From growing up on a farm in Denmark to attending the prestigious Christian Chauveau School of Artistic Makeup in Paris, Kirsten Kjaer Weis worked around the world for some of the most renowned fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire. As an in-demand makeup artist based in New York, Kirsten found that people were sacriﬁcing the health of their skin by using irritating, synthetic makeup. The natural products, however, were not up to par in performance, and the luxury of the beauty experience was lost. Kirsten used her experience growing up in a natural environment and her knowledge of beauty to pursue uncharted territory in the industry, creating Kjaer Weis - a pioneer in organic, luxury beauty.
You grew up on a farm in Denmark. How has nature influenced you?
I think at the time when I was growing up everything we did was organic. Everything we ate came out of our own garden. It was second nature. I never thought of it. All I wanted to do was go to the city, but there was always this subconscious love of nature with me. As I grew older and had been living in cities, it dawned on me that growing up on a farm had a bigger effect than I thought. I wasn’t running around putting together potions but I knew that natural was always better than synthetic.
What was your relationship to beauty products and makeup growing up? How did you discover that you were talented in this area?
I didn’t wear anything. My mom’s idea of getting ready to go out was moisturizer and a little bit of lipstick. I was never that interested in makeup but after going to college I thought I would be an architect. I realized I didn’t want to just go sit for 6 years. I liked being on my feet and being creative. A friend of mine was studying with the lead skin therapist in the 80s and I started helping with her. She was insanely extravagant, such an amazing women. She would say that anything except YSL clothing would itch on her. She introduced me to makeup. She introduced me to culture and she suggested I go to Paris to the Christian Chauveau School of Artistic Makeup. I loved Paris, and doing makeup was fun. It was like painting.
What drew you to making organic makeup? What was the realization that it necessary?
I was working on photoshoots every day, doing makeup on models for magazines, I had my kit of my favorite brands I would bring with me. I would lay it out and every week, hands down, someone would say that they were allergic to some product or couldn’t use another because it made their eyes itch or their face break out. Why did people accept this? It was an absurd norm. And the natural stuff wasn’t up to par in performance. I saw a space, a market that wasn’t being met. Where organic makeup can be luxury, and work just as well as the other stuff. Without compromise.
What were the influences behind the design and concept of the packaging?
I was looking for a biodegradable packaging that you could throw into nature and it would dissolve. But I realized that wasn’t very beautiful. I had a vision of creating a design piece but I wanted it to be sustainable. Finding a texture, a product, that could look luxury but could also be recycled. And typically if something is recyclable, than it looks recyclable. I had always been obsessed with designer Marc Atlan. His designs are incredibly exceptional. One for example, the Comme de Garcons perfume bottle, looks like a silver pebble. It lays flat, it’s smooth, beautiful, heavy, and it’s timeless. Every time I held it it made me feel so overwhelmed with beauty. I wanted that same feeling in my packaging. So I emailed him out of the blue. I told him what I wanted and he liked the idea. I packed up my mood board and went to see him and we hit it off! We started working together on the designs. I wanted something like a piece of jewelry and two months later he told me found this metal that’s not recyclable, but it could be made to have a refill system. There were may details to get right:the click,the slide of it opening, the feeling of the metal. It was so fun to hold.And then for the box, we added in the red paper textured paper, and it really felt like something special. It took two years all together to get it right.
Do you feel the beauty industry is changing? What is Kjaer Weis’ place in this change?
It’s a movement everywhere to be more conscious and natural. Food. Skincare. Makeup is the last one to catch on because it’s harder to make it without the chemicals. But now I hope it’s becoming the norm to at least use natural products, if not organic. It’s an organic ingredient if the field that it grew in is chemical free over 3 years, or if it’s just from a field then it’s natural. Still, natural is better than synthetics. If the performance is on par, and the experience of buying something pretty is there, and it’s not bad for you. That’s the dream. We used to see women look for organic products only when they got pregnant or if they got sick. Now people think about it more. There is a rising demand and it’s all about education. Organic, sustainable, and high performing, you can have all these things. You don’t need to compromise.