February 28th, 2022
Jenni Retourné has worked in beauty for nearly 20 years, as a beauty editor and marketing manager before launching Willowberry in 2017, which has gained many top make-up artist fans.
Championing Age Without Apology, the brand was born from Jenni’s desire to provide natural skincare designed especially for the needs of grown-up skin, without telling people to “reverse” their faces.
Willowberry’s New Year Older Me social media campaign at the start of January was really successful and Jenni is continuing to build a more positive age narrative, including her support of International Women’s Day’s #BreakTheBias theme in March.
Her passion to change the age narrative in beauty has been recognized by the British Beauty Council which has appointed her member of their Diversity & Inclusion Committee to represent age diversity in beauty.
We caught up with Jenni to chat beauty, skincare and ageing.
What’s your background and what brought you into beauty?
I’ve worked in beauty for nearly 20 years; as a beauty editor then running my own beauty marketing company, before launching Willowberry in 2017. My first foray into beauty was in the role of editorial assistant on a trade beauty magazine when I was 22. I love the industry and have been in it ever since!
What’s your first make-up memory?
My first make-up memories are those of my mum’s make-up; she didn’t wear a lot of make-up, just a few trusty products to enhance her looks. I would sit and watch her as she applied eye shadow and mascara and think it was so grown-up! My mum had a few special beauty items on her dressing table which I used to adore, like Mary Quant eye crayons in a vintage yellow tin.
What’s the first product you remember using as a teenager and has that affected your later product choices?
I remember using basic teenage skincare products like Clearasil and Aapri and a Rimmel solid concealer stick. I always kept my make-up quite neutral but I liked to experiment with colour via my nails and hair. I think back then us teenagers didn’t really have a clue what we were doing, we read the advice in Just Seventeen and hoped for the best! Social media and YouTube have changed everything for this generation of teens. These days I look for quality products that work well, without costing a fortune.
You had a long and successful career in beauty – how did you end up creating your own brand?
As Editor of a trade beauty magazine I regularly spoke to brand owners and brand managers and it sparked a desire to do what they were doing! Then when I ran my own beauty marketing company I was working alongside brand owners and often provided consultancy on how they could grow their brands. One day in a consultancy meeting I thought; I should be doing this for myself. So I did!
What sets Willowberry apart from other beauty brands?
Willowberry products are designed especially for the needs of grown-up skin, to nourish and nurture skin without telling you to be ‘anti-age’. We offer what we call ‘nutritious natural’ skincare – focusing on natural ingredients that are high in vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, and taking natural a step further by using many unrefined natural oils and butters to retain maximum nutrients from the plant source.
Willowberry champions Age Without Apology and we want women to know that they can get older and still look good and feel good, rather than spending 50-odd years fighting their own faces by trying to reverse the signs of time.
Willowberry aims to encourage women to Age Without Apology – how does this shape the brand as you grow?
Age representation in beauty is at the heart of everything Willowberry does. We want to change the perception, representation and language of age and ageing in beauty and ensure age is celebrated and revered, not feared. It’s a big task to take on! Ageism, particularly towards women, has long existed in society and as a beauty brand I feel we have a responsibility to not trade on this insecurity for the sake of selling product. I want to change the age narrative in beauty and although it is a beast of a task to take on, change can only happen if we take the steps needed to start to work towards it.
Willowberry’s work towards this has been recognised by the British Beauty Council, which has appointed me a member of the British Beauty Council Diversity & Inclusion Committee, to represent age diversity in beauty. This is an important step because real change can only happen if the beauty industry joins forces to make real change, together. I’m excited to play a part in leading the way.
Why is it so important to have age inclusivity in beauty and skincare?
Women don’t become invisible once they hit 40. They don’t stop using beauty products once they hit 40. So why would we leave out entire generations from beauty imagery? Why is the lead communication towards older women the notions of ‘anti-ageing’ and ‘age reversal’? And why are 20 year old models used to sell an anti-ageing product? This all sends out the message that beauty = youth. That we become irrelevant and invisible as we get older. That we have to reverse the very normal signs of age that appear on our faces. I refuse to be part of that narrative and I want to create a new narrative that shows that ageing is NORMAL.
What’s your favourite product in the range and why? What can’t you live without?
If I had to choose one it would be the Willowberry Nutrient Boost Face Oil. It’s loaded with rosehip, chia seed and vitamin E to protect and nourish skin’s barrier function for a smoother, more radiant complexion. It makes a real difference to the skin. Top make-up artists love it for skin prep and as a natural highlighter because the formulation is ultra-light and easily absorbed, so it’s perfect for daytime use and it works well as a base for make-up.
The pandemic and lockdown have been really challenging for everyone – what positives have come out of the last two years for you?
For me, the pandemic highlighted the importance of balance because it forced us all to slow down; and the importance of friends and family, as we had to spend so much time away from our loved ones. I don’t ever want to be too busy to not be able to spend time living and enjoying normal, everyday life. I love that I can run my own company and still do the school run each day. Who knows what life has in store for us all, so let’s spend it living, loving and laughing.
What’s next for you?
Willowberry is 5 years old this year and it has achieved some wonderful things during this time. I will continue to grow Willowberry and I will work towards implementing change on the age narrative in beauty.
Follow Jenni on Instagram.
Find Willowberry on Instagram.
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