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She’s so Cult: Laney Crowell of Saie

Every so often a brand enters the beautysphere and instantly earns the attention (and affection!) of even the most discerning beauty disciples. {Saie} is that brand. To say we were excited to launch Saie exclusively is the understatement of the year, which is why we couldn't wait to catch up with Laney Crowell - Founder and CEO - to get the inside-track on her low-maintenance, high-performance make up range!Tired of having to choose between products that work and fulfil your ‘clean’ standards? Step forward: Saie – developed by experts for those who want pure that performs. A capsule collection of heavenly highlighters, gleam-giving balms and lip-nourishing lacquers, this beautiful brand marries ethics with efficacy – so it’s no great surprise that it’s quickly amassing a legion of devotees who’re enamoured by the decadent textures and wearable shades (not to mention the good-looking tubes!). About to become your new beauty go-tos, let's get to know the cult name that’s on everyone’s lips (cheeks and lashes)…{Cult Beauty} First things first, can you tell us about the brand’s beginnings and ethos? What’s the Saie story so far?{Saie} started with a late-night conversation on Instagram with my blog’s community. I was going out to dinner and was looking for some new make up to wear, but the “colour” bin in my blog’s beauty closet was empty. I peppered my community with questions until 2am! That conversation 4 years ago, where my community was “say-ing” what they want, was the inspiration for what Saie is today: incredible clean products that really work, and feel cool.{CB} Can you describe your brand in just three words?High-performance, clean and chic.{CB} What sets Saie apart from the rest of the industry?Myself and Team Saie all worked together at the biggest beauty company in the world. We’re bringing that expertise to Saie and the clean make up world. We don’t take any shortcuts, which makes our product development complicated and time-consuming, but it’s how we’re able to make such effective, truly transparent products. {CB} And for those unfamiliar with Saie, which product is certain to kick-start an obsession?People are obsessed with {Mascara 101}. It’s made from 100% natural and naturally derived ingredients, but doesn’t smudge or flake at all! Plus, it gives a very cool, defined lash look. {CB} Can you talk to us about the beauty experts behind Saie? Sarah Tallman is our Head of Product Development. She’s truly a genius when it comes to making game-changing formulas. Tina Gu, our CFO, worked on acquiring brands and then helped create them. I worked in magazines, including Elle and Lucky, as a fashion and beauty editor. Then, I worked in the marketing department at one of the biggest beauty brands in the world. Together we’re a great team, having a really fantastically fun time.{CB} What does ‘clean’ beauty mean to you and how does the Saie Standard fit in?When we began working on Saie we decided that we wanted to take a very strict definition of clean, with over 2,000 ingredients that we wouldn’t work with to protect our customers and the planet. For example, we don’t use silicones. Silicones can’t be absorbed by the body so they don’t do any harm to humans, but they never (ever) biodegrade, so they are very bad for the environment.{CB} The Saie product design is so simple, sophisticated and, most importantly, sustainable! Can you tell us about your decision to work with TerraCycle? TerraCycle is truly best in class when it comes to recycling. No matter what you send them, they’ll figure out a way to recycle it (even cigarette butts!). We do our best to create sustainable packaging from the beginning, choosing bio-resins, post-consumer recycled plastics, glass and aluminum but beauty packaging has a long way to go, and sometimes our only option isn’t ideal. This is where TerraCycle comes in. {CB} What inspired you to set out and create transparent make up formulas that really work? My community inspired me! They say very clearly what they want, and all I have to do is listen. We have a private Facebook community called The Clean Beauty Crew with over 700 people. They help us develop our product pipeline and our formulas. We also talk to our Instagram community {} all the time, and I also have a lot of conversations on my personal account {}, where followers give suggestions on what we should make next.{CB} From one female-founded company to another, we’d love to hear your advice for women hoping to carve a space for themselves in the industry…Endurance is your superpower. If you can pick yourself up more times than the next person, you’ll get to where you want to go. In my experience, endurance and perseverance can be more important than just about any other talent or trait.{CB} How have you seen the beauty industry change in the last five years? In which ways would you like the industry to change and evolve?I love that the consumer has started demanding ingredients and packaging that is better for their bodies and the earth. The 'clean' category is growing so fast, it’s really exciting.  {CB} Who is Saie aimed at? Do you have a ‘poster’ person in mind when developing your products?We think a lot about the Saie woman! She’s empowered, active, and has a je ne saie quoi about her that just makes you want to know everything about her (including what’s in her makeup bag). {CB} Can you talk to us about your inspiration? How do you (and your team) come up with the product names? (Dew Balm had us hooked from the get-go!)We always go back to our community and the Saie woman. We put ourselves in her shoes— it helps that we’re our own customer as well! What would make us want to buy this? What would explain exactly what it is, so it’s easy to understand? What sounds fun to say? These are some of the questions we always ask ourselves when naming a new product.{CB} Do you have any beauty staples that have pride of place on your nightstand or in your carry-on? I don’t leave home without a Saie lip product. It’s usually either Liquid Lip Balm, or Really Great Gloss in 'Easy'. Both are so hydrating and give my lips that exact light pink shine that I love.{CB} Are there any beauty trends that you’re seeing more and more of?Women are definitely wanting to look more like themselves. I think it’s because of TikTok and the fact that we’re all spending more time at home right now. It’s just not cool to have tons of heavy make up on, nor doesn’t it really make sense in this climate.{CB} And when it comes to pearls of beauty wisdom, do you have an overarching tip to keep your skin in good nick?My skin became so much better when I made the switch to clean skin care and make up. For years I suffered from pretty bad acne, but now I never break out. I use a lot of face oils, but if I had to pick one tip, it would be to use an AHA exfoliator to brighten your skin. Oh, and of course, wear sunscreen!{CB} This is a big one... What are your all-time favourite skin care products? I l-o-v-e the Vintner’s Daughter essence-serum duo - I use it most nights! A few times a week, I’ll swab REN Clean Skincare's Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic all over my face to brighten my skin; Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask is another instant glow-giver. A more recent favourite is Jillian Dempsey’s Gold Sculpting Bar, you need to try it!{CB} Finally, what’s next for Saie? Can we dare to dream of a Saie complexion collection?Oh yes! For sure, we’re in development on so many new products that we can not wait to share...SHOP SAIE >>
Bethan Robinson
Bethan Robinson Writer and expert
Bethan is a Senior Copywriter at Cult Beauty. When she’s not trying to perfect the ultimate ‘no make up’ make up look — she swears by Saie — or find new skin care to fall for, she’s likely playing video games, making the most of her housemate’s MUBI account or strolling around Victoria Park with a pastry in hand.

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