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Founder Friday With Anna Mitsios From Edible Beauty
16th July 2020
If there's anything we've learned from speaking to business owners over Instagram Live on Founder Fridays, it's that starting a business isn't a cakewalk. It's something you have to be willing to stay up late for, give up your weekends and go back to the drawing board many times before you get it right.
We spoke to Anna, founder of Edible Beauty about changing careers, developing products and why it was important for her to make ethical, vegan products. If you're interested in hearing her secrets on how she successfully runs her beauty brand, read on.
How did you start Edible Beauty?
Seven years ago I transitioned from a career in finance to naturopathy. This was triggered by my diagnosis as a Type 1 diabetic at the age of 18. I became very passionate about the incredible ability of natural herbs, diet and supplements to manage my health condition. I also became increasingly conscious of endocrine-disrupting toxins in the beauty products I was using.
The Edible Beauty range was created six years ago whilst I was working at a natural fertility clinic. I was recommending that in addition to changes to their food and lifestyle routines, my patients make changes to their personal care products. I was shocked to find that there were very few options available for skincare products that were "edible" and that were luxurious and therapeutic. As a result, I embarked on creating my own range of skincare products. I was literally whipping shea butter, coco butter and rose water in my mother’s cake mixer and started sharing my creations with friends and family. After much research, courses, cosmetic chemist meetings, Edible Beauty Australia skincare range was born.
Where did the idea come from?
My interest in beauty products was sparked by a desire to spread the word on toxin-free beauty. As a naturopath, I was shocked to find that there were very few options available for skincare products that were "edible" whilst also being effective. At first, I was intrigued by the beautiful and creative process involved in developing skincare however the business idea became more about educating people on toxin-free beauty products.
One of the pivotal moments which triggered me to create the company was reading a study which involved an analysis of umbilical cords of babies. I was stunned to find that there were over 250 chemicals found in these umbilical cords which are known neurotoxins and growth retardants and these all relate to the personal products that we have been using on a daily basis. This definitely provided me with an impetus to spread the word on toxin-free beauty.
What's the story behind the name? Can you actually eat your products? That’s a great question. Given we absorb such a large percentage of what we put on our skin and the fact that what we put on our skin bypasses our digestive and detoxification systems, what we are putting on our skin becomes just as important as what we are eating providing a good reason to avoid some of the usual nasties.
Edible Beauty products are not only free of the usual nasties – sulfates, parabens, phthalates etc., they are also free of benzyl alcohol, fragrances, propylene glycol, all preservatives, colours, synthetics and any ingredient that you would not recognise or find in your food.
Whilst I do not recommend munching on your Belle Frais Cleansing Milk (a coconut yoghurt may be more cost-effective!), the products are literally good enough and safe enough to eat.
The other layer of Edible Beauty is our holistic approach to achieving inner confidence and an outer glow. What we put inside our body has such an incredible impact on the health of our skin and our energy and vitality. My “wellness’ products are ingestible products focused on restoring radiance by looking at what is going on inside the body.
How did you develop your products?
When formulating a skincare or wellness / ingestible product I go back to my nutritionist and naturopathic roots to create a solution to a skincare concern which blends the art and science of botanical medicine.
At the back of mind, I always have broader naturopathic principles in mind and these include harnessing the healing power of nature, thinking about skincare concerns “holistically” and addressing the underlying cause of a condition rather than just providing symptomatic relief.
When it comes to the actual formatting of a skincare product or ingestible, my approach differs to conventional skincare formulation as instead of working on the combining of emulsifiers, emollients, preservatives and fragrances I consider the therapeutic actions that I want the product to have, eg anti-microbial, astringent, anti-inflammatory etc. A cleansing milk may need to be anti-microbial along with hydrating and anti-inflammatory. This product provides a good example of providing a holistic solution as typically foaming cleansers will “clean” the skin but may actually contribute to acne as they strip the skin of its natural oil balance, sending sebum-producing cells into overdrive. I will then consider botanicals that will provide this action. This is critical as the botanicals determine how effective the product will be. When I consider botanicals I go one step further to think about where they are sourced from. Australian natives are one of my favourite ingredients and they are fantastic as we support local indigenous communities wild harvesting these plants. Plants which grow in very arid, mountainous or challenging terrain are particularly intriguing as they inherently contain a great antioxidant capacity than traditionally farmed antioxidants. Blending art and science via the use of botanicals makes this step even more fun. Understanding the traditional use of a botanical is also of key importance along with examining the clinical studies surrounding the ingredient.
Why did you make your products vegan, ethical, and cruelty-free?
I am a firm believer that our beauty practices should not harm ourselves, our planet, eco-system or our beautiful animals. I am also a firm believer that vegan and cruelty-free products and ingredients do not compromise the efficacy of beauty products in any way which has made it even more important for me to be a conscious beauty brand.
This has been so important to me from Day 1 – being conscious of all of our business actions on the environment and our planet has been something I have taken into account at every step of our product development process.
From our recyclable Miron glass bottles to our recyclable and sustainably sourced packaging, partnership with Terracycle, reef-friendly sunscreen and use of natural ingredients that do not harm our planet or our bodies. As a business, we are truly committed to becoming more sustainable the more we grow and believe that taking care of the environment is everyone's responsibility, including all of our staff and our customer.
It’s not easy to start a business and it’s even harder to keep it going. Are there any times you’ve found particularly hard? There have been many times that I have found running a business challenging. I initially worked out of my parent’s garage and this was a challenge in itself. I was adamant that I did not want any external investors so have always been very cautious with my growth strategy which has often made it difficult to build scale, create new products and get the word out there on the products. I have also been required to become skilled in many areas that have not come naturally to me – marketing and sales are not my forte so this has always been something I am continually working on.
What advice can you give to someone wanting to start a business?
The best advice I have ever gotten and want to pass on is to never be afraid of making mistakes. By making mistakes in all areas of our life we truly learn and grow. So take a risk, do something daring that you are passionate about and if you fall, just get back on your feet quickly and find another way to chase your dreams.
Are there any charities/initiatives Edible Beauty supports?
As a business, we donate both product and funds to charities that are aligned with our business ethics and values. This year we have provided products to women’s community shelters in Australia, WIRES as part of the bushfire appeal and next month will be donating a weekend of sales proceeds to two charities focused on assisting indigenous women.
Who inspires you?
My father's a huge inspiration. He's come from a country village in Greece and he's created a life here for us here without really having anything. He's managed to raise 3 children, he works so hard for me right now, he's incredibly positive and hard-working and just gets up every day and just does the job without questioning anything. I admire his perseverance and strength and his sense of having a mission and fulfilment of doing something every day. Sometimes we get caught up in hardship or obstacles, but he always seems to find a way around things. I really admire him and it's incredible having a role model around you like that every day.
Let us know your thoughts!
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