“The lack of transparency is something that has bothered me for years,” says Anna Priadka, founder of fiils, make-up artist, and artist to sustainable beauty entrepreneur. “At fiils, we consider the product lifecycle from start to finish and are very open about how our supply chain works. Building this into our mission from day one has given us a great base in which to scale on.”
When fiils launched with personal care products inside of aluminum containers and refill pouches in 2021, it was met with immense support and feedback. The one-stop-shop for personal care products, fiils current lineup includes body wash, hand and body lotion, shampoo, and conditioner with the option to customize your bottle, refill, and scent. While the refill concept has certainly been on an ascent in recent years, the label takes a more personalized approach that separates it from other brands. Furthermore, all ingredients are sustainably sourced and scented with pure essential oils.
In addition to fiils’ individual products, the brand’s range is available in the form of its Build Your Own Duo and Build Your Own Kit, providing the ultimate refillable experience. Currently, the products come in three different scents: coconut, lemongrass, and pomelo. “We’re trying to push against trends at fiils by creating simple, natural formulas that work with a high concentration of botanical actives that are biodegradable and cause no harm to the environment,” Anna shares.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Priadka in regards to the beauty industry, eco-responsibility without compromising luxury, and tackling the industry’s waste problem among other topics. Read on for our interview.
Being someone who has worked in beauty for some years now, is there anything that frustrates you most about the industry?
The lack of transparency is something that has bothered me for years. I guess the biggest problem over the past couple of decades, is brands and influencers using filters and airbrushing photos to sell products. The funny thing is, we all just accepted it and never questioned if it was wrong. Whilst it’s something that is improving with many brands opting out of airbrushing, we’re now seeing a lack of transparency from a sustainable angle.
It’s become such a buzzword in the industry that many brands are greenwashing—often tagging words such as ‘natural’ and ‘recyclable’ onto their products whilst giving no thought or explanation to the greater mission or overall impact of the product. As sustainability becomes compulsory and the government begins to crack down on claims, many of these brands will have to adjust. At fiils, we consider the product lifecycle from start to finish and are very open about how our supply chain works. Building this into our mission from day one has given us a great base in which to scale on.
Prior to launching Fiils, you started a vegan lipstick brand, which is extremely admirable considering fiercely competitive beauty can be at times. What have you learned during the process of launching both that people can take away from your journey?
My background in beauty is primarily in makeup so it was a natural progression to start with lipstick. I always knew I wanted my own brand one day and my hybrid love of business and creative fuelled this idea. I launched the lipstick brand 6 months after I left my full-time job and whilst it was initially successful, it soon failed due to several factors. I had underestimated how much money you would need to bring a makeup brand to market. Although the formula and branding were great, not having a huge point of difference or tons of disposable cash to extend the range and invest into marketing was a deal-breaker.
Secondly, as I’d ventured into the journey of entrepreneurship, I realized I wanted to own a brand that contributed to the world in a positive way. By bringing another lipstick brand to the market, I was simply fuelling the growing problem of overconsumption in the beauty industry, and it didn’t make me feel good. With both factors in mind, I pivoted a year after I launched my first brand to fiils. As soon as I made the shift, I knew this was the path I was meant to follow and I was 100% aligned with this mission.
Talk to us about bringing the label from conception to realization—what void were you looking to fill at that time and were there any hurdles you had to overcome in the process?
I knew we needed to find a better way to consume beauty and personal care products, starting with the bathroom. This was where I personally generated the most waste and it seemed like the obvious place to start. Refillable concepts were starting to crop up here and there in the market, but it hadn’t gone mainstream and there weren’t many options. I explored a lot of different ways of delivering a concept like this to the end consumer and landed on the model we have now as I knew it had to be easy and convenient to make the switch.
There was and still is a lack of good ways to deliver a refill model that’s a huge win for the environment and convenient. Unless you’re looking to completely switch formulas to say, a solid. Another big challenge from a technical perspective was funding to bring the concept to market, I’d exhausted my own personal funds on my first business and needed an amount of £75k to bring a prototype to market. I put together a deck and asked around my own network for anyone who might be interested in investing in a concept like this.
Luckily, because sustainability was starting to gain in popularity, my early investors saw the value and delivered the first couple of checks to get us launched.
How have you incorporated Fiils into your daily self-care routine since launching the label?
Fiils is such an easy model to adopt as it doesn’t require a massive habitual change. The difference is you keep the bottle and send us the packs back once you’re done in the mail, so nothing goes to landfill. Even as the founder of a sustainable business, I’m not perfect, and with a busy lifestyle, I understand our customers’ pain points of also trying to do the same. This has helped me create a product and a concept that works, and I love using it every day. I remember cleaning out my plastic bottles and putting fiils in my bathroom for the first time, it was such a good feeling!
As Fiils is focused on ethical production and sustainability, do you believe that consumers should minimize their routines and stick to only what their skin truly needs?
I think there is an aspect of this yes. Many skincare routines are driven by trends, not need. If you think about it- do you need five different serums and shampoos? Or do you just need one that performs well and delivers all the benefits? Clever marketing has made us believe we need a million different products for a million different things, which only leads to waste.
We’re trying to push against trends at fiils by creating simple, natural formulas that work with a high concentration of botanical actives that are biodegradable and cause no harm to the environment. This way we can eliminate waste caused by unnecessary product launches season after season. We’ve only had three scents since launch and are adding to the range slowly, driven by our customer feedback.
Besides being eco-responsible, has it been important for you to create products that feel luxurious and chic to use as well?
Absolutely, as a beauty brand, we know it’s our formulas that will keep customers coming back. So many brands now have sustainability as a core part of their messaging, so we can’t just focus on that.
That only leaves us with one final question, and that is what advice you would give to young women starting out in the beauty industry?
Women are incredibly talented entrepreneurs and leaders, but we lack the confidence to bring our ideas/dreams to life and execute them. It’s not surprising when most successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the media are men. Luckily the beauty industry is a wonderfully open space in which to start a career. I have met the most incredibly bright and vibrant people, many of whom are lifelong friends. It can be a competitive industry but figure out what you want to specialize in and work hard to practice and hone your craft. If you really have a passion for what you can do in beauty, you can succeed—there are lots of opportunities!
Elsewhere in beauty, Ries is changing how we see beauty on the go with refillable, travel-size containers.