt attracted to a more natural skincare regime and when I worked for companies which didn't have this philosophy, I felt like a "fraud", not truly believing in and agreeing with the ingredients that were used in the products. When I had reactions to many products (that were given for free to me by the companies), I decided to stop using them completely. I have to admit that my skin has improved considerably and I don't have any allergic reactions since I have been using only o.Moi products. I now have the opportunity to be able to choose the natural ingredients I wish to have in each formulation and to be true to my own convictions and beliefs in what mother nature can offer to us. I am also very careful about who our suppliers of natural ingredients are, so that they are always of the highest quality.

What first inspired you to start making your own natural skincare products?
It has always been at the back of my mind as product manufacture had been part of my studies in the UK.
However, I don't regret having worked for big companies (such as Shiseido Group) when I was living in Paris as I had learnt considerably from experienced managers and all the people I had met worldwide, who had been great coaches to me in their own way. I wouldn't have had the knowledge to start o.Moi, had I not spent all these years working for other companies in the cosmetic industry. They have also helped forge my confidence to get the products out there in this highly competitive market.
The trigger to make that step to launch o.Moi was my bad skin condition as well as this urge that I have always had to be an entrepreneur one day.
My late grandfather was one and so is my mother... so I guess it also runs in the family.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Many of the scents coming from the blend of essential oils come from past life experiences.
For example, the All In One Balm took some time before I could be truly satisfied with its texture, but one thing I was sure about, was the scent. I knew that I wanted Neroli Essential oil, although it is one of the most expensive essential oils.
This is because Neroli (or orange blossom) reminds me of my childhood in Mauritius, as my mother used to give me spoonful of orange blossom water every night so that I would have a peaceful sleep.
The 4 Body Oils are also inspired from the 4 different cities where I had lived. For instance, Port-Louis is the lightest body oil with a fresh and citrusy scent as it is a very hot tropical city, where I always get mosquito bites. Therefore it has been designed to be light, refreshing as well as mosquitoes repellent. Copenhagen Body Oil is much more nourishing as Denmark is a cold country and the skin needs to be better nourished and moisturised. There is the addition of organic Arnica Oil as it helps to relieve muscle tensions after a good work out. Since I practised hot yoga and cycled a lot in Copenhagen, I thought it was great to have an ingredient that would help relieve any muscle aches afterwards.
I myself use only o.Moi and therefore the products are launched according to what I would need and use. For example, when I was pregnant, I was even more careful about what I would eat and apply on my skin. The allergy certified range of products is a sure range for pregnant women. I also wanted a specific product for expecting mothers as well as after pregnancy, whereby the launch of "Le Baume de Maman", which I am still using every single day as a nipple and breast cream. As for my baby boy, I apply "Le Baume de Bébé" on his face and body everyday and I know for sure that the ingredients are totally safe.

Skincare is a huge business, how do your products stand out?
o.Moi products stand out by their simple blue bottles, but also the story behind the brand itself as well as for each product.
The products are also manufactured on a small scale so they are always fresh.

When did you realise you could create a business from them?
I wished I would be able to when I was already working on the All In One Balm.
However, I wasn't sure how people would react to using it. I still made the leap to create a business from only the All In One Balm after that a few of my friends gave me a positive feedback after having used the balm for a while.

What do you find most challenging when creating products?
To get the right texture and results. Sometimes I have to change a few ingredients which I wanted initially as the synergy don't work out well.
Then it is about how customers like the products.

Do you have a favourite ingredient and why do you love it?
I don't have one favourite ingredient as each one has a specific virtue.
But Neroli essential oil is definitely one of my favourite essential oils. I also love Baobab Oil, which is found in our lip balms and London Body Oil as it is deeply repairing and nourishing.
However, I can't pinpoint one ingredient which comes first on the list.

In what way has the country you live in influenced your skincare products?
I like the fact that living a healthy lifestyle is deeply rooted in the Danish culture, whereby anything natural and organic is welcomed (food-wise and cosmetic-wise). The simplicity of the Danish design has also influenced the packaging of our products.
I have always loved scents in products but since I had met the danish company, Allergy Certified, I had decided to create a range of products which are fragrance-free and totally free of any allergens.

Do you think as a society we are starting to pay more attention to what we put on our skin?
Yes absolutely, but again, it is a matter of personal choice - just like some people don't care what they apply as long as it is about status and a renowned brand.

What is your proudest moment to date?
It was when the All In One Balm got the Beauty Shortlist Award 2017 for "Best Multi-Purpose Balm".
Even though other products have won other awards, I feel most proud about this particular product as it was the first one launched and the one that introduced o.Moi.

And finally, do you have any skincare tips to share?
Even if you have only 2 minutes to spare to apply your skincare products, make them count and enjoy the moment.
Massaging your skin will help relax the features as well as boost your micro-circulation, which in turn will give the skin a better natural glow.
A "Me Time" moment doesn't have to be an hour of relaxation! 🙂

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