Friday, August 07, 2009

pur~lisse founder Jennier Yen launches brand on QVC

This is an edited transcript from Jennifer's interview on Solessence Radio.
This morning we have pur~lisse skincare founder Jennifer Yen. Jennifer is joining us from New York City. Her line marries Chinese skin rituals with French technology – and it has taken off fairly quickly. Let’s get her on the line.

Hi Jennifer, you’ve been fairly busy because you’ve got some exciting news to share about this coming Wednesday.

JY: Yes, it’s this coming Wednesday and Thursday AM We’re launching on QVC!

QVC on 8/13 @ 1am EST and 8/12 @ 10pm PST


JY: Thank you!

So let’s give people a background on the skincare line. You were a working actress, and you started having trouble with your skin. Let’s start there.

JY: Yes. When I graduated college I wanted to be an actress, like so many young women. Moved out to LA, and I did act. I was on a kids show called Power Rangers for about a year and a half, and I was an evil villainous, so they caked on the makeup. There were constant touchups, I had so much make-up on, and within months of the show, four months, my skin went crazy. I broke out in adult acne, I got hives, my skin was very itchy, it became extremely sensitive, and nothing was working for my skin. That’s when I starting asking around, trying everything from natural products to organic products, to high-end luxury brands. Nothing was working. I’ve always been a lover of beauty products and open to trying things, but nothing was working.

That’s when I decided to take a step back and take a very simple approach to skincare. I remembered my grandmother would always talk about the blue lotus flower. She used to use white tea on everything. We drank it, used it as an anti-septic (she would pour it on my cuts and rashes). Then I remembered she would use soy milk. She always drank it, washed her face with it. She believed it left her with a creamy appearance. I wanted to integrate these ingredients she used with advanced French skincare technology, so I found a chemist in 2004/2005, and we started developing it. That’s how I got started. It was a personal need in the beginning. Then I realized there are so many other women, and men, that can benefit from pur~lisse.

I have had a chance to try several items in the line, and it is fantastic. It reminds me of the textures that you get when you’re in Asia, and different skincare lines I would hoard when I would be in Japan. It really is just a different approach over there. I always thought it would be great to see here in the US, and you’ve done that. Now before we go further into the formulations, tell me a little more about how you approached the packaging. Was that outsourced? Was that part of your philosophy with the looks?

JY: Unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of having a huge budget, so I’ve done everything myself in terms of, I went to every packaging show right before developing the packaging. I sourced each bottle and tube myself because I did, you’re right, I do have a certain philosophy. Because I was traveling so much you can see that. Our stuff is paraben free. We don’t use parabens as preservatives, so we don’t put anything in a jar. Everything is in dual chamber, airless or a tube. It easy for traveling, it protects the ingredients from breakdown of the ingredients. So everything is really protected, travels very well and is functional. So that is number one in what I believe in. Also, from a design perspective, because pur~lisse is inspired by the blue lotus we use a gorgeous blue. But also the product is very clean and natural, so why we use just very simple colors like blue and white, very clean and natural. That’s why we kept it that way.

Packaging is a huge hurdle for most people, initially. Did it come easily to you?

JY: I did work with a very, very talented designer, but she looked to me a lot to me for direction, and of course I had a very specific vision: Clean. Functional. Beautiful.

Also I wanted to focus on the blue lotus because it is (symbolism of) a very powerful flower. It means integrity, resurrection, potential and evolution. It is the flower all over southeast asia, it goes back 5000 years. Chinese women use it, Persian women use it, Indian women use it, to preserve their youth and beauty. It has amazing anti-oxidant benefits, anti-viral, it’s very soothing, and the entire flower can be consumed. Growing up we used to eat the lotus root, and she used to take the leaves and brew it, and also the seeds, she used to sauté and put them in our food. This blue lotus flower is very special because it has amazing detoxifying properties. It is also the flower for yogis. It is a very special flower that has so many positive meanings, and I wanted that to be communicated on the packaging.

Lotus seeds in my pantry, Jen!

I think it does that very well. It’s very striking. You also use peony.

JY:Yes, in the pur~bright, our ultra skin brightening serum. It’s great for skin, creates an overall brightening effect. It’s hydroquinone free, so it safely brightens your skin.

That ‘s very important. Are you full time with the line now?

JY: Yes, I do no more acting! (laughs)

Why don’t you mention some of the locations pur~lisse is in now?

JY: Our first store was C.O. Bigelow in West Village. It is a really great apothecary, they carry the best niche brands. So that was our first store. Now we’re at Studio Beauty Mix at Fred Segal in Los Angeles. We’re at Henri Bendel. We’re at, we’re in the Bliss catalog. We’re also on,, and then we’re also in Woo Skincare & Cosemetics in Tennessee. And then QVC coming up this Wednesday.

How did that happen with QVC?

JY: Last summer I was introduced to a buyer, and we’ve been communicating with them forever. They loved the product, they loved the story, and it was just working out all of the logistics. We had to create a special size for them for a special price. They are value driven, so people can always find quality products with great deals. It took some time to deal with all of the logistics, all of the new production. I met with the buyer in November and it is finally happening this summer.

Are you actually doing the show live?

JY: Everything is live.

And you will be there?

JY: I will be there!

pur~lisse in Ebony Feb 2009 issue
What have you done to create awareness for the brand? How are you using the social media tools? I see you are on Twitter and Facebook. Have you seen things change since you started to use them?

JY: Absolutely, absolutely. We launched September 2007, and during this time I’ve seen so many changes in PR. Since I’ve started, which is two short years ago, all of the press was so focused on hard print. Magazines. The blog world was barely recognized as an important tool.

I love Facebook, I love Twitter. I knew when I started two years ago I wanted to use them somehow to promote. When Facebook started the business pages I immediately got on. Every friend I have, I always tell them to get on and become a fan! But I’ve noticed such a difference with magazines and blogs. Magazines work back five months. Well in five months information can change drastically, whereas blogging is instant, it’s credible. They (bloggers) try the product, and you can get information out fast. And also, one of the most important things is, once you get blogged it is always on this internet if someone searches for you. Whereas a magazine...I’m always traveling so I don’t get my subscription unless I’m at the airport and I get the magazine. So I think that blogging is so important now, and also social media. Twitter is important.

In this day and age, companies need to be transparent and it is a way for consumers to get to know what the company is about if they are authentic. The connection between the consumer and the creator, it builds a lot of trust. Now it is really important for companies to have that trust. If someone is having a problem or an issue, you can address it to someone. Not just call an 800# and get a receptionist. It is so powerful. To me, it builds trust, and is a way I can reach out to people. Because we don’t have an advertising budget. We don’t advertise. Everything we do has been grassroots.

pur~lisse in Lucky April 2009 issue
That is incredible. And it’s great to hear that you are open and embracing (social media) as a way to connect, because consumers do feel it’s thrilling to speak directly to someone they can recognize as part of the entity. When they see the brand rep, like you, the founder, it is a bit of a thrill.

JY: You know, I hope so. Because I enjoy talking to people on Twitter, and I like to hear what they say too. What their skin problems are, what their favorite products are. To me that is just as joyous.

Can we talk about your line? You have seven items. Let’s talk about how you honed in on the seven pieces to showcase.

JY: When I thought about what my needs were in the beginning, I thought “What are the most essential items woman or a man needs?” As you know, it is a very crowded space, there are so many products, there are so many options. For me I needed it to be streamline. I needed it to be essential. So I thought, what does a man do? What does a woman do? She cleanses her face. We have:

  • pur~delicate, our gentle soy milk cleanser and makeup remover
  • pur~protect with SPF 30, so that’s a daytime moisturizer
  • pur~moist, which is our hydra-balance moisturizer for night
  • pur~eye adore, which is our quadra benefit serum
  • pur~lip comfort, which is our daily lip nourisher

So those are the basic essentials. Then I wanted to address beyond that, so we have two serums. Pur~youth preserve, which we are launching on QVC, and pur~bright ultra, our skin brightening serum.

I think there are three main issues we have. Women (as well as men) are concerned about

  1. anti-aging
  2. skin brightening (lackluster, uneven tones)
  3. acne

We don’t address acne, only anti-aging and skin losing glow. I decided to create this because I’m Asian, and a lot of Asians have problems with hyperpigmentation. But I didn’t create this just for Asians! pur~bright is great for all ethnicities, whether you're African American, Hispanic, because it doesn’t make your skin white, it just makes it bright.

For listeners that don’t understand, hydroquinone has been shown to be a cancer causing agent and is banned in many countries, but still seems to show up a lot.

JY: Exactly. You are absolutely right, and people should be educated on hydroquinone. It is a toxic drug that is banned in countries like Australia. All of UK. All of South Africa. Japan. South Korea. Amongst a lot of other countries, and it’s actually causing a controversy in the States. The FDA is considering banning it because it is very toxic, and if it is not used properly with sunscreen, it can cause irreversible damage.

Touching on the “It’s not only for Asians” thing, all races have problems with discoloration; it just has been a focus in Asia.

JY: Exactly. It can be hormonal. If you’re on birth control it can cause more discoloration. Or if you have sun damage from ten years ago! I’m starting to see a little mark and I think, “Oh goodness, this is from when I loved the sun in high school.”

And pregnancy. I know for myself, the reddening of the skin never went away, and they told me that would happen! It only lightened up. Have you had any other big challenges with this line?

JY: Yes. On a consumer level, I never say we’re organic. If you go to our website,, we are very transparent. It is so clear. We are natural, but not organic. Every ingredient is listed on the back of the product. We are natural, but we integrate French technologies, so I think that consumers need to be aware we are natural, but not organic. During my research, I found people love organic. But for me, personally, organic does not work on my skin. There are some organic lines that have irritated my skin, so I knew I didn’t want that for my line. I wanted something gentle, but extremely effective. Natural, with advanced skin technology.

It’s been a hurdle. Some people get confused about whether we’re organic, but in terms of hurdle? Every day is a hurdle, Hillary, every single day there are new challenges! Everything.

(laughing) That’s great, that is a really honest answer.

JY: No it is, every day is a hurdle. (laughing) I love what I’m doing, I really do, and I’m so happy that I did it. But also, I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. And I say that with pure sincerity.

I was an actress going to auditions, and I decided, “Oh my goodness, I have skin problems. I want to start a skin company,” But the reality is, I’ve never started a beauty company, I’ve never worked for a beauty company. I’ve never worked for any company, period. So there were huge learning curves for me, and I just had to go with it. I didn’t have a lot of training. All I knew was I wanted to develop an amazing skincare line and everything else after that I had to learn on a daily basis. That’s why every day is a challenge, everyday is an obstacle, everyday is learning something new. It’s been fun but, (laughs) goodness, I don’t know if I could do this again.

Do you have mentors that are helping you?

JY: Yes, yes. When I have a problem or issue that I don’t know how to resolve, I usually ask someone who is more experienced, you know, what should I do in this situation? I have several mentors who have been extremely, extremely helpful, and it’s great. Because when you don’t know what your doing it’s good to reach out to people that do, so you can make a decision based on their advice.

It’s good to be open. Sometimes you can be so embarrassed or overwhelmed, but really it’s all about networking and reaching out.

JY: Absolutely.

Once you get past this, do you have any plans for other new launches?

JY: Yes. We’re talking to Sephora right now and Space NK, and we’ll have our schedules out for those two launches.

Are thinking of going international?

JY: I want to! If we get in Space NK we’ll be in the UK. We are in one store in Canada. I want to. I definitely need to hire more people. And I would love to bring pur~lisse to Asia. I think it would do phenomenal there, because of the texture and the way it sinks into your skin, and it’s very calming and soothing but good for age prevention. I think it would do really well. Hopefully by the end of 2010.

To celebrate her launch on QVC, purlisse founder Jennifer Yen is offering FREE purlisse lip moisturizer, $22 value! This product is getting rave reviews. Enter your shipping information HERE and mention "Solessence" and your skin type to get your full size lippy. Then get ready to shop next week. THIS OFFER GOOD UNTIL 8/12, 10PM PST (QVC launch)

Don’t forget to tune into QVC on 8/13 @ 1am EST and 8/12 @ 10pm PST. Jennifer will be launching the pur~youth preserve age delay skin serum with unique deals! The retail price on this product is $79, but the special introductory price on QVC will be $59.09 for this event.

~ Hillary Fry / solessence

No comments:

Web Analytics