May 23, 2019 | By Cassandra Gagnon
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Remember 6th grade? I know, you’d rather not. Tween years are rife with worry – about popularity, about appearance, and about acne. So it’s not surprising that a new skincare company was recently founded specifically for 10-12 year-old girls. What is surprising, is that it’s led by one of their own – a bubbly 11 year-old named Willa.
The new company, aptly named Willa Skincare, after its youthful founder, promises skincare with all-natural ingredients, created for girls by girls. The line was conceived by Willa with her mom, Christy Prunier, after the two had trouble finding natural products for Willa.
But many of Willa’s products have instant appeal for those past their teens, like the SPF 30 Tinted Facial Moisturizer and the Lavender Facial Towelettes. But as Willa reminds us, Willa Skincare is first and foremost for tweens. “The [cucumber] face mask is really fun for sleepovers.” With a tagline like Start Young, Stay Young, I can’t help but wish there was a company like this when I was in 6th grade.
The line is now sold in the US at Target, JCrew Crewcuts, Drugstore.com, Henri Bendel, and Clyde’s on Madison among others
We caught Willa at the launch of her line at Harrod’s in London and got a chance to find out more about her brand. Read the full interview below!
Q1: You mentioned that you couldn’t find products that felt good and that’s why you started this line – what are your criteria of products that ‘feel good’?
Christy (mom) – My criteria would be products that girls like to use so that the mom doesn’t have to nag them to wash their face, put on moisturizer. They should be things girls do instinctually and products they reach for. For the mom, products should would be natural, not have parabens and sulfates, and natural sunscreen. You want girls to be using these products every day but you want to make sure that what they are putting on their skin is as natural as possible.
Willa – Girls are not going to use things that are not sophisticated, such as pink products that make you smell like a cupcake. Girls want their products to be sophisticated and they want to know that it actually works.
Q: When did you launch the brand?
Christy – It started 4 years ago in 2008 when Willa asked why there’s no skincare products for girls her age. That’s when they 3 of us got together and decided that we were going to launch this brand. It’s been 4 years of developing everything from the packaging to the product formulations. We just launched this past March in the USA and today, we are launching in Europe exclusively at Harrods.
Q: What are the main benefits of the products?
Willa – What makes it different from every other product out there are two things. Number one – it’s made by girls and my mother for other girls. We had a bunch of focus groups with my friends that were like parties. We put our own input into our products, which leads to number two. This input makes each product special, because every one has something exclusive that makes it unique from other brands.
Christy – We spent a lot of time trying to understand the behaviors of girls. We found out that only 1 in 10 of these girls were washing their face, they weren’t putting on moisturisers, they certainly weren’t re-applying sunscreen. So, we wanted to understand the ‘why.’ Why weren’t they doing this? Once we could understand the ‘why’ – such as, I’m not washing my face because it’s going to irritate my eyes, I’m not putting on moisturisers because it’s too greasy and I’m afraid it will make me break out – then, we could back up and figure out, ok, we need to develop a moisturizer that will hydrate their skin but also something they will enjoy using. So, we made a clear serum with grapeseed, aloe and eucalyptus, that hydrates the skin naturally but doesn’t cause the skin to break out, and therefore addresses their concerns.
Francesca Harrell (packaging designer) – Another element is the actual packaging and how easy it is to use. The pumps and the size of things were definitely a key consideration. We decided not to have separate lids that will come off and get lost.
Christy – Some of our lip-glosses have clips on them so you can attach them to your bag and not lose it. The Willa girls are very design driven so the packaging colors are very sophisticated.
Q: What is your favourite product and why?
Willa – It depends, we all have our favorite. All of them are special and different. For people in London, I would definitely recommend our Clear Face Moisturizer, especially during winter. As it gets cold, your face gets really dry and starts producing more oils. Our moisturizer is very moisturising but not oily at all. I always use it after I wash my face. I also love our sunblock. Natural sunblocks are white so we added a tint to it so you can also use it as a concealer.
Christy – Our research girl told us two things – first, girls didn’t want to put on sunscreens because they didn’t want to look like a ghost and second, I don’t like to put on sunscreen because they are sticky. So again, we backed into it and made sure that our sunscreen goes on dry and doesn’t have that white layer. It’s like a natural BB cream for all ages. It will moisturise and protect your skin from the sun. My favourite product is the Foaming Face Wash. I use it every day with my Clarisonic. It’s liquid to foam and very gentle. It doesn’t over-strip.
Francesca – Face The Day (sun protection) and Born to Glow (body lotion) are my favorites. I’m very pale and the Born to Glow is a body shimmer with SPF 15 that adds a bit of colour and subtle shimmer. It’s great if you’re going out with bare legs. It gives you a reflective touch and smells amazing!
Willa – I also love our Lavender Face Wipes, I always put them in my bag and use them if I don’t have time to wash my face after sports or when I’m on the go. It’s really cooling with lavender oils. I also suggest our Acne Spot Treatment to girls. It’s a fun click-pen. What makes this one different than other acne spot treatments is that it actually works.
Christy – Salicylic Acid and Willow bark is a really powerful combination. These girls don’t have a lot of patience when they get break-out so it’s really important to have a treatment that’s very effective.
Willa – Lastly, I love our Cucumber clay mask – it’s a really fun bright green mask.
Q: What are the main skincare needs that tween girls are concerned about?
Willa – I think teenage girls, as they get older, are most concerned about acne. I would recommend my nightly skincare routine – use the face wash, the moisturizer and the acne spot treatment.
Christy – Most people’s relationship with their skin begins with a problem. When you get a break out or a sunburn, that’s when you start taking care of your skin. Our philosophy is about prevention. This is something you do everyday that you feel good about doing, and it will keep your skin healthy for a lifetime.
Q: What is your dream product?
Willa – We are currently creating a bunch of new products. One is a natural lavender deodorant, another one is a lipgloss with a unique slim packaging idea to fit into a jeans pocket.
Francesca – I see this as a lifestyle line and the Willa girl is very 3D to me. She’s got a Willa attire of clothing, sun hat, beach-towel and beach bag, along with the sunproducts. The dream is to have the entire brand build out into a lifestyle brand.
Christy – We will continue to build out from this skincare perspective. We certainly have amazing designs and ideas to wardrobe this girl, so Willa will be a part of our everyday.
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