Expert Interview: Chanelle Louise – CILK Rose Water
With a shift toward natural and organic cosmetics there are many unique products hitting the beauty and skincare market. One of our latest discoveries derived from nature, goes beyond the surface of the skin and when ingested, nourishes the body from within. Cilk Rose Water, the hand-bottled premium rose beverage supplement, was launched only a short time ago by entrepreneur Chanelle Louise and is fast on its way to becoming one of the most sought after luxury products on the market.
We love the idea of a few droplets of the rose-hibiscus-vanilla elixir in sparkling mineral water or for a Friday afternoon, infused in your favourite champagne dusted with fresh rose petals. The French Edit sat down to speak with the lady herself to discuss her inspiration for the rose-based supplement, the challenges of launching a start up in the beauty and skincare product market and how she achieves balance in her own life….
Prior to launching CILK, what were you doing with your career?
Circa ’07 I left my studies in accounting and landed a junior Treasury Analyst position at Morgan Stanley in Melbourne. This took me to London, working alongside the global head of derivatives at The Bank of New York were I was a derivatives project analyst. I knew that this wasn’t truly my path and it abruptly came to a holt when my long-term on again, off again boyfriend (now husband) almost lost his life after being hit by a car. I was on the first flight back to Australia, leaving my career behind and became his carer for over a year as he recovered from a traumatic brain injury and learnt to walk and talk again. It was a life altering period, a time to reflect, start-over and discover.
Why roses? Is there some history there or are they something that you’ve always been passionate about?
I have always used rose water on my skin mainly for it’s hydrating effect, however I could feel it was only sinking into the surface of my skin. I wanted to gain the full benefit of this ancient ingredient from the inside out. I began researching roses and the sense of old world romance to rose water completely captivated me. From the natural form of a rose blossoming to stories of Cleopatra bathing in it, to a Persian Princess filling royal fountains full of rose water so that when she walked through her garden, drops of rose water would land upon her skin like light rain fall. It just has such a beautiful history.
Why is it so exciting to work within the beauty industry right now?
There is a huge shift towards natural and organic cosmetics and skincare. There’s a definate move away from the conventional big brand cosmetics that contain skin harming ingredients and consumers are becoming more passionate about natural skin health. My focus is on innovating unique products in a flooded market, pushing the boundaries by creating products and experiences that not only evoke inner beauty, but are special.
What are your passions (besides being an incredible entrepreneur), how do you like to spend your spare time?’
My husband and I have recently purchased our first home, a Hamptons style house by the beach on the Sunshine Coast. So at the moment I’m immersed in interior design. I get all my design cues from brooketestoni.com, that girl’s house has got swag! Listening to my husband play the piano and I’ve started listening to classical music. I love taking time out to stop, slow down and really be in the moment – relaxing to the romantic and mysterious sounds of orchestra, especially with a thrilling novel too.
What has been the most challenging aspect of launching your start up thus far?
Definitely the development stages to creating a product like mine. It was part gastronomical and botanical experimentation in my home kitchen, which looked like a messy drug lab! I had rose powders, rose oil and rose petals spilled and strewn everywhere amongst an unconventional set-up of homemade distillation apparatus. It was all trial and error, guided by my own senses and palate preference. Once I had a refined formula it was difficult to find a manufacturer. I wasn’t taken seriously in the beginning, assumptions were made that I wasn’t ready for commercial manufacturing and that I didn’t understand the processes etc. I’m not a very patient person, so I had to really harness my frustrations and be persistent.
Also, managing a high level of quality control with several stages of micro-bacteria testing to ensure a safe consumable end product without compromising the delicacy, fragrance and taste of the rose water. Although there were many challenges, it’s been one of the best learning and growth experiences for me.
What is your work philosophy?
Despite being a beauty brand founder, I’m not obsessed with the latest contouring craze, seeking out the ultimate concealer or obtaining an overwhelming cosmetic, skincare and beauty collection. I find myself more inclined to a minimalist lifestyle, having few things, yet premium quality in those possessions and experiences as opposed to acquiring loads of things that are just mediocre.
I no longer want to spend hours in the bathroom every week on my beauty regime or in the kitchen trying to make superfood powders taste good. Because I always want to feel free and have moments every single day of little luxuries. Whether it’s skipping the gym and going to a day spa, eating dessert after dinner, sipping on a rose beauty drink or sleeping in — the luxury of letting go.
The ethos for my brand lies within this effortless approach of enhancing your natural beauty whilst indulging in a truly beautiful experience of relaxation and luxury.
I didn’t create CILK just to be an entrepreneur and make money, almost anyone can do that. I am here to do business differently, not only by innovating inner beauty products that are special, but to connect.
Describe a day in the life of Chanelle Louise?
Usually I wake and do some stretches in bed, sip on warm water with lemon, walk along the beach and grab a coffee from my local.
My day is then planned around any important emails that need to be attended to promptly and then I will schedule priority tasks for the day from R&D. These include things like identifying partnership or collaboration opportunities, meetings, working on scaling models, establishing export channels etc.
I also listen like to listen to at least one business podcast each day when I’m making breakfast or driving, I try to compact learning as much realistic business case studies and information as quickly as I can.
What is your favourite part about working for yourself?
The people I get to meet, collaborate with and connecting with CILK drinkers! And of course the freedom of curating my own life!
How do you achieve balance in your own life?
It’s always a work in progress and I haven’t quite reached that balance yet, and I’m not sure I ever will. Balance and health mean different things to different people. To me it means enjoyment. I won’t pound the pavement if I’ve indulged in a croissant because then I may not look forward to going for a run the next day or I may feel guilty about eating croissants, which is something I really love to do.
I just do what I feel like each morning. I wake up, some mornings I feel like doing yoga, other mornings I want to sleep in, but most mornings I want to get straight into running my business, because that is what I’m most passionate about and enjoy the most. Sure, yoga and going for a jog feels good, but the ability to empower myself and others by creating a beautiful and successful brand is what keeps me healthy. Without that fire, passion, and constant challenge I would feel lost, and no amount of health focused pursuits are going to fill that spot in your soul to fulfil your purpose.
What’s the best advice you can give to students or others who may want to launch a product within the beauty field?
Prioritise conceptualising your own unique ideas without placing too much focus on the market and potential competitors. The more time you are watching what others are doing, the less you are innovating. Be aware of industry trends, but look at the core foundation of beauty and skincare as trends will come and go. I’m not an expert on this, I’m still navigating the industry myself, but sometimes the most unconventional path can be the best one. My advice would also be not to ‘flog’ a brand or product, assess long-term sustainability over short-term cash flow. Success can be defined in the opportunities you say no to!
What are your favourite CILK recipes? Are we limited to ingesting the rose water or can it be applied topically?
I’m all about effortless beauty, so my favourite recipe is simply sparkling rose beauty water. What is really special about drinking CILK with sparkling water is when the extract is mixed with carbonation it expels the natural rose fragrance further, enhancing the experience. It’s almost like drinking a fine red wine, you swirl the glass around, smelling the natural perfume and then you have the different notes of the vanilla and hibiscus on the palate. Our customers make all kinds of recipes though, rose spritz, rose and lychee martinis, fig and rose smoothies and rose desserts.
For those of us who may not be aware, what are the health benefits of rose water?
Just as rose water cleanses the skin, when drinking, the anti-inflammatory properties aid the digestive system for internal cleansing – which can have a direct effect on clearing the skin. The therapeutic elements of antioxidants, phytochemicals including vitamins, glycosides, flavonoids aid acne-prevention, anti- ageing, dermal regeneration activity and an overall balancing and harmonising of the skin and mind.
What are your goals for the next few years? Do you have an ultimate career ambition?
For now, continuing to build a luxury a brand that is the premium leader of the inner beauty/beauty drinks category. A ultimate career ambition is to assistant young women in launching their own business or creative ventures. In what capacity that entails, I’m not sure as yet, but it is a goal I hope to begin working on soon.
The French Edit…
City: Petra (Jordan) walking through Petra it’s like discovering a lost world, the tomb structures and rock formations are rugged and dry yet breathtakingly beautiful, there is this kind of unexplained energy that you feel when there.
Beauty: May Lindstrom blue cocoon beauty balm concentrate
Muse: @missfajer we share an obsession for chokers. She is uber cool and a classic natural beauty.
Drink: Sparkling rose beauty water of course!
Song: Suite bergamasque, Clair de lune by Ingulf Wunder
You can Shop CILK Rose water here.