Interview: Behind the Scenes with Yuni Beauty

Yuni Beauty Interview

Yuni Beauty is a brand that I’ve worked with a few times since being introduced to them last year. I actually met a member of their team at a Sephora Showcase and they quickly won me over with their passion for sustainability and also creating beauty products for active (and fast paced) lifestyles. I’ve used a good handful of their products already and I’ve definitely had some great experiences.

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to their co-founder, Emmanuel Ray, both about the brand and some of the amazing things that they release. Read on for my interview with him where he discusses the history of Yuni Beauty, the story behind one of their most famous products and what new goodies are in store.

After this, you can also shop their range at either their main website (Yuni Beauty) or, if you’re in Australia, they’re stocked at Sephora Australia! I would personally be recommending their Rose & Cucumber Shower Sheets, the Count to Zen Rejuvenating Hand and Body Creme (which is my go-to product for my RetinA side-effect dry skin) and their Chillax Muscle Recovery Gel!

About the Brand

When did you establish YUNI Beauty and why did you decide to start the brand? Was there an ‘aha’ moment that made you realise what you wanted to do?

We launched YUNI beauty 4 years ago to address the needs of active wellness seekers. In 2012, after 20 years working for big beauty brands as executives, Suzanne (co-founder and wife) and I decided to take a break. We travelled around the world for a year and became Yoga (Ashtanga) teachers in Greece. While there, we noticed that the women in our group were all wearing Lululemon, Lorna Jane etc but when we asked about beauty, there was not one brand that stood out as the brand of choice for wellness seekers. They told us that they were looking for a brand that would embrace their values and lifestyle. We were intrigued by this white space.

You seem to have a lot of experience in different fields prior to starting the brand (as a Yoga instructor, also working for l’Oreal Paris and Aveda). Do you feel that your previous experience helped you in the ‘business side’ of running your own brand?

Starting a brand is definitely very different than working for a corporation but it is true that there is a certain form of business, marketing, strategy and financial discipline from my past life that has been helpful. Just to be complete, I am an engineer in agriculture by trade and before I received my MBA and started in the beauty industry, I used to buy cocoa and coffee in the West African bush. I had many other experiences that led where we are today.

How would you describe the YUNI Beauty vision and concept?

Our goal is to bring pleasure to the wellness journey and mindfulness to the ritual of beauty. In the beginning, we interviewed hundreds of wellness seekers to find what they were missing. We identified 3 key needs: saving time, restoring health and relieving stress. So we conceive our products around these 3 key needs. Our mission is to make wellness attainable for all!

What makes you stand out from other offerings on the market?

We create clean, natural and sustainable beauty products that save time, restore health and relieve stress – so active people who pursue life with passion can do more, live more and find more joy in every moment.

Something that really stood out to me was YUNI Beauty’s passionate stance on sustainability. There has been a lot of criticism on how much waste is being produced by the beauty industry. What is your opinion on that and how is YUNI Beauty working to counteract this issue?

There is no doubt that the beauty industry has been very wasteful for many years. It is actually not easy to create high quality products with the least possible impact on the environment. It does require to start from the ground up. We have been fortunate to work for Aveda which had been a pioneer in “Green Beauty”. So for us, sustainability is very much part of our DNA and it is a constant work in progress. So beyond being cruelty-free, vegan, using non-toxic and plant based ingredients, in terms of packaging, we are using post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic or glass for our products, bio resin for our tubes, all our boxes are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and we use soy ink for printing. All products are made in Texas and California in solar powered or wind powered factories. Our warehouse in New York is fully solar powered. We are constantly looking for creative ways to reduce our footprint.

YUNI Beauty has been getting a lot of love online and offline lately. In fact, I also saw it in an Olympic figure skater’s ‘get ready with me’ video recently! What is your future vision for the brand?

As pioneers in this space, we want to be THE go-to beauty brand for active health & wellness seekers everywhere.

Where do you see it growing in the next five years?

The growth will continue in the US where we are about to launch products for a better quality sleep and less anxiety but also from overseas: Australia (our second home), the EU where I was born/grew up and Asia were wellness and sustainability are starting to gain traction.

What advice do you have for other beauty lovers out there who also dream of starting their own brand?

There are definitely plenty of advice (technical, practical, legal, mind set etc) and it would take a book (really!). It is more about sharing experience than advice really since all are so different. A few things are quite sure:

  1. Be prepared to work extremely hard.
  2. Criticism can “feel” personal. Don’t take it personally, be ready to pivot and adjust all the time.
  3. Whilst luck is actually important and sometimes it won’t work out, you would have gained so much knowledge about yourself and the industry. Get up and try again.
Yuni Beauty Interview
On the left (Emmanuel Rey) and on the right (Emmanuel Rey with Suzanne Dawson – wife and co-founder of Yuni Beauty)

About the Products

Have parts of your own lifestyle influenced the brand?

Definitely. We create products first for ourselves and we actually live this lifestyle. 

If so, are there certain products that you use yourself?

Many and on a daily basis (Shower Sheets, Glow with the Flow Scrub, Zenicure Face Oil, Chillax, Carry Om …)

In your opinion, what is the most important thing to consider when developing a new product?

We actually have a set of 10 questions but the most crucial ones would be: Does it answer a real need? Is it innovative and different? Is it the right time?

Do you have any stories that you can share of why and how a product was developed?

For us, each product has a specific story but, for example, the large body wipes/shower sheets idea came when I was waiting for Suzanne outside the locker room of a Yoga studio and when she opened the door, I had a glimpse at a heap of baby wipes in the middle room. We then thought that making very large wipes (one enough for the whole body) and fully biodegradable/compostable could be helpful.

If someone was completely new to the brand, what are three hero products that you would recommend for them to try out and why?

  • Shower Sheets (Blue Peppermint or Rose/Cucumber): Very quick and easy to use, portable. Immediate results. Very affordable.
  • Chillax Muscle Recovery Gel: Very effective, easy to apply. Nice smell. Very affordable.
  • Carry Om: Delicious blend of essential oil, portable, uplifting aromatherapy quality, beautiful packaging. Very affordable.

And lastly, any insider information you can give us about upcoming releases?

We are just launching in the US four new products to improve sleep quality, which is a real epidemic here:

  • Bedtime Body Essence: A body light lotion that you apply before going to bed, absorbs very quickly smells delightful and contains Melatonin and Aswaganda root.
  • Bakuchiol + Biotic Serum: A night serum that regenerate and balance the skin overnight.
  • Tranquility Pillow Spray: a blend of aromatherapy waters that you spray on your linens before going to bed.
  • Slumber Oral Spray: yYu use from 2 to 6 sprays in the mouth before going to bed to have an undisrupted and restful sleep. Very effective, contains Melatonin, Gaba, Asahwaganda etc

Oh there's more!