Tailor Skincare is a multi-award winning natural skincare range that uses a scientific approach when it comes to formulation, and we love it. Sara Quilter is its founder and CEO, a powerhouse who uses her love of nature and BscHONS from Victoria University to constantly create and innovate.
We spoke to Sara on the eve of the COVID-19 lockdown, when she was settling into four weeks or more working from a home office in Taranaki with her fiancé. We pick her brains about skincare, resilience and more…
Tailor launched in 2012 and is now one of the most-recognised clean skincare brands to come out of New Zealand. Was that always the plan or was it just a matter of ‘hang on, I’m going to create my own line!’?
I have always been obsessed with skincare, more so than makeup even at an early age. I love the science and innovation and crazy ingredients that are always being discovered, but I have to admit that I didn’t always think about what was natural and what was not.
What was the turning point?
I moved to California to work in the biotech start-up scene over there and became increasingly aware of the amount of chemicals that were going into food production. I was working with an organic fertilizer company and the more I learnt, the more I began to question. And to discover the natural chemicals that were available, that not every chemical is created equal. I started looking closely at my skincare and tinkering around in my kitchen creating products of my own, and after I came back to Wellington I shared them with friends and family who told me they were really good!
What was your first ever creation?
It was Tailor Mask, which isn’t around anymore but was the pre-cursor to Tailor Polish. It has gone on to win awards and I’m still so proud of it.
Drawing on what you had discovered about stimulating soil microbes, you did a deep dive into the emerging use of probiotics in skincare. The end result was Renew, which won an innovation award from the National Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Would you say that’s your most famous product, or Gold Dust?
Renew is definitely our most popular product, but I think people are fascinated by Gold Dust and its method of Vitamin C delivery. Keeping the Vitamin C dry and activating it by putting it on the skin just makes so much sense, it’s the only way ascorbic acid can remain stable.
Does it frustrate you seeing brands that green-wash – or clean-wash – to capitalise on the movements trending in the cosmetics and skincare industry?
It is one of the most infuriating things about the industry and something I get really upset about. This is where educating consumers comes in, which I am really passionate about. As I spent more time around the industry I became driven by education and discovering what was in my skincare, and I want people who love Tailor to have access to that same type of knowledge. I want them to know why something is in there and why a product is formulated in that way, and who is misleading them.
It’s an uncertain time, what are you doing to take care of yourself?
I’m choosing to be excited about all of the change this could bring about, the possibility. Every time I find myself getting into a stress spiral I try to stop and speak to myself in a kind way, reminding myself that it just isn’t productive. Excitement and anxiety activate the same parts of your body – elevated heartrate, sweaty palms – but your mind can choose what you want to attribute that feeling to. I’m twenty weeks pregnant and times it’s a crazy time to be alive… but that’s okay, we’re going to learn a lot.