Juliette Lévy

Through these interviews, I have discovered that enthusiasm is a characteristic common to most entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur more enthusiastic than Juliette Lévy, the founder of Oh My Cream ! I have never met. If this interview is littered with exclamation marks, it is no coincidence. Meet an entrepreneur intent on making life just that little bit more beautiful.

 

Tell us about your background

Like lots of entrepreneurs, I went to business school and did a series of internships, largely in the financial sector with the exception of one (my more eclectic choice) which was at at the Parisian department store Bon Marché. It was there that I discovered niche beauty brands like REN, Eve Lom and Dermalogica and where the Oh My Cream idea began to form in my mind. If my job history seems a little shorter than most, it's because I set up my company straight out of university! (Juliette is 25)

I came from a family of entrepreneurs which is perhaps why entrepreneurship didn't seem such a terrifying choice - I never believed lots of the myths that are out there about people in business which, at the end of the day, made the process less complicated. Yes it's work (and a lot of it) but when you get to do something you love, then it's just a pleasure! I'm really lucky in the sense that I found the right people, Marion (the  Oh My Cream ! skincare expert) and Fleur (the marketing wizard), really quickly which gave me a bit of a leg-up. There's such a real, human element behind Oh My Cream - the reason why it's worked is down to a particular set of people. And it's them whom I have to thank.


And how did the idea for Oh My Cream come about?

I caught the beauty bug very early in life. I spent my teenage years babysitting so that I could pay for my beloved Sisley creams (cue much laughter). After my internship at Bon Marché, I started to talk to female friends who were always telling me about how their creams never worked properly, how the assistants in Sephora didn't know enough to help them and about how they felt lost and a little disillusioned by the huge beauty brands and the enormous stores that sell them. It was then that I started to have a serious think and decided that I wanted to create a brand that only stocked the crème de la crème, the stuff that really works.


How did you come up with the name?

With great difficulty! There were many options in the running - Cosmythics was one - but Oh My Cream ! eventually came out on top for four reasons. Firstly, because it's an exclamation (the products are just THAT good). Secondly for the international element (Oh My Cream is a French company but we wanted an English sounding name). The 'my' represents a personal touch - these products are your products, tailored for you skin type, and finally 'cream' because that is, above all else, our speciality.


Which are your favourite products?

The Joelle Ciocco products. She understands skin so well and pioneered this incredible movement, epidermatology, based on her incomparable knowledge. Her approach to skincare is also very clever, focusing on sleep, stress levels and diet. Her philosophy is that the secret to anti-ageing is good cleansing. There's no point applying serum to skin that isn't properly clean, you might as well throw it in the bin for all the good it'll do! So her beautiful, neroli scented cleansing milk is a best-seller. Joelle is also a big believer in good skin nutrition and the reconstruction of the hydrolipid film that acts as a barrier for our skin. It's this unique vision that appeals to me, appeals to her loyal customer base and appeals to beauty icons such as Monica Bellucci, Nathalie Portman and Carine Roitfeld.

At Oh My Cream, we love niche beauty brands with a cult following. For hair, my favourite is probably Léonor Greyl. The bamboo shampoo and palm oil are just divine. You apply the oil at night before you go to bed and you wake up with beautiful, shiny and incredibly healthy hair. I also love Christophe Robin's range for coloured hair, especially his latest product, a hair mask infused with prickly pear oil.

We've also just recently begun to stock Kure Bazaar nail polishes which are, quite simply, taking the site and the shop by storm. They come in a range of amazing colours and every shade is so highly pigmented that you only need one coat! Finally, our most recent product is a shower gel from Franco-Japanese brand Suilo. It leaves skin feeling so soft that you don't even need body lotion!


Why do you think everyone is currently so fascinated by the Parisian approach to beauty?

The Parisian women is very effortless, very natural with subtle, nude make up. Very chic. She lives by the mantra "less is more", choosing a collection of staple products - a great cleanser, a good moisturizer and thorough sun protection. She's much more into skincare than make up. You mustn't forget that, in France, unlike in England or America, women make regular visits to the dermatologist and often buy their products in pharmacies - beauty is more linked to medicine here.


French women don’t get facelifts. True or false?

It's true for my customers! I would say it's generally true for the type of Parisian woman we're talking about. She exfoliates regularly, uses facial oils, gets plenty of fresh air, drinks lots of water, but she doesn't go under the knife. Yes, let's not kid ourselves, sometimes she has the occasional drink or cigarette in the evenings, but she knows what she's doing when it comes to good skincare.


Why is it that French women aren't afraid of the inevitable wrinkles?

Because we know that they're part of our charm, part of who we are! At Oh My Cream, we are very much behind the stance that there isn't a single product out there that can completely get rid of wrinkles that have already formed. It just doesn't exist. It probably never will. However, and this is something French women are very aware of, you can easily improve skin tone and it's appearance for a beautiful complexion that looks incredibly youthful.


Do you have a web 'hero'?

YES! Nathalie Massenet (the founder of Net A Porter). We're both (Juliette and Fleur Bazin, her number two) a little bit mad about her! Nathalie Massanet did something incredibly ahead of her time. She proved all those people who said that you can't buy a designer dress online wrong. She proved you could do it. What she's managed to achieve in just over ten years is amazing. She invented magazine-style shopping, a concept that everyone right now is saying is 'the future', but she did it 14 years ago! I think she demands admiration.

Within the beauty world, I'm a huge fan of Nicky Kinnaird, the founder of Space NK.

I'm also very interested in Antoine Granjon from Vente Privée. He understands perfectly the idea of creating an online experience. It's all about the event for him. And Jeff Bezos from Amazon who puts the customer not just first, but at the centre of it all and that's our mantra here at Oh My Cream - the customer must never be unhappy or dissatisfied. That just can't happen.


Have you always imagined Oh My Cream on a large scale?

Yes, the idea is to create an international site and a chain of shops that will make the bigger stores sit up and take notice. So was it always physical shops supporting an online store? Yes, I think you can do amazing things online, sometimes even more than with a physical shop. You can get so many different messages across online. A girl can spend hours and hours browsing a site, reading online magazines and buying, but she would never come into a shop and listen to me babbling for hours and hours! On the other hand, I think that a physical shop can perfectly complement a website, especially if they are connected in some way. We have iPad displays in place for our store and the app will be arriving later this year!


I get the sense that the editorial aspect is a huge part of Oh My Cream. Why is that?

Editorial is everything. If you aren't offering any kind of online experience, people will just go to a shop. In fact, what we offer on our site, anyone can just copy - the brands, the white background, our product range, it's all very imitable. What makes the site different is the experience, the whole concept of reading articles and learning about beauty products and rituals. What's great about stocking products from little-known, cult brands is that we can tell their story and showcase the person or the people behind the products. Blogs and websites with an editorial element tend to have much more traffic than pure e-commerce sites. They can build up a loyal base of customers who come back to the site for the content not just to shop. That's why Oh My Cream places such a huge emphasis on our magazine. It's our brand, it's what makes us different.


What problems did you face when you were starting Oh My Cream?

Getting brands to agree to join us using only a powerpoint presentation! The first one to come on board was REN; I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I found out that they'd said yes. It was such a pivotal moment; as soon as you have one brand on board, you can actually start creating something.


What advice would you give to a young woman trying to launch an online company?

"Plan as much as you can. Jump in and go for it. Adapt as you go along." I stole that from Nathalie Massanet! Fleur and I settled ourselves down in an office for 3 months, made a business plan, put together some beautiful imagery, created a mock-up (which, by the way, bears no resemblance to what the site looks like now!) and came up with a name (which we changed several times). So yes, planning is hugely important, but you can never do enough! There comes a time when you've just got to dive in and do it, risks and all. Yes, people will think you're stark raving bonkers but that's the way it goes. I bet every entrepreneur has been told at least once that they're mad and that it will never work. You just have to be flexible and good at adapting. You've got to listen but also be able to talk and talk and talk about your project so as to get feedback. Don't just stay in your own little world, constantly think about the bigger picture. To sum up, my advice would be to plan, work hard and always be able to adapt your ideas!

 

What motivates you?

Beauty! I'm addicted! No, in all seriousness, I never have one day that's the same as another. I'm motivated because I work with people I really like and who I look forward to seeing every day. And just the thought that anything can happen. I can have an idea one weekend and then on Monday morning, I go to work and put it into motion!

What are your favourite sites?

Ysé for underwear, Cult Furniture for furniture (we've just spent a small fortune on furniture for our new office), Stylebop for fashion, Net A Porter for fashion and beauty, Les Trouvailles d’Elsa for jewellery and Sézane for just about everything !

And your favourite blogs?

Into the Gloss, Ma Récréation, The Socialite Family, The Coveteur, Get the Gloss, My Little Fabric et hello-hello.fr.