When times are tough, honesty, authenticity and integrity can help a brand to survive, even flourish. Fortunately for triathlete, equestrian and mother of three Grace De Alvaro, her performance based make-up brand has all three.
Last year started well for Sports HAI. January saw the brand named ‘one to watch’ by Theresa Yee, athlete and senior beauty writer at WGSN. In February, it was a finalist in several beauty competitions. In March the pandemic hit Britain but, says Grace, ‘our British manufacturing partners kept us stocked with no disruption. We pulled together and worked alongside our fantastic authenticity athletes, collaborators, friends and family.’
Indeed as the year unfolded, Sports HAI went on to win more accolades. It was winner of the Best Luxury Lip Balm in the Attracta Beauty Awards in August and mentioned in Sarah Stacey’s online Beauty Bible. But undoubtedly the biggest accolade for Sports HAI is the enthusiasm with which it is received by for whom it was originally conceived – the brand has become a cult hit with many of the country’s top athletes and enthusiasts, from ultra-runners to freedivers, and even Olympians.
Says Grace: ‘We worked closely with Hannah Henderson and the Ladies Polo Foundation, supplying Sports HAI to the players as they trained in all weathers. Our products went across the water to Ireland’s Olympic dressage team and we supported swim coach and freediver Ruth Osborn. We test in the toughest conditions, but what makes us different is that we further test our products with professional athletes for sports and performance feedback. That said, Sports HAI is for anyone who needs their cosmetics to stand up to whatever life throws at them, from dog-walkers in the local park to gold-medal winners in the global arena.’
For Grace, though, it has never been just about the products. Now more than ever it’s about supporting like-minded businesses and aligning with charities that make a difference to women’s lives, such as The Eve Appeal, which raises money for research into gynaecological cancer prevention. Sports HAI has also collaborated with Freeda Media, a digital brand that creates content celebrating women’s achievements; worked with Pakistani artist Maliha Abidi, who focuses on women’s empowerment and celebrating women’s stories; and partnered with Hannah Congdon and Catherine Haigh on Women Behind the Wheel: Unheard Voices on the Pamir Highway, a documentary looking at female emancipation across Central Asia.
‘We don’t have a massive budget so we choose to concentrate on areas where we can make a difference. Many of the people we collaborate with are changing the way women see themselves and that’s something that resonates with our own ethos,’ says Grace.
What defines her brand? ‘I’d say it’s our Britishness. In business, we’re no-nonsense, honest and, admittedly, a bit quirky. We celebrate that infamous raw, fresh British beauty: effortless, powerful and strong. We’re sporty, always chasing that peak performance moment. We’re also worldly, reaching out to people all around the globe.’