Namrata Nayyar-Kamdar is the founder at Plenaire, a beauty platform for young consumers that demand a cleaner approach to skincare.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I have worked for a number of larger FMCG companies including PEPSI, Coke and Unilever. Whilst at Unilever I led the complete development of Baby Dove as well as the brand redeployment of Lakme Skin Care and Color cosmetics in India circa 2005.
Prior to founding Plenaire I was Skincare innovation and Digital Director at Lumene, a boutique Finnish beauty brand. During my time there I revamped its skincare portfolio and oversaw the launch of Lumene.com.
My work experience covers a diverse set of product categories with a focus on female consumers, however over the past 10 years I have focussed on product development and design within personal care and beauty. Passionate about Design, Beauty and Trends, my other areas of expertise are Digital UX and understanding Multicultural audiences.
During my late thirties I experienced stress related burnout and a bout of postnatal depression and I took time off to work on myself. My own subsequent journey with mental health and what I learned during recovery from burnout coupled with the desire to lead a more balanced life was the impetus for me to create Plenaire.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Everyday is pretty varied and different.
A lot of it at this stage is focused on operations and project management- working with consultants and agencies -whether that’s a new piece of packaging design or a PR pitch or content for social media and online.
I love working with our Chemist and science team on NPD as well as brainstorming ideas to deliver growth. Much of our business today is wholesale, so a lot of the focus has also been on driving expertise and training our retailers. We are currently working on developing the 2.0 version of plenaire.co – which has been exciting.
I always try to find time in the day to think laterally and connect with our consumers and customers : whether that’s chatting with a stylist, photographer, makeup artist, simply browsing a beauty store for trends, Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram or catching up with my two favourite publications WWD and Business of Fashion to learn from what other brands are doing.
I try to find the balance between pleasure and work during every work day to stay focused, motivated and deliver clear outputs. When I was in therapy I was asked to look at my day and accomplish four things: one task for pleasure, one that was productive, one that helps to learn and one to stay present/calm the mind. I think if you don’t balance your mind and seek inspiration, you can get in a rut rather easily and perhaps not think discontinuously.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Over COVID I mostly worked from home as we were homeschooling or “trying to homeschool our children”, which was pretty taxing doing all of that alongside working on launching Plenaire.
Last year we invested in a small workspace just off the Kings Road which is cosy but in the middle of a fabulously buzzy part of London. This has helped me get much more focused as well as have virtual meetings with less distractions, overall.
I do love lists. They definitely keep me balanced and help drive a natural sense of accomplishment. I try to plan my week out by parking chunks of time with enough time for rest recharge and what I like to call discovery moments where it’s about connecting with our consumers, beauty, trends and so on.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
This January I have radically shifted my work style. I am awake by 545 am most mornings. I make a cup of tea and review goal setting as well as review/proof any writing work while my mind is fresh and clear.
I get my son ready and drop him to school by 8 am most days, and I’m in my favourite cafe by 815. I browse WhatsApp family groups, magazines, websites over a coffee and a Danish or some avocado toast. That’s my time for myself. I get to work just before 9 and am generally at my desk till 450 pm when I leave to collect my son.
4 times a week I’ll do a yoga or barre core class or a running class at the gym. I normally eat at my desk unless I have a lunch appointment or meeting in which case I will try and schedule those after 2pm, to allow me to get an uninterrupted block of work between 9-2pm.
With virtual meetings or calls I try to park them close to each other so I have blocks of time to deliver outputs when I need to. Then the evenings are really about spending time with my kids and when I can, cooking something from scratch.
I will go online at 7 and finish off any last minute things as well as write up/review goals for the next day. Friday nights I will try and finish off at 3pm and it’s a lovely ritual to stop at the store and recipe prep or meet a friend for a glass of wine or cocktail, book a massage or simply walk around the Kings Road lingering in a bookstore or doing some window shopping.
The early waking has been life changing! I read What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: years ago and I never really thought about implementing it – but better late than never!
5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Yes! Daring Greatly by Brene Brown was my theme song for a while. And then I love Depressive Illness/ Curse of the Strong by Dr. Tom Cantopher as well as 10 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morim.
There are several chapters in the book I refer to again and again. When I was in therapy, I loved working on communication styles as well as understanding deep relaxation techniques like mindfulness, color, light and aromatherapy.
I also experimented with manifesting and positive thinking. All of these acted as a way for me to get in touch with my body , senses and instincts better. I am an instinctive marketeer and being in touch with my senses plays a huge role in decision making for me.
6) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Definitely. Citymapper, Pocket Yoga and Calm love all three. Also loving Co-Star.
7) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would love to read an interview on work life balance by Mahatma Gandhi.
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