#Tastemakers: Chanelle Louise, Founder of CILK Rosewater

The modern woman drinks her green smoothie in the morning, but what does she sip on at night? Enter a rose-infused beauty elixir, smelling of fresh vanilla covered in icing sugar with a hint of Turkish delight. And it has beauty benefits (yes, seriously).

Rose water infused skincare has started catching everyone’s attention, beauty bloggers now match rose water mists and toners with their rose tea. But one start-up is taking it a step further. Formulated with certified organic roses, cold pressed hibiscus and pure vanilla CILK’s Rose Presse Extract ($69.95) is creating its own beauty category.

At White Lane Creative we taste tested- and we were impressed. We immediately swapped out our ritual 4pm lime and soda combination for something, shall we say, a bit more luxe. 

After getting hooked on the rose-water trend, we caught up with the founder, Chanelle Louise, on her inspirations and how the stockbroker turned beauty entrepreneur manages start up life. 

So you were originally a stockbroker- how did you make the transition into beauty?

My career in stockbroking came to a sudden holt when my on again-off-again boyfriend (now husband) almost lost his life when he was hit by a car.

I was living in London at the time working as a derivatives project analyst for the Bank of New York and within hours I left my life in London behind to be by the side of my long time beau.

This period of our lives were equally traumatic, devastating, healing and grounding, I discovered that I was consumed by climbing the corporate ladder just to achieve status and wealth.

I was consumed by the lucrative lifestyle of the finance industry and led a superficial and unhealthy lifestyle that I consciously knew I could not sustain long-term. Not to mention the restrictions of the corporate world, someone else controlling when you can eat, sleep, holiday and spend time with your family and friends, I don’t respond well to authority so it was inevitable that things would significantly change.

After about a year of helping my partner recover, I decided to do something I was really passionate about without any financial gain and pursued writing internships for a year. Mostly covering lifestyle topics and dabbling in memoirs, it was wonderful to express myself without any creative constraints and it was during this time I began drinking rose tea.

I then began researching roses and the sense of old world romance to rose water completely captivated me.

From the natural form of a rose blossoming to stories of Cleopatra bathing in it, to a Persian Princess filling royal fountains full of rose water so that when she walked through her garden, drops of rose water would land upon her skin like light rain fall. 

It just has such a beautiful history.

Sounds like a dream. Does rosewater have health benefits?

I had always used rose water on my skin too, mainly for it’s hydrating effect, however I could feel it was only sinking into the surface of my skin, I wanted to gain the full benefit of this ancient ingredient from the inside out.

Just as rose water cleanses the skin, when drinking, the anti-inflammatory properties aid the digestive system for internal cleansing which has a direct effect on clearing the skin. It also contains many healing properties like antioxidants, which have a calming and soothing effect on the mind and body. This is the most important element to beauty, a relaxed and calm state of being.

What are your beliefs around beauty?

Maintaining or enhancing your natural beauty shouldn’t be a chore, nor painful, it should feel like a luxury experience everyday that is extended outside of your morning bathroom ritual. To me, beauty has no end, it is a continuous cycle. Rising with a fig and rose smoothie, a light run outdoors, dabbing rose water onto my skin and massaging a face serum in, eating organic whole foods, sipping roses in the evening and having a long restful sleep. It’s these little luxuries in life, they are sometimes the simplest things, but they can be the most indulgent. 

Drawing a bath at the end of day with a good book and a glass of sparkling rose water or a girls night in with rose cocktails garnished with edible flowers, CILK was created to add more beauty to your life in a way that can be shared and celebrated. 

Are you hoping to disrupt the beauty industry with CILK?

The beauty industry is primarily made up of external beauty products - cosmetics, skincare, make-up, perfume , etc. We spend more money and time on the outside of our skin then we do on the inside, taking care of your skin from within is vital to optimum skin health. It was important to me to create a product that makes woman feel beautiful, celebrated, luxurious and is good for them.

I was adamant on aligning all of these elements, it was all or nothing, and it took more time and money to get to market with all of these factors and not compromise on quality. I’m proud that I created something unique and different that people are excited about by re-purposing an ancient ingredient in a modern luxe way.

Ingestible beauty is set to boom this year, it’s an exciting time to be bring a brand like CILK to the market, there is a lot of education to be shared around my inner beauty product and it is exciting to see women embrace this new category as it is one that will be around for a very long time. Especially with department stores and big beauty retailers taking note of what independent small brands are innovating and bringing them into their offering.

Your launch campaign was so luxurious and sultry – was this a deliberate attempt to position the brand?

It wasn’t so much a strategy but just bringing my vision to life, I love the balance between beauty and androgyny, which I think every woman has elements of femininity and tomboyish tendencies and our rose water is already very feminine on its own, the black minimal bottle balances the brand. Along with our campaigns, they have a foundation of luxury to them with a slightly hardened edge. Our recent campaign has a badass bride in a Las Vegas motel theme to it, which is a little dark and arty, yet beautifully sultry.

This is what I love most about running my brand is the ability to execute exactly what I envision, connect and collaborate with like-minded brands and artists and share my passion for creation and beauty.

How have you managed your health and the demands of being an entrepreneur? What are some tips for aspiring #girlbosses?

Balance is always a work in progress, I haven't quite reached it yet, and I'm not sure I ever will, I'm personally not good at routine which is why the entrepreneur lifestyle suits me.

Balance and health mean different things to different people, to me it means enjoyment, I won't pound the pavement if I've indulged in a croissant because then I may not look forward to going for a run the next day or I may feel guilty about eating croissants, which is something I really love to do.

I just do what I feel like each morning I wake up, some mornings I feel like doing yoga, other mornings I want to sleep in, but most mornings I want to get straight into running my business, because that is what I'm most passionate about and enjoy the most.

Sure, yoga and going for a jog feels good, but the ability to empower myself and others by creating a beautiful and successful brand is what keeps me healthy, because without that fire, passion, and constant challenge I would feel lost, and no amount of health focused pursuits are going to fill that spot in your soul to fulfil your purpose.

Its human nature for us to get complacent with carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, feeling like we have to do it all, but you don't, just do what works for you, recognise how you best like to spend your time without the pressures of society and always make sure to treat yourself. Whether it's a croissant, going to a day spa, sleeping in, reading a book or travel, let go of some that pressure, eat well, stay hydrated, get some sleep and reward yourself in any way you choose.

What have you learnt about time management? Is it tough wanting to do everything yourself?

You need to recognise what your strengths and weaknesses are and find a way to outsource the tasks you are not good at. You have to carefully structure your time so it is utilised for what you will most excel at. Although it is important to learn new aspects of starting or running a business you need to assess how effectively your time is going to be best spent.

What role has social media & online marketing played in the launch of your start up?

I have taken an organic approach to the early stages of bringing my brand to the market as I’m building a luxury brand it’s not something I want to ‘flog’ just to build an audience fast.

I like to post beautiful content and most of the time when I’m posting on Instagram I won’t even mention my product, I personally don’t like being constantly sold too and pretty much everything we see on social media now is an advertisement or sales content. I like to give value and I’m in this for the long haul.

I create content based on what value it will give my audience not just solely what it will do for my sales. CILK is not just a beauty brand, but also a lifestyle brand, based on that I am working on ways to empower women through natural beauty and celebrating themselves.

Any parting words of wisdom?

I believe that current start-up founders and women who have not become publicly successful or iconic can add just as much value if not more instrumental advice because they are experiencing the challenges and success of launching/running a business in real-time, not 2-10 years ago when the landscape was different.

I have found that you can learn much more from those who are just a few steps ahead of you and be equally inspired by the ones who quietly and slowly succeed then of those who are in the spotlight.

I have attended a lot of business conferences, seen influential business women speak, read their books and interviews and the tips they do offer can be difficult to translate into your start-up as these women are able to implement monuments strategies as they have large marketing budgets, a team of skilled staff, access to highly detailed data and profit margins within the millions to fund their operations, R&D and new ventures. It is not realistic to measure your growth based on a seasoned entrepreneurs or burgeoning empire. Take small realistic pieces of information from different success stories from all industries to piece together a framework to carve your own path.

Listen to business podcasts at every opportunity whether you are driving, cooking dinner or going for a run, soak up all that you can as quickly as you can. Also don’t be driven just by profit, being an entrepreneur is all about bringing your dream lifestyle to reality, make sure while you are achieving all of your business milestones to act on your personal life goals or bucket list.

And lastly, always stand up for yourself and don’t be afraid to speak your mind.