February 27, 2024

Nécessaire Founder Randi Christiansen On The Ritual Of Body Care & Why Packaging Is Just As Important As Product

We speak to the woman behind the world’s chicest body care brand.

It was the body care brand that seemingly burst onto the beauty scene out of nowhere and immediately solidified itself as a heavy hitter. Nécessaire, the body care brand founded in 2018 by Randi Christiansen and Nick Axelrod, was the first brand to align superior formulas with elevated, luxury packaging. And the beauty community took notice.

Available to buy in MECCA in Australia (we weren’t always so lucky), the brand is expanding its product range to include scalp and hair care and has a lot of exciting new products in the pipeline for 2024 (as you’ll later find out). Here, we had the pleasure of speaking to Christiansen about why the ritual of body care shouldn’t be overlooked and why thinking of products as the furniture of the bathroom led her to create one of the most buzzworthy beauty brands on the market right now.


Gritty Pretty (GP): Hi Randi! Thank you so much for speaking to us today, it is so exciting to have you in Australia. Now, you were one of the first—if not the first—body care ranges to effortlessly combine quality formulas with sustainable business practices and beautiful packaging. And it was arguably this thoughtfulness that drew so many people to the brand initially. So, where did the idea for Nécessaire first come from?

Randi Christiansen (RC): So, Nécessaire was founded by Nick Axelrod and myself. I had been with Estee Lauder Companies in luxury for 15 years working across brands like Tom Ford and Estee Lauder and Nick had been on the publishing side with Into The Gloss. We’d both come from New York and ventured to Los Angeles and started to get obsessed, like most people do, with health and wellness. We were both at similar stages of life where we were toying with ideas for businesses and then we both landed on creating a brand focused on skin essentials. Which is where the brand name came from—the necessary. I think we both felt that we wanted to ultimately become that destination where you come to for elevated, luxury essentials. We started in body because we realised there was nothing on the market for the neck down that was ingredients-focused and beautiful to look at. We wanted to create products that considered the retinals, vitamin Cs and Es and peptides just as much as facial skincare products did. 


GP: One of the biggest things that drew us in was how chic the packaging was. It was the first time we’d seen luxe packaging in the body care space. What made you put this consideration at the forefront?

RC: We thought of our products like furniture for the bathroom. Particularly for body care products, they are usually too big to fit in cupboards and take up front and centre real estate in your shower so why wouldn’t we want them to match the aesthetics of our home? We were deeply committed to the idea that products can be both beautiful on the skin and beautiful to look at and don’t have to be brightly coloured or bold to grab the attention of consumers. We wanted our formulas to speak for themselves.


GP: Well it certainly paid off because the hype around the brand hasn’t slowed down since you launched in 2018! In terms of the product development process, what did this look like initially and has it changed over the last six years?

RC: I think because I’d spent so long in beauty before starting my own brand, I had the privilege of understanding a lot about how brands work so I had a clear vision for mine. At Nécessaire, we have a very significant research and development arm. And I don’t mean significant in terms of numbers—there are only two people—but they are both dedicated day-in, day-out to looking into new ingredients, regulatory updates, efficacy and research. Once we have the research done and perfect what we want, we then take it to the manufacturer to create our vision, not the other way around which can be common in beauty. The other side of it is that we believe that body care is self care and we believe that these moments we take in the shower are of increasing importance because we have such little time to ourselves. So while we are ingredients-focused, we also think about the feel on the skin and the scent so that it is also a delightful sensorial experience.


GP: Texture-wise, how do you know a product is going to be perfectly formulated so that it doesn’t leave behind any of that sticky residue?

RC: A big thing that people don’t realise is that it’s all centred around pH. So we always try to optimise the pH function of the product to be as close to the skin’s natural pH levels as possible. It sounds simple but it’s very hard to do and not a step that many brands take (which is why some lotions or creams feel stickier or heavier than others). If it is as close to the natural pH as possible, the skin is more receptive to the product. It absorbs right in.


GP: And that’s what we want! In terms of being a brand founder, what is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

RC: I think being a founder has been extremely humbling. It is a very difficult space but also very rewarding and a true privilege. I think the biggest challenge is coming from a big company that already had all the cogs turning and having to create that from scratch. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not my company, it’s the team’s company and without them it doesn’t work. One of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that there is a difference between building a business and building a brand. One is about running a team and thinking about the financial aspects of it and the other is about creating a community, connecting with people and creating something that they love. You also need to be comfortable being the driver and the cheerleader when you have your own business. You need to be just as excited to come to work on the first Monday of the first year as you are on the 15th Monday in the 15h year. Oh, and you have to be comfortable with failure. That is inevitable. Don’t try and fight it.


GP: Such wonderful advice. And, Randi, what is your favourite product in the range?

RC: I do think the three products I use the most (you know, beyond the deodorant), is The Wash, The Serum and The Lotion. They’re the staples for me. I think back to the way my shower improved when I started using the Eucalyptus Wash and it just turned my home into a day spa immediately. 


GP: And, finally, can you spill any of the exciting newness we can expect to see from Nécessaire in 2024?

RC: We’re really excited to launch our Hand Cream V2 into Mecca. We take the iPhone approach to our products so if there is something that can be improved, we will improve it. Then later in the year we have a body peel coming—which is super exciting. This is a 12 per cent AHA chemical exfoliant for your body and it really helps to kickstart the skin’s natural peeling process (which slows down over time). It also has one per cent resveratrol which is a very powerful and often seen as facial grade ingredient. We’re also working on a liquid Epsom salt later in the year to really elevate nighttime bathing. A lot of exciting things in the pipeline.


GP: Wow! That is very exciting! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us today, Randi.




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