You wouldn't place the words 'ugly' and 'beauty' together to promote a beauty and skincare business, but there is a reason why these two young mums are wanting to mesh the terms.
Jessica Leonard of Alfords Point and Menai's Ashleigh Potocki know a whole lot about the industry, but there was something missing that they realised, wasn't really being addressed.
The pair launched Ugly Beauty - an online space that aims to empower people to hone in on their individuality and not feel pressured to adhere to societal expectations of what one 'should' look like. The brand's mission is to redefine conventional beauty standards, by helping people foster acceptance.
Both 38-year-old mothers to five children, they are determined to turn social media on its face, and unlike promoting their range using airbrushed models and exaggerated claims, they want to refresh and challenge the status quo.
Ms Leonard opened her skin clinic almost 20 years ago. In researching for this new business venture, the women realised they wanted to shift perception. Whether it was older more mature women being hard on themselves or a 15-year-old teenage girl who resorts to self-harm because of comments on her appearance, the idea is to focus on the message behind the product.
"We became concerned in the way that beauty and skincare products were being marketed as something to make you more beautiful or change you," Ms Leonard said. "As mothers to daughters, we wanted to challenge these standards."
The observations also started at home. "My nine-year-old is already struggling with her appearance and she feels she needs to look a certain way," Ms Leonard said. "It's starting so young."
Ms Potocki, armed with a forte of experience within the beauty marketing arena, jokes that she's one of the 'perpetrators' of the industry.
"I come from that beauty marketing background," she said. "I've worked on the other side of it, with brands like Charlotte Tilbury, which has incredible products." But she said she wasn't convinced major beauty products were succeeding in empowering 'self-love'.
"We're about embracing who you are and not having to conform," she said. "I have a four-year-old who often says to me 'don't look at me yet, I'm not beautiful, I have to put me make-up on'. That's not something that comes from me as I don't wear make-up. She's getting that from a social aspect."
One of the brand's 'hero' products is the enzyme mask, which the pair say, actually makes you look quite ugly wearing it. But that's the point, they say - to be a little left field and cheeky.
"Our point of difference is our marketing," Ms Potocki said. "We are working with some of the best formulators in the country but we want to make beauty and skincare fun rather than something people have to do. We are a skincare brand but also a movement where we want to start important conversations."
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