FRANWho I am and who I’ll be
PART OF WHAT I DO IS REALLY MY TAKE ON BEAUTY, AND THE FACT THAT BEAUTY REALLY SURROUNDS US EVERYWHERE, IT’S JUST ABOUT FINDING IT.
19/99 Take us through your daily beauty routine – morning and night.
Fran Miller Okay it is pretty simple – sometimes it is more involved, it is based on how lazy I am any given day. Morning I don’t wash my face. I stopped doing that a while ago and it really helped with dryness, evening of skin tone, and balancing my skin. If I am feeling extra greasy when I wake up I will use the Toning Mist and wipe it with a cotton pad, or I will just splash my face with water. Then I will use some sort of serum – I like to use OSEA Hyaluronic Sea. I find I need that kind of hydration before anything else, especially the winter. Then I apply the F.Miller Face Oil, which is all I use in terms of a moisturizing agent. I am usually misting the Toner between every layer. Sometimes I like to add the Toner to the Face Oil and mix them together and then pat it all over my face. SPF if I am leaving the house, if I am not then nothing else. If I am really puffy I will do a little massage with the Eye Oil, but that it is…super simple.
Night time is slightly more involved. I will wash my face, with the Cleansing Oil that we make. If I have an extra minute I will actually use a hot face cloth and kind of steam. Then I have a couple serums that I also incorporate. I am finding Vitamin C is necessary now that my skin is changing. I use the SkinCeuticals, the C E Ferulic. And then I also have a retinol from Klur- they have a gentler form of a retinol. Then Face Oil again. If I am feeling really dry and need intense hydration for night time I will do a heavy moisturizing cream or balm type thing. We have been testing some balms so I have been using those for wintertime. Some more Eye Oil, and lip balm. Then once or twice a week I try to do a mask or proper exfoliation with a dry exfoliant or clarifying mask. Recently I’ve been more prone to congestion and dullness, as I age. I find a mask really helpful with just sucking the shit out of my skin.
19/99 What kind of masks?
FM Usually clay. If I am breaking out or having a week where my skin feels gross I go for the OG Aztec Mask. That is what I turn to when I need some serious intense results, it totally works. I mix that with some Apple Cider Vinegar. Green Clay when I am more breakout prone, if it is for hydration I haven’t found one amazing mask. I go between samples of things and tend to revert back to a straight clay – green, white or pink, depending on my needs. I am hoping to create a version soon that does it all.
19/99 What about make up during the day?
FM If I am home nothing really. If I have to leave the house and it is beyond just walking to the corner store then I may put on an RMS concealer, the "Un" Cover-Up which I find really nice and creamy. I use Make Beauty’s Terrazzo Bronzer, that is really nice, and I will put that on my eyelids too for ‘eye shadow’; I find it gives life to my face. Eyebrows - I fill in using Browfood’s Tinted Gelfix, it is like an eyebrow pomade in a little spoolie thing. It has a two sided brush – one side fills in and the other side makes them stand in place. It is great. I have sparse brows so I definitely feel naked without filling them in. That is pretty much it. For a little bit of added colour I will use some sort of creamy 2 in 1 stick - a lip and cheek thing. I really like the one from Noto Botanics, in this burnt red orange colour and pat it on my cheeks and sometimes my eyes. I basically find one product and put it all over my face. Mascara only if I am really going out. Mainly because I get lazy to wash everything off at the end of the night, so I want to minimize that - thinking ahead. If I am going to a wedding or something I will do a red lip, but other than that I keep it pretty minimal.
19/99 How has your beauty routine changed over the years?
FM When I was in high school I would really line my waterline with black eyeliner and I wouldn’t be caught dead without that, or mascara. Even though it was simple I felt naked without my routine when I was younger. I got to a point though, when I stopped caring and would leave the house without makeup on. I think skincare is a big part of that; the better I feel about my skin, the more comfortable I am to leave the house without make up on. I was never into crazy eyeshadow or intense looks. I appreciated them always but it wasn't something I did personally. Aside from a very thin brow, and too harsh black eyeliner, it is pretty much the same. Now it is just more simplified – skincare. I’ve always been pretty product obsessed and would try anything, slapping on a hundred different things, so it has definitely gotten simpler, for the better.
19/99 What inspired you to create F. Miller?
FM The simple answer: I couldn’t really find the skincare I was looking for. A lot existed of course, but not as much existed that was clean. I was looking for something that checked all the boxes; not just efficacy but the entire experience. I always really liked using nice creams and expensive beauty products, and I was starting to experience skin sensitivity issues, that they weren’t really helping, if anything they were aggravating. I started to look for more natural skin care and I started to look at different brands, where I could purchase these products from, rather than just pure Argan Oil from the health food store, something that was a bit more complex than that, but also that aligned with my materialistic requirements. I will use whatever products if it actually works, but why not have something that is beautiful, well packaged, something you can either repurpose or recycle and that doesn’t smell or feel weird. I felt like a lot of the products I was using were good and were doing something but I wasn’t necessarily enjoying using them, so that was a gap I saw in the market – I felt like you could have it all. I didn’t ever necessarily plan on doing it. But looking back it makes sense because I was always really obsessed with beauty products as a young child.
19/99 When did you launch?
FM 2014, so we just had our five year birthday. Very much at a time when not that much existed. Tata Harper, May Lindstrom, you know the OG brands that we still see today were there, but nothing that came at it from a more minimalist perspective, and gender neutral. I wanted to create something that anyone felt like could be for them.
AT THIS POINT, WITH EVERYTHING THAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE ENVIRONMENT, AND THE CLIMATE, WE SHOULDN'T BE PUTTING OUT MORE STUFF JUST TO HAVE MORE OF IT. THE FOCUS SHOULD BE ON ITEMS OF LONGEVITY AND THAT ACTUALLY MEAN SOMETHING, AND HAVE A FUNCTION AND A PURPOSE.
19/99 What do you consider when you are creating new products?
FM I consider several things. Definitely there is an internal check list in terms of is it multi-functional, is there a true purpose for this, is it necessary? Especially on the topic of more stuff out there – I am always asking ‘why?’, ‘does it exist?’. If it is already out there and I enjoy it I don’t need to make my own. In terms of sensitivity – is it good for all skin types? All genders? All ages? What are ingredients that we can use that are holistically nourishing and good for everyone at anytime, any season? And then of course, am I able to produce this in a sustainable way? Am I going to be searching the earth for the ingredients that I don’t necessarily need to spend the time or money or environmental foot print trying to bring in? Is there something I can use or source more locally? There are a number of factors that come into place. There is a lot. And does it feel differentiated? Is it interesting? Will I use it? Is anyone going to use this?
19/99 Do you feel pressure to look a certain way?
FM Yes and no. We all probably do, inherently, as we have been raised that way. It is a lot easier when you get older to let that go. It takes a lot of self-work to get to a place where you are completely confident and comfortable with how you look. I don't know if any ever completely gets there. But I don’t feel pressure. I never really cared what people thought of me. I mean there were definitely moments early on, wanting to fit it, have nice clothes, but that fell off for me pretty early, like as of high school. But yeah, there are always going to be moments – we are bombarded with so much stuff. You literally have a window into other people’s lives, and that window may or may not be truthful or reality so the pressure is here. I think I do a pretty good job of not really caring so much about it.
19/99 As you’ve gotten older have you felt pressures to hit certain milestones or achievements?
FM Um yes, I think especially now it is much more common to see very young people to achieve really unbelievable things at a young age, so I will sometimes draw comparisons in that context. If anything though, I often revert back to what my mum wants to see of me and hope deep down that I am making her proud, and can measure up to this idea of success that she has for me. But I frequently remind myself that we all have our own path, and different people do different things at different times. It is really just trusting in the universe and that this is what I am meant to be doing at this time, and especially during times where there is that comparison, which you can’t really get away form at this time, it is everywhere.
19/99 It’s like that idea that even if you have the doubt, you can still carry on and know that you are doing the right thing. My mum’s voice will forever be in my head.
FM Yes, my mother checking in on my finances will forever be a thing, monthly...if not more often.
19/99 Yeah, and at the end of the day I always remind myself that all she wants is for me to be happy, and her definition of what happiness is may look a bit different than mine but values wise it is the same.
FM For our parents they just want us to be secure and happy obviously. Things were different for them and things look a bit different now, people are not working traditional jobs, and there are other ways to support yourself, be successful and stable. People do a million different things and it looks different for everyone. And I think that is hard for some people of the older generation to unpack. My parents are immigrants, so they bring a whole other level of thought process into it. It definitely contributes, especially when you come from a place where you had nothing, it puts that pressure on even more so but it is only for the best and only out of love, but it can be a lot. Especially if you want to experience life in a different way, that doesn't look like the path that looked to be the only way years ago. Even in the past 5, 10 years alone things have changed so drastically. I probably would have done things differently if things were the way they are now like 10 years ago when I went to university.
19/99 Where did your parents immigrate from?
FM Russia. They both came late 70s, and they met in 1981, and had me in ’86. It was a totally different life, obviously. The thought of coming to a country with $50 is mind blowing. You can’t compare, it is all relative. They were always very supportive. Even if they didn’t know what I had in mind, they very much encouraged me. I knew the general direction I wanted to go in and even if deep down they were thinking ‘she could have been a lawyer’ they were really supportive.
19/99 Does the term age-appropriate mean anything to you?
FM Yes; so many things come up. It is something that our generation is working against now. Which is nice. There are these ideas of what life looks like at certain times of your life, and that is being totally destroyed now, which is good in my opinion. You can relate it to so many things: dressing age appropriately, acting age appropriately. I don’t know if that has much weight anymore, as a term. You should just be how you feel internally. The cheese-y cliché thing – age is nothing but a number; there are 90 year olds running marathons, and I am 33 and my back hurts when I wake up in the morning. It is based on the individual; but there isn’t anything one shouldn't do because they are a certain age. If anything, we should all be getting better with age really, one would hope.
19/99 How do you stay relevant, in terms of F. Miller, in a world of over consumption and a market that is obsessed with newness?
FM This is a tough one. It goes back to the idea of tunnel vision and staying true to your core ethos, and reminding myself why I started the line in the first place, what the goals of my products are and keeping that core set of values. It is really easy to look at trends, especially in the beauty world where every month there is a new trend, new ingredient, and that is fine, but ultimately it is just a trend and I really try to look to timelessness when thinking of new stuff or new directions. My biggest fear is putting something out that I am going to look at in two years, five years, ten years, and I am going to cringe a little bit. So I keep a classic, timeless mentality around it. I don’t want anything to feel trendy or fleeting. And it shouldn’t be – at this point, with everything that is happening with the environment, and the climate, we shouldn't be putting out more stuff just to have more of it. We’ve got plenty of stuff. The focus should be on items of longevity and that actually mean something, and have a function and a purpose. Not to say that we don’t need beautiful things around us, because part of what I do is really my take on beauty, and the fact that beauty really surrounds us everywhere, it’s just about finding it. I think that is fine too. It is just having a bit of thoughtfulness than just more shit, because there is enough shit out there.
19/99 How do you use social media, and has it affected your self-image?
FM I use it, I have to use it for my business. I have two social media accounts; a personal one and the F. Miller page. I like social media, and am good at setting boundaries for myself because it is easy to get into an Instagram hole at 1am. I really only try to follow Instagram accounts that are giving me something positive – that I get inspiration from or motivation, and don’t spiral me into a place that I don’t want to be in. For the brand it is a bit of a different thing. Because you have to follow people for different reason, but I have always approached it from a very personal, authentic way – the bottom line is I don’t follow people I don’t want to follow. And I make sure that the content we do put out feels intentional; whether it is a beautiful image I have gotten inspiration from, or product information, or beautiful imagery we have created. Some of the close friendships I have are with people I’ve connected with on social, who live in different cities, but we have developed amazing friendships. So for me there are definitely more positives than negatives, but I have to be super careful because it can be such a time suck which is the scariest part.
19/99 If you could share advice with your younger self, what would it be?
FM Save more money, and spend less money.
19/99 What makes you feel beautiful?
FM Hmmm, it feels like a really weird thought. I guess a number of things, the first thing that comes to mind is sun, summer. I am sure it is doing other things for my internal body that is making me feel good, but sun on my face and skin and truly looking healthier is really lovely. I feel beautiful when I feel good inside. It can be hard to maintain an exercise routine, we are not always eating as cleanly as we would like to. I am not super sensitive, I just kind of feel it and I feel more tired and less vibrant. So when I am well rested, when I am moving my body. When I travel I feel beautiful, when I am with the people that I love the most that is probably when I feel the most beautiful. Knowing that someone else sees you as beautiful helps makes me feel beautiful. But it really comes down to how I feel inside, and moments when I feel really confident, regardless of why that is, maximum levels of confidence equate to beauty for me.
19/99 Is there anything that scares you about aging?
FM The fear of the unknown, not just looks wise, but what’s going to happen, at what point am I going to get an illness that is bound to happen. I think the closest thing you can look to is your parents. I am now 33, I still feel really young. Mentally I don’t think I ever progress past 27 – in terms of the age I feel that I am. So that is kind of weird. I try to look to the positive. I am only getting better with age, in theory, and I hope that I am getting smarter and a better over all human. So I feel like there is nothing to be worried about or scared for. Age is also beautiful. Some of the most beautiful people I know have so much wisdom and experience that comes with growing older, it is something you don’t have when you are young. I mean it is cool to be young, but it is definitely cooler to be older. I have my image of what I am going to be like in 30 years and it is just a cool older woman. Still the same, but hopefully a lot better. So I try to look at it as something to look forward to.
19/99 If you could ask the older generation one question, what would it be?
FM That is a tough one: what is something that you would have stopped doing sooner or something you would have started doing earlier. Any hot tips for the future, I will take them.
19/99 Do you think there is a point where we stop growing and learning?
FM No, definitely not. If you ever feel like you have gotten to that point then you need to really take a look at yourself, check yourself. It is impossible; there is so much to learn out there. I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge there is to be absorbed. If that is your mentality then you are looking at it in the wrong way. We are always learning and growing, the world is changing and things you thought you maybe knew could be totally different in a few years. That is the beauty of life; constant growth and evolving.