Meet the founder: Clean Beauty Collective’s own Fleur Insley

We wanted you all to know a little more about our founder Fleur, who made the move from corporate life with a global beauty giant to creating a little clean empire all her own. Read on for a deep dive into why and how she established the Clean Beauty Collective brand, and for some of her favourites from a very carefully curated line up.

You spent a long time working in big business beauty. What drew you to the industry – had you always been a beauty fan?

After studying business and marketing at university, I applied for a job at Hasbro.  I got down to the final two candidates and unfortunately missed out on the job. A couple days later my aunty calls me sounding rather sheepish… it turned out my uncle had been coaching my cousin’s girlfriend for a big marketing interview – yes you guessed it, it was the same role at Hasbro, they had no idea I was the other candidate! My uncle felt guilty about it all so had been looking in their local paper and came across a marketing role at a big beauty distributor that they thought would be perfect for me. I started with them a couple of days later and the rest is history.

Were you always conscious when it came to the ingredient decks of your favourite big name products, or was it easier just to enjoy the cosmetic benefits and turn a blind eye?

To be really honest, working for a well-known global cosmetic company, I never really thought about what went into the products we promoted. I had trust in the thousands of scientists and formulators that the company employed that they would be doing the right thing.  So, while it wasn’t turning a blind eye, I guess it was more of a case that I didn’t ask enough questions. And on reflection, this is an all too common situation for many of us as consumers. We have trust in the brands and the companies that we are dealing with, so we don’t ask enough questions. It’s for this very reason why, one of our core values for Clean Beauty Collective is transparency. I feel very passionate about ensuring that consumers know more, are encouraged to ask more, and are given transparency about the products that they buy.

I heard that your pivot to seeking answers about where your favourite beauty products came from emerged after you set out to cure a sugar addiction, what can you tell me about that?

I always looked for natural alternatives for my kids after becoming a mother, but really my story came about from cleaner eating, dropping 25 kilos and seeing the effects of what eliminating sugar from my diet had on my skin.

The flow on effect of cleaner eating moved into cleaner lifestyle choices, which happened to be at a similar time to my husband and I bought a skincare business. Through the process of reformulating our range, I discovered more about natural, clean, organic ingredients and while researching essentially where to pitch our reformulated brand, I was considering what retail opportunities in New Zealand there were for us.

I traveled overseas to some trade shows to look for opportunities to grow our business and to check out what export opportunities I might have given there were limited retail opportunities here. A mentor of mine recommended that I visit clean beauty retailers Credo Beauty and The Detox Market in Los Angeles, and that became my lightbulb moment! It was like all the pieces of the puzzle finally fit together.

While I sat in the plane on the way home with my mind buzzing, it was more of a case of ‘why not’, because to be quite blunt, New Zealand has a rather undynamic beauty retail environment. About the only dynamic beauty retail player was Mecca, but they haven’t specifically focussed on clean beauty as a category. Sephora at the time wasn’t present here, but I was aware that they were starting to carve out a category ‘Clean at Sephora’. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that it was the answer.

How do you define ‘clean’ beauty, and how does it differ from ‘natural’?

Clean Beauty to us means skincare and cosmetic products that contain sustainably-sourced, safe ingredients that are natural, organic and non-toxic, because we believe that harmful chemicals should not be in the products we put on our skin.

But it doesn’t just mean natural and organic, clean also means ethically-sourced, and that products are not tested on animals. We value natural and non-toxic ingredients and say NO to artificial colours or fragrances, parabens, petrochemicals, paraffin, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, sulphates, silicones, triclosan, carcinogens, neurotoxins, PABA, PEG, or DEA. However, some of our products contain ‘safe synthetics’. These are developed by what is known as green chemistry, which aims to create safe and non-toxic ingredients that can imitate nature and, in some cases, even provide more effective results. Clean beauty is about the transparency of ingredients and this can be an overwhelming area to understand. This is why we have curated the best clean beauty line up available so you can rest easy knowing the hard work has already been done.

How did you source the amazing brands represented on the CBC site, many of which were internationally lauded but previously unheard of here?

I’ve been lucky in my corporate beauty career to have traveled around the world and have been exposed to a number of clean or green brands. Many of them I reached out to when I first started to develop the idea of Clean Beauty Collective. I won’t lie though, without a live platform and just a vision and mood board, it was difficult to get traction with getting some of the more well known, international brands on board. It wasn’t until I had made a second trip to the States to attend the cosmetic trade shows that I got buy-in from a multitude of brands – it definitely helps to be face to face with founders to negotiate! Local brands were definitely a lot easier as I knew a lot of the founders/ brand distributors from my time in the industry. We are now in the position where thanks to some international media coverage and just good old fashioned time, we have brands approaching us to retail them.

Are you always searching for new brands to represent?

100 percent of the time. It’s not like it’s a job for me to do that as I genuinely LOVE what I do. I read a lot of international magazines, follow a multitude of beauty brands on multiple social platforms– it’s a fabulous place to discover new brands and new trends.  Attending global webinars and trade shows also puts me in front of products that are ahead of the curve before the trend hits the market.

You are a mum, business operator and negotiating a whole new world out there. Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get through your day?

I thrive with routine and couldn’t get through what I do in a day if I didn’t have one.  I get up at 6am every day, go for a walk, do Pilates or the Tonique Fitness program to kickstart my day ahead of getting myself and the kids ready for school drop-offs and work. The day then moves on to having an Imbibe Beauty Renewal drink, some breakfast if I’m not fasting and then – only then – can my workday begin!

If someone is new to a ‘clean’ beauty routine, where is the best place to start?

Making the switch to a cleaner routine doesn’t need to be daunting.  Start with something small, like your cleanser, body wash or hair care routine and build from there.  Every change, no matter how small it is, is a step forward for having a cleaner beauty routine. If you’re unsure where to start, what to swap out first in your routine, or would just like some general advice, email or chat with us online through our website. Our team of experts are more than happy to assist you with making better choices with your beauty.

What are your current favourites from the CBC line up, I’m guessing they are changing all the time!

Where to start.. I trial every product that we sell, so it’s hard to pick just a few as I wouldn’t stock them if I didn’t believe their claims wern’t genuine or performance wasn’t up to scratch.

Imbibe Beauty Renewal and Miracle Collagen are two I will never give up – my skin has never been so clear, no hormonal acne and glows. It’s a great way to start the day and also the collagen is super easy to take as I add it in my drink bottle in the morning and away I go.

My cleansing routine changes from morning to night.  In the morning I cleanse in the shower with Nuori Protect + Cleansing Milk but at night I tend to use the Beuti Pommegrante Glow Enzyme Mask Cleanser and the Foreo Luna 3 Normal. I also use Take it Off Towels if I’m travelling or at the gym.

For treatment products, I cannot get enough of Vit C! Nuori Vitamin C Serum Treatment is a firm favourite, Trilogy Vitamin C Exfoliating Powder, Trilogy Vit C Eye Gel (be gone puffy, dark circles!) and the Trilogy Vitamin C Booster.

Nuori Bio Fusion Serum, Day Cream and Night Cream are also on regular rotation at the moment.  These are a new launch for Nuori and are seriously amazing anti-ageing skincare, so well worth the investment.

Beuti Beauty Sleep Elixir – I’ve been a fan of this beauty oil for several years now and used to buy it every time I travelled. I pop it on at night after cleansing and it just soaks in my skin all night long and makes it look glorious the next morning.

Sunscreen is an absolute must in my routine – Suntegrity Natural Moisturising Face Sunscreen and Primer. I use this every day, summer and winter. Using sunscreen is your best defence against ageing, I’ve been wearing sunscreen for years now and my skin has definitely thanked me for it!

In terms of makeup, I love Aleph concealer / foundations and Aether Cheek palettes, as well as the highlighters from both brands.

For haircare – I am always on the lookout for something new as I have fine, oily hair that lacks in volume. I love Ethique bars they are super easy to travel with as well, virtually weigh nothing and take up hardly any space in your bag.  And I LOVE the Beauty Dust Co Dry Shampoo – lifesaver for those mornings when you’re running late!