StyleNest talk to founder and Creative Director of This Works, Kathy Phillips to bring you the latest beauty and fitness tips and find out what life is really like for a jet setting Vogue Editor.
When Kathy isn’t busy jetting between Asia and London, you will find Kathy relaxing at home or at yoga or swooshing past you down the mountain in the winter. A keen skier with a wealth of skincare and beauty knowledge under her belt, Kathy Phillips is the go to woman when it comes to maintaing a fresh face. We talk to Kathy and find out the secrets of a successful businesswoman and pick her brain on the latest trends.
As Creative Director and Founder of This Works as well as all of your past and current successes at Vogue, what has been your ultimate achievement?
Obviously, I feel very proud to have managed to get a product range up on the shelf and one that is still there 10 years later. It’s far more difficult than it looks, I know that now.
When did you first become interested in beauty?
Actually I fell into beauty by chance. I trained as an illustrator and fashion designer at Central St Martin’s and then started my career as a Fashion Editor at the Daily Mail. I’m not that interested in the mascara and blusher element of beauty. More interested in the bigger picture with research, development and psychology and so on.
This Works launched in 2003, what first inspired you start the brand?
I had been working as a Vogue Beauty Editor for some time so every month I have literally hundreds of products landing on my desk. It was frustrating to see the lack of innovative products out there and how products were conceived by looking at the market to make money primarily as opposed to any thought about what women actually needed. I also found the over-packaging and high levels of synthetic and chemical ingredients across the board, were not ideal.
However, there are some great products out there and I have always been inspired by (and championed) some of the women in the business who actually did come up with clever, new ideas and who pioneered exciting products (Sylvie de Chantecaille, Jo Malone, Terry de Gunzberg etc).
The name This Works is clear, concise and simple. How did you come up with it?
When we were working on the first products, the beauty business was full of very complicated, long exotic names of products. I wanted to make it simpler and the team kept saying “this works”, so it stuck. They do what they say on the tin.
As International Beauty Director for Condé Nast Asia, your role involves a lot of travelling. How do you manage to look so fresh and radiant? What are your beauty secrets?
If I manage to look fresh and radiant, I’m using all the tricks of the trade. I’ve learned a few things about how to apply make-up simply and well from past masters like Barbara Daly (dab a touch of white in the corners of the eyes) Laura Mercier (draw black eyeliner UNDER the top lash line – looks so natural) and Tom Pecheux (pink blush is what you need to pep you up at night after a long day) and so on…
I always try and keep everything simple. That’s why I wanted to create the In Transit range. Everything you need if you’re always on the go. A trustworthy Sun Protection Moisturiser, a couple of First Aid essentials that are all natural, a pick me up mask in a touch and transportable tube and some gentle, natural easy to use cleansing pads that really work. I also take supplements like EFA and Vitamin D3 and C to keep me energetic.
We love your clean and simple branding, what was the thought process behind it?
Thank you, I was worried that it was too modern for most people. However, I tend to look forward and my original design brief for the This Works branding was two words, “sexy hospital.” I wanted it clinical because I think clinical is practical (and these are cosmetic bottles after all) but I wanted it to have some appeal and sexiness that made it stand out on the shelf next to other luxury skincare brands.
I wanted it to stand up to being beside Chanel for instance, one of the best designed brands of all. My key words were ‘practical’, ‘modern’ and ‘stylish’. I could add unisex today as I’m pleased to say that men like to use the products too and don’t feel they are girly.
This Works is always about making things easier for women – we have enough to worry about and our simple branding and no nonsense messages aim to reflect the fact that we are designing products to make life and beauty easier for women.
What are your top 5 This Works products?
- I never travel without This Works In The Zone Bath Oil – I have a bath in it almost every day. I rarely wear perfume because the scent lingers on my skin all day and I get lots of compliments.
- This Works In Transit First Aid is one of our most intelligent, practical products – it’s a multitasking roll an oil that can be used on burns, bites, spots and dry skin.
- This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg oil is our hero product and the first product that I ever created. Nothing is more nourishing to the skin and I use it all over.
- At the moment I am really reaping the benefits of the This Works No Wrinkles Wonder Essence which was inspired by my trips to the Far East – it helps gently exfoliate and brighten dull skin overnight as well as keep it moisturised.
- I’m old enough to need Retinol and Vitamin C to keep my skin looking young. They are both beautifully effective in No Wrinkles Extreme Moisturiser. I also love the pot on my bathroom shelf.
Other than This Works, what are your top hero products you swear by?
I wear Chanel’s Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner in one shade or another every day – Grenat is the aubergine shade that really makes blue or grey eyes pop. I also think that a bright nail polish is a great way to change a classic monochrome outfit into something cooler. I wear colours like OPI’s FLY and Nail’s Inc’s Neons.
Other items in the list include Liz Earle’s Crème Blush (great packaging for a woman’s handbag), Phyto products for my hair as well as the odd Chanel or YSL lipstick.
As well as catering for common skincare concerns, you address issues of the mind which could be the source of the cause. Have you always been a spiritual person?
I apply some of the Yoga philosophies I have learned over the last thirty years into what I do and I would like to think that what we do at This Works and what I do at Vogue International can help and inspire people. That’s also why I prefer to keep cosmetics, food and lifestyle as natural and simple as possible. Simplicity and fresh, natural products are just better for you.
I wish I didn’t fly so much- it’s bad for the planet and the radiation at 30,000 feet is bad for the health in general.
How do you juggle a successful career with being a mum and a wife?
You should really ask my son and husband that. I’m really quite low maintenance. I don’t feel I have to have endless treatments (time consuming) or train for mega marathons. So when I’m at home, I can give my attention to the people that matter.
How do you keep in shape with such a busy schedule?
I take a two hour yoga class once a week and I try to some yoga everyday. I also walk a lot and ski every opportunity I get. I never diet. Luckily my mother (who was a size 16 all my life) never mentioned it so we grew up with quite a healthy attitude to eating. I sometimes think, the more you think about, instead of enjoying food, the more it becomes a problem.
Mums are often expected to be ‘supermum’. Do you think there is too much pressure on women to be perfect at everything?
I think everyone’s different and most of the pressure that women feel they put on themselves, helped along by the media. Society pushes us to be perfect but we ourselves choose whether to let it effect our lives in a negative or positive way. In terms of beauty, using products that are intelligent, that multitask and save you time and space is really important. Women that obsess about their weight in front of their children will pass on their neurosis. My mother’s attitude and lack of vanity was inspiring.
Can you clue our StyleNest readers on any exciting projects you are working on?
I have been inspired a lot recently by my travels for work to Asia – their skincare regimes are so meticulous. No wrinkles Wonder Essence and the In Transit range are launching this Spring and we have some great extensions to the Sleep range in the pipeline. Vogue has just launched in Thailand and the Ukraine and there is more on the horizon.
Skin can often breakout with the change of seasons. What advice would you give women who are experiencing a seasonal skin breakout?
Skin always changes with the seasons so don’t be afraid to change your regime (and products) along with the weather (but you need 28 days to see if the products are making a difference). I like to use an oil when my skin is dryer and then something a bit lighter in the summer. No Wrinkles Active Oil is perfect for skin that’s damaged by the cold weather but Perfect Skin Super Moisture is a lighter, equally effective alternative for the Summer.
Going into summer, will you be adjusting your skincare regime?
If my skin gets dry I’ll add Active Oil at night or the new Night Cream we’re working on.
What is your everyday skincare routine?
Today: TW Active Serum and No Wrinkles Extreme Moisturiser. Tonight. Cleanse with 5 in 1 water and No Wrinkles Wonder Essence.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to set up their own business?
Make sure you have enough investment for product development and retail and ensure you have a business strategy and long term plan. Make sure what you are doing is not a copy of something that’s already on the market and be sure of your point of difference.
When you’re not working, how do you relax?
Same as most people. Have friends for supper, do extra yoga classes, chill at home and read books. I love to ski if I can.
Women often neglect their skin after a night out. What is the quickest most effective way to remove makeup fast and cleanse efficiently.
This Works In Transit Biopads were designed as a solution for exactly that. They are 60 biodegradable pads soaked in rosewater that remove all traces of makeup, brighten, refresh, balance and cleanse all in one. However, your skin would not come to any harm if you didn’t cleanse until the morning. It’s your sheets that would have the damage (yuck). Long term, ingrained dirt is what is harmful so its good to really cleanse and use a mask once a week to keep pores clean.
What do you think is real beauty?
Something that’s effortlessly natural that comes without too much agonising. It changes all the time and is entirely personal so can’t be subjectified.
How important are natural products to you and knowing what goes into your skin?
You can use the term natural with only 1% of natural ingredients. These days it’s about deciding which companies you trust. I can usually spot the company that waved a bit of natural over their mostly synthetic product.
What skincare developments do you think 2013 will see?
Gadgets. The increase of beauty apps, not to mention instagram, facebook and twitter, means that we see ourselves on screen more and more often. I have just done a shoot for Vogue China about how dermatologists can create 3D scans of the face to help with facial reconstruction and I love the idea that you can “try out” a shade of makeup on screen at home before you buy it. This Works have created In Transit Camera Closeup – a massage in mask that perks up your skin instantly so you can be ready for your close up wherever and whenever.
What skincare trends are going to be big next year and how can our readers incorporate them into their everyday routine?
There was a lot of contrasting textures on the runway – matte and shine all on one face. Glossy lids with matte lips or creamy cheeks with matte black eyes. Shine was more obviously applied backstage but it’s a technique that can easily be translated into a more subtle look for real life. It’s all about beautiful healthy glowing skin.