So, when I came across the Immortelle Beauty line a few years ago and followed the brand owner on twitter her bio read “I drive a manual truck in 5 inch heels.” Now, my parents made me learn to drive a stick shift – as in I didn’t drive an automatic until I had a license in hand. However, I could not do it in shoes. No joke, I would take my boots, flip flops, you name it, off to drive. So Kathryn’s bio set me some goals that I can proudly say I have managed to achieve!
So now, meet Kathryn Nurse, boss babe behind the Caribbean owned skin care line – Immortelle Beauty.
How did Immortelle Beauty come to be?
I trained as a Cosmetic Chemist at an R&D research lab in New Jersey. Immortelle Beauty came out of me wanting to come up with my own concepts and truly take ownership of the products I made throughout the entire development, marketing and sales process. I wanted everything to be mine and me to be the face of the products as well. So I decided to move home to Trinidad and start my little company.
What does your journey to this point of your career look like?
Omg. Messy? Lol it looks like a lot of steps forward and a few steps backward. I started the company in 2011 and then decided to stop doing it in 2012 to pursue another degree and another career path. God had different ideas though because that didn’t work out too well and I was back in Trinidad in 2014 with a new commitment to making Immortelle Beauty work. It has been all uphill from there but there are continuous challenges due to the fact that it’s more or less a one woman show with a lot of help and guidance from my father.
Did you go to school or take courses pertaining to all that you do in the making of your products?
I didn’t go to school. I have a Biology degree and I did a lot of lab work which positioned me perfectly for an internship in a cosmetic chemistry lab which then led to a job there right out of college.
What can we look forward to in the future of the Immortelle brand? Export! Right now I’m doing small orders directly through my online store but I’m hoping to expand and be able to supply the products to retail locations in the region as well.
What advice would you give to a young Caribbean entrepreneur starting out?
Have a sense of humor! Things are hard in the Caribbean and there’s a lot of bureaucracy and things take a long time to get done. If you approach everything with a sense of humor and see everything that might be frustration with a touch of the ridiculous it makes it lighter and easier to manage and allows you to let it roll off your back much faster. You almost have no choice because you will be in that same position again and again and again.
What are some of the hardships you’ve experienced since starting your skincare company?
I think gaining a foothold in the local market that’s flooded with international products has been one of the hardest things. Now I have built up a bank of great loyal supportive customers but retailers are still extremely difficult for me to work with especially now considering the local economic slowdown in Trinidad. If I were to classify it generally, I think one of the most difficult aspects has been getting people to place their trust in a local brand.
What moments have been your proudest in regards to Immortelle?
Every new launch is a proud moment because it’s like a new baby going off into the world. And definitely being selected as a 2017-2018 Scotiabank Vision Achiever candidate and the resulting exposure from that.
Do you think there is a Caribbean aesthetic, and if yes, how would you describe it?
I definitely do think there is a Caribbean aesthetic, but I absolutely don’t think its one thing that can be easily put into words. I think our difficulty is that because it’s a small place we want our aesthetic to be easily packaged, describable but just because the region is small, that doesn’t mean we fit into a box any better than people from larger countries. I think the Caribbean Aesthetic is about being easy and comfortable in your own skin.
If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be and why?
A beautiful bird so I could fly because I hate planes. Lol!
If you had to suggest one place to see and one thing to eat to a tourist in Trinidad, what would they be?
One place to see in Trinidad would be the Savannah on Carnival Tuesday. One thing to eat would be DOUBLES (cliché I know, but so so true).
all photos from Kathryn.