NICCI HERRERA SPENDS 5 MINUTES WITH JESS HART CREATOR OF LUMA 2.0
So the dream of LUMA…
Creating LUMA primarily started with my love for makeup. I’ve been modelling for sixteen years and at the time I first started on the range I’d been doing it for at least twelve – I was just obsessed with that aspect of my industry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also into fashion, I love clothes, but I found myself really drawn to cosmetics. As a model, I was learning about cosmetics without even thinking about it; all the things that you can do, and how little makeup you can wear and how it can have such an impact on your look. That’s where I found there was a gap in the market. I always knew I wanted to do something that would outlive modelling.
Why a natural cosmetic range?
In this day and age, there are so many things in our environment that are bad for us. I really believe in trying to use natural ingredients, where we can. Growing up, my mother was always very pro organic, biodynamic, anything natural and I guess that’s been ingrained in me from a young age.
It was difficult with cosmetics because ultimately, all women will wear cosmetics or anything that will look great on them, as long as it works. So we had to work out how natural we could get it. Some of our products can’t be one hundred percent natural, due to viscosity, textures and shelf-life. We have tried to be as all-natural as we can, so you can trust that if it’s in the range, we’ve tried as hard as we can to keep it as natural as possible. There have been products that I’ve really wanted to do and I’ve sent them off to our labs and they’ve said, ‘No, there’s no way that this is coming back natural.’ Then we have to start from scratch, It’s such a long process.
Being the face of brands versus creating a brand, how did you actually make your dream of LUMA come to a reality?
I had a good friend at the time and now my business partner George Moskos. We were always so aligned with what we wanted the brand to be. We started by just asking questions, contacting people, obtaining the products I was inspired by, and literally just jumped in the deep end and started swimming.
Sounds like you really got personally, deeply involved.
One hundred percent. I live overseas and it was really hard trying to explain to somebody from the other side of the world over the phone why a texture or a colour or a pigment isn’t strong enough or light enough or creamy enough. So that’s really what took a long time.
George was educating me in his area, and I was educating him in my area. I was one hundred percent hands-on from the get-go and there was not one minute I gave up (even a little bit) of control until I met Kate, LUMA Head of Branding. We have such a great team.
It’s 5 years since LUMA launched. What’s some of your proudest business moments with LUMA?
I think the first time I ever saw it in packaging around 5 years ago. Once I saw our product on the shelves, it was just a real triumph. Especially as it took three years to get from an idea to it sitting on some of Australia’s’ leading retailer shelves. That was one of the highlights for me – all our hard work paid off. Then of course, now being able to recreate the brand, and this month we relaunched LUMA. Having such a great response has been such a highlight for me. I knew that I wanted to relaunch it and the fact that I could do that, and successfully has just been an incredible moment for me. So, I’m kind of living that high at the moment, right now.
So, LUMA 2.0…
New branding, we added skincare to the range, we held onto our best sellers and made them even better. We listened to our customer and what they wanted. We stopped trying to cater to everyone and went back to our ethos – enhance – never conceal – your natural radiance. We searched high and low for the best illuminating ingredient, which is crushed pearl. You can lose your way sometimes as so many people give you their opinion and what they think is best. You have to stay strong and focused and remember why you started in this business.
How hard is it to put on the hand brake and say, stop, we need to reset?
It was the hugest, scariest thing for me. Having worked so hard to get the first incarnation of LUMA on shelves made me incredibly proud and happy. But in the back of my mind, I knew that we could do better, and I knew that it was not entirely what I wanted to have out in the world with my mark on it for the rest of time. I wanted it to be a little bit more luxury. So, to be able to admit that to start with, and then also try and find a bunch of people that were behind me and take it off shelves and spend two years basically, with nothing while we did it, was a huge risk. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work but to me it was more important that I put something out there that I one hundred percent adored.
With success, there’s challenges. Can you share your biggest challenge with LUMA and then how you overcame it?
When we were creating LUMA, one of our biggest challenges was dealing with different manufacturers for different products in the range. I liked the way one company created our On the Glow Highlighters and then how another company manufactured our skincare etc. it made things difficult to manage. In hindsight, it would have been a lot easier to have one company that could manufacture all of our products and package them for us. The solution for me was all about working with people that shared my vision and having a tight knit group.
What’s next for Luma?
I live over in the States. We’re looking into international distribution so that’s a big thing for us right now.
To the next generation of brand makers or creators, any advice you would share?
I think that for the girls and guys working in beauty stores or starting at a counter; look and learn as much as you can. If you’re not paying attention to your surroundings and what’s going on, whether it’s the way that your manager does things or even if it’s just thinking about how things can be done better…take all of that in because you’re subconsciously adding to your skill set. Take in all the information you can and ask lots of questions.
Jess Hart’s top tips to following your dreams
01. Trust yourself, believe in yourself…
You have to be extremely headstrong and sure of yourself, even when you doubt yourself. Just go back to what you originally believed in and know that there was a reason you believed in that.
02. Follow your gut instincts with honesty and integrity
Stick to your story. Your authenticity is really what’s going to sell it in the long term. If people believe you’re coming from a good place, as opposed to just doing something because you think it will sell, you will find longevity.