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In conversation with: Sunday Riley

Beauty business
A permanent fixture on any beauty lover's vanity, Sunday Riley's global success of the company didn't happen overnight. Read below on our interview with the brains behind the brand...

When shopping for the right beauty products for your skin, it can be quite daunting to find ingredients that are effective and give you the results you’ve been longing for. This is probably why Sunday Riley has reached cult status as “effective” is the term she’d define her eponymous brand.

The American skincare brand is highly popular for its fast-acting, effective formulas and quirky product names and during Milan Fashion Week – of which, Sunday Riley was the official skincare partner – we got the chance to sit down with the beauty mogul and discuss her journey into the industry, the brand’s hero products and an exciting new launch…

Tell us the story behind your name

It was my dad that named me. My parents were young when they had me and it’s funny because if you meet my parents, they don’t seem like the type of people who choose a name like Sunday. I was teased a lot as a kid and my dad was like, ‘If you want, go by your middle name.’ I saw that it really hurt him that I was hurting. So, I decided to stick with my name. But I asked him ‘Why did you choose Sunday?’ And he said he wanted a name that if I decided to go into business when I grew up, people would remember me by name. It was kind of fortuitous.

What was your journey like into the beauty industry? More specifically, skincare?

I’ve always been interested in beauty for sure. But when I was five, I didn’t say that I’m going to grow up and start a beauty company. But I had an interest and I had a passion for it, and you know, when you start pursuing your interests and passions, versus it being just a hobby, you start to meet people, you start to get involved in projects, and before you know it, you start learning skill sets, and it becomes your world and then opportunities continue to unfold and you just continue.

Did you see a gap in the market for good quality skincare or was it more of a personal story for you with your skin?

The official answer is yes, I did see a gap in the market in the setback that I wasn’t happy with skincare that I could buy, because I would try it and I wouldn’t see results. And for me, like I think when it comes to skincare, it’s such a personal journey that you want to see results. I would get one that might be for acne and the other might be hyperpigmentation or to get a glow, but I just didn’t I didn’t see it. And I thought there’s got to be a better way. Like, we can make things more effective. There was an opportunity for green technology and merging the concept of active science in botanicals, which I didn’t really see people pursuing at that time.

From a real perspective, it’s not that I saw as much a gap in the market as much as I just thought I could do it. I just believed in it.

Do you feel like you are where you belong?

I feel on the journey or on the path. I feel like there’s like your highest and best path, but you can take many paths in life, right? We can have an infinite number of justices. My goal is, is to try and stay on the one that’s like my highest and best. So, I feel like I’m on the path but not at the end of the path. And we’ll see where it goes.

What are some of the brand ethos of Sunday Riley?

I think that it kind of goes back to how you make an effective product. For me, the number one way to make an effective product is to start with clean, pure ingredients. For me, if you want to make a product that works, you have to spend money. You must spend a lot of money to make sure that you’re buying the ingredients that will get you there. It’s not just about selling one bottle to me. That’s not the goal, right? You sell one bottle great, but you have to build a client. You have to build a client for life.

I’m really passionate about the formulation and the fact that whenever we get new ingredients, ingredient suppliers reach out all the time and tell me about this new cool innovation.

Would you say that Sunday Riley’s Good Genes is the hero product?

I’d say it’s our iconic global bestseller. For sure. It’s our gateway product because it had shown such instant results.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about using retinoids?

I hear a lot like retinoids and vitamin C don’t work well together, or that you’re not supposed to use retinoids during the day. What I would recommend with retinoids is to use them at night, like every day. If you’re new to it now, if you’re new to retinoids I always say like ease your way in. It really is one of those ingredients your skin acclimates to.

How have your products evolved since launching in 2009?

Dramatically, I hope! I hope the product lines evolve and I hope I evolve. When we launched, we launched with roughly 10 products. And the only product that’s existing from that time period is Good Genes. Over time, I just continued but I also think as technology evolves, you have to decide, am I going to keep the product as is or can we make it better?

Now, you’re launching 5 Stars! Can you tell us more about that?

So, it’s funny, because, for me, I was also constantly thinking that maybe we can make something very targeted for the eye. It’s also hydrating, it’s gentle and it’s transformative. The eyes are a tricky area because the skin is very fragile and very thin. And it’s so active which is why you see it age quickly. I think that it’s important to kind of focus and make sure that we’re paying attention to it.

Can you tell us a little bit about Sunday Riley as the official skincare partner of Milan Fashion Week?

So with Milan Fashion Week, this is our second time working with them. The opportunity arose just kind of like out of the blue in a great way because I used to work with fashion weeks before but Paris, New York and London. Never Milan. But we’ve worked with the individual brands versus like with the actual Fashion Week’s body itself. This was a different opportunity. Why do we want to sponsor the actual fashion week? I think I was so excited to be part of like, getting back into seeing people and pouring back into the world and like so it’s been really cool.

And as we’re expanding in Europe, we thought let’s make our presence a little more well-known as well. It’s been an opportunity for us to get to know people a little bit here and doing the skincare backstage is a great chance for us to talk to the makeup artists and get them to try our products. It’s been really fun.

If you could describe Sunday Riley in one word, what would it be?

Effective. That’s what I focus on. I think if you can make something effective from everything else, from there on out, things will just play out.

Also read: Bridgerton babe Phoebe Dynevor lands a new role with Sunday Riley.