Supriya Baghla on How She Reaches the Flow State
Supriya discusses her definition of the flow state and the future of the beauty industry.
Below the Surface is an ongoing series featuring friends of Motif, who are on their path to greatness doing things they love. We sat down with our friend, Supriya Baghla—an Executive Marketing Director of Strategic Initiatives and eight-year veteran at The Estee Lauder Companies working across the portfolio of brands internationally. Always stylish, you will spot her walking 40 blocks to and back from work with her heels in her bag. Supriya is a mother of two and lives with her family in NYC.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I have a pretty interesting background. I'm obviously Indian, you can tell that by my name. But I grew up in Africa. So I resonate mostly with Nigeria, which is in West Africa. And then I went to boarding school in India, then I moved to the US for college. I’ve been in the US for over 22 years.
I’m a bit of an onion, I take a lot of pride in having a diverse background so where I’m from is a very hard question to answer. I look Indian, right. So people are expecting a very simple answer that I'm from India. But it's not as simple. I always start with, “Yes, I am Indian” but when I tell people I’m from Africa, they’ll be like “Oh, I have a friend from Kenya or from Tanzania” even though East and West Africa are literally a seven hour flight from each other.
We were inspired by the flow state of mind, when you're doing something that's a little difficult, but you're enjoying it, when do you feel like you're in a state of flow?
I think what puts me in a state of flow are deadlines. The first hour of my morning is probably the most hectic hour because I have to get up, get dressed, make breakfast for my two kids, and get them ready for school before the nanny walks into the door to take them to school. And I love sleeping. So I'm not the mother who wakes up at five in the morning to prepare. So 7-8AM is when I'm in the zone – I do really enjoy that one hour I get in the morning. It tells me more about myself because I think I do well under pressure. It’s weird but I like deadlines. I like to know that this HAS to happen and I'm working backwards from something.
I like to show myself what I can do under difficult circumstances.
It’s the small things. I meet that one goal and by eight o'clock in the morning, I have a small sense of accomplishment every day.
What do patterns mean to you in your life? What patterns have you recently started or been able to break?
So that's a very interesting question, because I'm always learning new patterns. I feel like everyone is constantly evolving and changing. Everyone is learning more about themselves everyday. It comes back to being goal driven or understanding your own willpower.
I love eating, I love snacking. I don't like three big meals, I'll have five small meals instead. I'll just graze as the day goes on. And recently, I started intermittent fasting. It was so difficult because I'm used to grazing so I was changing and shifting the way I behave. But it became one of those things that I just had to do and prove to myself. Nobody cares how much I eat or don't eat. But I’ll literally shift mountains to prove a point to myself that - I can do this.
Similarly, I said “I'm going to walk 10,000 steps every day.” I will put on my jacket after work and walk home, even if it's freezing, even if it's raining.
What do you look for in beauty brands now? And what beauty brands are resonating with you?
What I think is the best is what is effective. I go by efficacy over any claims of plant based or vegan or science based, it needs to work for me. I also care about instant gratification. Like when I wash my face with my Motif Abundance Cleanser, it just feels very moisturized and not squeaky clean because I'm not stripping off all my moisture. It feels good. It feels supple.
I do really like the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair (ANR). I've always used it, even before I worked at Estee. Augustinus Bader is another brand – I think I'm really liking that cream. When I was in France, I picked up a whole bunch of these pharmacy brands like Filorga. And they're really good.
I love Motif. I love my La Mer moisturizer, I love my ANR. But then I also love my pharmacy brands. So it's a little bit of everything.
How has the beauty industry been evolving and what do you think its future will look like?
I think the beauty industry is going to change a lot because the way Gen Z thinks is very different – they care. People today care more and more about what they put on their face, what kind of chemicals are being used, where and how they are being sourced. They are definitely more environmentally conscious, too. But as Gen Z gets older, I suspect they will also start demanding results as well as all those other things.
What does beauty mean to you? How has your relationship with beauty evolved over time?
It’s definitely evolved. The aging process doesn't scare me, I'm not scared of having wrinkles on my face, I want to age gracefully — I just don't want to age early.
My pregnancies were a big trigger for me because I felt a lot of changes in my body. My first kid gave me acne and melasma. I got rid of the acne post-pregnancy but then I still had hyperpigmentation, which at first I thought was just scarring from the acne. And then I realized it was hyperpigmentation which got worse with my second pregnancy. So, about five to six years ago, I got really good about sunscreen, which is something I wasn't good about earlier in life.
I don't want to be perfect, I don't want to look perfect, I want to feel good.
And that's a big shift from when I was younger to now. It's not about how I look, it's about how I feel, which is why the instant gratification is so important to me, like do I feel like my skin feels good today? Do I feel like it's a little plump? It’s the little things, but it's less outwardly. My relationship with beauty has definitely evolved from what’s trendy – like eyeliner or a cat eye – to my skin feeling fresh or my skin feeling dewy. And that's what I want to accentuate. So it's been a journey, and I'm sure it's gonna continue to evolve.
Who were some figures in your life that influenced the way you looked at beauty?
My mom has always been very particular about home remedies. She always had a homemade face mask, she would always put egg in her hair. I can't even tell you the kind of stuff that I've had on my face and my hair growing up. But for her it's always been about health, health on the inside and how it shows on the outside.
I had this one aunt who was very particular about how she looked, even with the little things like how she carried herself. She rarely wore makeup and she always had dewy fresh skin. For me, the importance of my skin and skin health comes from her. And she also taught me that no matter how much makeup you put on, if you're not healthy within, it's not going to show outside.
Tell us about your experience with The Abundance Cleanser
It did take me a second to be like, okay, I've got to add another 30 seconds to my shower, like, I don't have time for that. But when I got into the pattern of like, okay, I'm gonna go into the shower and use the Abundance Cleanser. The first thing I do is I put it on, wash my hair, scrub my feet, whatever it is, I'll do all of that. And it's the last thing I take off before I get out of the shower. It is just such a nice feeling. It feels like I have actually spent time on taking care of myself and taking care of my skin. You feel like you deserve good skin because you are taking care of it. So it's a very, very good feeling.
This gives me 30 seconds of "I was able to take care of myself today” even if I just used one product. It's like a three-in-one product because my skin feels clean. It feels soft. It feels moisturized. It feels like I got to use a mask. So it's nicely hydrated as well. It's become one of things that I love to do before I get out of the house.