November 3rd 2014
Behind the brand: Willa, tween queen
November 17th 2012 / 1 comment
Willa with her mother Christy Prunier
Our teenage writer Scarlett Curtis meets Willa, the 12-year-old (yes you read that right) creator of a new beauty empire for young girls. They talk iPhones, puppies and product development
When I was 12 my biggest achievement was winning the sack race on sports day or maybe being able to fit three custard creams into my mouth at once. But for Willa Doss, it’s a whole different story. By age 12 Willa has created a skincare line in the United States which has become so popular that it is now being sold over here exclusively at Harrods. The 17-piece line includes products such as sunscreen, face wash and a lip-gloss that attaches to your bag (genius) and has already been a huge hit in the US.
When I was asked to interview Willa I couldn’t wait. I’d never done an interview before so was fairly nervous, but Willa could not have been sweeter (I must admit I was kind of hoping she would be horrible, it seems too unfair to be that successful, young and nice as well). If I wasn’t already jealous enough of Willa, I found out she had spent her day walking the puppies from the Harrods pet department. We met in the diner in Harrods with her mum and her babysitter-turned-product designer Frankie. After ordering a plate of bacon (how very American) and cooing over Willa’s specially designed Willa iPhone case, I dived in.
SC What’s your favourite thing about being in London so far?
Willa I think it's the accents! And the phrases everyone uses like "cheers". I just love it.
SC What’s it like being barely a teenager but already having your own successful skincare line?
W It’s amazing; it’s the best feeling ever. Every time I go into a store and see the products on the shelves I’m so surprised and so happy we’ve come this far.
SC What’s the story behind the range and why did you decide to create it?
W It was about four years ago [when Willa was 8!] and I was taking a shower and all I had was my sister's Johnson & Johnson and my mum’s products that burned my skin. I asked my mum why there wasn’t anything for me and we both thought it was strange there wasn’t because right now is the most important time for girls to be taking care of their skin.
SC So does your mum have a history in skincare?
W No, not at all! We started totally from scratch. We went to the labs and told them our ideas and asked them to help us. And then our babysitter Frankie, who is an amazing artist, helped us come up with all the designs. So we did it all ourselves.
SC Which of your products is your favourite?
W The Willa SPF 30 Tinted Face Protection (£6.23). All the products were made by girls for girls. I hate sunblock because it’s always so wet and sticky and gross. So we created one and I wear it every day! It’s really dry and matte so you can’t even feel it and it is tinted to the colour of your skin.
SC And which of the other products do you use every day?
W In the morning I always use the Willa Foaming Face Wash (£4.98), the Clear Face Moisturizer (£4.98) and the Acne Spot Treatment Click Pen (£4.56), which is amazing because it actually gets rid of spots! I also always keep a pack of our Gentle Cleansing Lavender Facial Wipes (£2.90) in my backpack to use after sports lessons!
From left to right: Willa Daily Body Lotion, Foaming Face Wash and Gentle Cleansing Lavender Facial Wipes
SC What was it like working so closely with your mum, did you ever disagree?
W We disagreed a lot. When we made the face wipes my mum wanted cucumber but I thought that sounded disgusting! In the end we went with lavender and it was such a success but she thought it would be awful. I think the whole process definitely brought us a lot closer though.
SC What age would you suggest girls start taking care of their skin?
W Well, my sister who is six already uses the products, but I would say they are really for girls of about ten and up.
SC You’ve achieved so much so young, what do you see in your future? Do you think you want to do this forever?
W I’d like to keep my options open, and try to have as normal a childhood as possible, but I think so. Right now, Willa is so important to me and I think the products are going to grow with me, as I get older.
After the interview Willa gives me a big bag of the products to take home. They truly are very different from other skincare ranges and I’ve begun using them all daily. The moisturiser is my favourite. It goes on like a serum and, as Willa said, the sunblock is extraordinary too.
As far as interviews go I think this one’s gone pretty well. I’ve met the most ambitious and successful 12-year-old ever and got a big bag of free skincare products. Now I’m heading back to Harrods to try and convince them to let me walk the puppies, I’ve got a feeling that might not go as well as it did for Willa…
The Willa skincare line will be available at Harrods (www.harrods.com) from November 19.