Q and A: Brandstorm winners C^3 talk Paris, innovation, school-life balance
When the end of school term approaches, most young adults choose to focus on the final requirements at hand and in between, readying themselves for the much-awaited and long-deserved break.
That wasn’t the case for 3 students from the University of the Philippines Diliman, who joined – and won – the Philippine leg of L’Oreal’s Brandstorm, a contest where college students are made to come up with new concepts and products for the cosmetics giant.
Coleen Chua, Caitlin Yu, and Clarice Tee or C^3, bagged the top prize and were flown to Paris, where they competed against other teams from all over the world.
Did we mention that in between the national and worldwide finals, they had school finals too?
Now that Paris is over and done with, Rappler caught up with the 3 (through email, because it’s hard to schedule meet-ups with 3 busy young women) to talk about the contest, the cosmetics industry, and what’s next for them.
RAPPLER: Why join Brandstorm?
Caitlin: Join Brainstorm because it challenges your creativity and gives you the opportunity to learn and experience new things that you won't find inside the 4 walls of your classroom.
Clarice: Join Brandstorm if you are ready for one of the best competitions of your life. Thanks to Brandstorm, I was able to explore ideas of the future that I never thought possible. Brandstorm not only pushes you to the limits of your creativity, but it also challenges you to learn and research about industries and technologies you barely know anything about. Also, let's not forget the big prizes awaiting the creme de la creme.
R: Can you talk to us about the product that you developed for Brandstorm?
Colleen: As millennials ourselves, we admit that self-expression is such a vital part of who we are. We love to express ourselves – be it by putting on a lot of accessories, posting photos frequently on social media, and buying more clothes than we can probably wear. However, we realized that while most of us want to color our hair as a form of self-expression, we do not do so. We are scared that our hair will turn dry, limp, and frizzy, as soon as we apply the strong dye chemicals on our hair.
The fear of hair damage is a great barrier to hair color, leaving many millennials with no option but to stick to their natural hair color. To address this common fear of hair damage, we created MiraCouleur (short for Miracle Couleur), a 100% damage-free hair dye that unlocks a brilliant spectrum of hair color options for millennials.
Using Graphene Nanotechnology, this revolutionary hair dye glazes color over each and every hair strand. MiraCouleur does not contain strong chemicals – such as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide – which forcibly open your hair cuticle and strips your hair of its natural pigmentation. Instead, the Graphene’s lattice-like structure organically wraps around each hair strand, without suffocating it. Now, millennials can get the beautiful, healthy, colored hair they deserve.
R: What’s the idea behind it?
Colleen: Presently, a lot of chemical-based hair dyes run the risk of sensitizing your hair. Most dyes contain heavy amounts of ammonia, which forcibly open the outermost layer of your hair, your hair cuticle. Oftentimes, these dyes contain hydrogen peroxide as well, which seeps into the hair fiber and strips your hair follicle of its natural nutrients. This part of the hair colouing process often leaves you with the damaged hair you dread.
Thus, we turned to Graphene Nanotechnology to address your common hair damage woes. Graphene Nanotechnology does not penetrate into you hair fiber, so no, it does not change the chemical composition of your hair fiber like normal hair dyes do. With its lattice- ike structure, it instead glazes color over each hair strand and binds to the hair fiber. When mixed with chitosan, a binding agent, Graphene Nanotechnology can stay on the hair fiber’s surface for about the same time that chemical-based dyes do.
R: What was working with each other like? How do you guys know each other?
Caitlin: It was easy to work with each other because we know our own strengths and weaknesses so there's always one person ready to back up the other.
Clarice: We're all pretty similar, yet extremely different too. Clarice is pretty laid back, while Caitlin is more organized, and Colleen is incredibly OC. We complement each other really well, but more importantly, we are all great friends, so no one ever feels inferior and everyone feels secure enough to give their comments on the case.
We managed to stay great friends even after our emotions were high because we understood each other's needs and kept our minds on our goal. (Actually, we managed also because we never forgot to make sure that each member of the team is well fed for every meeting to prevent "hangriness" HAHAHA)
R: What were the best and worst parts of the process?
Colleen: The absolute best part of L’Oreal Brandstorm is learning from the L’Oreal directors. In a short span of time, Sir Andrew Tan, Sir Mark Dee, Ms Inha Arceo, and Sir Cyril Tablante, taught us about the chemical composition of hair follicles, the spectrum of hair color undertones, the scientific process behind hair color, bleach, and perm – topics we would not have normally explored and learned about on our own! The worst part was cramming a 5,000-word paper, 2,000-word book report, and two exams, while simultaneously working on the Brandstorm case. We eventually learned to manage all the work and pull through!
Caitlin: There were definitely more good parts than bad parts for sure! I guess the worst part would be rushing all our academic requirements and taking all our exams abroad, while simultaneously preparing for Brandstorm. It’s definitely doable though! The best experience would be meeting people, who come from different walks of life, yet share very similar experiences with us.
R: How did it feel to present before an international audience, including top executives from L'Oreal?
Colleen: We were thrilled to present our idea to an international audience, because we’ve been investing a lot of our time and energies into Brandstorm. But more than that, we also were able to get value-adding insights and gain friends from people from all around the world.
Caitlin: It was actually really exciting to pitch an idea you've worked very hard on, to people who are very much interested to know about it.
Clarice: The energy during the international finals was buzzing through the air, it was infectious. I was on a high, finally presenting the 5-minute pitch that we've worked countless hours over. I wish that it lasted longer, that we could do it again, but seeing the smiles on the faces of our judges and knowing we gave our all, is more than enough for me.
R: What did you learn from the experience?
Colleen: L'Oreal Brandstorm taught us that there is nothing that relentless determination and hard work can't do. Whenever we hit a roadblock, we learned to be resourceful and consult with internet sources, friends, and mentors. We tirelessly made one revision after another, because we simply did not want to settle for a case that was "good enough". We wanted to submit an idea that we genuinely believed in and were incredibly proud of.
Caitlin: I learned that despite not being very knowledgeable about certain things, you are never at a disadvantage [compared to] your competitors. You have the internet and friends to help you out. It's a matter of learning how to be resourceful and keen on research.
Clarice: I knew that I would learn a lot about marketing through Brandstorm, but I would have never imagined that I would be taught so much more. In L'Oreal HQ, we got real insight about how quickly they innovate and how in-depth their marketing system is. Because I had no other option, I was forced to balance my work perfectly, since academics, extracurriculars, and Brandstorm deadlines were happening all at the same time.
More than that, I got to see how much creativity, talent and knowledge all the other competitors had, I was glad to hear about their wild ideas. And of course, I learned so much about hair care, coloring and hair salons, that now I can make better choices when it comes to my hair.
R: What’s next for you guys?
Colleen and Clarice are training for the largest Asians collegiate debate tournament in the country – the Philippine Intercollegiate Debate Championship. Meanwhile, Caitlin is getting ready for her 1-month summer abroad program in the Singapore Management University. – Rappler.com