Namrata, founder of Plenaire

Hi Namrata, I am currently obsessed with your Rose jelly cleanser, it’s SO good, so talk us through…

Hi Namrata, I love your rose jelly cleanser and can’t rave about it enough, So tell me…

What is the inspiration behind the name? 

Plenaire’s name comes from the French expression for ‘in the open air’. Holistically, it is derived from the 1840 painting technique ‘en plein air’, which emphasizes direct observation of nature over a narrative and stylized depiction. It is reflective of a broader shift in beauty today, to a more relaxed, pleasurable and open approach, where every young person creates their own beauty narrative. It’s this feeling of open-mindedness and transparency that drives the brand. We aim for radical transparency on ingredients. We are affordable yet luxurious. Sustainable, yet well-designed packaging that reflects better where young women are today. Importantly, for me as a founder, with clear messages of positivity and wellbeing directly embedded into every product. 

What does a typical day in the life of Namrata look like?

Everyday is different, one of the reasons I decided to work on Plenaire was because that I found that I was travelling too often and not spending enough time with my kids. I still travel but I am in control of my schedule, which is one of the biggest advantages of being self-employed.Everything is digital and project based for us and we use a lot of part time consultants so it’s a mixture of meetings, executional bits, operations and marketing development. I also look at trends and do research daily to keep up to speed with what is happening. I am the only employee at the moment but my husband helps with a lot of the overflow. He has also been a great sounding board for every aspect of the business.

What is your skin type?

I tend to have pretty dry and combination skin, but I have never suffered with extreme skin issues. I love indulging in beautiful products and I really dislike fragrance free or those old-fashioned organic products that small like bergamot or lavender – they feel really dated to me. I also don’t fancy those clinical strength types of products. I used to use Proactiv in high school and that reminds me of being punished for having bad skin. I know most people don’t like fragrance but for me its very cultural, I don’t like a ton of fragrance but I need some to cover the base odour or I feel like I am missing out.

Do you have a favourite product?

It’s hard to pinpoint one single product I have so many that I love. My dream routine – if I have plenty of time would be a bath with Jo Malone’s Orangeflower bath oil while catching up on my reading. In the shower I absolutely adore Glossier’s Body Hero bath oil, it’s got such a subtle beautiful smell, really one of their unsung heroes. Either that or Kiehls Coriander that my husband always steals. In the summer, I love Mario Badescu’s AHA Botanical Bodywash– reminds me of that vintage American college campus clean note ie being back at UT where I went to grad school.

For makeup my favourites are Chantecaille, Hourglass and Nars- they always get it right. Have become obsessed with Tan Luxe’s essential tanning drops and mix them in with my Droplet moisture gel in the mornings say twice a week. I love Huda beauty too, her offer is super clever: its pragmatic, functional, well designed and reasonably priced, very much for the makeup “superuser”. Fragrances are always Aerin Lauder or Maya Njie – she is a friend and a boutique perfumer with her own line of amazing fragrances. Her subtle and unforgettable Tropicaalongside Rose 31 have to be my favourite smells in the world.

I also love Organic Pharmacy Jasmine body milk which I generally layer heavily before wearing a really light muslin kaftan at bedtime– reminds me of being young and holidaying in India, my grandmother would always bring jasmine home from the temple. Most mornings I’ll use Tripler Clay mask and I love Rose Jelly for cleansing at night, followed by Herbivore’s Bakuchiol serum. I try and use Coconut oil on my roots and I’ve also started my daughter on caring for her hair with coconut oil. For her face now that she is 11, we are starting with some Fresh Cosmetics Soy cleanser or Philosophy’s Purity is what I grew up with as a starter cleanser. These are both true natural brands that have lasted the test of time and been around forever.

Your products smell so delicious and scent is so important when it comes to skincare, was this something you were keen to ensure? 

As you can probably tell, fragrances and smells are generally hugely emotional for me. I absolutely wanted the fragrance for Plenaire to be instantly recognisable– to create a feeling that was specific. We definitely didn’t want to overwhelm people with fragrance though – always a subtle backdrop light notes, never too aggressive, just enough to cover the base.

When I was younger, one of my favourite scents was Chloe Love Story. I remember reading that a well-known fragrance critic said that when it was launched that for him, it was too common, and that it smelled like “ a bar of Ivory soap floating in a chlorinated pool.” Well for me, Chloe Love Story was like a work of art, a complex fragrance that had no equivalent and was transformational. Fragrance as we know can be hugely subjective, it’s better to have something that is loved or hated than something vanilla and that appeals to everybody.

At the heart of our brief for our fragrance was this future consumer and her life. Coming up with an original note or set of notes in theory is quite hard and being a small company, we did not have the resource to really work with a big team. I owe a lot to my chemist who has an amazing nose, as well as Karen Fairweather and her team at Robertet that achieved a stunning signature fragrance for Plenaire. John Paul Mignon who worked on our brief is a young Frenchman who took the feeling behind Plenaire to create something very special. The signature smells different with every base and marries into the base differently each time. I feel like it has real champagne and elderflower notes in the Rose Jelly for example, but in the Skin Frosting it marries with the shea and vegan candellia wax ( a hydrolipic wax) to create a sweeter more nostalgic note.

I love the packaging too, so clean and pure, again was this a conscious decision on your part?

On packaging we collaborated with an incredible team at Pentagram Design, we worked with Luke and Jody Powell – their attention to detail and eye for beauty as well as original thinking has truly helped Plenaire stand out. I love the fact that they ignored most of the beauty offer and went their own way – took risks; as a client it makes me feel hopeful that there are design agencies that work like this. They again, just have phenomenal instinct for great design and their thinking is original and esoteric.

As a 45-year-old working mum, with normal skin, what would you recommend?

The great thing with Plenaire is that it is truly relevant at every age, because it’s about emotional well-being. That speaks to everyone.

Tripler is a 3in1 Exfoliating clay is perfect for anyone that is looking for light exfoliation, oil control and multi-tasking skincare.

It starts out like a clay mask, which dries. Upon the addition of water the mask transforms to a lightly foaming clay exfoliant, so the delivery of masking, cleansing exfoliating benefits gives it the name Tripler. This multitasker is a mask, cleanser, and gentle exfoliator all wrapped into one. In minutes, it works to detoxify, polish, and renew your skin to reveal a smoother, naturally brighter complexion.

At Plenaire, we believe that removing your makeup should be a pleasure not a chore and something young women should look forward to.

Instead of scrubbing your skin to remove your makeup, we sought use of a technology that gently dissolves makeup on contact with a few drops of water, even stubborn eye makeup, so that you can treat your skin with gentle kindness. The effects of massaging rose jelly into your skin, and wiping away with a warm flannel can have positive effects of well-being. For PLENAIRE we specifically chose rosewater not for its gentle, tonifying effect. Rosewater is also linked to feelings of positivity, seen by some as a mood enhancer. It rids you of feelings of anxiety and promotes emotional well-being, thereby making you feel more relaxed.

Rose Jelly Gentle Makeup Remover is a gentle low water cleanser. It is designed to work with very little water. It relies on Sucragel technology rather than traditional cleansing technology that’s more frugal with water while being a pleasure to use, and has the added bonus of being gentler on skin than many ordinary cleansers. Simply apply on a full face of makeup, and add a bit of water to turn into a rose-colored milk. Rinse or simply wipe away excess makeup and product using a damp washcloth or a Plenaire face flannel. Remember to be mindful, by turning on the tap only when you need to.

Skin Frosting is a great, super relaxing product too. At night, just before bed cleanse face as normal. Then, simply apply to clean dry skin, relax for 20 minutes and wipe away with a warm damp flannel, letting the plant oil residues work their magic overnight. Skin should feel instantly plumper and rejuvenated. Spritz skin with rosewater and treat yourself to a large 8-ounce glass of water before turning out the lights.

Please comment