You could say that Jasmine Garnsworthy embodies the spirit of New York despite, you know, not being an American citizen: She relocated to the city by way of Australia in 2014 as a fashion editor and writer, where her feminine, trend-driven style caught the eyes of tens of thousands of followers and cemented her status as an Insta Influencer ™. Basically, she’s a millennial Carrie Bradshaw–complete with a feature on Vogue.com, natch.
But while Carrie focused on men and Manolos, Jasmine’s focus is more entrepreneurial. This year, she launched her own business, The Buff, which specializes in custom, natural beauty oils–and you know how much we love a custom product!
Reflecting on moving across the world, single-handedly launching a startup, and getting her products into the doors of major retailers like Urban Outfitters in just three years, Jasmine humbly notes, “I just got really lucky, to be honest.” Don’t get us wrong, her humility is admirable–but we’re calling bullshit.
The 27-year-old is a modern triple threat–business-savvy, style-savvy, and skin-savvy–whose innovation, individuality, and drive has set her on a path to success. Read on to discover how she turned a less-than-ideal situation (chronic acne) into a Vogue-approved business, get the scoop on every step in her personal skincare routine, and shop her Fame and Partners picks.
P.S. Want to win custom-blended facial oils from The Buff? Enter our giveaway here!
FAME: Where are you from and where do you live now?
Jasmine: I actually grew up in Papua New Guinea and then I moved to Australia for high school. Three years ago I moved straight to New York, and I’m in Williamsburg now.
FAME: What’s your official job title?
Jasmine: I would consider myself to be the founder of The Buff and a writer.
FAME: Tell us a bit about your background: Where did you go to school, what did you study, how did you get your start?
Jasmine: I went to school in Brisbane at Queensland University of Technology and did a communications degree. My majors were in Communications and Public Relations. I did a lot of internships and then I started working for a PR agency–and I learned pretty quickly it was not for me. I just hated it! Then I went overseas for the first time and went on a trip with my family to Europe, and wanted to travel more and decided to get out of Brisbane, which is quite a small city by global scales. So I went to Sydney and started working as a fashion copywriter. It was for an online store there and I did a lot of kind of quick, witty copy, and that was my entry into writing, I guess.
From there I started working for MamaMia.com.au–over the year or so that I worked there, it kind of blew up to become the largest women’s website in the country. I just got really lucky, to be honest. I stayed there for a little while and then I got a job as a fashion editor at PopSugar in Australia and was at PopSugar for a couple of years before I moved to New York. I moved here with StyleCaster and was an editor there, and then in August 2016 I started freelance writing. While doing that, in January, I also launch The Buff.
Over the time I was at StyleCaster I transitioned more into writing about beauty and wellness, and that kind of got me interested in natural beauty. And that’s progressed into launching a beauty brand!
FAME: You moved across the world to advance your career, which a lot of women don’t even consider–how did that come about? Was it something you always dreamed of doing?
Jasmine: I’d actually never been to the US before, and I came to New York on a work trip–H&M was doing a collaboration with Alexander Wang at the time and I went to the launch party. I’d always thought I wanted to live in New York even though I’d never been, so I just decided to send some emails around and look for jobs and work out what the email address would be for an editor at a website that I’d like to work for and cold-pitched. I got an interview at StyleCaster; I got the call the day that I landed and met with the then-editor-in-chief the next day, and she pretty much offered me the job on the spot. It was just like, everything happened so quickly! Honestly, I’d been in the US for 24 hours. It was my first time in New York! I moved with my partner–he quit his job and we moved for my job, and then he started a new role and we sorted out the visas and yeah! It happened very quickly.
FAME: When did you first starting conceptualizing The Buff?
Jasmine: I started selling on The Buff in January, and I’d kind of been thinking about it for a little while. I had really bad acne in my mid-20s and it kind of came out of nowhere. I couldn’t work out what it was from. First of all, I tried a bunch of different drugs and they didn’t work. I went to an herbalist and she helped me get on a diet that was a microbiome diet, and also to balance my hormones, and that really helped. While she did that, she also suggested I start using more natural skincare and the combination of those things made a really big difference to my skin.
I was using a jojoba oil blend and I started making them myself, and then I started to make them as some presents over Christmas. I thought it would be cute to do customized labels, so I engaged a designer to do some packing and had [the labels] printed. Everyone really loved it so I thought it could be worth looking into.
I enrolled at a college called Formula Botanica in a diploma program in Organic Skincare Formulation, it’s a British school. At the same time, I worked with a private label specialist who helped me with formulations and finding suppliers and all that kind of thing. I built the website myself in Squarespace and we kind of went from there!
I was in Australia a couple months later and Australian press started really picking it up and being really supportive, and so it kind of steamrolled. Then I got an email from Urban Outfitters and yeah, I went with it. It’s a bit crazy.
FAME: It seems like it’s happened really naturally!
Jasmine: It’s definitely been an organic growth, but to keep the business growing and to be able to scale, be able to handle the demand, to keep stockists, there’s a lot of hustle involved in that.
FAME: How big is The Buff team now?
Jasmine: I’m the only person working on it full-time. I have a part-time graphic designer who I actually met while I was at StyleCaster, she used to work for them as well. We’re rebuilding the website at the moment, so she’s really heavily helping with that. I also use a tech team based out of London. It’s an agency called Sweet P–they manage a lot of the tech build and that sort of thing. And we have a lab and a fulfillment center that’s based in Utah. I also have two girls that come in once or twice a week to do events and that type of thing–we’re doing a lot of popups at the moment.
FAME: Walk us through your daily beauty routine–what products do you swear by?
Jasmine: When I wake up I use a really simple cleanser by Mother Dirt. They have great cleanser that’s about protecting the microbiome of your skin rather than stripping the skin, it’s quite natural. It doesn’t kill the good bacteria on your skin, which is really important for fighting breakouts. So I use their cleanser in the morning, then sometimes I’ll use a SkinCeuticals CE serum, I probably use that twice a week in the mornings. Then I use a Bare Minerals kind of tinted moisturizer, and I add a few drops of jojoba oil into that so it feels really dewy and light. I also use a Bare Minerals concealer sometimes…I’m just looking through my bag now to see what else I use! I use the Glossier Boy Brow as well, and I have a mascara that’s like tea tree oil natural mascara that’s really good… In terms of highlighter, there’s this really amazing brand called One Over One and they do really beautiful illuminator. It’s 99% natural, 98% organic or something like that–they use some synthetics but they’re really safe synthetics. It’s quite hard to do color cosmetics well if they’re natural, but that’s a really good one.
At night, I cleanse with an oil cleanser that I blend myself–it’s basically jojoba with a bit of geranium oil. I use that then I use the Mother Dirt again. Then i use a really, really diluted Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner, and rinse that off with water. I use jojoba oil and sometimes I use a little bit of our beauty booster, the frankincense beauty booster. Mixed with jojoba, it’s really renewing. I don’t use a retinol or anything like that. This really renews the skin without the harshness of the retinol. That’s really it! Sometimes I use an eye cream, but normally I stick with the oils. If I have a little spot or my skin feels congested, May Lindstrom has a really nice charcoal face mask called the Problem Solver, so I use that as a spot. It just draws out any clogged pores, so that’s really good too.
FAME: The Buff and Fame and Partners definitely have some similarities in that both our brands are based on customization. How did you decide to blend custom oils, and what are some of the challenges in customization?
Jasmine: I definitely saw how customization was being embraced in the fashion industry with brands like Fame and Partners and The Daily Edited, and how people really wanted to make things their own. My first idea was that it was a great way to do packaging, so people could customize it themselves and make it their own–it’s not necessarily about [having] another brand.
In the skincare industry, if you want to customize product, it’s very expensive. So I was trying to think of a way we could do it, something around the concept of customizing the packaging, and the more I spoke with people and the more I learned about the different ways that you can use natural ingredients–the different essential oils and carrier oils and how specific they are to different skin types–I thought it was really important that women could find something that’s really specific to their skin.
I think it’s really overwhelming to see all the marketing jargon [in the beauty industry]. I thought if we could get women’s answers to specific, easy questions, then we could formulate something just for them–it would be easier for everyone and their skincare would just be much more effective. It’s been really well-embraced, so I think it’s definitely resonating with women.
FAME: That being said, are there certain beauty products every woman should have on hand?
Jasmine: Definitely a face oil with maybe a jojoba base–jojoba is such a crowd-pleaser, it’s really easily absorbed into the skin. Jojoba actually mimics the skin’s natural sebum production, so it really penetrates deeply and easily. It’s really beautiful.
I’m obsessed with apple cider vinegar for everything, so I would say an apple cider vinegar-based toner, and probably a charcoal face mask. A charcoal face mask is really good because it draws out impurities, it’s natural. Find a mask that is a dry powder and you add water to it, rather than getting a wet face mask or a sheet mask. If [the mask] already has water in it, they’ve added a lot of preservatives to stop bacteria from growing in the mask. But if you have dry mask, it’s normally much more pure because they don’t have to worry about it sitting for a long period of time.
FAME: Let’s switch gears and talk fashion. How would you describe your personal style?
Jasmine: Very feminine. Very feminine and trend-driven, I guess. I love jumpsuits, I love midi dresses, I love anything with a bit of length. I don’t like denim, I don’t wear jeans really. I’m very much about pretty dresses and wide-leg jumpsuits and crop tops with high waisted skirts and that kind of thing.
FAME: In your mind, how do skincare and makeup work together with fashion to create a full look?
Jasmine: To me, I prefer my skin to be quite natural and quite dewy and I think that if I have a loud outfit, or I’m wearing a bright print, or I’m wearing a crazy jumpsuit with ruffles, I keep my makeup a little bit toned down. I wear that kind of outfit during the day–I’ll go out in the middle of the day in chunky heels and long dress and my hair pulled back and a bare face. That natural, dewy makeup look kind of helps you dress it down.
FAME: What’s the best piece of style advice you can give our readers?
Jasmine: Honestly, it’s really about making your own. Now that I’m no longer 18, now that I’m nearly 28, I’m definitely feeling more confident about wearing things that I know suit my body, that make me feel good. In the past, when I was younger, I was much more heavily driven towards trends whereas now I can kind of see what the trends are and pick and choose what works for my body and what feels flattering and what doesn’t.
I always feel good in a long dress or a midi dress–if midi dresses ever went out of style, I would probably still wear them, you know? I’m the kind of girl who likes wearing a chunky heel because I like a little bit of height during the day. It’s definitely about making it your own–embracing trends but not taking them too seriously.
FAME: And the best business advice?
Jasmine: First of all, just go for it. I think if I had spoken to too many people, or if I had known too much, I could’ve been talked out of it. I just went ahead and kind of found a way to do it myself with not a whole lot of money behind me. We’re living in an age where you can build a website yourself–you can build a website for $100, there’s no reason why you can’t build it. Crowdfund if you need to. There are so many ways to be creative and start a business. My advice would just be to make it happen.
The second thing is, reach out to other female founders. I have so many people now that I speak with on almost a daily basis that I didn’t even know before I started building The Buff and we lean on each other now. I know some women who have been in business for a decade, and some who are just starting out and want to know how to build a Squarespace site. It’s about trying to build that network and giving back to it whenever you can. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people.