ESTÉE LALONDE: Ok—this is the story of MIRROR WATER. It all feels like forever and ever ago, especially now that we’re in the real thick of things with the brand, but for a long time I had wanted to create something around the connection I felt with my online community.
When the pandemic hit I realised how exhausted I was, like how everybody was. You know how you don’t realise how tired you are until you stop? That, but on a grander scale. Personally, I’d been churning out content every day for ten years, and although it’s a part of me and doesn’t always feel like a job, it does come with its own pressures. In 2020 a lot of my work dried up: I stopped getting sponsorships, even product send-outs were on pause, there was just nothingness. I had the time to put the energy into some older ideas that had been sitting below the surface and figure out how to make them happen. I gave myself permission to take this idea seriously.
MIRROR WATER: Why did you decide to focus on bathing and body care?
ESTÉE LALONDE: At the start of the pandemic I spent a lot of time thinking about what drew me to start YouTube in the first place and it really came down to connection. I’ve shared so much of my life online, including my mental health journey and, although I’ve had to reflect on boundaries at times, sharing in that way and especially on that scale creates a unique relationship with my viewers and that connection is so important to me.
Then alongside that there’s my beauty and lifestyle content and, in particular, viewers will know that the ritual of bathing has always been there for me. It helps me to feel more connected with myself but also taking that time for myself helps my connection with others as well. And during the pandemic I was in the bath every single day. Sometimes it was a way to escape the pandemic and at others it was my chance to process. That period was what helped me to make that connection between my journey, my interest in community, connection, and mental health, and my belief in the power of bathing. I knew those things are what I care about and what my audience cares about because that’s why they follow me in the first place.
MIRROR WATER: Is that a complicated thing when you see that your audience resonates when you post about mental health?
ESTÉE LALONDE: There was a time about 5 years ago when, out of various mental health issues, anxiety was a particularly ‘hot topic’. I think it was even exploited a bit, to be honest. But at the ultimately it’s good to talk about it. In terms of sharing, it hasn’t been too complicated for me because I usually know when I want to discuss something, if I feel pulled intuitively to share it. People in the comments have mentioned that they feel less alone, and that’s very meaningful to me.
MIRROR WATER: You mentioned the challenge of founding a brand. Can you talk more about that?
ESTÉE LALONDE: I swear, if I’m not struggling then I’m bored. If a day in the office is going well I’ll think ‘what can I do to shake things up’—maybe that’s a Leo thing, we love drama! But when I started I didn’t know all of the jargon; in a meeting I had to Google what MOQ (minimum order quantity) is, I felt so over my head. But I learned on the way.
MIRROR WATER: So we’ve spoken about challenges, what about a standout highlight?
ESTÉE LALONDE: Seeing the products in their packaging. The Monologues series on Instagram, especially now we’ve opened them for our audience to create as well. The Vogue feature. The Elle feature. Being nominated in the Sunday Times Beauty Awards.
MIRROR WATER: What’s next for this damn brand?
ESTÉE LALONDE: We’re working on merch! But we do have our tote bag that's available now! I really want to make a cap. My friend was out with his tote bag, he was getting a suit fitted, and the tailor asked about MIRROR WATER and I was really excited to hear about that.
There’s a lot going on and we always have so much to look forward to. Next there’s a new product coming that’s amazing and I think people are going to love what we’ve done with it. I can feel it in my bones.