The queen or organic beauty and founder of Ilia cosmetics shares her path to success
Originally from a branding background, Sasha studied for a degree in Typography Design before jetsetting around the world working for a number of top fashion brands. Having always been interested in an organic lifestyle (Sasha saw her brother’s acute asthma cured by homeopathy and a chemical-free diet) she figured why not combine the two and subsequently Ilia was born. Sasha has fused her love of design - the packaging is as important as the product - with an ethical-sustainable approach to business and a mission to create the purest organic beauty products. Sasha spoke to us about the challenges of organic, the trials and tribulations of running your own business and the importance of disconnecting...
When was your big break?
Initially ILIA started off more as a project to recreate a tinted lip balm in an organic form. Working with a chemist for the raw ingredients and finding the packaging to compliment the idea was what really drove everything forward as a point of inspiration. Working with colors was also something of a passion which resonated with color cosmetics and beauty. Not sure if the big break has happened yet! But being supported by some of my favorite boutiques in the world as helped put ILIA on the map - two being Colette in Paris and Net-A-Porter worldwide.
What does an average day look like for you (if there ever is one?!)
A average day will include a general review with my brother in the morning to put out any fires or help prevent any we may see on the horizon. Then either diving into some emails or finishing up a project that has a deadline that day. Usually once a week I will be in LA for meetings or lunches with vendors, retailers and for sales meetings. If I’m lucky at end of day I can head to a yoga class or something to help disconnect from the job - it’s always moving and turning in all times zones where we sell.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Reaching a wide audience across the world has been really amazing to witness. But I am still most happy where I started: in the throes of product development where everything starts.
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Are there any aspects of your job that you find challenging?
There are always challenging aspects and some days are more challenging than others. The biggest learning lesson over the last three years has been to remove emotion whenever possible from a problem and look for an immediate solution. There is always a solution to solving any issue and the sooner we recognize that without overreacting, the more our energy can be put to good use for the positive aspects of the business.
What's the most common question you get asked by clients? Most common question will usually have something to do with the ingredients. They are usually fair questions in regards to a percentage or if the crop is GMO.
What's your team 'me'? Who do you rely on to keep you happy, healthy and sane?
Team me in the business is my brother, Zac who is in charge of logistics and Christina who is our account manager. The three of us together work with other teams we have in place and this is truly what makes everything happen. Finding the right people to work alongside is what makes the business as without them there is no business. My husband is the person who supports myself outside of the mindset of work and brings a bit humor and happiness to anything he does - this always lightens any situation.
How is your industry changing?
There are many changes always taking place. The world of ingredients is becoming increasingly challenging as with all the weather changes crops are being put at risk. In addition GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) are really affecting the organic agriculture industry and having such a detrimental effect. People may believe organic is becoming more popular but from a sourcing point it's becoming more and more difficult. Cross pollination is literally making it near impossible to guarantee a crop be untouched from conventional seeds and this is something I do hope obtains more laws in the coming years as we all have a right to know where and how ingredients for food or cosmetics are made.