As we lounge on a turquoise bench, positioned on the patio of one of those chic New York side-street cafe’s, we see a black Uber pull up to the curb. Fran Miller, founder of the eponymous skin-care line, F. Miller, and Queen of all things beauty oil, steps out, accompanied by her new fiancé, Jackie. We share a few hugs, order one too many matchas, and sit down on the patio, together admiring the beauty of side-walk seating on a nice day in New York. This restaurant, Banter NYC, is particularly spot on for its fresh pastel decor, all Australian staff, and lack of WiFi; The perfect excuse to put our phones down.
Prior to enjoying our matchas together, we’d only met Fran once before, when we first tried the botanical based F. Miller line at a Desk-Side meeting in Tribeca. Even then, we admired her chill nature and effortless style, so when we heard she was flying down again to New York from Toronto (Miller’s home city), we had to do a profile. And now, she sits before us, coolly eating her avocado toast in a sheer white top and perfectly slouchy vintage jeans (the benefits of being engaged to a stylist no doubt), picking out the F. Miller products she always carries with her.
With features in Vogue and The Coveteur and a stockiest list that includes The Dreslyn and Blos, F. Miller is quickly becoming one of the most well-celebrated non-toxic, natural beauty brands on the market, so we got the scoop behind the line’s future goals, and the face behind the name.
The Moment: Hi Fran! Can you introduce yourself and F. Miller?
Miller: I’m Fran Miller. I founded F. Miller skincare almost four years ago now. It really all started from my own obsession for skincare products and beauty products. I was having a lot of skin sensitivities years and years ago and was always willing to try everything under the sun in the hopes that something would work for me for things like eczema and psoriasis and super dryness and redness. Nothing really did the trick and was that magic thing I was looking for. I started experimenting with oils rather than creams and lotions. It was a long time ago and thinking about it now, there was nothing really out there. It was at a time when I was still in college and was just experiencing these really weird and annoying skin problems. I just started buying oils from the health food store. Green Beauty wasn’t really a thing. If it was, it was super small and you really had to be in that world, which I wasn’t. I had always wanted to do makeup and be a makeup artist so I was always really obsessed with beauty products in general. So, I started playing around with ingredients from the health food store and very surprisingly I saw really quick results. Then it took over my entire routine. I fell in love with oils. Years later is when I actually decided to launch the brand.
The Moment: How did that transition happen? From making these products for yourself, to turning it it to F. Miller Skincare?
Miller: I think that I saw a lack in the market of beautifully branded and packaged natural beauty products as well as ones that matched the way a luxury beauty product makes you feel. The smell is amazing, the feel is really nice. It absorbs and goes on really nicely. Based on my really positive results, I felt great about using these oils, and I didn’t see why there had to be a disconnect between luxury skincare and green beauty. I was getting amazing feedback on the samples I was giving to friends and family and was at a point where I wasn’t really doing what I wanted to be doing and decided to make it a bigger thing.
I went to school for fashion communication and from the point I graduated, I was working in wholesale and retail management. It was never really where I wanted to be, so it was a great opportunity to take some time off and do something that I was actually passionate about.
The Moment: If you could describe F. Miller in three words…
Miller: Effortless. Classic. Pure.
Based on the ingredients and the vibe, I think those fit. It’s all about applying pure botanicals that are good for you rather than all the crap that we see in so many other products and food and everything.
“I think the misconception too is that natural beauty has no preservatives but that’s not true. If you’re looking at an ingredient list and there’s nothing in there that’s acting as a preservative, that’s just as bad because it’s natural and it will go rancid.”
The Moment: What are the staple ingredients in the line? What is important to look out for when shopping clean?
Miller: I have a few favorite oils: jojoba, rosehip, calendula, tamanu, evening primrose. There are a lot of really amazing oils that have multiple benefits to them. They’re really great multi-purpose, do-it-all ingredients. I think in general, with beauty products, even when you think it’s natural, it might not be, so things you’re looking out for are parabens, any added toxins, chemicals, and fragrance is a big one. I’ve chosen the essential oils in every product based on their benefits for your skin. But they also happen to smell really nice. Essential oils are really powerful and can do a lot of really amazing things. Some of them smell disgusting and some of them smell really nice. In general, fragrance and colorants are a big thing.
Preservatives are also huge. If they’re not natural, it’s just an added toxin. But there is a reason why a drugstore brand sits on the shelf for so long and it doesn’t go bad because obviously they’re using strong preservatives. I think the misconception too is that natural beauty has no preservatives but that’s not true. If you’re looking at an ingredient list and there’s nothing in there that’s acting as a preservative, that’s just as bad because it’s natural and it will go rancid. Applying a rancid oil is just as dangerous, if not worse. It develops bacteria and can cause really major problems so you have to be careful about that too. In general, all of those SLS chemicals in cleansers and shampoos aren’t good for you. If something lathers, it’s probably not good for you. If it’s having some sort of reaction that isn’t natural then there is generally something in there that causes it to do that.
I love products and for me, it’s all about balance in all areas of my life. I would be lying if I said I used 100% only natural makeup and skincare. I like a mix of different things. For me it’s about what I’m using the most and what is the first product that’s going on to my face. The first thing that’s absorbing deeply in to my skin is all of my skincare products. I think if you’re going to start anywhere, it should be skincare and deodorant. The things that are your daily essential go-tos that are really going in to your body.
There’s a reason luxury products are so luxurious- it’s because they’re made with silicone which makes everything feel beautiful and soft. If you were to ask my hair stylist in Toronto, she can’t use green products. There will never be an equivalent to a Kerastase. It’s a weird thing. Unless you are someone who is 100% going green and clean in all aspects of your life, that also includes your cleaning products, and everything in your house. A lot of people don’t understand how much toxic stuff they use. I’m not that, so I will use a mixture of things for my hair. I’ve been really in to the Verb products. I really do like them and they do a good job at simplifying their ingredient list, which for me is already a good sign. When I don’t see a thousand things on an ingredient list, I think that’s when you know it’s leaning towards cleaner. I don’t think you can go 100% with shampoo and conditioner without sacrificing.
The one thing I will say about hair, I think you benefit from washing it less and I am a big supporter of letting your hair do it’s own thing. Some people are blessed with perfect hair and other people have to work a bit harder but your hair should be the way it’s meant to be and you’ll generally find that it actually looks best when you do that. And a good hair cut is really key.
The Moment: What are your other favorite beauty products at the moment?
Miller: I’ll often put blush on my eyes. I’m all about multi functional and multi purpose products. If it can do four different things, I love it. I do love the RMS Living Luminizer. I’m in the process of experimenting with my own highlighters. Deep down I’m obsessed with makeup so I would love to start playing around with it. I love Bite Beauty. They’re based in Toronto and it’s a little more natural. Their formulas are really beautiful and really good quality. I’ve been using the Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar Soap bar as a second cleanse after the Cleansing Oil. I wear J. Hannah nail polish. The Marzipan color. I like the Un-Cover Up by RMS. It’s really good and I feel good about using them.
Some more clean favorites include:
- Susanne Kaufmann Sunscreen
- Rahua volumizing shampoo & conditioner
- Marie Veronique Probiotic and Exfoliation mask
- Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in ‘Above and Beyond’
- RMS everything!
For skincare I use the Face Oil everyday, that’s my day/night routine regardless. Then I mist myself a million times throughout the day with the Toning Mist. It’s always in my bag. As well as the Lip Balm. I could list them all off but that’s why I created them, because each one is the essential product that I needed. The Eye Treatment Oil is my new favorite and very easy to keep in your bag. It also makes a nice highlighter if you want to throw it on.
The Moment: We love that tip! Any other interesting ways to use F. Miller products?
The Moment: We’re obsessed with your Instagram, both the F. Miller account and your personal. Any tips?
Miller: I think on social media, the thing to remember is however cool and effortless it looks, there was probably a lot of effort behind it. I refuse to not recognize that. I whole heartedly believe that it takes a lot of work to look good.
What I’ve tried to do with the F.Miller Instagram is set it apart from other brand Instagrams. I might like a brand but I won’t necessarily follow them on Instagram if it’s always product shots. Unless i really wanted to know what the latest is. I asked myself, what’s going to set F. Miller apart and make people follow along and keep engaged. I do that with interesting backgrounds and interesting settings to go along with the product and not just plain product shots all the time. When I travel, that’s the best time to get the photos because obviously it’s new stuff. I’m always looking around and looking for things to take a picture of and stopped feeling awkward or weird to stand and take photos. Half the time I will stop dead in my tracks in the streets and Jackie, my fiancé, will get super annoyed. I think you have to super commit to get a good shot.
I think it’s about being genuine and showing personality. And post what you like. Don’t focus on the likes. That’s a big thing too. Post what you like. If your feed makes you happy then that’s what matters.
“I think the brand is an extension of myself and what I love and what I think is beautiful and cool.”
The Moment: What are the future goals of F. Miller?
Miller: Definitely want to explore beyond skincare. Nothing wild but something that makes sense. I think when I launched the brand, I always envisioned what it could be down the road and I think the brand is an extension of myself and what I love and what I think is beautiful and cool. For me, it started with skincare and my essentials, but I would love to see other routes that it could lead to. Slightly more lifestyle maybe. Makeup would be a really cool thing. The products would be clean. With makeup, I’m super simple and I don’t want anything to be overly fussy ever so if it wasn’t possible or I wasn’t getting the best results, I probably wouldn’t do it. I love the idea of focussing on the essentials with makeup like a highlighter and maybe some other fun stuff.
We have some collaborations coming up. No launch dates yet. It’ll be different, verging away from skincare and more home. I think ceramics, but a combination of a few things. We’re figuring it out. Those are the channels I would love to start exploring.
When I have more time, I’d love to explore the web side of things too. I had always wanted to have a journal side to the site. I have it now, but it’s really more inspirational photos. I would love to expand that because there’re so many other parts of me. I love to travel and take photos and food. I’d like to incorporate the people I work with on a daily basis and the stores I’m in and friends and people that inspire me and places.
The Moment: What inspires you?
Miller: Travel wise, I’m obsessed with Mexico City. We were there last year and I was overwhelmed by the amount of museums and art. The colors and the scenery is incredible there. I think I’m always inspired by California and nature in general. It’s where I want to be deep down even though I’m in the city all the time. I think first and foremost, different landscapes and travel is my number one inspiration and motivation. I try to do it as often as possible but it’s hard.
Trying to make more time to go to galleries and see certain exhibits is important. Right now I’m really in to still life paintings and certain color pallets are really inspiring to me. I’m also a secret Pinterester. I’ll go in to Pinterest holes and pin a million of them. We also just moved so I’m in reno mode and love looking at designers and architects. Georgia O’Keefe’s house in New Mexico is super inspiring to me. New Mexico and Mexico City are two really inspiring places for me.
The Moment: Which spots and shops in New York and Toronto do you love?
In New York I love MNZ. I’m always inspired when I go there and obviously she’s a creative genius. They do a really good job of curating the store. It feels like a gallery setting when you’re there. I think that store will always be my favorite.
I think Dover Street Market is always cool from a fashion, cutting edge perspective. There are always the key stores that I come to while I’m here but I don’t really do too much shopping. I’d rather go to the museums here because it’s something I won’t be able to see in Toronto.
In Toronto one of my favorite stores is Ewanika which I’m stocked at. She’s amazing, this really cool woman who has incredible taste and her own brand by the same name, but then she also carries some really great brands as well. Everything feels very luxe there.
The Moment: How do you view the relationship between food and beauty? What are your favorite beauty foods?
Miller: It’s a balance. I try not to eat too much dairy which I find is the trigger for bad skin, but it’s hard for me because I love cheese. I also try to eat yogurt quite often because I feel really good if I’m eating it on a regular basis. That dairy doesn’t count for me. I’ll avoid milk.
I lean more towards sushi. It feels lighter sometimes and the quality can be really good. I enjoy Mediterranean flavors in general. Really nice grains and vegetables and the sauce really makes or breaks a meal. At home, we mostly cook vegetarian. It’s easier and takes less time. And we eat a lot of fish. If I had my choice, I would eat pasta everyday. We got a spiralizer and we became obsessed with it and made zucchini noodles everyday for maybe two weeks. But then we were zucchini noodled out. We over did it for sure. But it’s really delicious. It’s about being creative and looking for fun recipes to try. Otherwise, It’s really easy to make quinoa and broccoli everyday. If I’m indulging or don’t really care too much, I just love Italian food a lot.
I have a few recipes for gluten free pancakes that are very delicious. There are definitely ways to eat what you love and make it a little bit better for you.
The Moment:We NEED that recipe! What other interests and hobbies outside of beauty contribute to building F. Miller?
Miller: Cooking is a big part of my daily routine, and what I eat directly affects my mood, skin and overall energy. I love experimenting with new ingredients and unique recipes to keep things interesting.
Internet holes can often be productive for me – I love collecting imagery and making moodboards (design, architecture, beauty, art etc.) to continuously reference for inspiration.
The Moment:What’s your most memorable moment of success?
Miller: Our first mention in Vogue was a pretty surreal moment.
The Moment: What’s your star sign?
The Moment: Ok, last question: How do you stay in the moment?
Miller: I am very self aware and I’m also a bit of a home-body. I’ve never been super concerned with parties. I’m a grandmother deep down. I think a lot of it is about self care and focusing on what’s good for you. I would say if anything, I have a tendency to be constantly working. There’s always something to be doing and never enough time to be doing it. Sometimes I don’t stay sane but I think having people around you who are helpful and motivational is a big help. My fiancé Jackie is a big part of that. We just got engaged. She’s my number one fan. We got engaged at the end of May. It just happened at home. It was super low-key. She asked me and custom designed this beautiful ring. She did a great job. It’s a peach sapphire because I used to call her peach and then the other stones represent me, her, and our dog.
We’re obsessed with our dog, Bagel. He’s a bulldog mix. In general I love being home with Jackie and our dog. That’s my happy place. It’s about having moments of calm and being away from your phone and trying to read; Even if it’s a beautiful magazine. Having moments that have nothing to do with technology and Instagram. Also always remembering that I don’t have to stop and take a photo of everything. I could be too busy taking photos but not really looking at what I’m taking the photo of. Sometimes it’s nice to be there and actually see it. I try to be really appreciative of what I have and the people I have around me, even though sometimes I forget.
Special thanks to Fran Miller!
Photo by Sally Griffiths