"We are all beautiful. Fridge is an invitation to believe in yourself and realise the potential of your mind and body."
Anna Kaplińska-Struss in conversation with Magdalena Beyer
She has attained a market niche and created an exclusive brand. What does this mean? That she has a unique approach to clients and treats everyone as an individual. Magdalena Beyer took a leap of faith and created something, which has not yet existed. Her cosmetics are unlike any others. Formulas, developed by a young team of biologists and biotechnologists are like culinary masterpieces, a feast for the skin! Also unique is the fact that by using them, by deciding to enter the world of fridge, clients have to consider what is important and ask themselves: What kind of woman am I? What kind of woman do I want to be? What works for me? What doesn't? What does beauty mean to me? Where should I look? Where can I find it? Magda works with clients to answer these questions. fridge is her answer. She wants to share her reflections and journey on the path to finding out what has meaning in her life.
It’s a true story. It’s all natural. It’s sincere and passionate. It’s about a woman who yearns for more, for a life, which has a deeper meaning and brings infinite joy.
Is Magda’s story a story about fridge, or is fridge a story about Magda?
Well there you have it (she laughs). I don’t think you could have one without the other. I founded this company thanks to many years of working in various fields and because of my great passion for it. It is my dream come true. Maybe not completely...there’s always something more isn’t there?! It's my journey into the unknown...
Does it always start with a dream?
Isn’t that how everything in life starts?
The road that led you to fridge is very interesting and it’s intertwined with other passions that are equally important to you. You graduated from the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts. You paint. You took a series of exceptional photographs that are admired by art collectors. Now you've created an exclusive cosmetics brand. Why do you continue to take on new challenges?
Contrary to what you might think, the answer to this question is not a simple one ... I guess I have dual natures. On the one hand, my artistic sensibilities drive me to act and on the other, I become a relentless and tenacious pioneer. I like to look for new solutions. I don't just accept the way things are. I probably inherited it from my grandmother, who was one of the first women glider pilots. I certainly inherited my resolute character from my father, who was a sailor. My sister chose a difficult profession as a surgeon, and has achieved great success in this field. So, "pioneer genes" run in our family (she laughs). Seven years ago, when I discovered that there were no products that suited me on the cosmetics market (I have very delicate skin and broken capillaries), when I saw how women were driven to cosmetic surgery, when I realized how "unhealthy" the cosmetics industry was - this was the moment to find a new path. In my family, concept to implementation is just a little step (she laughs).
You created this brand, because you felt that it was time to make something of your own?
I suppose that was my first impulse. I had a lot of experience in developing new brands after 10 years of working in an advertising agency. Then came the moment when I thought - shouldn’t I do this for me? Why not create something that I could control completely, something which does exactly what I want it to and at the same time also makes a dream come true for other women. As I mentioned, I have very sensitive skin and I couldn't find anything to nourish it properly. fridge became the solution! All the stars were aligned when my husband and I purchased the 13th century Cistercian farm in Starzyński Dwór, where Cistercian monks cultivated fruits and herbs. I realised now was the time to create a cutting-edge brand of cosmetics. We attended eco fairs and met with specialists in this field. All the natural cosmetics brands were similar to each other; they contained alcohol and often eco preservatives, and they had similar scents and a long shelf life. We wanted something else, something that didn't require any compromises. So, together with the experts (who saw our idea as a fantastic challenge), we created a new category of "fresh cosmetics”. I am proud of this!
So, it is clear that the underlying idea behind fridge was to address your own needs in terms of skin problems?
To be honest, I think that the only way to create something truly helpful is to start from your needs as an individual, with the problems you know personally. It wasn’t a contrived concept. There are so many products on the market, but none of them was perfect. So, I thought, if that's the way it is (and here my family's "pioneer genes" were activated), I'll do it my way. But it was also a whim. It takes a lot of effort, struggle and lifestyle changes to create something completely on my own. This work is not easy. It takes time to go from idea to implementation. The first impulse was 7 years ago. But by working consistently and gaining experience, I created a brand that was pioneering, unique...and risky in its innovation - something that women truly value. Today, I know that it’s simply something, which they actually really needed!
Surely the beginnings were difficult?
Yes of course. Particularly because the idea was extremely innovative. Many people were skeptical. But I decided to act consistently. It is a bit like painting a picture. An idea itself is not enough. Before you paint you need to prepare your canvass. The process was similar. Before I launched the brand, I worked on the formulations for two years. I investigated the possibilities offered by science and production. The opportunity arose to grow various plants at our Cistercian plantation in Starzyński Dwór. To top it off, I was pregnant and I had tremendous energy!
As you've matured you only take what you truly want in life and you urge your clients to do the same.
Yes. I'm sharing my personal discoveries with others. It is a return to what is natural. What modern aesthetic medicine offers, fills me with horror. I see it as an escape from old age. To me this escape seems like a dramatic gesture of despair. We all know that you can't stop the passage of time. Instead of dramatising, what if we could somehow manage it? fridge is a return to what is natural, an exploration of nature’s secrets and channeling those benefits to fight against the passage of time. fridge slows down time and preserves beauty at every stage of life.
Natural is a widely used word these days...
Yes. It's become a good marketing ploy. However, we went a step further by producing our cosmetics without harmful synthetic ingredients, preservatives or alcohol. There is therefore a certain similarity here between healthy food and cosmetology. Our cosmetics have a relatively short shelf life. We focused on non-invasive preparations that change the skin, but in an honest way. The skin has rights after all, and we don't "erase" them with our cosmetics. We don't mask ageing artificially. By giving women a multidimensional elixir of youth (and fridge cosmetics is one of those elements), we delay certain processes and strengthen the natural potential in every person's skin. Our cosmetics operate in a non-invasive way and long-term use brings amazing results.
To achieve these effects, you need the highest quality ingredients. You were so determined to validate which ingredients went into your products, that you began growing your own flowers. A primary ingredient is the Rosa Rugosa, which is cultivated in Pomerania.
At the Cistercian Starzyński Dwór, a magical place with a wonderful history, we primarily cultivate this wild rose, the main component of our creams. It’s near the sea and has fantastic air. It is also where I paint. I try to spend as much time as I can there with my family. It is calming, gives us respite and puts life into perspective. One can’t help succumb to the aura, which in my opinion motivated the Cistercians to build a beautiful monastery and farm there in the seventeenth century. There are 300 year old linden trees throughout the grounds, alongside fish ponds and beautiful meadows. Starzyński Dwór is a really unique microclimate. All of this adds to the quality of our products.
Nature in a jar, so to speak ...
The industrial-scale production of today's cosmetics means they cannot be made without chemicals. This ensures production is cheaper and easier. fridge asks women to challenge this: to reject what is quick and easy. I say: slow down - think about what your skin really needs. This often begs the question: Well what do I need?
This is extremely difficult?
(laughs) More like radically new. Moreover, it provides the manufacturer, me in this case, with extremely difficult challenges. There is the issue of the expiration date. I have to sell each cosmetic in a week. I can't store it in a warehouse for a year, because the client has only 2.5 months to use it.
You like challenges.
Yes. It's fun to develop something so difficult.
But does this philosophy interfere with increasing the brand range?
Indeed I was afraid of this. But this kind of exclusivity means that we see increased interest in our products month by month. Last year we nearly doubled our sales and at the beginning of 2016 it’s even better. Storage hence is a real challenge!
Tell us about your plantation. Why did you decide to grow roses?
We were looking for a variety of shrub rose that could adapt to a coastal climate. Rosa Rugosa has amazing properties. Wild rose oil, made from the seeds of its fruit, is wonderful; cold pressed it is a true vitamin explosion. The petals are used to make essential or scented oil. I often use the fruit and petals to make delicious jam for my family. We also grind the seeds into a powder, which can be beneficial if taken orally. This rose actually has 30 times more vitamin C than a lemon! These are all rational considerations. To be honest there is also a visual one! I love this place, those summer evenings when I can take walks with my children in the midst of rose fields stretching towards the horizon. I can't discount Starzynski Dwór. It is the place where we make rose essential oil, rose jam, paintings and ... good memories.
I think that if you do something innovative, something different than the norm, it also tends to feed the imagination. Therefore, we can say that each small jar or bottle, symbolically contains much more than a cream or perfume - it represents quiet contemplation of nature. That is why the aura that surrounds the creation of your cosmetics is so important.
Yes. I believe all of this matters. After all, fridge is an invitation to believe in yourself and in the possibilities of your body and mind. Many women are too afraid or don't give themselves that chance. I want them to share this pleasure with me.
The whole concept that you have created is based on the individual requirements of clients. This is a very delicate and intimate process. This is what the exclusivity of your brand is based on. The time a person devotes to themselves - is this the real meaning of luxury today?
Of course. Today, true luxury is space and peace of mind. That's why I try to observe from the outside and not take part in the race. I avoid the artificiality that is so common these days. I stay away from the plastic masks that hide authentic faces. Under the guise of caring for oneself, women are deceiving themselves. They’re offered this: do you want to be someone else? We'll make it happen! This is precisely the role of invasive aesthetic medicine.
How did you recruit the team that helped you create the brand?
I think I have a "nose" not only for perfume, but also for finding the right people (laughs). Each member of my team is truly unique, each brings something of value. We feel that this is a joint endeavor that allows each of us to be creative together.
Has fridge changed you?
I've become more open. By doing this, I find more joy in sharing with others. I've used my own cosmetics exclusively for 7 years and I know I wouldn't replace them with anything else! I'm also the face of fridge, because who better than a 47 year old woman to show its real effects? (She laughs)
What about rivalry with other women?
It stopped being relevant. Instead, I am looking for closer contact and understanding with them. Since I started fridge, I experienced a fresh wave of creative power. I went back to painting, making a series of photographs that comment on our modern times. In revealing the brand to others, I also discovered a new creative force in myself.
Your company has become a place for meetings and mutual inspiration?
I didn't plan it. It just sort of happened naturally (laughs). fridge is not just a cosmetics shop and laboratory. It's a place where dreams come true, where my energy interacts with that of my team. New products are developed for our specific needs. Someone said they had trouble with their puffy eye area and therefore we made a fantastic eye cream with coffee extract, a best seller! We create illuminating and nourishing creams when we feel a need for them ourselves.
Your creams are healthy. But what’s the point if they are still used under makeup?
Indeed this is a problem. We apply a miraculous fridge product that works so effectively and then "smother" it in makeup that doesn't breathe. That is why, after many trials, we created FF cream, or Fabulous Face. This is a primer in one colour, which adapts to each skin type and at the same time allows the skin to breathe all day long. So, once again you can see that our cosmetics are not designed to hide or contain anything, but only to emphasise the positive features of each face.
fridge makes not only creams, but also perfumes. You invent new scents and create new intriguing aromas.
Yes. Perfumes hold a certain mystery. A fleeting one that nevertheless has a strong influence over the imagination. The very process of creating a fragrance is very alluring.
To quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
This quote clearly reflects what perfumes are. They are remarkable precisely because they are so elusive and yet ineffable. I often find that words are incapable of expressing certain impressions. And are often very confusing...
Okay, can we try to talk about how you created your range of fragrances?
I create using only natural ingredients. My perfume lines inspire very different emotions. Some women who come to us for the first time are often stunned. They say: "What a strange scent! That can't be a rose." They are accustomed to the chemical smell of a rose in sprays, deodorants and artificial perfumes. These products are also described as "rose," but it is a synthetic scent. As it turns out, the authentic smell of a rose is completely different than people think.
How was your most famous perfume, "Don't follow me...", created?
It is a smell that a person either loves or hates. Men like it very much. They say they associate it with the bedroom; that it simply smells like sex. Older women also buy it. The scent is extremely long-lasting.
Sometimes the sharpness of a scent, its originality, can be disturbing or too overwhelming.
Such think so, but I disagree. What bother me most are common scents, in other words those that appeal to everyone. I don't want to smell like everyone else and go unnoticed - as many do.
Perfumes smell a little differently on each person.
That’s true. The scent "interacts" with each skin different to create a different variation. If you are in a great mood, the scent is different than when you are upset or when you are competing with someone.
Since you've invited women to embark on this journey, many want to know more about you as the founder and mentor. It is interesting how you discovered what is best for you and what you want to share with other women.
There is no substitute for meeting and talking face to face. Calm reflection and discovery requires an aura of peace and discretion. Clients can always meet with us at our shop in Warsaw. I’m always happy to talk about myself. Perhaps each time a little more personal and focused on the mysteries surrounding the world of yDe perfume...
So, just as you decipher the fragrance notes that make each perfume, we can reveal the notes, which have made your experience, your biography?
Yes. (laughs) I suppose we can follow the scent metaphor...
To be continued ... :-)