Julie Guichaoua is from Comme des Jumelles which is French for ‘twin sisters’. Julie used to be an Export Marketing Manager and after she had her daughters she wanted to really work on that bond between mothers and daughters, which as a mother we all really want to have, something really important in our lives. So she really wanted to find a way to strengthen that and do something that would create a difference. So she went away and she studied with Formula Botanica to learn all about natural skincare formulation and Comme des Jumelles was born! She completely pivoted her life from export marketing into the beauty and wellness world so that she can help other mums and daughters to create bubbles of happiness to celebrate their natural beauty. So I’m really excited to talk to Julie about this today.
You pivoted into the beauty world after working in export marketing, that feels a bit different so I’m sure that there were some very useful things that you’ll have brought along from there. So do you want to tell me all about that part of things right at the beginning of starting your business…
Yes definitely, so I spent 10 years in a bigger corporation working in international marketing and when I decided to change, because by then I had three daughters and I thought I cannot be on a plane, I cannot be on a train every other week or so. I need to change and therefore I went into really understanding what I would want to do, what would drive me, my passion.
It took some time but gradually I understood that beauty could be a really good opportunity for me. Actually my eldest daughter, who at the time was 11, we were chatting about what she liked etc. Then we came to discuss about beauty and at the time she was starting to really be interested in different brands and wanting to try this and something struck me. It was that there were a lot of products out there but not necessarily very good and a lot of plastic waste as well. It’s all about branding, it’s all about nice colours, and plastic that is not recyclable. Then I just told her, I said well why couldn’t we start a beauty brand that would actually use better quality ingredients to make sure that it’s safe on the younger girls and as well to make sure that we create something that is more eco-friendly because the beauty waste is enormous. And when you think about it and with all the news today, the beauty industry must go in that direction. It all started, I had that in mind. I looked online to see if I could find any training to just completely divert my career, and I found this Formula Botanica online course to learn how to formulate and to learn how to start an indie beauty brand that has very strong eco-friendly values. The lady who is heading this Formula Botanica course is fantastic and she’s always advocating about natural beauty and she’s pushing the beauty industry to change, she’s very inspirational – Lorraine Dallmeier. And, therefore, I decided to jump into that course, learned about formulating, learned about the beauty industry which I really didn’t know from a professional point of view. I was only a user of beauty products and I thought okay I’m gonna start my own brand. So it took some time, of course, because when I chose to go through this, I had my youngest daughter who was born, so I was also busy with my girls but gradually I started to look into creating a brand and that’s how eventually Comme des Jumelles was born. Because I’ve got three girls at home, I thought I really want to do something that is linked to my girls, something that I can share with them and beauty and wellness are a fantastic way to build something around family life.
So yes it all started and I registered the company in 2021. So it took a long time because working in the beauty industry and starting from scratch a brand, as you can imagine, takes a lot of creativity, a lot of effort, a lot of time. And then you have to create a brand, understand who you want to talk to, understand what product you want to bring. And once you have understood that and worked on this, you need to start working on the range, working on bespoke products in my case and so that was a very long creation process. Eventually I launched with the products in November 2022, so just under a year.
That’s amazing and you must have been so busy having three kids already and your other job. At what point did you stop working and start doing this full-time?
Just before registering the company, then I stopped. I studied, I was still working, I was freelance at the time. I had left my marketing position at the time but yes when I was studying I was still freelance, and then I stopped because I had to make a choice. I couldn’t handle everything together and so we made it work. We found ways to make it work, but yes it is challenging, especially with little ones, as you know they get sick regularly. And so sometimes you’ve got a day ahead, super well planned and you think yes I’m in the right mindset, I’m going to achieve so many things and then nursery calls you and tells you to come and pick up your child and then all your day has actually completely changed and you have to be flexible and rework things.
Yes I hate those days because instead of feeling all that compassion for your child I find I just get irritated!
So you started this out of a feeling of wanting to connect with your kids, so do you want to tell me about how your amazing beautiful products help people to connect with their daughters.
Yes, because when I found out that my youngest was a girl as well and that I was going to have three daughters, I really felt a little anxious and a huge responsibility, because I was going to have to go through the mother-daughter relationship with the three of them. And as we know sometimes it’s got a little bit of bad press, the mum-daughter relationship, and we keep saying how complicated it is etc and myself you know I love my mum but it is complicated and I really felt strongly about okay, I want to find a way to actually make it positive you know. It doesn’t have to be all angry relationships or battles, there must be a way. And therefore I started to think from a very young age if you really start nurturing and spending quality time.
So the thing is as parents we don’t have the time, whether we are working outside, whether it’s the house chores, there is always something going on. So we are the timekeepers and, in my case the mum particularly, we’re always checking on time – they need to be on time for school, they need to be on time for this activity but sometimes it’s quite difficult to connect really deeply with them. And I thought, every day beauty is part of everyday life or wellness – you will wash your face, you will moisturise your body, you will be at some point in the bathroom and I thought why not use that time that we have daily to actually connect deeper at that very moment. And that’s why I thought creating a skincare and wellness brand was a great way to connect.
So Comme des Jumelles, which means ‘twin sisters’, is really about beauty (inner and outside beauty) but it’s also about connection. It’s about sharing a moment together, caring for each other because beauty is about caring – you care for your skin. And as well with little girls, mummy can invite them to just embrace how they are because very quickly the girls will start saying ”I’ve got this and I’ve got that”. I can see that with my teenage girl, who’s 14 today, she doesn’t like her nose, and I’m just no, no you’re just beautiful as you are, it doesn’t matter, just embrace yourself as you are. And I think this is a very important moment to share with your girl because it helps her thrive, build her own confidence and you as a mother feel as well rewarded because you have that connection and when the connection is good, you feel happy when you have a good moment with your girls. So it’s a win-win situation and I think you know we talk a lot about mental health and especially when they are teenagers, I think if we get the foundation very solid where we can really create a bubble of happiness, where they feel secure then it’s something that she will carry with her for life, and that will be beneficial for the mums as well.
I read a little bit of a book from an American doctor who was saying that when she receives women in her surgery, when something goes wrong physically she can bet there is a problem with the mother. And she clearly says that the mother-daughter relationship when it doesn’t work, it actually impacts women physically. So by nurturing that relationship, not only do we make ourselves feel good from a mindset point of view but that bubble of happiness actually makes us physically better as well. It’s a really important relationship, so from starting at a young age and making sure that we embrace these daily moments that are there. We don’t have to create anything, we have to be in the bathroom all together at some point, so if we embrace them and really make sure that we get the most out of these moments, I think it’s super positive. And the same for the wellness side of things, where in the evening, as I said, I’ve launched a Dream Box for help in the evening to make sure that we use this moment, where usually we are again a timekeeper, and we’re just “quick, quick it’s time for bed”. And if we use it to really connect then it’s super beneficial for everybody.
I have a 13 year old daughter and those, what you said, ‘bubbles of happiness’ which I know I’ve seen that you’ve written it everywhere, something you say a lot, and it is when they’re happy you do feel so much better don’t you? And those moments that you have, I guess the bubbles of happiness, you sort of live with them don’t you? Like you keep holding on to them throughout the day or the week or whatever. We had an amazing day out, it was the day before she went back to school, and that was such a good day for me and I keep thinking about that day and it was ages ago.
But your bubbles of happiness are daily things to really keep that topped up, I think that’s absolutely lovely. So you just mentioned your Dream Box there. I think you should tell everybody a bit about your Dream Box because it just looks so beautiful.
Thank you. So it all came from the same idea where as a mum of three girls (I’ve got a 3, a 5 and a 14 year old) evening can be a little bit tricky with the little one running around and the middle one keeping asking to come to bed with us. And my eldest daughter sometimes just cannot fall asleep and I guess it’s anxiety. When she was younger, around seven, eight years old, we went through a moment where it was very difficult. She was very anxious and as a child I remember suffering from anxiety as well and I just couldn’t go to bed. And I thought okay, I’ve got my beauty and wellness brand about connecting mums and daughters, so there must be something I can create to actually help mums and daughters to just feel better in the evening when they’re ready to go to bed.
So I put together some enhancement sleep products – a pillow spray with lavender and fennel, because lavender calms the mind but fennel is actually very good for anxiety, so when you mix the two together you’ve got something that really helps in terms of essential oil. So you just spray this and my older daughter every night she’s got that on her pillow, I use it as well. You’ve got massage oil because I do believe that again the touch, connecting with your child is super important. So it’s my youngest who loves that every night, she gives me her feet and it seems it’s the feet that work better.
So it’s really a box to invite to have a connecting moment. You can read a bedtime story or sing a song, but you can as well add other things. Maybe not every night, every other night or when you feel it’s the right moment but it’s really to give you extra tools to make this moment something really enjoyable, something you look forward to. And I’ve created a little workbook as well which gives you a few tips to again add some tools. So like the massages I give the points that are very useful on the hands and on the feet to fall asleep, or yoga position for example – you put your legs up the wall and you do that next to your daughter for 10 minutes. Again we’re not talking about a long time because we don’t have the time, but the little time we have, if we make it slightly different it does help and it does you know make the connection work better. And when the bedtime routines work better, then you know our kids are more likely to feel serene to fall asleep, and then we can get on with our evening feeling light and happy, because if we’ve been running after them etc it just doesn’t feel right, it just drains us.
So indeed I’ve launched this Dream Box and at the moment this Dream Box is at £20 so it’s a great value for a Christmas stocking filler for example, or to have some nice evenings during half term.
Yes and you have given us, very generously, a discount code as well for 15% off, which I’ll pop in the show notes so don’t worry you don’t have to write it down if you’re listening to this, it’s WELCOME15 and you can go and pop that in and get that which is really kind of you.
So I love this because it’s about being more intentional in those connecting moments. I talk a lot about connection for what I do, obviously completely different, but I just love how there’s the same sort of thread running through. And you talked a little bit earlier on about when you were creating your brand about having to understand who you were going to work with, and figuring out who your ideal customer is and, obviously, you’ve built this whole thing around your kids and they must feel great that you’ve done that for them you’re like Supermam!
But you’re not selling it to your children, so how did you figure out all about who your audience is and how to understand them better because that’s such a critical thing for us all to know about isn’t it when we’re building our brands?
It is and to be honest it’s one question I had some difficulty to answer because, of course, I’m talking to mums and daughters and it was very important for me to understand actually who do I really talk to? Because the branding and the message cannot be the same – a daughter of 8 years old or 10 years old will not react the same as a mum. And I can see that of course with my own daughter because she’s actually also changed. She was 11 when I started, she’s 14 now so her approach is very different now she’s now “mummy what we want is not to be with our mums” and we have a really lovely relationship, we have lots of fun together but you know she reminds me that actually no, at 14 years old you don’t want to be with your mum. But earlier than that, around seven, eight years old, you really want to be with your mum and you want to do things like her and you want to use her products etc.
And so I thought it through very carefully and I found out really that I’m talking actually to mums. I realised that through me because somewhat, I am the ideal customer as well, because who cares about connecting together, mum-daughter? It’s actually the mum because the daughter doesn’t question this, the daughter is just connected to the mum and she will not think how can I make it better? She doesn’t care, she just loves her mum, she just is around and she does what she has to do.
But as a mum, and I’m sure you feel the same, we want to be the best mum we can. We suffer from mum’s guilt, we always fear that what we’re doing could impact negatively – when you get angry or when you get into an argument with your children etc you feel bad. Really it is the mum who wants to connect with their daughter, because as well I’m thinking I want this relationship to work really well because when they are grown up I want them to call me, I want to be part of their life. I don’t want to suddenly be “actually mummy, I don’t want you, I don’t connect with you”. So it’s the mum who is really looking forward to create something that can last, so I’m talking to the mum.
And last week I also thought but actually I’m talking to someone else who is equally important. It’s the little girl inside the mum because as adults, as women, what we find important as well and what we relate to is all the cherished moments we had with our mums. And two things, either we had a great relationship with our mums and we want to recreate the same because little mum inside us thought it was wonderful and we just want to give that to our daughter because it made us feel great. Or we didn’t have such a close relationship and we really missed it somewhat and we feel “I want to have a great relationship with my daughter” because the little girl inside me actually suffered from not having that connection with my mum and I think it’s very important. And now I’m sure I’m talking to the mum and I’m talking to the little girl inside the mum, it’s really a connection that we had or we didn’t have and these cherished moments, these cherished memories that we want to create or recreate with our girls.
Wow I love that, about talking to the little mum, I’m getting that wrong, the little girl inside, you know what you just said! Absolutely love that, yes the little girl inside of us! Because yes, I was one of the people with a wonderful childhood and my mam’s amazing. There’s so many good memories and you do spend your time, don’t you thinking “oh I’ll do this because my mam did this and I’ll do this because my mam did that with me”. To recreate all of that, that’s lovely because that isn’t something I would have thought about prior to you saying it that would be who you would be speaking to, but of course it is because it’s all about connection. I love that, that marries up so beautifully.
I’ve always known from the start that I wanted to talk to families and then I kind of went into the mum-daughter theme. I had a coach at the time and she said I think you should go that way because it makes it even more niche and even more unique.
But then for months I was a little bit lost thinking how do I manage the message because I want to talk to two very different audiences? And I could see my daughter didn’t really relate to my messages. It’s very recently I suddenly had a moment thinking, yes of course, I’m talking to mums and and even more than that I’m talking to the little girls inside of them.
I think it’s critical for a business starting or for a brand starting but it takes a long time. I think it’s a journey, it’s a long journey. And even now that I understand that and make sure even from a product point of view etc that I will bring something that makes the mum feel “I’m a good mum, and I’m doing the best to connect with my girls and to make our relationship a happy one”. My brand is a beauty and wellness brand but it’s also an emotional brand.
It really is and I think that really helps distinguish it from other beauty and wellness brands. Because obviously there are quite a few around but this has got a really specific idea of exactly what you’re trying to achieve and I think it’s beautiful.
I know that you are able to help people with skincare routine tips, how to help people look after their skin and with different beauty issues. So do you want to maybe share a skincare routine tip that we could all do today?
Yes, yes! So again, it’s from a mums and daughters point of view. Because I’m all about natural and trying to not complexify the skincare routine, for me really the first and most important message is cleansing. I’ve realised gradually that actually a lot of people are not cleansing and it makes such a difference. When I’m cleansing it is in the morning after showering, because in the shower the water tends to be too hot for our face skin. So after showering we need to cleanse to have the right skin to then put on the moisturiser, the serum or whatever we want. Then in the evening the same thing – cleansing before going to bed is a must. I remember my grandmother, who was in the skincare business as well, from a very young age she kept telling me you must, every evening, take your makeup off. It is a must if you want your skin to breathe and to look good.
So that’s why I chose to launch my first product with that cleanser – I’ll show you it here. It’s called The Magic Gelee. It’s with five oils and Sucragel which is a COSMOS approved ingredient so it’s 99% natural and it’s really beautiful. It just melts and smells of vanilla and it really takes everything off. Then you add a bit of water, it turns into milk, you rinse it off and you will have skin that is glowing. I was doing some tests with some friends of mine and really the difference is quite amazing. So yes, please cleanse even if in the evening you’re super tired – maybe cleanse while your children are brushing their teeth so at least it’s done, you’re awake, you know you don’t do it right before going to bed when you just feel drained and you don’t have the strength to do it.
Same for your girls really. I think it is something important to teach them from an early age – I would say even seven, eight. Just a habit like brushing your teeth, you just cleanse, you wash your face because eventually the better you care for your skin from a young age (and I’m not meaning you know expensive cream etc I’m talking about cleansing) then the better your skin will be later on, it’s really the first step. Then I would say, depending on the results you want of course, for mums we can use a bit of eye cream, especially when we are tired, and serum and then moisturising and of course the SPF which is very, very important to keep your skin protected as much as possible. And for the daughter when they are young, of course, a simple moisturiser and again SPF are critical.
So yes and then in the evening for the mum to again have a nice serum. Because it’s also how it makes you feel, the products, so maybe having this serum that smells nice or it just makes you feel happy and that’s a very important thing. And then of course the moisturiser. And as for the body, I believe that we need as well to nourish our body every day because very quickly you get dry skin. So that’s why the other product that I launched is called Comme une Caresse – like a stroke, like a caress and it’s 96% natural with a blue tansy oil, which is a beautiful luxurious oil that is known to repair the skin. So whenever you’ve got a bit of a rash or even after sunburn, blue tansy oil works beautifully and you’ve got sodium hyaluronate etc. So it goes deep in the skin and it’s got a little scent of vanilla and lavender, so it’s got quite a sweet scent that is beautiful for both mums and daughters. And I think it’s really important to get into the habit again of the basic needs in terms of caring for your skin. Because as I said I’m talking about beauty, but to me beauty is about caring for your skin, to take care of what you have, not to make it different but it’s really caring for your skin.
Yeah fantastic, oh that was great! And I love how you talk a lot there about the natural, what’s the word I want, natural sustainability sort of angle/side of what you do as well. That’s really shining through in everything you put out there, and I love that because I’m always saying to people, make a decision about what matters to you and then figure out how to get it out there and stick to doing that and you really have done that and it shows up so clearly and it’s obviously really important.
At the beginning of this conversation you said that was something that really mattered to your daughter, at the time, and I love that you’ve taken that and ran with it and kept it going. It’s something that’s so important, certainly for me, that matters to me when I’m buying skincare. So I love that. I think that you’re doing beautiful work for beautiful purposes and I’m definitely going to go and have a look and buy something and use that code. So thank you so much!
The link to your website is going to go into the show notes, so people can go and have a look at that. Is there anywhere else that you like people to particularly go to?
You can find the products as well in a shop in Suffolk, it’s a lovely shop for children because since Mothercare closed down there are areas where you don’t really have specialised shops for children and this lady’ has created a beautiful shop with lots of really, really beautiful products – she’s called Mamiina and you can find our products there and we are as well on Amazon UK – for the moment that is where you can find us!
Fantastic thank you so much I’ve really enjoyed having this conversation!
Thank you so much Amy for having me today on your podcast. It was really an honour.
Find Julie: commedesjumelles.com
Use code WELCOME15 for 15% off
Amy Purdie, The Brand Explorer takes you on an Adventure to discover what your brand is all about, helping you with your brand strategy, brand visuals and content ideas. You can join Amy’s Brand Success Club or join her in your very own Private Brand Adventure.
Amy has been enjoying designing logos, brand identities, illustration, print work and websites – since 2007 fuelled mainly by tea and chocolate.