Interview with the Co-founder of Syrene

by Slowood MKT
International Women's Day is an occasion to celebrate women's accomplishments, raise awareness about gender bias, and advocate for equality. To mark this year's International Women's Day, we had a conversation with Karen, the co-founder and general manager of Syrene, to learn about her journey as a female entrepreneur.

About Syrene
Syrene is a conscious marine skincare brand made in New Zealand suffused with pure and efficacious extracts that embody the gentle purity of the Pacific Ocean. Formulated to combat the effects of New Zealand's harsh UV, Syrene's rich marine antioxidants help repair, nourish and protect skin against aging-free radical damage. Syrene exists to inspire you to seize the moment every single day, to clear the space for essential self-care and always, to feel comfortable in your skin. Syrene is a gift from the sea.

Karen & Syrene
We developed Syrene to be a brand about all women and all of our customers, rather than a brand with a ‘founders face’, so I very much sit in the background and work behind the scenes.

What did you dream of doing when you were a child?
I loved animals and nature when I was a child. I always dreamt of protecting them. Enjoying mother nature was always one of my favourite things to do and I’ve always wanted to work with animals and to help make their environment better. This is what inspired me to ensure when starting Syrene, that we use safe ingredients, for people and the planet, as well as be cruelty-free.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
When I moved to New Zealand 20 years ago, I fell in love with the beautiful clean New Zealand beaches. It was like finding treasure seeing the unique spectrum of colours in the water and on the shorelines to the incredible marine life. I always loved and worked in the health and beauty industry and felt New Zealand was missing a luxury skincare brand that catered to Western and Eastern consumers, especially being such a diverse country. Everyone’s skin is different and I especially found the brands that were in the market were too rich and heavy for my skin, so we talked about the possibility of creating a skincare range which was light on the skin but still nourishing, hydrating and protecting.

What measures have you taken to ensure your business is sustainable?
Our team is constantly researching steps we can take to be more sustainable, from the choice in ingredients we formulate with to finding better packaging alternatives like using recycled plastics from the ocean. In 2023, we’ve also engaged a sustainability specialist to join the team in developing our very first in-depth sustainability strategy, which will outline short and long-term goals for the company to focus on and achieve. We’ve also started the process to become B Corp Certified.

What are you most proud of doing?
Growing Syrene with my team to be a global brand, now selling into 10 markets in the space of 5 years.

What is your key piece of advice to other female entrepreneurs?
There’s been times where we could have taken the easy road, used cheaper ingredients or do something that other people have already done, knowing it will work, however, I’ve definitely learnt to believe in myself, what I stand for and what I want to create to ensure it’s unique.