Last week we had a look at Earthzest Organics products, you can check out our thoughts here, but this week we are talking to the woman behind the company to find out more!
Why did you decide to start Earthzest Organics?
Earthzest began as a hobby 5 years ago when I was 40, as my skin was becoming more and more sensitive and it had got to the stage where I couldn’t use any products without getting either an instant reaction or a reaction after a few days max (red, inflamed, very itchy skin that went dry and flaky a few days later). Make-up looked awful as my skin was flaky underneath and I became very self-conscious and didn’t like going out and hid behind my desk at work (legal secretary in London).
I never had any intention of starting my own business as my job was well-paid (although unfulfilling) and I was too busy with commuting and my relationship to even think about it. I was in a destructive relationship that I couldn’t break free of (as my confidence was low, partly due to my skin problems and feeling so unattractive) and I remember one day (after we had broken up yet again and I was on my own) doing some internet searching for skincare ingredients, to try and find out why it was that I was constantly allergic to all products.
This was a revelation as I discovered that every-day, conventional products contain a huge amount of harsh, toxic and even carcinogenic chemicals and that this is legal! I discovered that baby oil is made of mineral oil which is a cheap waste product from the petroleum industry, yet we are slathering our babies in it! I discovered that water is the number one ingredient in just about every skincare product on the market and therefore huge profits are being made by selling highly diluted products that are mainly water. And if water is present, that means that preservatives have to be used, so I was outraged that we were having all these unnecessary chemicals inflicted on us, just so that big corporations could make huge profits!
By this time, I was also allergic to most of the so-called “natural” and “organic” brands and was shocked to find out that they also contained varying degrees of synthetic chemicals and were mainly water and that it was legal to call a product “organic” if it contained just ONE organic ingredient!
At this point, I started researching natural raw ingredients that had traditionally been used on the skin throughout the ages and was fascinated to find out how rich they were in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, Omegas and anti-oxidants (to name but a few) and I then began ordering them in small quantities and mixing them together, to make my own products. I was amazed to find that my skin allergies immediately stopped and I went on to test my formulations on family, friends and colleagues, with fantastic results! Even for people who don’t have particularly sensitive skin, cutting out conventional products which are mainly water and switching to 10% organic, concentrated products makes a huge difference and I was amazed and delighted with the feedback I was receiving.
Early in 2013 I finally broke up with my boyfriend and it was a difficult time. On top of that, I found out a few months later that there were to be compulsory redundancies at my law firm. I was worried sick that I was going to lose my partner and my job at the same time, but the morning we were told that our jobs were safe, I remember feeling a surprisingly overwhelming surge of disappointment that nothing was going to change and I would be working in an office in London until I retired (which wasn’t all that far away!). At that moment, I told my colleague who I was sitting next to that I had to change my life and get away and I went to see HR and asked if there was any way that I could take voluntary redundancy and they were brilliant and finally agreed.
My redundancy money was enough to set up the bones of Earthzest and a year later it is still very much a work in progress. I had absolutely no idea how to run a business until I suddenly had to set one up and it’s been a very steep learning curve for me and still is! It’s hard to believe how much I’ve achieved in the past year, with very little money behind me but Earthzest is a labour of love and I enjoy watching it grow. I have never worked so hard in my life, as all my products are hand-made and I also have to run the business, but finally, I’m doing something worthwhile that I enjoy and believe in, and I am determined to educate people about what they are really putting on their skin and give them a 100% organic and ethical alternative that is completely cruelty-free.
Obviously the Earth itself is your inspiration for creation, but how do you devise recipes for new products?
Firstly, I decide on the product I need – for example, a cleanser for oily and combination skin and then I research which plant oils work best with that skin type. Plant oils are naturally similar to the skin’s own oil called sebum, so they all have a re-balancing effect on the skin, but certain oils are particularly suitable for each skin type. There is a misconception that putting oils on the skin will clog it and make it greasy. This is only true of synthetic mineral oils which coat the skin and disrupt its delicate balance. Pure organic plant oils are fantastic as they are absorbed at a cellular level and they allow the skin to detox and get rid of the chemical build-up that has occurred over many years and they also literally feed the skin and provide it with the nutrients it requires. So, once I’ve decided on my plant oils, I then add pure organic essential oils that will complement and enhance the product and voila!
Do you have a favourite ingredient to use in recipes? Why?
I absolutely love raw cocoa butter which is made from the cocoa bean that’s used to make chocolate and is the basis for my moisturising balms. I only use certified organic, un-deodorised cocoa butter which retains its natural chocolatey aroma and is full of skin-enhancing properties. It’s fantastic for all skin types as it protects the skin and helps to fade scars. It’s a natural moisturiser and skin softener that’s been used for thousands of years and penetrates deeply. It’s incredibly high in Vitamin E which promotes skin renewal and repair and it’s also an anti-oxidant that protects the skin from free radicals and toxins that damage the skin at a cellular level.
Which product, of all the ones you have created, do you have the most admiration for and why?
My personal favourite is also my best-selling product – my Flower Power Rescue Balm (£24 for 50ml). This product is cocoa-butter based and has a wonderful floral aroma, due to the essential oils that it contains (lavender, palma rosa, rose geranium and chamomile). It also contains certified organic jojoba, evening primrose and rosehip oils and is full of anti-oxidants and healing properties to soothe acne, eczema and dry, itchy skin and instantly improve the appearance of the skin. It’s great for the morning after a heavy night out, when the skin is dehydrated and dull, as it gives a surge of natural moisture that allows makeup to glide on effortlessly! It melts as soon as it comes in to contact with the skin and although I formulated it for the face, it can also be used on the hands, feet and body. It’s a great all-rounder.
Are there any ingredients out there in the world you would love to work with?
I have already worked with most organic skincare ingredients and my current range of 27 products contains a wide range of plant oils, essential oils, butters, clays and salts. However, I would like to find a source of genuinely 100% organic aloe vera, as most of the aloe vera in this country is highly diluted and full of preservatives. It’s on my To Do list!
Why do you feel that the company ethos of being 100% pure is so important these days?
Because we are living in an age of deception where clever advertising campaigns and fancy packaging are hiding the fact that we are crazily putting toxic chemicals on our skin and in to our bodies on a daily basis! And it’s not just skincare – our food is also full of chemicals and words like “pure” and “natural” mean absolutely nothing, so I would actually say that being able to offer a 100% Organic skincare range is so important to me because it’s an easy way to cut out all of the chemicals in skincare products that we are exposing our bodies to on a daily basis.
What’s in your handbag?
I cycle instead of driving wherever possible so I usually have an unglamorous backpack with me! It contains my diary, make-up bag, a large A4 notebook (as I’m currently in the process of upgrading my labels and website and like to write down ideas as they come to me), the Art of Happiness by the Daiai Lama (as I work far too hard and am trying to slow down and be calm!) and Flower Power Balm (for my hands during the day).
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just formulated a 100% organic mother and baby range but it takes time to add new products (due to complex EU regulations). The range will consist of a highly concentrated baby bump oil (that’s chemical-free and intensively moisturising, to reduce the risk of stretch-marks), a cocoa-butter based all-over moisturising balm (which is fantastic for dry skin and nappy rash, as well as baby’s face) and a pure baby oil (to provide a much-needed alternative to conventional baby oils, to nourish a baby’s skin, without damaging its delicate balance).
I’m also working on gift sets and travel sizes and currently formulating and testing a complete Men’s range (although my face and body Spice Balm for Men is already available).