1. Can you tell us a little about your childhood/early years and how that influenced your move into your field?
I had eczema and allergies as a child and when I eliminated certain foods from my diet and introduced others as recommended by a naturopath, I noticed a huge difference in my skin. I also only used very gentle skincare topically which was always plant-based.
In my early twenties I was working as a writer and stylist for various magazines was offered a job as a beauty editor. I became concerned with the amount of toxic chemicals in skincare. From my early experiences I understood that healthy, radiant skin comes from within, so I made it my mission to only write about natural health and beauty. For six years I penned a column for The Sunday Telegraph called DIY Beauty, I wrote a book for Penguin called Feeding Your Skin and have been the beauty columnist for Wellbeing magazine for the last 14 years.
I am also so heavily influenced and inspired by my family. My mum worked in the world of fashion and beauty as an Editor which also fostered my love of beauty and fashion. She loves fragrance, so I was always concocting different potions and lotions with her creams and perfumes. My uncle was an artist. He and his partner created an organic brand of sauces and ate very healthily – they made their own sourdough and grew their own produce long before it was trendy. I spent a lot of time with them, so this had a big influence on the way I cooked and ate. My dad is a bird watcher and loves nature. We spent a lot of time in the bush as kids – pretending to be Mike and Mal from the Leyland brothers. I grew up around a lot of creative, holistic people, but I also inherited a research/science streak/interest as well – not sure who from! I studied science and naturopathy in my twenties, but didn’t finish either as I had children (my gorgeous Jeet and Otis) quite young, and gave up my studies to focus on the joy of motherhood.
2. And what led you to create The Beauty Chef?
I established The Beauty Chef in 2012 after researching the benefits of plants and natural biological processes such as lacto-fermentation for around 10 years and was writing in the area of natural health and beauty. During this time I made all my own skincare from plants and organic foods and was giving them to friends and family to use. I created quite a demand and that demand grew to friends of friends. It seemed a natural progression to create a brand. One thing that really stood out, was the difference in people's skin when they ate my lacto-fermented vegetables, including my daughter who also suffered from allergies and eczema. People became addicted to my lacto-fermented veggies and kefir coconut water – hence why The Beauty Chef started with my lacto-fermented inner beauty super food powder, GLOW – 24 bio-fermented superfoods with broad-spectrum probiotics.
I am now currently working with a team of microbiologists on continuing to improve our bio-fermentation process so it is always state of the art. We will continue to do more and more research into the correlation between gut health, certain strains of bacteria and how they impact the health of the skin and overall health and wellbeing.
3. Your famous philosophy of "beauty begins in your belly”, can you explain what that means and how that has become The Beauty Chef’s signature tagline?
The gut health is paramount for healthy, radiant skin and overall wellbeing.
The first step to healthy, radiant skin is balancing digestive health. Our gut is where 70% of the immune system lies, where we metabolise hormones, where we make detoxifying enzymes and where we make nutrients, and so much of what goes on in our digestive system can impact our skin. The skin, hair and nails are the last places to receive nutrients, as they go to more important organs first, so nutrition is important for glowing skin, and fermented foods give you dense, super charged nutrition.
At The Beauty Chef we embrace the time-honoured art of fermentation in our products because fermenting ingredients not only pre-digests them to make the nutrients more available for the body to use, but it creates probiotics to help balance digestion.
4. Which of your products might you suggest to a new user of The Beauty Chef? And how would they use them?
I would start with GLOW Inner Beauty Powder, as it is an excellent all round formula – for skin and health. If your gut is out of balance, start with half a dose and build up over the following weeks to a full dose. As you are suddenly putting all of this goodness into your tummy, it may take a few weeks to adjust.
5. What are your 3 top wellness tips?
•Set achievable and sustainable goals; even if it is one small thing each week. Taking a food out of your diet that inflames you, the next week, make your breakfast healthier, the following week, try and walk twice a week not just once a week. And believe in your adaptability. I remember giving up milk when I was a teenager and (I used to drink 1 litre of it a day!) and it was really difficult. Other non-dairy milks tasted awful. Six months later, when I tasted cow’s milk again, I felt really nauseous and was so much happier drinking nut milks. Making change, takes a little time but you will be surprised at how taste buds and behaviour changes with a little persistence and patience. Be kind to yourself too. If you lapse, don’t worry. Stress is one of the worst culprits when it comes to compromising the health of your skin and body. Go slow, gently and have fun. Green juices detoxify your liver, but I’m sure laughing does too.
•Only put on your skin what you are prepared to eat.
Bestow your skin with foods and ingredients rich in plant based nutrients; anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids. Harsh chemicals in skincare compromise the skin's barrier system and can be absorbed into the body where they can put a toxic load on the liver as well as overtime build up and compromise your wellbeing.
•Beauty begins in your belly; so eat lots of fermented foods full of nutrients and natural probiotics and where possible avoid processed food and unhealthy chemicals that compromise gut health. Eat low HI food - low human intervention food. Lots of wholefoods and clean protein; an abundance of plants, grass fed meats, wild fish, organic nuts and seeds. Drink lots of filtered water - water is important for every biological function in the body. Get some sun, vitamin D is important for healthy skin, but not too much as UV damage contributes to premature ageing of the skin. Move your body and sleep! When we sleep we release hormones that act as skin and health protective anti-oxidants in the body. Lack of sleep means less of these, as well as raised cortisol levels which is detrimental to skin and overall health.
6. What are some of the challenges you have faced as an entrepreneur? How did you overcome them?
When I started in 2012, I was the first to create a product in the ‘inner beauty’ category so it was a challenge to break into the mainstream beauty market. Although the reaction from wholesalers who tested the products personally was overwhelmingly positive, the feedback from a business perspective was that they were too left of field. Lacto-fermentation and the benefits of probiotics were more understood in the health arena, than the beauty industry, so it was a very new concept for the beauty world.
I remember there was a buyer who called me and said, "I tried your powders and my skin is amazing, everyone is asking me what I'm doing differently. I want to buy your product and put it on the shelves, but right now there's no category for it.” Now we have over 130 stockists worldwide with more opening every week, and thousands of women all over the world are taking our products. I’m always thrilled to hear feedback on how much it’s helped them!
At The Beauty Chef, we will continue to create products and content that help to create positive change. To keep pushing boundaries in the beauty industry and re-enforcing The Beauty Chef’s philosophy that "Beauty Begins in The Belly”. Looking after your skin from within will create a radiance that no amounts of cosmetics can replicate and the bonus is that it makes you feel great too.
7. If you had to choose, which of The Beauty Chef’s products would be your absolute favorite and why?
I never go anywhere without my GLOW Inner Beauty Powder. GLOW is my daily skin support and maintenance staple. It gives me a good dose of skin loving nutrients and also probiotics to nourish and boost digestive health.
8. Why is using The Beauty Chef products so beneficial to one’s overall health? What can users expect?
At The Beauty Chef, we believe beauty begins in your belly. Digestive health is key for healthy, radiant skin. We embrace the time-honoured art of lacto-fermentation in our products because fermenting ingredients not only pre-digests them to make the nutrients more available for the body to use, but it creates probiotics to help balance digestion.
It really depends on the current state of your digestive system for how long it will take to see and feel the results. If it is really out of balance, you will likely notice results straight away, but it may take a few weeks for your tummy to settle as you load it with goodness. You will notice an increase in energy straight away and depending on your gut health, you may notice skin and nail changes within a few weeks. Over time, if you make other lifestyle changes that support good gut health, you will notice a huge difference in the way you feel, your skin and your weight.
9. What piece of advice can you give to other entrepreneurs that are just starting out in their careers?
You are at your working best when you are healthy and content; so looking after your body with good nutrition and exercise is one of the most important steps to success. Giving energy to the things you love, be it your hobbies or simply sharing food with those you love, doing everything with love makes this life meaningful and worthwhile.