As part of TLEE Spas ‘Brand Spotlight’ series, our Vice President, Michael Lahm, caught up with Pietro Simone, Founder of Pietro Simone Skincare:
I first met Pietro in early 2019 at a spa industry conference, where he was previewing his eponymous skincare line to the US market.
Besides being highly impressed with the products and his pioneering approach to professional skincare, I was immediately taken by his infectious energy and enthusiasm.
Having worked alongside Bliss founder Marcia Kilgore during my formative foray into the spa arena, I felt that same degree of clear vision and fearless drive. Sensing another star in the making, I wanted to learn more.
What’s your backstory in beauty?
Passion! Beauty has always played a huge part in my life. At six years old I used to sneak into the bathroom and try and all of my mom, auntie, and grandmas’ products. From that point on I was hooked!
I certainly didn’t fall into this job because I didn’t know what else to do: this was my mission. I began my career as a Beauty Therapist under Maria Bruna, one of the most iconic women in beauty in northern Italy. By the time I was 19, I was the first male therapist for La Prairie in Italy, and six months after that, I was promoted to the ‘Art of Beauty Manager’. Following that, I launched a beauty concept store, while working as a trainer for several luxury skincare brands.
Before moving to London in 2013 and opening my clinic in Sloane Square, I started to develop my own line with a factory in Italy, where I still manufacture the products now, refining my concept of combining the best natural actives validated by science. Simultaneously I created my own signature treatment techniques in conjunction with proven skincare technology.
What is your ‘Secret Sauce’
During the formulation process, I discovered a cocktail of natural active ingredients that work in conjunction to deliver incredible benefits to the skin. Sourced from various regions throughout Italy, I decided to trademark the formula as the Italian Bella Complex: an homage to my home country. This foundational ‘blueprint’ is the core essence of the entire product line.
And what made you decide to go to London as opposed to staying in Italy?
I love Italy. My home country is known for luxury and craftsmanship, and it’s my mission to bring that same quality and integrity to my skincare brand. Also, to gain a real sense of credibility in Italy you need to achieve success outside of the country, and that’s exactly what I’ve set out to do. During the current lockdown, I launched online with the Julius Perfumery in Milan, which is a huge sense of accomplishment!
You’ve decided to shift your focus to the US, what factored into that decision?
It’s a mix of ingredients. Being recognized as a name in America has always been front of mind, it’s the largest and most important skincare market. I have already started developing partnerships with a variety of spas and retail accounts who like to actively work with their brands. Personally speaking, New York is my new chosen home. Professionally, I think the advanced nature of my products and professional skincare techniques will help to differentiate me. When people, including big distributors, measure the success of a brand, they check to see if it’s successful in America before London and Paris.
How does the US industry differ from UK and Europe?
From my point of view, the U.S. is a huge market with a luxe consumer base who are enthusiastic about incorporating regular treatments into their skincare regime. It’s similar in some areas of London, where consumers are willing to pay more for products and treatments that really work.
Consumer-wise, I’ve been doing treatments for the past 17 years and I can see the difference. In New York, consumers want an effective facial. They’re diligent, curious, and open – they want to know what you’re using, the philosophy behind what you’re doing, etc. They’ve very aware of ingredients; where they are sourced from and what is harmful. Whereas in Italy, the market as I know it from five years ago, is driven primarily by brand recognition.
How has social media impacted your brand?
Social media allowed me to launch my brand in a meaningful way on my own terms. It has enabled me to showcase my brand authentically, teach my viewers how to effectively use the products, and showcase the person behind the brand. I connected with Julius Perfumery via social media, and over the past few years, I’ve gained a solid social following. Throughout the lockdown, I’ve started a series of Instagram Live interviews to further engage my clientele during the lockdown.
What does the five-year horizon look like?
I can imagine most brands five-year plans will have to pivot due to the pandemic. It’s a sad and scary time, where uncertainty is the order of the day. But the silver lining for me is being able to have time to spend evolving and polishing my brand. I’ve been creating a series of educational videos to use on my digital channels to give my customers the best support I can.
My current skincare line caters to people from 35-70 but I also want to target a younger audience, so I’m working on a new product collection with a lower price point but with the same excellent results. With the right products, knowledge, communication, and story, we hope to capture a younger audience that will stick with the brand as they age and evolve.
How would you describe your brand?
My brand is biotechnological and clean, that’s how we position ourselves. From my perspective, the terms ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ are used too loosely. People add the ‘organic’ stamp if it’s come from a plant/nature, but that’s not always for the best – take palm oil, for example. For me, clean beauty works because the ingredients are bio-recognizable to the skin and effect change at the cellular level. I don’t use silicones, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and colorants. I always look to use non-chemical based ingredients whenever possible, as well as sustainable production methods.
How have you approached scaling for such a personal brand?
For the past 10 years, I’ve compiled a series of protocols and techniques for each collection in the line. More recently, I have translated my treatment protocols into step-by-step on a video, to help train my staff when I’m not in the studio. Alongside my training videos, I conduct in-depth training sessions with my staff every couple of months so that I can teach in real-time while assessing and refining their technique.
My training manual comes with an extensive glossary so that people can really understand the science and ingredients behind everything we use. Awareness around skincare has grown massively over the last few years. Consumers are savvy, ‘hydrating’ means everything and nothing, so I want to provide all of the information so that people know exactly what goes into mt products and my brand.
I’m currently working on a professional platform for my website that provides both established and prospective accounts with access to a broad array of training videos. For me, that’s what is missing from many brands. People don’t just put their excitement in a brand, they put it into the person behind the brand, and that is something they won’t have access to daily. This is why I’m putting so much time and energy into my digital training platform. Education is the key to success.
Do you have a hero product?
Oh, that’s a difficult question… I have four products that I can’t live without; the eye contour cream, the bio-recovery oil, the age preserver, and the fluid. The fluid comes everywhere with me.