When you live in Canada, quality hand creams and lip salves are like lifelines, especially when trying to save your skin from the dry and bitterly cold winters. Finding the best natural products that can actually do the trick however? Not often easy.
This is why I found myself so intrigued by a new-to-me Australian brand called Lano, when they introduced themselves to an intimate group of Canadian media at a private breakfast event at the Bisha Hotel in Toronto. Not only was the product presented in super cute packaging (a total win in my books) but I was fascinated to learn more about its main ingredient: Lanolin.
A wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of domestic sheep breeds (that are raised specifically for their wool) it may sound a little off-putting but it is completely animal-friendly, and the natural ingredient is known to protect skin from climate and the environment. Although this natural wonder has been around for centuries, a brand that has managed to package and sell it in a cool (and appealing) way has not.
From her ties to her family’s sheep farm in South Australia to PR maven and self-proclaimed ‘beauty junkie’, I loved learning about Lano founder Kirsten Carriol‘s story, and I think you will too. Keep reading to learn more about Kirsten and the Lano brand, which just launched at Sephora Canada.
Name: Kirsten Carriol
Title: Founder of Lano
Edit Seven: Tell us about the story behind your brand and what inspired you to start?
Kirsten Carriol: The story of Lano starts when I was a child. When the school holidays came around my family and I would head to my Grandparents’ sheep farm in South Australia. My siblings and I whiled away hours milking cows, chasing sheepdogs and playing in the shearing shed, watching the shearers do their work. This was where I was first introduced to lanolin.
As the years passed, and I left the farm for the bigger cities of London and Sydney, I discovered lip-glosses, lipsticks and lacquers – they were just so pretty, so bright, so lovely. Surely they had to be even better than the lanolin I used when I was a child. They weren’t.
It wasn’t until 2003 that I was about to board a plane for my honeymoon. The thought of the dry air-conditioning on the flight wasn’t particularly appealing and the realization that none of many, many lip balms I had tried would help to protect my lips for the journey was depressing.
It dawned on me that nothing had ever matched results of lanolin. Why was there no product on the market that was simple, pure lanolin-based, that would hydrate and nourish and protect my lips and skin? It was upon boarding that plane that I decided to create this product, make lanolin a ‘hero’ ingredient and launch Lano!
E7: Tell us about your past work experience and how it helped you create your company?
KC: Prior to creating and launching Lano, I spent 15 years running my own PR Agency specializing in all things beauty, cosmetics, hair care and lifestyle products.
E7: What makes the Lano and Lanolips products special?
KC: The lanolin used in Lano™ is Ultra Medical Grade Lanolin, which is the highest quality possible in the world. To achieve this the lanolin goes through a stringent refining and cleaning process; cleansing the raw lanolin of all external impurities, scent and colour, making it the purest, most natural form of lanolin available.
Numerous beauty products use lanolin; however, none of these products can say that they are 100% natural, they are 100% pure or they contain nothing other than 100% Ultra Medical Grade Lanolin. Lano can.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running and building your own beauty and skincare brand?
KC: Learn from your mistakes and listen to advice – surround yourself with smart people and a smart team. But if something doesn’t feel right for the brand, don’t do it. Ultimately you need to be the guiding light of what is right and wrong.
E7: As an Australian skincare brand that just launched in Canada, what has it been like bringing your product to international markets?
KC: SO MUCH FUN ! It’s really deeply humbling to get positive feedback from people in completely different countries and climates from people who have tried and loved Lano ! At heart we are a problem solving brand, so to solve problems – dry lips, dry skin, no time, convenience etc., this is so fulfilling.
E7: What have been some of the pros and cons or challenges of building your business in Australia?
KC: The ‘bottom of the world’ timezone makes it really super hard to have phone conversations with business partners and staff around the world. Luckily I have very understanding and flexible staff and partners who we make it work with. I’m so thankful for SKYPE and a new relaxed attitude emerging about work hours and work-life balance – this is what helps make it work.
E7: What advice would you give to anyone looking to build a beauty brand?
Love it, be really really passionate – or don’t bother.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
KC: If you really, really love something and you’re good at it, no matter how crazy it may seem, you can probably make a career out of it. In my case, I was a beauty junkie.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business or beauty brand?
KC: Don’t give up; be patient and persistent. Passion gets you far. You don’t have to do something boring as a career
E7: What is one thing you wouldn’t be able to live without for running and managing your company successfully?
KC: SKYPE. Lanolin. And a Great Team.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs to prepare for?
KC: 10% of the job is the fun but and the rest of the job is the hard slog, which is why you have to love it to get you through the 90%.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
KC: Reading good fiction and watching The Bachelor is my form of meditation. I find it really hard to slow down my mind, no matter how tired I am. So taking it on a journey of a great / trashy story is like my brain vacation.
E7: What advice would you give for how to find or maintain a work/life balance when running your own company?
KC: Don’t expect for everything to be perfect and balanced. Just try to do the best that you can do – and be happy with that! Pressure to have the perfect balance is the hardest pressure of all.
E7: What is one of your favourite ways to unwind and shut off from work?
KC: Reading and hanging out with (and giving my full attention to) my two sons and husband.
E7: Who is the Lano customer and why do they love your products?
KC: She is smart and cuts through any marketing hype for products that actually work. She likes functional products and wants results with as little nonsense as possible.
Lano products can now be purchased in-store and online at Sephora Canada.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)