Credit: Supplied

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has been dreaming of this moment since 2017. That was when the supermodel-turned-entrepreneur first began working on the idea for Rose Inc., which would launch as an editorial website a year later. As the founder and creative director, she wanted to bridge the gap between the talented artists and creatives she worked with on set and everyday beauty obsessives, offering inspiration and education in equal measure. “I wanted to build a community around beauty, to cement my own passion and authority within the beauty space,” she tells me over Zoom from her home in Los Angeles.

Creating a content platform also proved a valuable exercise in analytics and data acquisition, which would go on to form the basis of Rose Inc., the beauty brand. News of Rose Inc.’s evolution was announced earlier today, but when I speak with Huntington-Whiteley and Rose Inc. CEO Caroline Hadfield, we are still a few days away from the world’s first look at the launch. The Rose Inc. product line will sit under Clean Beauty Collective (a joint venture between Huntington-Whiteley and clean beauty giant Amyris), underpinned by a ‘clean chemistry’ ethos across both makeup and skincare.

Huntington-Whiteley admits that she’s a little nervous about the brand’s first release, which will arrive at MECCA in October. “I’m biting my nails as to what the response will be. It’s overwhelming [but] it’s exciting. It’s all the feels.”

Building a beauty brand

Directly following the Rose Inc. website launch, Huntington-Whiteley began quietly searching for the right partner to help build out a product arm. “During the summer of 2018, I started to look for my partner and was disappointed at what was out there. A lot of it was about slapping my name on things and white labelling, or it was too overwhelming to take investment money, and then not know what to do with it,” she recalls. Taking the easy route was never an option, however. “I wanted to create a brand that had real legs to it, that was beyond just a celebrity brand,” explains Huntington-Whiteley. “I really wanted to come at this as a founder, as opposed to creating products off of my own identity.”

“Caroline and myself had met at the end of 2018 when we began working on a brand that she launched at Amyris called Pipette, which is a mother and baby skincare line. Caroline approached me and said, ‘I’ve heard you’re looking for a partner, would you be interested in sitting with me in the team at Amyris?'” As the parent company of cult skincare brand Biossance, Amyris is famed for its efforts in  biotechnology – namely, for creating the world’s first synthetic form of squalane, a plant-based alternative to the shark-derived squalene.

Formulating effective, clinically proven products grounded in science and sustainability were values shared by both the company and Huntington-Whiteley. “I wanted to create products that were responsible in terms of packaging, that were of the best quality and formulation, that gave you performance, gave you the coverage, as well as that sensory feel,” she said. “I also wanted to create a very visually-focused brand that still lent into editorial and education through its content.”

Hadfield brought decades of experience to the partnership, which eventually resulted in Modern Essentials, the debut collection from the Rose Inc. range that spans from a luminising concealer to a clarifying toner. It’s a tight edit of only six products to begin, which reflects the brand’s less-is-more philosophy and extends to the refillable, sustainable packaging chosen for the range.

Utilising key learnings from the Rose Inc. website, the team could pinpoint exactly what the audience wanted. “We were able to kind of look at what colours, what shade ranges, and what textures were selling. We knew what people were asking and what the audience were commenting on, in a positive and in a negative way,” says Huntington-Whiteley.

Bottling the Rose Inc. aesthetic

Huntington-Whiteley is renowned for her highly coveted, sleek style, which is well-documented on her Instagram page. This translates to a distinct beauty aesthetic, characterised by glowing skin, soft lips and cheeks, defined lashes and neatly groomed arches, so it would make sense that a makeup range would be paramount for Rose Inc. “I really noticed that people are looking for products that make them feel polished in an instant and an effortless way. They want to feel versatile with the beauty products they’re wearing,” says Huntington-Whiteley. “With Rose Inc., you’re going to find beautiful, easy-to-wear colours for all skin tones, with products that take you from day to night and fit seamlessly into your day, while giving you instant results.”

Of course, creating something that was as efficacious as it was conscious and considered meant finding the right ingredients; ones that wouldn’t negate how it looked and felt on the skin. It presented a challenge, but it was a standard that the pair weren’t willing to compromise on.

“I felt we could really build on the excellence of the proprietary ingredients and the science in Amyris, and bring an effective yet transparent colour makeup range to the market,” says Hadfield, who believed the industry outlook cemented a need for clean makeup. “So many of the colour ranges were failing in certain ways – some aren’t noncomedogenic, they’re using coconut oil and avocado oil. Some are just not using really high quality ingredients. So you’re not getting the pigment, you’re not getting the wearability, and you’re not getting the coverage.”

Rose. Inc Concealer. Credit: Supplied

The multi-purpose principles are reflected in the makeup offering, which consists of four colour products that Huntington-Whiteley is particularly proud of. “These products give me instant results and I would never do my makeup without applying them,” she said.

“So we have the Softlight Luminous Hydrating Concealer, we have our Lip Sculpt, we have our Blush Divine Radiant Lip and Cheek Colour and we have the Brow Renew Enriched Shaping Gel – for me those are the products I wear every single day. They’re the ones that make me feel polished and put together and ready to face the day within five minutes.”

Makeup, made with skin in mind

The entire range is also non-comedogenic, which was imperative for Huntington-Whiteley, who deals with acne and has felt first-hand the effects of pore-clogging makeup products. “I spend so much time on my skincare routine and managing my acne-prone skin and then I just go and slap a load of makeup on, which disrupts all that hard work that I’ve been doing – so we wanted to look at makeup and colour products as skincare products. That’s the future of Rose Inc.,” she states.

Rose. Inc Credit: Supplied

With that in mind (and given Amyris’ impressive capabilities with safe, science-backed synthetic ingredients), it also made sense to launch two targeted skincare solutions, too – the Radiant Reveal Brightening Serum, which leaves the skin looking “plump and dewy” and Skin Resolution Clarifying Toner, the latter of which was inspired by Huntington-Whiteley’s personal skin journey.

“It was really an important product for me because I have acne-prone skin, so I wanted to have a very gentle daily exfoliating toner packed with AHA’s that would really help to resurface my skin and encourage the skin cell turnover.”

While Hadfield is partial to Brow Renew – “I really have learned how to do my brows better after working with Rosie!” she laughs – Huntington-Whiteley believes the Softlight Luminous Hydrating Concealer will be Rose Inc.’s hero product. “From our retail partners through to our community members through to makeup artists, everybody that’s beginning to try the product is loving our do-it-all multipurpose concealer,” she explains.

“I actually don’t really wear foundation day-to-day, I just apply this concealer in dots around my face and blend, and it just gives such beautiful coverage with a really luminous finish. It’s also long-wearing, so it doesn’t cake or crease, and I just love the way it looks on my complexion.”

Rose. Inc Lipsicks. Credit: Supplied

Post-launch, Rose Inc. will be dropping curated collections every 10 to 12 weeks, building on their current offering while still maintaining an inherently community-driven, more-with-less mindset.

The evolution is exciting, but as I’m talking to Hadfield and Huntington-Whiteley, I find my attention being drawn out of our discourse towards the model’s flawlessly made-up face. I’m particularly transfixed by the perfectly subtle, peachy hue to her cheeks and need to know, for my own interest – is that natural flush also courtesy of the Rose Inc. range?

Yes, thank god, “it’s our Blush Devine in Foxglove.” I mentally add it to cart, along with everything else.

Rose Inc. will be stocked exclusively in Australia at MECCA from this October