Sabrina and Idris Elba are well-aware that their S’ABLE Labs isn’t the only celeb-backed beauty line hitting shelves this year—but they are confident they’re the only beauty brand hitting a very specific, very personal niche (with a little husband-wife creative collaborating in the mix).
“It probably helps to give a bit of context as to why we started,” Sabrina shares during a recent meeting to talk the three-piece skin-care collection (there’s currently a cleanser, a toner and a moisturizer, with more in the works). “It was in the beginning of lockdown. We were isolated from friends and family—everyone was—and we quickly realized that the isolation was affecting our mental wellness…that our friends and family and everyone we care about is such a huge part of all that. So, we had these conversations about the wellness arena and wellness in general. Is there anything out there for us? We started having conversations with duos we admire on Instagram; I kid you not, we started doing our Together Tuesdays.”
As Sabrina recalls, the conversation quickly evolved into something bigger: “We built this nice little organic community and people were engaged and we thought, ‘Well, how do 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 just create more things—because we both really care about the climate—but we felt that there was genuinely a space in the market. And there was nothing like what we wanted to create that marketed towards people of color, for one, that didn’t feel it was like in a separate aisle in the Walmart or Target because it had shea in it, and that took the farmers where we get these ingredients from into account.”
The ingredient story is pretty legit.
I hope so! A-Beauty doesn’t get enough love. You hear about all different kinds of forms of beauty, but the continent of Africa has so many great ingredients. Idris and I both grew up watching our parents use all of these wonderful things. My dad drank black tea every morning, black seed tea, and it was really a part of his health routine. Then, my mom put the oils on her face every morning. Smart women have been doing it for generations. Every ingredient we use really does have a story, but what’s an even bigger story is everything we’ve left out. We’ve really made sure to not have any sulfates, no binders, all of that. The ingredients were a huge part of it for us.
We should know where the ingredients in our skin care are coming from, just the same way that we care about where our food is coming from. I also, genuinely, asked, ‘Why do we have to pay so much these amazing formulations? Why can’t we just offer these things? And have it be affordable?’ Those were the passions that were underlying what we did when we started; I feel that we’re there now.
A lot of words get thrown around—especially when it comes to sustainability—but I feel like we’re walking the talk. It was not easy. It was an education. But it’s not that hard to know who you’re sourcing from. It’s not that hard to make sure everyone you’re working with is B-corp and cares about packaging—because consumers care. I’m proud that we can say, ‘Hey! We’ve got this product that caters to skin needs for all different kinds of people and also does not harm the planet.’
What made you decide to start with these three products?
I personally started getting annoyed when I would be shopping for skin care and it’d be one vial for niacin and one vial for hyaluronic acid. Of course, there are brands that have done all of that really well. We can put all these things together in a formulation. We don’t need a single, separate product for everything. It’s not very climate-friendly or climate-forward thinking, so we wanted to jam-pack everything together and have these three core essentials that make up an effective 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 just have these three things that can be everything you need and all you wanted.
Is there a dream product you would like to create?
We do have stuff in the works. There’s a couple more products that I supplement in my routine with other brands, obviously, that I love. I love masks. I’m such a masker! Not to give too much away, but I definitely want to do that. I want to do face oils because I love oil. I’m happily oily all the time! I’ll just smother it all over my body. I also want to get more into the wellness world and explore outside of skin care. Look at hair and body…things like that. It’s an exciting time when you’re starting a brand. Where do we go? We just want to make sure that everything we do is considerate and thoughtful.
Is there any other brand out there in the space that you really look up?
There’s actually a couple of brands that really helped guide us along the way for this launch. Charlotte Tilbury has been an amazing mentor for us. She helped connect us with everyone we needed to get off the ground. She was like, ‘You need to talk to this person and call this person and make sure you don’t use that.’ She literally taught us through her mistakes—everything that she’s learned. She’s obviously one of the biggest success stories out there in the industry. There should be a documentary on Charlotte Tilbury! She’s amazing. Barbara Sturm’s also helped tremendously. She is my derm and she was super inspiring. Her dark skin tones line is something that really triggered this whole idea. She was definitely a massive inspiration for us as well.
Was there anything Idris and you butted heads on when you were working together to launch the line?
You know, what’s funny is 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 do a no-color color, but we’re going to take it slow. He’s the ideas guy. He’s so creative and always coming in and mic drops these [laughs] great ideas and I’ll be like, ‘Logistics, babe. Slow it down a little bit.’
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