Ali Wilde is a professional make-up artist based in Hong Kong with a passion for health and wellbeing. She specializes in organic and natural makeup and skincare.
What’s your story?
After 11 years of working in professional services, I hung up my suit, put away my heels, picked up a makeup brush (or 50) and reinvented myself as a professional makeup artist. I’ve always been artistic and it’s been exciting finally to harness my creativity with my new business, Wilde Beauty. A combination of events, including my own health struggles post pregnancies, a newfound interest in nutrition and wellness and my husband’s cancer diagnosis lead me to refocus my business on green beauty. I began to research the ingredients in my favourite brands and I learned so much more about the ugly side of the beauty industry. My expensive makeup was made up of cheap, poor quality filler ingredients, carcinogenic chemicals and, more often than not, was beautifully presented in copious amounts of plastic. I became concerned that I was risking my health and the health of my clients and I felt cheated by the ridiculous prices I was paying for products that were essentially made up of cheap, useless ingredients such as petroleum, water and alcohol. I decided I didn’t want to be a part of the problem and that I had a responsibility to my clients and to the environment so I switched out my old mainstream brands in favour of ones that cared about health and sustainability as much as profit margins. I truly believe that anyone setting up a business today should, by law, have to consider their environmental impact and create services and products that cause minimal impact.
What excites you most about your industry?
I’m really excited about the marriage of high quality, sustainable, natural ingredients and technology. The green beauty industry is transforming daily and trailblazing companies like RMS, Juice Beauty, Kjaer Weis etc are creating natural formulas that just get better and better. Cosmoprof Asia is hosted at the Hong Kong Convention Centre in November and they have a whole section dedicated to natural and organic beauty which I really can’t wait to explore. There’s no longer the need to compromise if you want to shop for eco-friendly makeup products. You have a choice of luxurious textures and beautiful on-trend colour palettes that are safe to put on your face and come beautifully presented in minimal recycled/recyclable and often refillable packaging. These cosmetics actually work to nourish your skin whilst you wear them and are, in my opinion, much better value for money.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve lived and worked in Hong Kong for nearly 12 years. I moved out here for an 18-month secondment when I was 25, fell in love with the city and with Asia and never went back. I was lucky enough to travel with my corporate job to every country in the region from Japan down to Australia and I’ve yet to visit a country I didn’t love.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Right now I’m genuinely excited by what’s happening in the health and wellness industry in Hong Kong. There’s something new going on on a daily basis from new plant-based cafes opening up to yoga retreats to sustainable fashion pop-ups. Hong Kong is a hub of innovation but it’s also a really supportive environment for startups. People are willing to give you a leg up rather than treat you with hostility as a competitor, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with the city in the first place.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The truth always comes out in the end. Maintain your integrity and be true to yourself.
Who inspires you?
From a work perspective, I’m always inspired by other makeup artists. Lisa Eldridge led the way with her online makeup tutorials and world-renowned artists like Alex Box continually remind me that makeup is a form of self expression, a way to channel your creativity and the limits are endless. Thanks to social media I’m inspired daily by someone or something to try to be a better artist, environmentalist, mum, wife, friend, cook etc.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
‘A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.’ Joseph Poore, University of Oxford. I think it’s amazing that what you put in your mouth now matters more than how eco friendly your car is or how much you fly. We all have the power to make a huge difference for future generations just by consuming less meat. I adopted a predominantly plant-based diet a year ago and share my experiences on Instagram and recipes on my blog so if you’re keen to cut down then check out my feed.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. There’s a film called ‘About Time’ where the main character tries to time-hop after his baby is born but he gets a different child as a result. That’s how I feel about changing the past. If I were to do anything differently I wouldn’t have my two boys and they were just meant to be my children. Of course, I have regrets, probably more than I care to admit, but all of those have made me who I am now and I’m happy with that. I guess if I could give my younger self a little advice it would be to worry less and not eat so many steaks!
How do you unwind?
A year ago I would have said drinking copious amounts of red wine with my girlfriends but I’ve stopped drinking for a while and at the moment I escape to the kitchen and play around with plant-based recipes. I also love to hike around the beautiful hills of Clearwater Bay where I live and snuggle up on the sofa with my boys to watch classic Disney films.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I’ve always loved Bali. Indonesia is an exciting place for health and wellness but, despite the buzz, Bali retains its island pace of life, tranquility and spirituality.
Everyone in business should read this book:
In my line of work, I’d highly recommend ‘The Nature of Beauty’ by Imelda Burke. It’s my green beauty bible!
Shameless plug for your business:
My mission is to help women to feel good about themselves. Makeup is so much more than just a superficial transformation. It’s about self-love. Everyone has a beautiful, unique face and it’s about seeing and believing that and enhancing those features so that you can face the day feeling confident in your own skin. My style is not to create a thick mask of makeup to disguise perceived imperfections. I focus on using minimal amounts of high-quality product to highlight natural beauty. It’s also about having a little time to yourself, trying something different and having fun. And most importantly for me, it’s about doing all this without harming your health or the environment. If you want to detox your makeup and skincare stash for whatever reason whether it’s health issues, pregnancy, breastfeeding or caring for the environment, but you don’t have the time to research then book a session with me. I’ve done all the work for you and can advise on clean swaps, suggest beautiful new brands and products and how best to apply them.
I don’t use twitter. I’m much more comfortable saying what I want to say through images so Instagram is more my thing.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.