Meet Britt K Beauty Britt K Beauty started out her career in social media while…
With self-care and wellness brands on the rise, everyone is paying attention to industry leaders who are leading the way in these industries. Emmanuel Rey is the founder and CEO of YUNI Beauty, a wellness brand with natural skincare and body products that save time, restore health, and relieve stress. Keep reading to learn more about how Emmanuel came up with the concept for YUNI, where he thinks the industry is headed and what a day in his life looks like.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get involved in the beauty world and develop the concept for YUNI?
I’m originally from Paris, France. My background was actually in agriculture engineering and I specialized in tropical agriculture. When I graduated from school, I started working in West Africa as a buyer of coffee and cocoa beans. Later on, I decided to get my MBA and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating, I ended up in consumer marketing at L’Oreal. I moved back to the U.S. and worked at Aveda where I met my wife Suzanne.
In 2012, Suzanne and I were doing very well professionally, but we were traveling a lot. We started to think that this lifestyle was having an impact on our health. We decided to take a break; and trained to become yoga teachers in Greece, after being students of yoga for over 10 years. We wanted to deepen our practice of Ashtanga, a 5,000 years old and inspired modern-day yoga practice, similar to Vinyasa.
When we looked at all the people we were studying with, they were all wearing clothes like Lululemon or Athleta — but when we asked them about their beauty products, there wasn’t a singular brand that stood out for the active and wellness seekers. Nothing was serving this community and this white space was very intriguing for us.
We launched YUNI about three and a half years ago. In the beginning, it was mostly body care and aromatherapy, but very quickly we branched more into skincare and haircare. Now, YUNI can be found in a variety of green beauty retailers, Sephora Australia, Target and ULTA. We go beyond just beauty — we want to help people in their journey to wellness. Our philosophy is to make wellness attainable to all.
2. Can you tell us more about the concept behind YUNI’s tagline, “mindful beauty for an active life”?
When you create a brand, you create a statement that summarizes what your brand is about and what it’s going to be about in the future. Our audience is active people — about 80 percent of our consumers are women and typically have active and on-the-go lifestyles.
The mindful beauty concept is a combination of the thoughts we put behind the products, how we make them and how sustainable they are. Mindfulness is a very important thing — it’s about being present, being aware and being more thoughtful. Mindfulness is not only how we create our products, but how we also hope it’s how our consumers use our products.
3. You were with Aveda for more than 10 years. What is your number one takeaway from your time at the company?
That’s a hard question — there’s too many. After ten years at L’Oreal, I was headhunted. I wasn’t informed it was Aveda at first and being at L’Oreal (the holy grail), I needed something that had a mission that inspired me. I told the headhunter the only company that could pull me from L’Oreal would be Aveda, and at that moment she told me it was in fact Aveda.
In the beauty world, we love to put brands in boxes. Aveda didn’t fit in a box. They had many products, were distributed in many places (department stores, salons, etc), and this was very fascinating to me. I was also drawn to the brand’s ethos: they’re cutting-edge and making fantastic products while being respectful of the environment. The big guys in the game try to make products as cheap as possible and market it to everyone. Aveda was different — they would put so much money into the products that they made that they sometimes wouldn’t have enough money for marketing.
Coming to Aveda completely changed the way I did business. The biggest takeaway for me was that it’s possible to have a vibrant business that grows profitably and you can do business in a way you’re not ashamed of. One of my goals was to show that you could be successful and profitable while doing some good for people and the planet at the same time. There wasn’t a contradiction in terms between those two ideas; I just had to change your mindset. It is important for me to use these lessons from the past and apply them to my business today.
4. What does a typical day in your life look like?
Usually, it’s very busy. The first thing Suzanne and I do is start our day by meditating for 10-25 minutes. As a small brand, I am involved with anything about YUNI and do many different things. Every day is different — it could be talking to Taylor & Pond about social media strategies, working on upcoming product launches, meeting with investors or working on opening Sephora in the EU. There’s not one typical kind of day.
However, one thing I try to do every day is some kind of physical activity. For at least 40 minutes a day, I’ll go running, hiking, swimming, surfing or do yoga.
5. YUNI products help to save time, restore health and relieve stress. Why were you inspired by these categories?
At some point, we did a consumer study with wellness seekers to find out what are they looking for in beauty products. We landed on three key needs:
- Save Time – We heard people saying, “I would love to have more of an active lifestyle but I do not have the time. The little time I do have, it takes too long to shower so I can’t commit.”
- Restore Health – Many people were interested in how they could restore their health and live better. They were looking to lessen pain, recoup faster, breathe better and be more flexible.
- Relieve Stress – The large majority of people we interviewed were struggling to fulfill a professional and personal life without being stressed out.
With this all in mind, we developed the concept of the brand and ideas for products to fit these needs. We began looking into factories, ingredients, etc. As you know, Aveda was one of the leaders in sustainability and my learnings there inspired my decisions for YUNI. All of our products are made in factories that are solar or wind-powered, our packaging is PCR (post-consumer recycled) and we only use soy ink. We pay attention to the details and how our products are made to have a small environmental footprint, but work and are affordable. Our mission is to make wellness attainable for all, so we want everyone in all walks of life to have access to these products.
6. What advice would you give to those looking to get involved in the beauty industry?
You have to think about beauty as an industry slightly different than you would of the tech industry, or cars… There’s one thing about beauty that goes beyond the simple use of a product. Beauty is so interesting (and sometimes difficult) because it’s very psychological and emotional. It’s not always rational, it’s sometimes very weird. There’s a lot of things happening regarding the perception of things and how your consumers feel. Nothing is set in stone; there’s not a recipe for success. This industry connects creativity and business together. I think it’s very good for someone who has both the creative fiber but also rooted in real life.
Last but not least, you need to truly think if you’re comfortable with something with at first sight might not feel like a world-changing industry. You’re not going to cure cancer in the beauty world, but you will be surprised how much good you can do.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Interested in learning more from professionals in the digital marketing and beauty industries? Check out the rest of our As Told By series.