The beauty industry is booming! Yes, despite the economic magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic the beauty industry has proven relatively resilient, especially in terms of online sales. In fact, a research report by McKinsey found that online revenue for beauty-industry players rose 20 to 30 per cent during the outbreak. Today there is a staggering number of online beauty brands to choose from, and for me, finding the ones that deliver exceptional results along with customer service can be few and far between – but thankfully there is one such online brand that delivers time and time again and it just so happens to be Irish. Say hello to AYU, the multi-award-winning Irish based, and Irish-owned online cosmetics company set up by renowned makeup artist Suzie O’Neill.
Dedicated to empowering women with the tools and knowledge to bring out their best selves, AYU’s ethos of wanting to show women how to enhance their natural beauty and to always be their best selves is just one of the many reasons why I love this brand. I recently caught up with Suzie and got to find out more about the brand, how she started out, who inspires her, along with her AYU desert island products and plans to visit Cork!
How did your career begin in the world of beauty?
I have loved makeup and skincare for as long as I can remember, I have always been more creative than academic, so I knew I would always want to work in a creative area. It was my mum who suggested I study beauty when I wasn’t sure which path to go, and it was the best thing I ever did.
What prompted you to launch AYU and what does AYU mean?
I was at a stage in my life when I had just had my first child and I was working in a job that I loved but it was very full on. I wanted to be able to be the master of my own diary and create a good work/life balance for myself, so I took the leap into starting AYU. It was a scary time, but I knew there was more for me than where I was. AYU means beautiful in Balinese, and I just love that it has a meaning close to my heart.
Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you throughout your career?
I am a big fan of Bobbi Brown. I just love her work ethic and how she started a business from nothing and built a massively successful empire by doing what she wanted and going against the norm of the time.
How would you describe your personal makeup style?
I am low key. I love simple well-cut clothes, fresh make up and relaxed hair. It makes me feel my best when I am comfortable!
What is your favourite celebrity makeup look and why? Is there a celebrity whose face you’d love to make up with AYU?
I love fresh skin and defined eyes. A few who spring to mind would be Reese Witherspoon, Olivia Palermo, Kirstin Cavallari – I would just love to get to work on any of their faces.
Are there any common makeup mishaps that women make?
The biggest mistake I see is wearing the wrong shade of foundation. People often wear it a little darker than it should be to warm the face, but it doesn’t work like that. Your base should melt away into your neckline and then we bring in colour and shape with concealer, bronzer, and blush. Your base is purely to give you an even base.
Are there any makeup trends that you absolutely love or would love to see left behind?
I adore fresh, clean skin so this is one that I hope stays on trend forever!
Many women can find it difficult to determine their undertone when it comes to choosing foundation, are there any tips that may help them?
A very simple and quick way to gauge this would be to ask yourself, do I tan – if you do, then you suit golden warm tones; if you are paler, you will suit more cool tones. I don’t really think pink undertone foundations suit anyone or look super natural but I love a neutral or yellow base to balance the skin.
What would be your three desert Island AYU products?
Definitely our Instant Undereye Concealer, Radiant Skin Cream and Total Lash Mascara.
There have been some fabulous new additions to the AYU family. Where do you get your inspiration for new product development?
I am always thinking about what women want, what will make their life easier and make them feel great, so this is where I start from. I want everything to be simple and effortless, so we really concentrate of creating the best core collection possible.
What are you currently working on with AYU?
Oh, so much. I wish I could tell you, but I would be in big trouble. We do have lots of new additions coming over the next year though and we are venturing into new area also!
Having seen with great respect and admiration your business grow from strength to strength, have you any tips for any aspiring businesswomen wishing to perhaps start their own business?
Thanks so much. Honestly, the bet bit of advice I can give is just to start. Start today and work consistently with everything until you get to where you want to be. It is easy, and the hours can be very long, but it is so worth it when you love something. Also, if I can add another, keep your blinkers on, people will have opinions on what you are doing but always remember that what other people think is none of your business!
Any future plans for a Girls Day Out in Cork/West Cork?
We’d love to see you. I cannot wait to get back out on the road when we can. Cork is actually going to be our first stop and we are hoping to have a pop up as well early next year!
AYU is available online from www.ayu.ie and all products are dermatologically tested, paraben free, gluten free and vegan friendly. I am never without the Instant Under Eye Concealer, a game-changer if ever there was one, €18.50. If you’re unsure of shades, check out their complimentary virtual shade matching service and also the newest additions to the AYU family, including the AYU Emerald Eye Shadow Palette, Complete Brow Kit, Volume Lashes Mascara and Classic Cream Eye Shadow Collection.
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