Zoë Philpott and Sarah Jackson are the best friends and business partners behind INÈS, an online beauty boutique with a considered offering of skincare, haircare and inner beauty goods. Zoë and Sarah’s careful curation of INÈS speaks directly to the Yu Mei philosophy. Like us, they’re all about streamlining your life and routine, providing useful and effective products that genuinely work - and still, of course, look good.
We always wanted to be in business together. We have a similar appreciation for lifestyle, and wanted a creative outlet to channel our skills of sourcing and curating the objects that make up our lives, as well as a way to turn that into a business.
Taking care of our skin has been a twice-daily practice since we can remember. We’ve always been well-informed beauty consumers, conscious of what we use on our skin and the brands we choose to have on our vanity. Skincare is a universal practice — most people take care of their skin at some level. So we wanted to shine a spotlight on this daily ritual, and make it uniquely our own.
INÈS is the result — a space to shop for beauty that spoke to us. One that wasn’t loud, millennial, or makeup driven - or, conversely, too clinical. We wanted to offer highly sought after, quality beauty brands that weren’t readily available locally, and create a platform that was informative, inspiring and aesthetically elegant. We both come from a fashion lens, and this translates into the overall look and feel of INÈS.
Our typical workday usually starts at 9am, with us rushing to pack orders before the courier comes. We have finally enlisted a partner to take this off our hands, which will make our mornings a lot smoother. After this we sit down — always with a cup of tea — and plot the day’s work. Then we get into it. We always stop for lunch, often at Orphans Kitchen, in order to get out of the office. We share an office space with friends and we all bring our dogs to work. So it’s slightly chaotic, but suits us perfectly.
Sarah: My style has evolved with age. I am very casual in my approach to dressing, and am way less driven by trends or new season collections as I was in my twenties. I stick to quality foundational pieces — shirts, knitwear, trousers, and good shoes. I prefer to avoid fast fashion, and invest in clothes that will transcend seasons. I like classic pieces with an interesting silhouette. There’s a handful of designers I gravitate towards for staples. I fantasise about being a bit more bold with colour or print, but it’s mostly black or a neutral palette.
Zoë: I never know how to articulate my style, but it's certainly more of a ‘uniform’ these days. I’m no longer inspired by trends or seasonal collections, which is liberating. Generally I just expand on my existing wardrobe, which is always a collection of well-made shoes, trousers, shirts and knitwear. In summer I enjoy wearing dresses and in winter, every few years, I’ll invest in a quality coat. I live by quality vs. quantity, and am definitely not a hoarder — many of my clothes are on-sold or gifted if I feel they are just collecting dust. Though I do love jewellery, and appreciate intelligently designed pieces, one of my favourites being Charlotte Chesnais.
Sentimentally, my favourite item is my grandmother's matchbox necklace, which she used to wear all the time. We were very close, and her necklace is my good luck charm. I wear it when I need her nearby.
Zoë: My favourite sentimental item is a flower my son spontaneously picked for me at one of our favourite beaches, Matapouri. I pressed it for over a year, and then framed it in a glass backed frame so it looks like it’s floating. It is so very special to me.
Design-wise (and sentimentally!), my favourite piece is my engagement ring. It is a bespoke ring designed by a very talented jeweller in LA. Looking down on it, it appears to be a simple wide gold band, but the stones are hidden beneath the band so you can only see them when my hand moves. It is very discreet and I’ve never seen anything like it. I adore it.
Sarah: Mornings are relatively calm for me - I get up early enough to fit a lot in. My meditation practice is the start and end point to each day (caveat: on a good day, not every day). I try to get in some movement — either a walk with my dog, Pilates or yoga. Then it’s shower, skincare, breakfast, and work. My day usually ends with a home cooked dinner with my husband Mikey, often an evening walk with Zo and the dogs, an episode or two of a series if we’re watching one, meditation, reading, then I’m asleep before 11pm.
Zoë: My day always starts with a warm lemon water spiked with turmeric and cayenne, followed by a pressed juice my husband makes. Then we get ready for the day, which involves a stretch or yoga, coffee and a quick skincare routine. Then I go to work, or, if I’m with our five year old son Rufus, we plan an outing or play A LOT of sports (me, rather reluctantly). Sometimes we potter in the garden and often I’m trying to persuade him to help me with baking of some sorts. If my husband is home early from work we always slow down for a meal together. We are trying to be disciplined with a short meditation each night before bed, and always read before the light goes out.
Sarah: If I wasn’t doing INÈS, I would be back studying — redeeming myself for the lost years of my first degree, and diving into something to expand my mind. Most likely in the realm of women’s health or psychology.
Zoë: I would also be studying. I feel like I wasted my university years on doing (and not very well) something practical. It’s a dream for me to go back to study, and learn in detail the things I’m most curious about. At twenty I didn’t know what I wanted to know… but I do now, and would love to explore that.
Sarah: I’m very organised with things that are important to me, and not at all with everything else. It’s easy to prioritise and be efficient with things that are of personal urgency. I have a small bag that carries the things I reach for most, which is about 4 things: keys, phone, wallet, and currently a face mask. For days at the office, I take along a bigger bag for everything else I carry. I tend to just throw everything in — ‘everything’ being my phone, AirPods, purse, Dr Rogers lip balm, glasses, nail file, pen, laptop, water, Kosas lip tint, and Dr Bronner’s lavender hand sanitiser.
Zoë: I can be extremely organised and efficient with tasks that I’m excited about — anything visual like the house, garden, design aspects of INÈS, or creative outlets like cooking or hosting. But things like admin, bills, parking tickets — chaotic.
My bag is small and convenient — gone are the days of a big bag with everything in it and nothing getting used. It’s always organised as it has minimal contents. I have to be super prepared with my bag as my son is Type 1 Diabetic, so I always carry the necessities to manage this. It includes the reader for his CGM device, glucose, insulin and snacks to correct lows or highs, plus emergency essentials if he has a critical low. It’s a significant checklist when leaving the house with him, but we’re 2.5 years into his diagnosis, so it's second nature now. I also always carry my phone, keys, Doctor Rogers Balm, AirPods, a purse with a few essential cards, a CAP Matcha stick and Suntegrity 5-1 Sunscreen.
Skincare is more about what you put in your body than what is applied topically. Products should always be the supporting act to what is happening internally. Drinking two plus litres of water a day, a whole foods diet, lots of greens and good sleep are our priority. We get a little help from inner beauty powders by The Beauty Chef, which support healthy gut function. We also like herbal potions from Super Feast and Cap Beauty.
This inner selfcare allows your skincare products to truly shine and work their magic — which they do! When using expert formulas and a tailored regime, your skin can truly be healthy. We are super particular about what we stock at INÈS — all our products are functional and can deliver amazing results.
Zoë: It’s surprisingly challenging to pick my favourite products as I am committed to so many of our products. At the moment I’m absolutely loving the Circumference range — their cleanser, Vitamin C and Botanical Oil are such a joy to use.
I’m never not without NIODs Copper Amino Isolate Serum, it’s such a humble yet genius treatment that helps skin in so many ways. It’s good for healing, repairing, brightening and tightening. It’s one of those wonder products that works subtly and continuously, ensuring skin’s health is optimized — it’s incredible.
My absolute can’t-live-without is CAP 10pm O’Clock. It’s an unbelievably magic sleep tonic. I have the most peaceful and deep sleep every night I take it, and everyone I’ve put onto it is as addicted to it as I am.
Sarah: I can’t live without the Dr Rogers Restore range. All her products are clean, functional skincare and have a spot in any routine. I often change up my serums or acids, but Dr Rogers products are the bookends. iS Clinical Eclipse SPF is the best SPF I’ve used. It’s a physical (not chemical) SPF, and unlike most zinc-based sunscreens it doesn’t leave a heavy white cast. It layers well with skincare and is highly protective. For the shower, I use Orris soaps. I love bar soaps, they are kinder to our earth, natural, smell beautiful and can be used on the face and body. My favourite is Le Botaniste. For shiny hair I go for Christophe Robin’s Melting Mask. I’ve been using his haircare for years, and always have a treatment mask of his on rotation. Josh Rosebrook Daily Acid Toner is also a beautiful product — like everything Josh Rosebrook makes.
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New Zealand and Australia
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Rest of World
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