#19 What do I want?
I started this company 3 years ago when I was 29 years old. I had experienced what I’m now realizing was a not-so-normal 20s — being involved in two businesses/brands that grew quickly and warped my idea of reality when it came to status, wealth, success, and values. 5 years in, I chose to leave a brand that just announced a 100 million dollar valuation, and start again. I too, sometimes wonder if I’m crazy.
In a month or so, I’ll turn 32. And everything and nothing has changed.
A lot of my friends are married, have begun families, a lot are buying their first, or second home. I am not doing any of those things right now — not because I don’t want to (a narrative that defined my 20s) but because I guess that’s just where I’ve landed.
Maybe it’s this age, or this stage in business, where you can’t help but think about your choices, and your situation, and compare yourself to those around you. It appears that in the absence of overseas travel, many of us have opted to travel inward, and ask ourselves, where am I, how did I get here, and what’s next?
In February we took a deep dive into discussing what our customers wanted. Where are consumers headed? What did they want from Fluff, other brands, and the industry? It provided answers, some that we already knew, some that challenged us, some that inspired us.
Now, as the year approaches almost 50% completion, my thoughts have turned to, What Do I Want?
Who am I doing this for? And why? Has my Why changed since we began? Am I still the same person, with the same interests? Or am I changing as quickly as (and perhaps because of) Facebook’s algorithm?
There are thousands of more brands in the beauty industry than when we launched, 3 years ago. The landscape is a different place — the internet, is a different place. I no longer feel connected by it, I feel isolated by it. And yet, it’s Fluff’s playground. One that is a lot more complicated than what I’m used to playing in, with a lot more vulnerable and volatile kids around.
I have been tempted to leave the playground, many times. Maybe more than ever, now. But what is Fluff but something to do with the hours? And what instead would I do?
This is what I know today, about what I want:
I want to create a brand that outlives me.
By this I mean, not a brand I sell in 2 years, that I leave in 5, and watch close its doors in 10.
I want to create a brand that is around for longer than I am. That grows with and for its audience. That surpasses trends. That people remember, not because of what the products did for their skin but what the brand did for their lives — and the world. Did we leave things a little better? Did we make people stop, and feel, and think?
I want to create a brand that reaches people who need it.
Because I know so many people still need to know that they are more than the products they consume. It was always a lofty goal — a makeup brand that tells you to buy less makeup, using social media to tell you to spend less time on your phone. Crazy is starting to make sense some more.
I want to support people understand their relationship to beauty.
This is our end game. In the past, I’ve played a really bad ‘supporting role’. I’ve tried to control and push a narrative that hasn’t benefited anyone else, except my ego. I’m learning the true definition of support, in every aspect of my life right now, and as my work and personal life are so interconnected — as Fluff is a mirror to myself and my journey, I’m realizing the nuances and complexities of humans and communication, and the overarching systems to which mine and other peoples’ beliefs have been formed.
I want to go slowly.
I think this is my life lesson. Because I certainly haven’t clocked it today. To me, going slowly doesn’t mean complacency or non-action. For me, it means a balance of logic and emotion, of talking to the right people, of articulating what I want, and my goal, and why, and then figuring out the best way to get there. It means a lot of reflection, a lot of push back, and a lot of support. And hopefully, it means I’ll be able to look back one day and remember the minutes contained within hours contained within days.
I want to find ways for business to be better.
I exhaust myself trying to understand why brands communicate their sustainability efforts in such a dishonest, unnecessary way. When can we all just admit we’re making stuff and taking from the earth. And that’s ok. Any economy is a trade-off between costs and benefits, supply and demand. Our global economy has provided so many benefits — we just need to properly calculate the costs. We need to stop pretending that we’ve got it figured out when we all so clearly don’t.
I want to make e-commerce simpler.
I think we’ve overcooked it. The industry, and Fluff. I think there was a time for fancy this and fireworks that — I think that time is over. I think people are overstimulated and just want to add something to their cart without a transformative digital experience alongside it.
I want to make content deeper.
I feel a lot of things when I look at content on the internet. Whether it’s the news, Instagram, Tik Tok, or someone’s Substack. My brain is both underwhelmed and overwhelmed all at once. I know it is likely because I’m trying to consume too much at once (as I type this with 18 tabs open). And I know there is valuable, incredible content out there — it’s just drowned out by a sea of noise and filters. A sea which is drowning a lot of people, who don’t know how to swim (think) properly, for themselves.
Maybe this is the whole point of consumption — realizing what makes you think and what makes you sink. But I don’t think that makes it ok for publishers to say what they say, and brands to make what they make. There needs to be more accountability. People should be allowed to ask what a brand’s endgame is. And brands should be able to answer.
We take our content pretty seriously. We know it’s beauty, not politics or philosophy or science, but we know it makes people feel something. So every day, we ask ourselves — what is our content saying? How might someone feel after seeing it? What are they seeing on either side of it? Is our intention being received?
It isn’t always. But we’re learning to own it and reduce the amount of fuck-ups every day. I never want to make people feel bad, or less themselves, or like they want to be someone else. This is easier said than done, and this is our journey.
I want to work with people with intelligence, initiative, and integrity.
This can be an intern, and this can be an advisory board, an investor, or a managing director/CEO. I care about what they see in this brand, not just our P&L. I care how they have difficult conversations. I care how they want to help me. And how I can help them.
I want to stay outside of the industry.
And remind myself that being on the outside is what makes Fluff special. On the outside, we found our most loyal customers — the ones who have also been made to feel ostracised by an industry telling them they’re not enough. Comparison truly is the thief of my joy, and I’m working hard to keep my blinkers on and focus on telling our story.
I want to prioritize our customers.
They’re what makes this brand, after all. Whether their feedback is direct, constructive, critical, or scary; when it’s honest it’s important. When I’m overwhelmed, paying invoices or stacking boxes, I remind myself of the DMs and emails we receive every day about how our products, and the message they represent, are changing people’s lives, not just their beauty routines. A message that regardless of whether you’re 16 or 60, we all sometimes need to hear again. That beauty is so much more than makeup.
We exist to explore this statement.
I want to write, every day.
When I’m not focused, I write emails and scrappy to-do lists. When I am, I write posts like this! Or children’s books about a fluffhorse with long legs! Or finally, the book that’s probably always been within me, just figuring itself out, along this journey. More on that, some other time.
Journalling is something I do every day, and something I’m trying to put onto the internet more (like this). I think some people call this their truth, others a self-righteous rant, whatever.
Maybe you’ll never see it amongst the sea of content out there. Lucky you.