If you enjoyed my Brand Founder Chats from back in February, you’ll love today’s special post. I asked Aashna Sharma, the founder of Shared Planet Cosmetics to come on the blog to share with us her motivations for starting a company at 17-years-old, her brand’s environmental mission, and a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create a wearable eyeshadow palette for a cause. Shared Planet is a conscious beauty brand with a dedicated purpose; they aim to raise awareness around the plight of endangered species by contributing 10% of their sales to conservation organizations like Panthera and Polar Bear International. They launched two thematic collections in 2019 – the Tiger Collection, and the Polar Bear Collection – with popular beauty influencers Christen Dominique and Nicole Guerriero, who traveled to Greenland and India (respectively) to create content for the brand (linked below).
As Aashna gears up to start her undergrad studies at NYU this fall, as well as juggle future launches for Shared Planet, she thankfully found the time to speak with me. You can follow the brand across their socials @sharedplanet.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START SHARED PLANET WHEN YOU DID?
There were two points for me, one was personal and the other was more from a market perspective. Personally I was completely obsessed with makeup. Literally, I would never watch TV; I would just watch makeup tutorials. It was the thing I loved to do. I’ve also come from a place of opportunity where I can take that step to start a business now. I’ve always been really interested in business, so combined with my passion for makeup, I just thought well why not now? Why not start a company now? Again, from a market perspective, clean beauty was already on the rise for a few years but I thought that more could be done. Terms like “clean” and “sustainable” are used so vaguely often by these big companies that just slap them on their products now. I really wanted to take a more in-depth look into what sustainability and clean beauty actually look like, and how we can contribute back to the planet at the same time.
DESCRIBE THE BRAND’S MISSION IN ONE SHORT SENTENCE.
To provide customers luxurious color cosmetics without compromising on ethics, and to contribute back to the planet.
WHY START WITH THE POLAR BEAR AND THE TIGER?
I’ve always been fascinated with both of them, but when we talk generally about endangered species, certain animals pop into your head. For example, you think of the melting ice caps and global warming, and so the association is normally with the polar bear. When I first wanted to release a collection and launch a brand, I really wanted to offer products that you could create any look with as a first launch. That’s why we have one more warm-toned collection, and one more cool-toned collection. So dependent on what you already have in your collection, or what you’re looking for, you could create any look with our palettes.
I was able to go with Nicole (Guerriero) to India while they were shooting the tiger campaign, but because of school I couldn’t be a part of the polar campaign unfortunately. As soon as I can travel again, I wanna get up to see the polar bears!
TAKE US THROUGH THE STEP-BY-STEP CREATIVE PROCESS OF PUTTING TOGETHER AN EYESHADOW PALETTE.
Product development is my absolute favorite thing to do. The biggest thing for us was finding the right manufacturer. When we first started forming our brand mission, we created quite an extensive “no-no” list. For instance, no mica from child labor, no phthalates, things like that. So finding a manufacturer to provide us with the right quality products without compromising on our ingredients list was a main focus.
It took me a few months to put together the color stories for our palettes, just laying things out in my mind initially. Then you go to the manufacturer and realize that doesn’t work for whatever reason. You then have to reroute and move in a different direction without completely losing sight of your original inspiration. In addition to our polar bear and tiger themes, I also came at it from a consumer perspective. What would my friends like when they are going out or going to homecoming? What are they going to gravitate towards? If they wanted to take only palette with them on vacation, it should be able to create various different looks.
About a year before we launched, I was up in Canada with our manufacturer and we spent about 3 to 4 days together – literally hours on end – going back and forth between the labs refining the colors. This one had too much pearl, this one was too muddy, etc. It’s a very extensive process finding the right color in terms of a palette’s color story, but also in terms of finding workable shades for every skintone and under-tone. Luckily our manufacturer has a very diverse office of employees, so we had a big meeting room filled with people with different skintones and undertones. Everyone had different colors swatched over their arms and eyes to test the shades. We went through about 3 iterations per shade (in each palette). The only shade that was easier was the matte black from both palettes. It just worked the first time, which was such a sigh of relief since we didn’t want to include any coal in our formula.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH BEAUTY INFLUENCERS LIKE CHRISTEN DOMINIQUE AND NICOLE GUERRIERO TO HELP LAUNCH THE BRAND?
First of all it was a complete fan-girl moment for me because they’re both OGs in the beauty community, and I’ve been watching them forever. We really set out to make a big statement to get our name and brand mission across in such a saturated market. Having both Nicole and Christen partner with us, who genuinely believed in our cause, really helped get that across to customers and our growing base. They are not official brand ambassadors but I’m sure we could be working with them again in the future.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE FROM THE BRAND WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR?
We’re having another launch this summer; luckily we got production going before the pandemic hit. Our future launches around holiday and later have unfortunately been affected by the current circumstances. But we’re going to expand not only the type of product we’re creating within the next year, but we’re also expanding on the animals and collections.
WHAT DOES YOUR EVERYDAY BEAUTY ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
I oscillate between two extremes with my beauty routine, especially now. It’s either bare-faced/minimal makeup or it’s full glam. In terms of my skincare, I pride myself on how regimented I am. Every night without fail I take off my makeup, I put on my toner, and all that stuff. I had eczema and pretty severe acne up until about two years ago. Everyone told me to put salicylic acid on my face, but that made me really dry! So it was really a balance between having dryer skin but also getting pimples like a regular teenager would.
You can shop all things Shared Planet here!
xo, and be well, Erica