Minimalissimo Meets Jasmi Bonnén

Laura Vanagaite of Minimalissimo speaks to Jasmi Bonnén, founder and CEO of Danish skincare brand NUORI. She told Laura what it means to run a successful skincare brand, why she’s taken a minimalist approach to NUORI’s packaging design, and discusses the challenges of product formulation.

It is all about the product. No matter how well your marketing plan, sales strategy, or social media initiatives are executed, in the end, if the consumer does not fall in love with your product it doesn’t work.

NUORI Skincare

Jasmi, could you tell us what made you want to start your own personal skincare brand, NUORI? What interested you the most in this area?

The idea for my own skincare range came to me while I was working at L’Oréal. This was over 10 years ago, and at the time we were implementing the new EU rules for labelling of cosmetics. One of the new requirements was that all cosmetic products should have a visible expiry date. But there was an exception to this rule: If a product has a minimum durability of more than 30 months (meaning 2.5 years or more), it does not need to have an expiry date. Not surprisingly, these 30 months very quickly became the industry standard for shelf life.

When I became aware of this fact, I began looking for information about the effect of time on cosmetics. I was surprised to find several studies showing that commonly used active ingredients, such as vitamins, start losing their beneficial properties in just a matter of a few months after blending because of oxidation. Another downside of long shelf lives is the use of synthetic preservatives and other additives, which are needed to preserve and stabilise the formulas over time.

I became more and more convinced that there was a need for a fresh skincare alternative on the market. And it is almost three years ago, I finally gathered up the courage to quit my comfortable corporate job and take the frightening leap into entrepreneurship.

What makes NUORI unique from other skincare brands and what is the meaning behind the name?

Our philosophy is called “Fight for Fresh” and our whole concept is built around the simple fact that freshly blended skincare gives us the unique opportunity to create the purest formulas with the highest level of efficacy:

  1. Our products can be kept truly pure and highly potent, as no synthetic preservatives or other additives are needed to artificially prolong the stability and shelf life of the products.
  2. The efficacy of any given NUORI formula is higher since active ingredients are not weakened by time-related breakdown.

And to ensure this high level of freshness, our NUORI products are blended in small batches every 10 to 12 weeks in the laboratory in Denmark and promptly delivered to our retail partners around the world.

NUORI does in fact mean “young and fresh” in Finnish. I am originally from Finland and found this name suitable for both our freshness concept and as a reference to my background and heritage.

NUORI Skincare

Where does your focus lie within your business? Are you passionate about a particular area?

I am very hands-on with all aspects of my business. I currently split my time between New York, where my family lives, and Copenhagen, where NUORI is headquartered. In New York, my days start with Skype calls with NUORI team members in Europe. Then I usually spend a few hours on administrative tasks. In the afternoons, I meet with my US team, or concentrate on R&D. Although we work with a professional product development team consisting of chemical engineers and lab technicians, I am very involved in the whole product development process. I draft briefs for all products, evaluate and refine formulas, approve ingredients, and test all laboratory samples on myself (and my family members) before they are sent to independent testing.

In Copenhagen, I spend long days at the office, meeting with team members, drafting sales and PR strategies and reviewing operational plans. When in Denmark, I also always make sure to have time to visit the laboratory and production facility.

When it comes to choosing your ingredients and refining your product line, what is fundamental for a founder of a skincare brand to know or do to become successful?

It is all about the product. No matter how well your marketing plan, sales strategy, or social media initiatives are executed, in the end, if the consumer does not fall in love with your product it doesn’t work.

NUORI Skincare

What influence and impact does NUORI’s minimalist packaging design and art direction have on sales and performance?

First of all, choosing the right packaging is a very important factor for keeping the formulas protected and stable. At NUORI we have carefully researched and selected our premium packaging, which minimizes the exposure to air, light, and bacteria before and during use. All of our pumps are for example airless and we use glass containers with opaque glass in order to keep damaging sunlight out. That way, we are certain that our pure and effective fresh formulas stay protected from outside influences.

NUORI’s visual universe and packaging is of course also important for us and the visual identity has been developed in close collaboration with the Copenhagen and New York-based design studio NR2154. We wanted the product to be sold in boutiques where they have a more premium and intimate experience compared to a health food store or apothecary where these types of natural products are normally sold. And naturally, we also wanted to create a range that both speaks to design lovers and that can fit into every bathroom around the globe.

This minimalist approach is closely connected to the concept of skincare. How did you arrive at this aesthetic?

NUORI is created with the conscious and non-compromising consumer in mind who values the highest level of quality. This consumer makes well-considered choices and—to a large extent—only purchases what he or she wishes to include in the daily life. This minimalistic way of thinking is rooted in the Scandinavian tradition, but I believe this tendency is slowly becoming more and more relatable to men and women around the world who value quality over quantity.

NUORI Skincare

What’s one product you recommend most from your range?

It is difficult to pick one because every single product in the NOURI range means a lot to me. But if I had to choose, I would have to say that I am very excited about our newest addition to the NUORI range, Vital Unifier. When we initiated the development process, I had a clear goal to create a formula that not only unifies the cleansing and moisturising steps in the daily skincare regimen. But I was also set on creating a product that combines several different actions into one single product: toner, essence, and mist. I am exceptionally pleased with the result and this multi-tasker is now joining me everywhere I go: On my constant travels for in-flight hydration or simply on my office desk for that daily pick-me-up.

For you, which NUORI product was the easiest to formulate? And what was the most challenging?

I would say that each NUORI product has been quite challenging to formulate. My personal preference has always been towards natural skincare, so this is why I also wanted my own products to be 100% natural. However, developing such pure formulas is difficult and expensive: The availability of natural ingredients dependent on the outcome of crops, and thus climate changes. Also, natural variants of ingredients often come from smaller manufacturers who are not as good at promoting themselves as larger, chemical companies are. So, finding them sometimes requires some proper detective work.

Another big hurdle has been to figure out how we can professionally blend such small batches of our products. Most production facilities today are geared to large-scale production, where thousands of products are made in one go and then delivered to a warehouse for storage. We, on the other hand, need to blend a new batch every 10 to 12 weeks and deliver directly to our stores. And we still wish to do this is in modern, state-of-the-art laboratory and production facilities. Luckily, we have found a way to do this now, but it’s been a pretty long, uphill battle.

NUORI Skincare

Do you have any skincare advice we don’t often hear?

The one rule I live by is to stay hydrated—both inside and outside. This is of course something you hear quite often, but even the most potent hydrating products cannot help you if you drink too much coffee, alcohol, or smoke (all of which strip skin of moisture), or just forget to drink enough water.

What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness is for me closely related to the Danish word “hygge”—the time and ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. For me, wellness therefore means spending quality time with family and friends over a home-cooked meal, reading a good book, or simply taking the time to enjoy my daily skincare ritual.

What frustrates you the most about the beauty industry and do you plan to change that?

I would say that the lack of consumer transparency is the most upsetting aspect of the traditional skincare industry. It is almost impossible for the average consumer to decipher the production as well as expiry date on a given product. At NUORI we work hard on changing this. We believe that freshly blended, 100% natural skincare formulas are a consumer right, not an obstacle, and in order to offer the highest level of consumer transparency, we clearly indicate which batch each product is from and when it is time to replace it with a fresh one.

Luckily, there are also many entrepreneurs in the business who are challenging the industry standards. What I love about most of these natural wellness entrepreneurs is the fact that they are truly driven by a personal mission for making the world cleaner and more beautiful. Instead of money-talk, we see a lot of passion, dedication, and self-made success. This is truly inspiring!

How do you see NUORI evolving over the next year or two? Will we see any interesting collaborations?

I believe in simpler living and think that most people’s beauty regimens (and bathroom shelves!) are in need of serious decluttering. So I am not interested in developing a large, complicated product portfolio for NUORI. Rather, I wish to expand my line with selected, smart treatments that can be integrated into professional facials, or used at home to boost a daily skincare routine.

And we are also looking into new ways of collaborating with like-minded brands. These brands have a clear focus on design—and particularly experience and sensory design. This will most certainly be an exciting, new chapter for NUORI so stay tuned.

NUORI Skincare