Beauty Idol: Susan Benjamin from Ayo Beauty
Susan Benjamin is the founder of Ayo Beauty which is a luxurious body care brand that she created in memory of her late sister, Joy. The range consists of three premium products; The Body Crème which is a luxuriously rich, textured nourishing crème that melts and cocoons your skin, The Body Polisher which gently sloughs away dead cells to leave your skin looking more radiant and The Body Cleanser that leaves your skin hydrated and nourished. What made you decide to set up your own beauty business? A life-changing event, eight years ago, inexplicably changed my life forever as I lost my youngest sister Joy, it made me take a step back to reflect and re-evaluate what I really wanted from my life. From that moment I realised the importance of having a legacy. I became an obsessed woman on a mission, with a passion.
Undaunted by my lack of industry knowledge (whilst working as an HR consultant by day, which I still continue to do) I set about developing Ayo, a unique collection of luxurious body-care products. I fully immersed myself in this new world – an unexpected second career path, but with the support of my family, I set about finding the right people who saw my vision and how magical this was, to help me in developing a range of products that truly embodied Joy and her spirit. Every element of Ayo is a reflection of Joy.
What is your background? Getting into HR was when I can really say that my career started. I had left school and immediately started working but for many years had no idea as to what I wanted to do with my life until I had my ‘aha’ moment. I went back to studying in the evenings, whilst working full-time and being a wife and mother of two beautiful boys.
Studying gave me a real taste of HR and after completing the CPP, I embarked on the CIPD (all HR speak and then onto achieving my Masters. In a career spanning over 20+ years, primarily based within the media industry, I finally decided eight years ago to change certain aspects of my life. I took the plunge to go freelance as an MCIPD HR professional and have been doing that ever since in conjunction with working all the hours that I can in Ayo.
What is the concept behind Ayo Beauty? I was inspired to ensure Joy’s beautiful legacy was kept alive as a celebration of her life. And so Ayọ̀ (pronounced eye-oh), the meaning for ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’ in the Yoruba language, was born. The name embodies my sister Joy and it is her magical spirit which is the essence of the brand. Ayo is a mood-boosting beauty brand to help boost endorphins – with an uplifting natural essential oil fragrance created by perfume designer Azzi Glasser.
What is your USP? Ayo is a line of luxurious body care products botanically inspired and formulated to include ethically sourced and organic ingredients. It is created especially for the woman seeking those precious moments of joy and who desire silky soft, glowing and above all - happy skin. We love bringing women joy and happiness, because with Ayo in your life, you will feel beautiful and above all your skin will love you for it.
How did you decide on the look and feel of the brand? Every effort has been made to bring in as many elements of Joy as possible; her affinity with the magic of crystals was the inspiration for the creation of the label colours to the naming of the fragrance taken from lyrics from her self-entitled album Joy (as yet unreleased).
I worked closely with my formulator and my perfume designer to create quality products with the underlying aspects of Ayo to awaken the senses, improve the state of mind, make the skin feel beautifully silky soft, nourished and and above all moisturised. In Ayo’s formulation we concentrated on three main areas; the scent, mood-boosting benefits and skincare benefits.
What are your future plans for Ayo Beauty? Above all world domination. There is just so much opportunity and we intend to seize it and develop Ayo into a huge brand internationally. Expansion of our range and to continue to push Ayo so as to further build upon our current success and increase brand awareness. We also want to become more visible so we could definitely would like to see it on the high street – so watch this space.
What are your favourite beauty products? Hands down it has to be our Ayo products which even if I say so myself, are amazing. My other favourite product is a recent find Daniel Sandler’s Invisible Blotting Powder, it’s amazing. It’s the only product I’ve found that controls my oily t-zone and reduces the shine. After applying my makeup I blot this on top and the powder does its magic!
Read Susan's Top 10 Tips on Creating a Beauty Brand.