When a farm girl from Denmark becomes a renowned New York–based makeup artist and then wows us with a line of beauty products that up the game in clean cosmetics – we know we’re dealing with someone special.
As a working artist, Kirsten Kjær Weis heard countless complaints from clients that many mainstream products were irritating their skin. Unable to find makeup that catered to her own idea of organic and all natural, she went to work—slowly but surely—on her namesake cosmetics line Kjær Weis. It took eight years to perfect.
That may seem like an eon in the beauty world, but eight years starts to sound just about right when it comes to the quality Weis insisted on for the natural and organic products, not to mention the work put into product and design prototypes, and naming and trademarking her shades and formulas. “I had invested so much into the project that I was never willing to compromise my vision or cut corners. I never got discouraged because I knew I was on the right path and I knew this is what I was meant to do.”
Weis’ products are carefully developed overseas in Italy, but it’s not an easy endeavor. “When I started working on the line 10 years ago, I was looking for a manufacturer that was 100% in the natural and organic world, that really produced beautiful products without the use of synthetics. By nature I have a huge interest in natural ingredients, what you can do with them, what the benefits are, etc. I have a sort of holistic approach to life in general.”
Organically speaking, finding a balance between Europe and the US is an ongoing challenge. “There’s a difference in what natural ingredients you’re allowed to use in the US versus Europe” Weis told us, going on to explain how small problems arose in the development process. For instance, a coloring derived from birch trees commonly found in many european cosmetics is banned by the USDA. “Though the specifications are different, the quality of ingredients remains the same no matter what country you manufacture in.”
Since the ingredients are so natural, each batch is influenced by the harvest. “It’s like working in wine, each harvest produces a different result.” Everytime the manufacturer creates a new batch of product, samples are sent to Weis so she can personally inspect the color of each one. “I wish I could travel there every month and get my hands in the clay, as they say.”
Discussing her stylish and healthy brand of eco-conscious cosmetics, Ms. Kjær Weis is humble and honest, and doesn’t try to conceal or gloss over the details of what goes into creating an eco conscious beauty line. She calls it “being transparent.” For instance, what is stopping Kjaer Weis from being 100% organic? “There are minerals that go into our products, mainly for color, [and] minerals cannot be grown organically,” Weis explained of her 25+ shades of shadows, blushes, lipsticks, and more. Pigmentation is another issue. Weis explains that “certain colors cannot be obtained with natural coloring– for instance poppy shades of pink and orange. You can pick the craziest flower, but you’ll never be able to pull the amount of color to have it show up the way it appears in nature.” Even minerals cannot replicate some of the more vivid shades she envisioned for the collection.
"I still remember the glow I had at 15, that sense of perfect skin. I tried to replicate that in our foundation...”
Weis worked with packaging designer Marc Atlan to create the flippable, clickable, jewelry-like cases that hold the products. “I was a huge fan of Marc before I reached out to him”, she says. “Marc had some things I love such as his perfume bottles for Comme des Garcons.” Weis wanted a package that was sustainable without feeling too “brown baggy,” and Atlan delivered with a beautiful sculptural set of refillable metallic flip cases made of Zamac, a superconductor with a luxurious feel and high shine. Zamac presented a problem, however—it isn’t recyclable. Ultimately that led Atlan and Weis to develop a refill system to satisfy Weis’s vision of a sustainable line.
It took 2 years to develop the finished packaging, complete with the signature click when you close the compact. “My friends and family would say ‘just get it out already!’ but I had a pretty strong feeling in my stomach on the day it was ready to launch. Bit by bit everything fell into place. When I saw the finished product it was like ‘Woah!’”
Weis had a hard time choosing products to call her favorites, but there were a few she’s been especially in love with lately. “I’m a big fan of our foundation,” said the designer, ”I still remember the glow I had at 15, that sense of perfect skin. I tried to replicate that in our foundation where you can apply with such a minimalistic approach that it looks as though you’re wearing nothing, while covering up the redness just enough.” She’s also a huge fan of the cream blush. “It gives you that fresh faced dewy glow. No matter how tired you are, you can create the illusion of the opposite with our blushes.”
Concerted eco-beauty in gorgeous packaging? We’re sold. Call it natural beauty for the modern day minimalist.
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