Originally from Panama, Lourdes Gaudiano came to Switzerland in 2006. What began as a hobby – making soaps and selling them at local markets, Family and friends – soon turned into a business. However, after selling her products for several years, she realized that Luxury was not associated with sustainability, and as someone who is really conscious about the environment she realized that she could make a positive impact bringing these two worlds together. Lourdes is the passionate and savvy woman behind the natural skincare brand Luly Gaudiano.
Here at House of Coco we really champion brands that care about the environment and we are truly behind the mission that Luly Gaudiano is on. We spent some time with her to find out more…
Tell us about the story that lead you launching the brand…
When I came to live in Switzerland, I was expecting to learn the language get a job and have a normal life, but nothing prepared me for the long journey I was going to have.
I live in the German part of Switzerland that means that the official language is German but on daily basis they speak Swiss German a dialect. I visited many German classes and still I couldn’t communicate properly it is like learning Italian in Panama. After 300+ applications I could only have a part time job for 6 months. that was very hard because I had finished a Master degree in a top university in Madrid and if you don’t have experience and do not speak the language you have no chance.
One day I was totally depressed at home and my husband told me you need to find a hobby. and that’s how we went to a handcraft shop and bought a book on how to make cold process soaps.
I started making tons of soaps but didn’t know what to do with them so again my husband suggested me to sell them in the local markets and I visited my first market about 9 years ago when I was 4 months old pregnant.
I sold to my family and friends in Panama, I visited many markets, I did natural cosmetic courses in France where I met my mentor, the one who told I should make a business out of it, but the real turning point was when I was in a Christmas market selling at -11 °. I’m from Panama, over there is around 29° year round and only two seasons, wet and dry. I questioned my entire existence for the time it lasted. I refuse to suffer again like that so After thinking how to do it, I contacted my mentor and told her let do this. I was supposed to do only bar soaps but again my circumstances where not the best, with a kid and my family one continent away I didn’t have the support to produce them myself and at the same time taking care of a kid, that’s how we came to the idea of working with a professional lab who could do them for me.
I was too small for the labs here in Switzerland, so it took me around 2 + years and a shot of luck to find one that was willing to take my project. They didn’t produce soaps but offer me the possibility to make a line with the 3 products so I tweak my first idea and made the line with the 3 products that I’m selling now.
How I came with the Idea of sustainable luxury?
I have to start that saying that women in Panama likes to take care of their look, we do spend a ridiculous amount of time in the beauty salon but that doesn’t mean that we are superficial. we are hard workers educated, great friends mothers and looking good on the outside doesn’t mean were are weak, it’s a part of our culture and we really enjoy it.
On the other side as a kid I was always worry about the environment and used to ask to my parents donations for saving the rain forest as birthday presents, so when I came to Switzerland I was fascinated on how they took care of the environment and how advance they are in the natural cosmetic world. I immediately started to switch to more clean swiss brands, I enjoyed recycling but I realize the more I was into this world how apart it was from the luxury industry, and I thought about myself, I like nice stuff and to take care of myself but I still care about the worlds problems and making a brand that stands for sustainability and luxury could bring more people to the green side without being judgmental. I’m not about pointing who is doing it wrong but more about building a brand that people doesn’t feel to give up their lifestyle in order to be more conscious about the environment. You can be both pretty on the inside as well as the outside. You can be an Iron woman with hearts of gold
How do you want people to feel when thy use your skin care products?
I wan them to feel ethical, knowing that the products they use are made with fairly source ingredients, no animal testing, clean energy and ingredients, minimum and recyclable packaging that allows them to close the circle.
What sets you apart from other beauty brands?
The concept of bringing Luxury and Sustainability together. Environmental problems affect all of us, it doesn’t matter if we’re rich or poor and bringing awareness to this group is key to fight it.
In 2020, what are your plans for the brand?
The most important is to make the brand financially stable to bring my 4th product to the market, although it has been a very bumpy road, I did enjoy developing the products. That means promoting the brand, hopefully participate in another expo and of course find more outlets to sell the products.
One of the reasons beauty brands fail is because they fail on marketing side. How do you spread the word about what do you do?
Today is everything about promoting our brands in social media contacting retailers sending samples pushing mails, yes that’s part of it, but we are failing to simply start spreading the word around us with our family and friends, that strangers at the party may work in an important retailer or have some connections. I asked people if they’re not interested, they can be a great help just liking my post on Instagram. Avoiding being too pushy is key for me and this mix has helped me to get the right exposure to participate in a few articles in an online magazine for Indi brands, my products will be show case in 3 editions from Vogue UK, I got a contact for an interview in my country a shout out from a influencer with 100+k followers for free, an interview with house of coco and a decent amount of orders.
For any aspiring entrepreneurs, what advice would you offer?
First take care of your health, specially your mental health it’s a tough ride.
Don’t get to emotionally attach to your project, you will get too many no’s if you get offended every time someone reject your project you won’t go too far.
Don’t worry too much about what other people are doing don waste your time on social media feeling sorry on what you haven’t achieve, if is upsetting you unfollow.
Be inspired by others don’t copy, every journey is different focus your energy on solving your challenges you will get plenty of them.
Work smarter not harder, get an agenda, keep a to do list prepare yourself the night before, etc. Keep clean and organize your working area put a plant make it welcoming to be there.
Don’t forget you still a human being, be kind to yourself. Your family and friends will love you no matter what.
And the most important, learn how and when to listen to your brain, heart and gut they are your biggest allies.
Enjoy the ride.
What are you doing to make your brand sustainable?
We are made with green energy, our ingredients are non-toxic, we use minimum packaging and recyclable , we don’t use samples sachets, talking with a producer he told us that they are not recyclable and they put the recycling symbol because the clients ask for it and as it’s not regulated they do it. Every company that I work is in line with my belief, so they have sustainable practices in their own offices and of course I try to make sustainable decisions on everything I do on daily basis.
Why is this something that interest you?
Because I have seen how indifference have destroy fantastic places in my country. We have the most beautiful nature but we don’t take care of it, and that’s is recurrent in too many places, I see here in Switzerland that is possible develop into a first world country and taking care of your natural resources.
What does self-care mean to me?
For me self-care is so important, I need time to slow down disconnect from the daily stress and worry, when I take care of myself, I become a happier person a better mom.
Our readers love to travel, what is at the top of your bucket list?
Petra in Jordan!
Outside of work, what do you do to switch off?
I love to take a quick shower before going to bed and that’s how actually I came with the 3 products (I exfoliate twice a week) use the Luxury cream that leaves my skin super! Silky I wear a nice pyjama and perfume, burn essential oil, organize the house, my next day agenda and write on my diary listening to relaxing music.
I recently discover that baking help me to switch off, a good chat with a friend, and of course fool around with my kids if you understand your kids they can be a pretty cool gang to hang out specially if you play music.
Tell us your favourite quote to read when you lack creativity?
There must be a way!
The best place to find motivation is inside yourself.
Luly is a true inspiration, follow her for more updates www.lulygaudiano.com