Welcome to How It’s Made where we go behind the scenes with your favourite brands to find out how their most popular products are produced. For our latest installment, we went behind the scenes with Elle Ferguson, and her self tanner, Elle Effect, to find out exactly how the brand’s signature product come to fruition.
Elle Ferguson exploded onto the Australian influencer scene a decade ago as one half of fashion blog, They All Hate Us. Fast forward to now, and she's grown her personal brand ten-fold, works with a slew of international designers, and to top it off, has gone and launched her own brand, Elle Effect. The first and only product right now is the brands' tanner. A red-based, rose-scented mousse responsible for Elle's signature glow, the product exploded onto Instagram earlier this year, and with endorsements from the likes of Jen Atkin, Kim Kardashian West, and Marianna Hewitt, it's been an It-girl staple ever since.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Elle and ask her to share with us all of the details that went into launching the brand, and what she's currently working on. Keep reading to find out exactly how it's made.
What’s the story behind Elle Effect—how did it come to be?
I personally believe the Elle Effect has always been an idea buried in the back of my mind, but in the last 18 months I gained a lot of confidence by surrounding myself with amazing business women who were making a change and disrupting the industry—I wanted to be part of the movement. My first product under the brand name Elle Effect is the Tanning Mousse. I started here because I love a golden glow. I'm obviously opposed to tanning my skin via the sun, so I've always used tanner but struggled when it came to the right colour and scent. So I took it upon myself to create the perfect universal tan that can be built to your desired shade, and has a beautiful, subtle rose fragrance.
How did you decide on the branding?
Branding for me was quite a process. I learnt a lot about myself as I wanted this branding to reflect my personal style. I also have a background in design so I'm extremely critical. I have to laugh when I look at it sometimes as it is so super simple, but I truly love it. The bottle itself is like a blank canvas, but you can tailor it to suit your unique style, thanks to cute stickers that come inside the packaging.
What’s the ethos behind the products you create?
The Elle Effect represents so much more than just a tanner. It's about always remembering not to judge a book by its cover. I like to think of it as more of an attitude that comes from within.
Talk us through the process, from start to finish, of creating the Elle Effect.
The process of creating the tan started in a lab with a chemist in Los Angeles. We had so many meetings to discuss what I wanted and didn't want in my tan. From there, the chemist made samples of different batches of colours and scents. Over the next six months, I covered everyone I knew (including my boyfriend) in samples of the tan. I wanted it to be perfect, but I also wanted to see the colour and smell on different skin types. As this was happening, I sourced mitt manufacturers so that I could offer that to consumers as well. I'm actually in the process of developing a new mitt, so I'm super excited about that.
Once I was happy with the tanning solution, I started working on the bottle, lid and pump.
You don't realise all the elements that go into just that one bottle. And there are so many shades of white (for the bottle) I had to choose from! The list goes on, but I'm so happy with the end result. It's the best tanner I've ever used.
What was the best piece of business advice you received?
It was actually after the product was complete, and that was to hire a copy writer! Ha ha.
Where do you look for product inspiration?
Everywhere! I’m also extremely invested in The Ouai and Jen Atkin's journey—I think she is amazing.
How important is customer feedback to you?
I respond to every single email. Customer feedback is what makes your brand.
What are you working on now?
I am excited to say that I have just come back from meetings with my chemist in L.A. I actually just received my second round of samples of the next product we are working on, and I can say there's a third in the mix! Exciting times ahead.