With 9 years in the business, Lauren Jin is a founder hitting her stride. She started her minimalist beauty brand, CLE Cosmetics, not with angel investors or a board to report to, but with her own north star to follow.
What stands out about Lauren is her ease and attention to detail, a juxtaposition that brings a tangible harmony to her work. That harmony can also be found in the brand’s mix of Western and Eastern beauty philosophies. CLE began out of Lauren’s desire to create products that were not only modern in their technology, but modern in their thinking. Korean beauty technology powers the functional formulas. And the use of non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free ingredients aligns with CLE’s mission to nurture our most natural state through ritual and self-care.
A well-considered lineup of products emerged from her beliefs at an equally deliberate rate. She isn’t moving at the speed of shareholders holding the reigns. She isn’t pumping out products for product’s sake. Rather, Lauren has created a space for herself and her team to thoughtfully develop and intentionally experiment in a way that has set her up for success in the long run. Yes, she aims to further build the line of skincare and makeup basics, but with purpose. Her recent launch of the Balancing Act Moisturizer helps to round out CLE’s tight edit of everyday essentials.
Celebrating the new launch followed suit! Our FUTURE LYNN team recently gathered a group of Bay Area women on a misty San Francisco evening, to meet with Lauren and learn about her journey with CLE Cosmetics. Tucked in a private room framed by traditional shoji screens, we feasted on a delicious Japanese five-course meal, while getting to know Lauren and making new friends at the table.
Conversation flowed along with the rounds of drinks and food. It was energizing to connect with women from different industries, cities, and career stages in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. What brought us together was our connection to FUTURE LYNN, and a shared desire to explore our creative selves. In the same way that Lauren designs CLE products to transform with interaction from the person using them, I wonder too how the paths set before us are shaped by our interaction with them. We grow, we shake, we learn, and that path beneath our feet takes new direction with every step. That conversation was present at the table. How do we shift into a new industry or phase in our careers? How do we get to where we would like to go with where we have been?
Lauren’s history with CLE is a testament to that idea of transformation. She actually began her career in fashion. While she appreciated the ability clothing has to create an emotional attachment through storytelling, Lauren believed that beauty was a more expansive medium to work with. Her well-trained eye for design carried over. First off, CLE Cosmetics packaging is incredible. Take the Lip Care Trio for instance (a personal fav). The compact houses three lip treatments in a sleek, sculptural, and modular encasing that caught my attention. Clever too, the packaging for the CCC Cream was designed to look like a paint tube! And the Fluid Touch Liquid Liner strikes a perfect chord between thoughtful and aesthetic. Its ergonomic design resembles a sharpie, with a matte finish for a steady hand. Lauren wanted to develop an eyeliner that would be easy to use and wear, since her mom has sensitive eyes and wished for one she would be able to experience. A bonus? The words on the packaging are reflective so that they can be read on the left and right sides when looking into the mirror. While on-brand with CLE’s value for inclusivity, Lauren enjoyed adding this subtle detail for herself, like an artist planting a little easter egg.
The idea of transformation itself is also an inspiration to Lauren. CLE’s formulas are developed to move from powder to liquid (like the Melting Lip Powder) and from one color to the next (the CCC Cream). The transformative aspect comes from interaction with the human using it. There’s a conversation between the two, and it feels personal. Lauren seeks to create from that place, thinking of the modern woman and what she needs to feel supported and empowered.
Gathered around the table that night in San Francisco, Lauren’s joy and vision for CLE were tangible. It’s an honor to witness a dream that has come to life and is still taking shape. And an honor too, getting to connect with other women on that journey. Does the path shape us, or do we shape the path? Continued musings for later… but this I know: one step at a time, with intention and authenticity, we will arrive where we ought to be.
Alexandra Porter is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. Her senior thesis collection of hand-sewn garments was chosen to be showcased at the SCAD Fashion Show in 2018. As a trend forecaster, stylist, writer and artist, she enjoys many vantage points from which to understand and contribute to the industry. With an intrinsic desire to pursue the purpose and meaning behind design and beyond, she is guided by this phrase: Think with dimension, Create with invention, Live with intention.
All photos also by Alexandra Porter.
all opinions are our own; no free products or compensation were received from manufacturers for these mentions.