This week, Jessica has launched her own skin care product line, Equal Beauty, and it quickly becomes clear that Jessica hasn’t just lent her name to any ol’ cosmetic and skin care company to create a range off the back of her celebrity. Far from it, actually. The reality is Jessica Gomes is completely invested in this passion project – both personally and financially. Having funded the launch of the business herself (Jessica reveals she has only just signed on a minority stake investor to assist in “taking Equal Beauty to the next level”), she has also spent the last three years (!) navigating the entrepreneurial space of the beauty world. “The hardest part of creating Equal Beauty was getting a grasp of the manufacturing chain,” admits Jessica.
Involved in every single aspect of the brand’s creation – from concocting formulas and selecting ingredients to branding and boxes – Jessica proves she rebuts against stereotypes that once worked against her.
“When I first started my modelling career, I was not embraced by Australia. I had to go to Asia where my career really flourished particularly in South Korea. I’m Australian and I so badly wanted to work in Australia but I was always considered the Asian model, the curvy model, the swimsuit model,” says Jessica. Having well and truly achieved both local and international success in both modelling and acting (Jessica appeared in Transformers: Age of Extinction in 2014 and also stars in the upcoming Hollywood film Bastards alongside Owen Wilson and Ed Helms, which she says was “a once in a lifetime experience”), it’s clear there is much more to this (exceptionally) beautiful human than just good looks.
Gritty Pretty sat down with Jessica over a cup of green tea to talk more about her beauty brand Equal Beauty and what else in store for the 32-year-old (whom doesn’t look a day over 21) model, actress and now, beauty entrepreneur…
“I was in Palm Beach three years ago. It was Christmas time and I was with my family – it was the first time in a long time that I had taken some time off. I was feeling really invigorated and clear-headed. I was spending a lot of time by the ocean, I wasn’t wearing any makeup and I took some reflect. I just felt compelled to start my own business. I wanted to create a brand and work on a project that was my own. A brand that would allow me to control and direct the creative. I felt ready to take on the responsibility of starting my own company.
As a model, I already had a lot of experience with skin care. Skin specialist, Melanie Grant, is a good friend of mine and she has taught me a lot. She has inspired me along the way. Fumi Yamamoto has also looked after my skin as a model – she has taught me so much. Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of being able to play with all different types of skin care products and I realised what worked for me and what didn’t. I thought, “Why can’t I create a simple skin care line that I trust and know works not just for me but also for other women as well?” That’s really how the idea of Equal Beauty came to birth.
After I came up with the idea of Equal Beauty, I decided to act on it. I wrote up a business plan – it made me cry! I didn’t go to University; I left school in grade 12 and I’ve been modelling and travelling since then. I hadn’t written an essay in over 10 years and suddenly I was writing a business plan for my business – it was very confronting and the risk suddenly became real. I had to go back to basics and strip myself back. I told myself, “Okay, I need to write everything down. I need to put all of my thoughts and ideas into a plan. I needed to have a strategy. Launching any business involves risk – calculated risks – and it was scary. I had to figure out how to create this brand I had dreamed of without wasting any money and making too many mistakes, to be honest. That was probably the hardest part.”
The next step was speaking to people in the industry. I had to find people to surround myself with; business people who I could learn from. I flew to Perth to meet Andrea Bux (Founder of Invisible Zinc & Co-Founder of The Super Elixir by WelleCo) – she gave me a lot of advice. I was also lucky enough to go to Byron Bay where I was doing a meditation retreat with friends and it was there that I met Gary Harwood. Prior to meeting Gary, I had faced a lot of road blocks and met people who weren’t right to collaborate with on my brand. He was the one who really helped me navigate my way to finding the right people; the right chemist, the right manufacturer, the best packaging designer and so on to help me create Equal Beauty.”
“I’ve learned so much about myself since launching my own business! It’s important to work with people on your page and that get you. Sometimes situations just don’t gel and sometimes they do. I learned that pretty early on. The truth is having spent the last three years creating Equal Beauty, it was not easy. Even though I knew EXACTLY what my vision was, I still had to keep going back to my ‘why’ and not lose focus of why I wanted to create this simple skin care brand – and that was simply because I wanted to create a fragrance-free line for women on the go; an easy but efficacious range focused on hydration and protection, which featured Australian ingredients but powered by Korean and Japanese-inspired technology. I had to stay committed so that my brand has integrity. I’m really proud to have done that.”
“I have such a huge connection with Asia. When I started my career, I was embraced by South Korea before Australia. I was working in Seoul 7 or 8 years ago. I even had a television show there [My Name is Jessica Gomes]. My career did really well there and I think that is because my heritage. Growing up, I always felt connected to anyone who seemed similar to me. Yes, I’m Australian and I identify as Australian [Gomes was born in Sydney, raised in Perth and has a Chinese mother Portugese father] and I so badly wanted to model in Australia but at the same, Eurasians models simply were not being embraced. They didn’t get work. So, I went to South Korea and I just fell in love with it. I believe Korea is one of the leading case makers in the beauty world so I looked to there for certain types of technology that could enhance the efficacy of my products. I’ve always used cloth masks especially when travelling or before special events like runway shows or movie premieres. [Cloth masks] originated out of Asia, so I wanted to create my own. I created two – one for the full face and one just for the eyes, which launches later next month.”
“A woman had posted a photo of me on Instagram from a David Jones runway show. She had written something along the lines of, “It’s amazing to see David Jones using models of different ethnicity for their show. The face of the girl next door has really changed in Australia and I love that. #EqualBeauty.” When I saw that, I just thought, “I love that! Equal Beauty!” I was trying to think of other names but I kept coming back to the word ‘equal’. It can translate in so many ways as it can be about balance and equilibrium. In Japanese culture, it can relate to symmetry. And, it also can pertain to equality among people. I wanted the name of my brand to clearly state that this range is simple, it works and it should embrace your individual beauty – there is no one else like you – so that’s how the name Equal Beauty came to be.”
Used Super Mist constantly on set of our shoot, Jessica says, “It’s the perfect face mist because it’s packed with hyaluronic acid, which is super hydrating.” Hyaluronic, FYI, can be a man-made soluble but it’s also something our human bodies produce naturally. As we age, our bodies aren’t able to produce as much so spritz away. We also like this mist because it helps to protect your skin against pollution making it perfect for your bag and travel.
Full of antioxidants (which is code for good sh*t for your skin); the Super Serum fights against baddies known as free radicals. It’s also full of Vitamin C, which Jessica says she is “obsessed with” so it brightens and makes skin plump and radiant.”
The Cleansing Cloth was “one of the hardest to get right,” admits Jessica. The ultra-mesh cloth pads (which come in a pack of 30) contain phospholipids (two types of fatty acids good for naturally attracting water and holding onto it to give your skin a precious drink of moisture) so that your face isn’t striped dry when cleansing. Non-irritating for skin and eyes, use to melt away makeup, oil or dirt on the fly.
Like Jessica said, e.a.s.y.
At Gritty Pretty, we love a face mask and Equal Beauty’s Moisture Veil Face Mask is both genius and effective. The range’s star ingredient – hyaluronic acid – appears but it’s the little clever attachments that hook onto your ears so your mask doesn’t fall off your face that we really dig. Twenty minutes under this sheet and skin is hydrated and plump and when it’s plump, fine lines and wrinkles are reduced.
Launching in April, Moisture Veil Eye Mask is a “drink for the eyes”. A combination of quinoa extract (pronounced keen-wah) and peptides revives tired eyes and reduces puffiness. While this is one to watch out for, there is nothing stopping you from adding the rest to cart.
“Perhaps I’ll create new products to add to Equal Beauty but first, I want to listen to what other people want. I want to give them these four, five products first then see… If they want brightening products, perhaps I’ll create a mask specifically for brightening. Perhaps consumers may want a lip balm or a sunscreen or a heavier cream… I want to spend the next few months listening to their feedback before Equal Beauty grows and evolves. Margaret Zhang shot Equal Beauty’s campaign and we’ll be storytelling to our consumers about other women – like Natasha Bordizzo and Alexandra Spencer – who inspired us. After launching here in Australia, I’m looking to launch Equal Beauty in Asia.
Professionally, I’ve got Bastards coming out later this year. We shot the film in Atlanta, Miami and LA and I play Owen Wilson’s girlfriend. I had the opportunity to obviously work closely with Owen but I also met Glen Close, who is amazing. I love acting; I’m so passionate about film. If the right role came along, I would love to do more film. If the stars align and it’s the right script and a great character that I can embody, I would love to. I’m 32-years-old now and I think I’m finally in a really great, really happy place in both my professional and personal life.”