Innovation is at the core of K-beauty, but some brands really put that on display. Enter: CLE Cosmetics. Ever since discovering their melting lip powders, we've been drawn to their creative, relevant aesthetic, expert formulations and ability to push the industry into wider, more inclusive realms.
Read on for our chat with founder Lauren Jin to learn about the brand's unique lens and how she seeks to embody its refreshingly "imperfect" philosophy.
Let's start at the beginning: What was the catalyst to launching CLE? Were there any mental hurdles you had to overcome?
I started CLE based on my concept of the “Modern Woman.” More specifically what that meant to me, what did modernity as a woman in today’s society entail. That translated to rituals and self care; the intimacy of looking at one’s reflection every day, applying and touching your face.
My biggest mental hurdle was perseverance. To consistently believe in my concept, the vision I had for the brand, and to not stray from that core idea of where CLE started from.
How do you think a background in art and fashion has influenced your business?
Art & fashion are all about vision. We look at art, we look at clothes. I think, like many other mediums, beauty products and brands are no different. For me, it was essential to create a strong aesthetic, to give our customers the most immersive idea of who and what CLE stands for.
Every product development, every design detail, every color choice has intent behind it.
Your products are so innovative (melting lip powder, color-shifting capsules, etc.). What does it look like to develop a new product? Do you focus on technology or application first?
It might be due to my background, but each and every product is developed from a need. Whether it is a need I found myself, heard, or witnessed. The need for a specific product then goes into finer detail as the sampling process incurs. But each product has stemmed from a concept of real women.
For example, Melting Lip Powder was based on a Tube ride in London. A woman sat across me and had literally 5 different eyeshadow palettes or compacts on her lap and was doing her makeup. I was so anxious for that woman. I thought, why can’t we have a product that we can use on days when doing makeup in a pinch can be easier and less cumbersome?
How important was it to be a vegan and cruelty-free brand?
It is very important. That was one of my first pillars when starting CLE. Personally and from a realistic point of view, using animal by-products or testing on animals is simply unnecessary. There is no need for that process; there are so many amazing plant-alternatives and synthetic ingredients that can achieve what is needed.
What misconceptions do you think customers may have about K-beauty and how does CLE hope to change that?
I think customers may think K-Beauty is all about skincare. There is a lot of focus on the skincare aspect of K-Beauty, but makeup is equally amazing within the K-beauty realm. Hopefully, we are able to introduce more makeup products that our customers can enjoy and rely on!
What's the best way for a newbie to experience CLE?
The best way to experience CLE would be through our bestsellers: the CCC Cream (available in ten color-shifting shades) & Melting Lip Powders. They are what we are best known for and our bestsellers for a reason. The transformative and interactive aspects of these products are enjoyable. Even to this day, I love applying it on my face and seeing the color change or powder melt.
One of CLE's principles is to "welcome truths hidden in imperfections." What's one way you've experienced that lately?
Lately, my skin has broken out due to the changing seasons. For a moment I freaked out and in my head I was thinking, should I do this, should I do that? But then, I realized that my body was telling me to strip down my routine more. I welcomed that and used less products. Slowly, but eventually, my skin calmed down and healed.
What does the future hold for CLE?
It’s always very interesting to think about the future for CLE. I think in my head, there are so many different paths and visions for CLE. But for now I would say, we are hoping to create quality beauty products and work towards strengthening our community. I do also imagine a physical store for CLE soon.
Thanks so much for sharing your perspective and advice with us, Lauren! Discover more about what CLE can add to your routine when you shop the brand here.