Jess Baker is a Chartered Psychologist and founder of MIMI Skincare Kits. In this interview she talks to me about comfort zones, beauty that is more than skin deep and the advice she would give her 20 year old self.
What’s your thing?
I’m a Chartered Psychologist and have worked as a coach with senior leaders and business owners, as well as a consultant, designing and delivering assessment and leadership development programmes for multinational organisations. I am also the founder of MIMI Skincare Kits, natural skincare that’s handmade by you.
How did you get here?
I’ve been making natural facemasks using food and plant-based ingredients for a long time to help soothe my skin. I have rosacea, a facial skin condition, and my sensitive skin readily reacts to almost all manufactured chemicals found in everyday off the shelf creams and lotions. In addition, the medicated creams my dermatologist prescribed made my skin even worse. I eventually began to experiment with cosmetic-grade ingredients such as clays, proteins, and plant-based oils that worked with my skin, not against it.
As my products were working well for me I needed to know what others thought of them, so I recruited a group of testers (50 willing volunteers, women from my local community) and they helped me to develop all of the products, starting with the Green Goddess facemask recipe. I also worked with a branding agency and sourced packaging, and by Christmas 2013 I was ready to sell MIMI products at local Christmas markets.
What do you love most about what you do?
The rave reviews from customers makes my heart sing: my main aim, as a psychologist and with MIMI, is to help people feel better about themselves. So when I hear that their skin is softer, that their acne scars are less visible, or that they had fun mixing up and using facemasks with their daughter or friends, it inspires me to carry on.
What do you find most challenging about your work?
Being a small business in one of the world’s largest and most competitive industries is really tough. In order to grow my business I need to tell more people about MIMI. On the one hand I’m lucky because I get a lot of support from my local community, my personal network and even from other skincare brand owners, which is wonderful. On the other hand, extending my reach at a national level to reach a broader audience would require a huge budget for advertising campaigns on TV or in magazines etc which, like most small businesses, I don’t have right now. In addition, if I did have a large marketing budget I’d only ever want to use real customers in my campaigns – they are real women (and men) who genuinely love MIMI products.
If you met your 20 year old self, what would you thank her for?
She never took no for an answer, was adventurous (I left home to travel and work my way around the world when I was 19 and didn’t return until I was 21), and very optimistic. I would thank her for being courageous and wanting to step out of her comfort zone. I don’t think I’ve changed much in this regard.
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
To keep challenging the status quo and trying new things. I would also tell her to tune in to and always trust her instinct – if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. My motto now is “if in doubt, don’t”.
What advice do you have for the woman who wants to feel beautiful
As a psychologist I believe beauty is not skin-deep. Think of all the beautiful women in your life and I bet none of them have a flawless complexion and none of them are wrinkle-free, yet they are beautiful to you because of the way they are: how they behave, what they say, and how they make you feel. Beauty starts with self-confidence, self-confidence starts with self-love.
The beauty industry pushes anti-ageing solutions, yet no skincare product can turn back time, and ageing is the most natural process that happens to us all, so we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. There’s also no such thing as ‘flawless’ skin – even the models in the advert are airbrushed to ‘perfection’. Cindy Crawford famously said “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”
When did you last step out of your comfort zone and how did that feel?
Back in 2013 when I first began to develop a product based on my idea for a fresh facemask.
Coming from a completely unrelated industry – Business Psychology – into the beauty industry was a huge leap. My learning curve was steep, and never stops (product development, brand development, legislation, online retail etc).
It felt exciting, interesting, and fun. I love a challenge. But it also felt scary. I like to make sound decisions, in the same way that I’ve helped clients make good business decisions. But starting a business is probably the most unpredictable and frustrating position to be in, so sometimes you have to be prepared to get it wrong: acknowledge mistakes, listen to feedback, make changes and move on.
Who do you most admire and why?
There’s not one specific person, but I admire anyone who’s ever challenged the status quo to improve it in some way. I respect people who demonstrate courage, determination and creativity, and who do so with love and respect for others.
Where can we learn more about you and your work?
Tune into my online programme Love Your Look – it’s a series of articles and exercises that help boost your self-confidence based on psychology, mindfulness, self-compassion, the power of laughter and body language.
Find out more about MIMI Skincare Kits at MakeitMakeit.com
Find out more about my work as a psychologist at JessBaker.co.uk