Sabrina and Idris Elba are well aware that their S’ABLE Labs isn’t the only celebrity-endorsed beauty line to hit shelves this year—but they sure are the only beauty brand that’s hit a very specific, very personal niche (with a little husband-wife creative collaboration in the mix).
“It probably helps give a little context to why we started,” Sabrina shares at a recent meeting where she talks about the three-piece skincare collection (there’s currently a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, with more in the works). “It was at the beginning of the lockdown. We were isolated from friends and family – everyone was – and we quickly realized that this isolation was affecting our mental well-being… that our friends and family and everyone we care about is such a huge part of it all. So we had these conversations about the wellness arena and wellness in general. Is there something for us? We started conversing with couples we admire on Instagram; I’m not kidding, we started doing our Community Tuesdays.”
As Sabrina recalls, the conversation quickly evolved into something bigger: “We built this sweet little organic community, and people were interested, and we were like, ‘Well, how can we serve this wellness community that we’re trying to build?’ And it was a community that cared a lot about what we cared about. The last thing we wanted to do was create more stuff – because we both really care about the climate – but we felt there was a real space in the market. And there was nothing like what we wanted to create that was marketed toward people of color, first of all, it wasn’t like a separate aisle at Walmart or Target because it had shea butter in it, and that brought farmers to where those ingredients we take into account.”
The ingredient story is pretty legit.
I hope so! A-Beauty can’t get enough love. You hear about all kinds of beauty, but the African continent has so many great ingredients. Idris and I both grew up watching our parents use all these amazing things. My dad drank black tea every morning, black seed tea, and it was really part of his health routine. Then my mom would put oils on her face every morning. Smart women have been doing it for generations. Every ingredient we use really has a story, but an even bigger story is everything we left out. We really made sure we had no sulfates, no binders, all of that. Ingredients were a huge part for us.
We should know where the ingredients in our skin care come from, just like we care where our food comes from. I also honestly asked, ‘Why do we have to pay so much for these wonderful formulations? Why can’t we offer these things? And was it affordable?” Those were the passions that underpinned what we did when we started; I feel we are there now.
There are a lot of words being thrown around – especially when it comes to sustainability – but I feel like it’s just us talking. It wasn’t easy. It was an education. But it’s not that hard to know who you’re buying from. It’s not that hard to make sure everyone you work with is a B-corp and cares about packaging – because consumers care. I’m proud to be able to say, ‘Hey! We have this product that meets the skin needs of all different types of people and also doesn’t harm the planet.”
What made you decide to start these three products?
Personally, it started to bother me when I would buy skin care and it would be one bottle for niacin and one bottle for hyaluronic acid. Of course, there are brands that have done all of this really well. We can put all these things together in a formulation. We don’t need one single product for everything. It’s not very climate-friendly or forward-thinking, so we wanted to wrap everything together and have these three essentials that make for an efficient and simple routine. You can share them with your partner, with a friend, with a roommate. You can use less because you use them together – you only have these three things that can be all you need and all you wanted.
Is there a dream product you would like to create?
We have things to do. There are a few other products that I add to my routine from other brands that I obviously like. I love masks. I’m such a makeup artist! Not to give too much away, but I definitely want to do it. I want to make facial oils because I love oils. I’m happily greasy all the time! I just smother it all over my body. I also want to get more into the wellness world and explore beyond skin care. Look at the hair and the body… things like that. It’s an exciting time when you’re starting a brand. Where are we going? We just want to make sure everything we do is thoughtful and thoughtful.
Is there another brand in the universe that you really look up to?
In fact, there are several brands that have helped us on our way to this launch. Charlotte Tilbury has been a wonderful mentor for us. She helped us connect with everyone we needed to get out of the country. She said, ‘You need to talk to that person and call that person and make sure you don’t use it.’ She literally taught us through her mistakes – everything she learned. He is clearly one of the biggest successes in the industry. There should be a documentary about Charlotte Tilbury! She is amazing. Also, Barbara Sturm’s was a huge help. She is my derma and she was super inspiring. Her line of dark skin tones is something that really started this whole idea. She was definitely a huge inspiration for us too.
Was there anything you and Idris got into when you worked together to launch the line?
You know what’s funny is that Idris wanted to launch with color at the same time…that’s a lot! I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ We want to make color without color, but we’re going to do it slowly. He is a suitor. He’s so creative and always comes in and the mic gets it going [laughs] great ideas and I’ll be like, “Logistics, baby. Slow it down a bit.’
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