Skin care with Claire - Founder AGNES
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
I got to chat with one of my favorite people in the skincare industry - Claire. A sweet lady and a powerhouse who by herself runs AGNES, an efficient, affordable and successful skincare brand. If you know me, you know that my favorite skin care product (yes, in the whole wide world) is the Meremeta revitalizing facial serum by AGNES.
Get to know a bit about Claire, AGNES, the manufacturing process of skincare products, her thoughts on the beauty industry in Kenya, pick a few tips, reach out to her if you're looking to get into the business and make sure to get yourself some AGNES products!
What does skin care mean to you?
Loving my skin. Caring and preserving it to maintain its ultimate health.
Did you study cosmetology, biochemistry… or any skincare related course?
No. Just passion and endless research and testing.
What prompted you to want to start a skincare brand/line?
Two main things - one, I needed rose water and couldn’t maintain the cost of shipping it in and two, a sermon I randomly came across one day by the late Myles Munroe on the wealthiest place in the world being the cemetery.
The lack of a good quality rose water toner in the market at the time made me start toying with the idea of making it myself and the sermon was the final push I needed to finally embark on the journey.
AGNES was my late sister’s name. We were extremely close and she was the love of my life. The line is in her honor and has become a channel to share the boundless love I had for her.
How long did making this dream a reality take?
I’d say the dream is still quite far from being a reality, but from the conception of the idea to the release of the first product Rose Galore, it took about 2 years.
Was it longer/shorter than you anticipated?
Certainly longer! Add stressful too. There were definitely times I wanted to give up and just make the products for my own personal use.
What is it like running a skincare brand?
Fun, extremely interesting, stressful, nerve wrecking, basically a whirlwind of emotions, but mostly exciting! However, the feeling I get when I receive a positive comment from a customer tops it all. Those beautiful messages make it all worth it.
Are your products locally made?
Yes! 100% locally made.
Take us through the manufacturing process – from the moment you decide “I want to create product x” up until it’s ready for the market.
The first step is usually deciding what type of product I’d like to make and figuring out its purpose, effect on the skin, texture, color, thickness etc. At this stage I’ve most likely already chosen the active ingredients I’d like to use as they are the most important.
Secondly, as a creative, I like getting inspiration from previous similar products I may have loved before or other amazing products in the market similar to the one I’d like formulate. Once I have some options, I intensely study those formulations while picking out certain aspects I’d like to borrow. I also make use of online formularies to assist in creating a good starting formula.
Once I’ve decided on a starting formula, and done my calculations, I gather the raw materials and equipment I need and prepare to start working on the sample batch. The next step is the fun part which involves making the actual sample. Once that’s done, the sample is taken for various testing procedures after which I try it to get a feel of the formula. Thereafter, it’s basically a constant repeat of creating samples, testing, trying them out, sharing them with others and revising the formula until I’m happy with it. In short, a lot of research, testing and gut feeling.
Do you disclose all the ingredients, for each product, publicly?
Absolutely. One of the ethos of AGNES is transparency. We even go further and delve deeper by highlighting majority of the ingredients in the products on social platforms to help consumers understand more about them and their roles in the products.
What is your brand’s price range?
Currently the prices range from Ksh.600 to 1100.
How do you determine your shelf life? Do you indicate it on your products?
Yes. The shelf life is mainly determined by taking samples of the products and carrying out certain stability tests that measure aspects such as color, pH, odor and microbial challenge.
Where can your products be found?
On our website at agnespureandregal.com
Did you have a mentor in the business or did you figure everything out yourself?
No, I didn’t. Up to now, I’ve pretty much figured everything on my own apart from the last stages of formulation that involve testing the stability of the products.
Are you open to mentoring people looking to go into this business?
Yes. Although I’m still learning and have a long way to go, I’ve gained quite some knowledge regarding the business during the short time I’ve been active and I’m open to sharing with anyone interested in going into the skincare business.
Do you have a team or do you everything yourself?
No. Currently it’s a one woman team, but I’m certainly looking forward to working with a group of passionate like minded people in the near future.
How is your brand different from every other brand in existence? Especially in the Kenyan Market.
AGNES seeks to create and innovate simple and effective treats composed of the perfect balance of actives and botanical nutrients to give your skin a healthy radiant glow. Healthy skin is the focus. We also strive to encourage the importance of self love, and reaffirm that beauty is in each and every one of us no matter the state of our skin. The passion, love and personal touch that’s put into every product also makes the brand special.
How do you feel about the skincare industry in Kenya? What do you think can be done better?
The skincare industry is certainly growing everyday not only worldwide but also in Kenya, and it's evident in the increasing number of local beauty brands sprouting up in our nation, which is amazing.
However, it would be great to see more creativity and innovation in the range of products currently being manufactured in Kenya. Our African land has also been blessed with a bounty of botanicals, minerals, clays and it would be wonderful to see more of that in products.
Aside from running this great skincare brand, what else do you?
I’m an account manager in a pharmaceuticals firm.
Does owning a skincare brand mean you only use products from your line?
Haha! Not necessarily but half of my routine currently comprises of AGNES products. They are effective and I love them and hence don’t feel the need to replace them with other products. Personally, it’s calmed my skincare binging habit of wanting to try every new exciting product that’s launched, but once in a while I like to try out products from other brands - plus it’s great for research too.
What’s one skincare product you can’t do without?
Meremeta! The revitalizing facial serum. I can always tell a difference in my skin when I don’t use it.
Do you like trying new skin care products or do you keep to a certain routine?
I’m a believer of "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it". Rose Galore and Meremeta have had a permanent place in my routine since they were launched as they’ve continued to serve me well. Nevertheless, I do get tempted at times especially with products that incorporate new actives, intelligent ingredients or use the latest science and technology.
What’s your biggest skin care pet peeve?
Products with synthetic fragrances. I can feel the irritation even before using them. I understand the sensorial aspect of fragrance in cosmetics but don’t think the side effects are worth it.
Share a skin care tip with us.
Retinoids! If you’re in your mid to late 20’s, and would like to age more gracefully, you better get started on retinoids. Vitamin A is the best proven ingredient known to posses visible anti-aging effects on the skin.
Any future plans for AGNES that you’re comfortable sharing with us?
There are some exciting new additions to the Essentials collection coming up soon. I also plan on connecting and sharing more with our audience on a personal level. Being an introvert it doesn’t come naturally to me but I’m pushing myself to slowly come out of my comfort zone.
I'm working with Claire on something exciting that I can't wait to share with you all. Hopefully sometime soon!
Her website has a lot of skincare gems and tips which could benefit everyone, as well in-depth information on the ingredients in her products and their functions.
Feel free to get in touch with Claire via her instagram if you have any further questions on her brand.
As you go through life, grow through it.