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Olivia Thorpe on the challenges of starting a natural beauty brand

The founder of natural beauty company Vanderohe talks about changing careers and the challenge of creating her first skincare product

by Psychologies

Q. What prompted you to set up Vanderohe?

I started doing some freelance beauty journalism as an escape from my job in banking, and I became obsessed with it. At that time, there was so little information on the people and processes behind the brands, and I wanted to find products that were completely transparent and trustworthy. When I became pregnant with my first son, I decided to escape the city and follow my passion.

Q. Why natural and organic beauty products?

While pregnant, I began looking at the ingredients in beauty products, and it soon became clear that many were full of irritants and synthetics. When you take an interest in what you’re putting on your skin, switching to natural and organic beauty products becomes the only appropriate route to take.

Q. What inspired you to expand your business, and start creating products?

After my first pregnancy, I suffered from two severe topical allergies: oral allergy syndrome and a reaction to grains. Both gave me rashes when I came into contact with the allergen. Then, during my second pregnancy, my sense of smell was so strong that I found it difficult to use my allergy-friendly natural products. It seemed like a logical step to create a product tailored exactly to my skin requirements.

Q. How did you create your first product?

I arrived at the formula for No.1 Nourishing Face Serum when I was making a blend for a friend who needed something specific for scarring. I also took into account the ingredients that had worked well for my allergies and during pregnancy. In fact, it was the scent of the blend that decided the formula – it was so luxurious! Creating it took a long time; in particular, ensuring that the ingredients were of the finest quality, certified organic by the Soil Association, and sourced from their country of origin. Scientific research shows that the immune system of a plant becomes weak in foreign soil and will not transfer any real benefits when used by a human.

Q. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced running your own business? 

The packaging! I had a clear picture of how I wanted it to be, but it was difficult to find a printer who could translate that into something eco-friendly and also luxury. Even when I finally settled on a printer and ordered 1,000 boxes, they were delivered with errors and I had to reorder.

Q. What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had known at the beginning of this journey?

It’s actually something my husband told me from the beginning: to be patient. Everything has to be thorough and perfectly thought-out to achieve the very best results. And, naturally, that will take time. Vanderohe’s motto, after all, is ‘beauty is in the detail’.

Q. What’s next for your business? Do you plan to expand your beauty range?

I’ve just finalised the formulations for products No.2 and No.3, and I have lots of exciting ideas for many more blends and products.

vanderohe.com