GETTING TO KNOW - NICOLA MARIE
I’m sure you would all agree that connecting with like-minded, passionate people is such a incredibly rare experience. Well, recently I was lucky enough to meet Nicola Marie – the maker behind Delicious Skin. We had a wonderful morning chatting about our passions, goals and getting excited about all of the wonderful things life has to offer.
Nicola has also been kind enough to giveaway some of her taster packs to some lucky readers!! To be in the running to win one of TWO packs from Delicious Skin, all you have to do is grab yourself a copy of The Lush Scoop issue #01 available for pre-order HERE & enter the giveaway.
1. Tell us about your history – what led you to where you are today?
A few years ago I sold everything I owned to buy an epic snowboard and chase snow. I left on my own and moved to a beautiful little town in the rocky mountains of Canada. I quickly fell in love with the town and in some strange twist of fate I also fell in love – and 2 months later we were living together! It was one of those whirlwind romances; no one could quite believe it all happened so fast! Of course all my plans changed & that lovely town became home for 2 ½ years.
We made a whole family of friends and lived in this little bubble of happiness, snow, crystal clear lakes and camping. Somewhere along the way I watched a documentary called "Vegucated" that literally made me turn Vegan overnight! I had some tough times living in a small town without many Vegan options, but there were lots of people supporting me and even though my partner was a chef he was happy to change his lifestyle a little bit (we ate a lot of stir fry's in those early days)!
Along with struggling to find good vegan food I also struggled to find good Vegan skincare! It is extremely dry in Canada, so having eczema and extremely acne prone skin it was a big problem for me. After a lot of research and a few trial batches, I found something that worked… better than ‘worked’ – it was the most amazing thing I had ever used! I gave some to friends and family and everyone loved it! Over a year later after a few more batches, positive feedback and TONNES of encouragement I decided to make a business out of it!
2. How did you first begin dabbling in the skincare industry?
I feel like it was always my destiny to end up in this industry. As a child my mother owned a small business, which she ran part time from home. It was all about essential oils and natural therapies, thick moisturisers and delicious scents. There were lots of little bottles and tinctures around the house. I remember having lavender drops on my pillow when I couldn't sleep and Mums special ‘breathe easy’ concoction that helped me through bouts of asthma. Plants have an extraordinary power as medicine through nutrition and skincare and its funny that my life has come full circle to include a plant based range of skincare! My mum loves to remind me how much we have in common! HAHA!
3. Did you have an ‘AHA!!’ moment when experimenting?
I honestly didn't! Every stage of this process happened so organically and smoothly. It’s as though I have always been at the right place at the right time and everything has just fallen into place.
I remember using my first batch of face wash, not being so sold on it and considering buying something from the supermarket (but then I reminded myself that none of it was Vegan)! Next I'm washing off my 5th trial of face wash and thinking "this is Delicious!”. Then finally I'm in Sydney looking at my brand spanking new website and thinking – wow! I created that! (Well my web designer did, but I helped!).
Everything in between is sort of a blur! Everyday when I wash my face remember why I am doing this. Because I have a product I am truly obsessed with, I can't get enough of and it has seriously helped my skin!
4. What do you wish you knew about the skincare industry before you got started?
I wish I knew more about animal testing. I would have stopped buying most products years ago! I think most people have this image of people in white coats putting lipstick on bunnies and just checking they don't react to it, I certainly did –but the reality is people breed those animals specifically for testing. They have selectively bred beagles for this purpose, so that they are docile and don't resist.
Those people in white coats take dogs, bunnies and cats, they put them in a box with an opening for their head so they can't move or get away, then they force their eyes open with metal clamps, take the most dangerous chemicals they plan on using and then drop it in their eyes. They record the results – Did they die? Did they go blind? Sometimes the animals are killed if the damage is irreversible. Sometimes they are put back in their tiny cages for the next test. Then they dilute the horrible chemical substance and try again. They do this until they can find a 'safe' level of chemicals to put in your skincare. What the heck are they putting in our products if this sort of testing is necessary? And for what purpose?! It makes me so upset to think about it.
We have all had contact with these animals. We know how loving they are. We know they all have personalities and crave love and affection. But because of our vanity some animals are subjected to a cruel life – and it is not ok! It’s a hard truth, and one that some people don't want to face – but also one that some people genuinely have no idea about.
I think it’s important to spread the message – don't support that cruel industry!
5. Your whole skincare range is cruelty-free & Vegan what were your main reasons behind this?
I truly think that in any area of our lives if we can cause less harm to animals, and to the planet, then we should. To one person that might mean switching their dairy for delicious coconut milk and to another that might mean biking to work. I think small changes will make the difference in this world and we are all capable of making them!
I try to make small changes wherever I can. I always carry a reusable bag, I have a moon cup instead of tampons and I never buy bottled water, use takeaway coffee or smoothie cups. I always have an arsenal of glass jars within an arms reach (which drives Levi crazy! He's always finding lids and bottles scattered around the house!).
We don't need animal products, animal testing or planet destroying ingredients like palm oil to have fantastic skincare. We can all make a difference, and every dollar is a vote for the future. I choose to spend mine on natural, organic, ethical products, local produce and local businesses – and that was the part of the reason Delicious Skin was born!
6. Are there any skincare ranges that you admire?
Any products with the same values as us! I think there are a lot of companies out there doing it with love and the same idea! I have been using the Eco Store range for a few years now and I love their products! They do fantastic soaps and child friendly/ earth friendly cleaning products :)
7. You work at the amazing raw-vegan café Sadhanas Kitchen in Enmore. What’s it like being surrounded by healthy, fresh food and like-minded people – and what kind of influence has this had on your life?
It’s actually amazing! As a beginning business I have to keep a part time job to pay the rent (Which I am sure most people who have started a business can relate too!). But I am lucky enough to work somewhere that is more like a family then a workplace. We kiss and hug to say hello in the morning. We encourage each other and laugh and share details about our lives.
The owner – Maz is a constant source of inspiration. She is fair and thankful and such a wonderful person to work with. She allows us all to have our individuality and a voice, which I think is very rare in any workplace! And you get to see this in every plate with each staff members individual stamp :). We are all creatives and we bounce ideas off each other! I don't think Delicious Skin would have reached the point it’s at today without the influence and encouragement of my wonderful colleagues!
8. Describe a typical day in the life of Nicola Marie?
I wake up early and I always make my bed and take a shower – I think its important to start the day with a clean room and a clean face. My skincare routine is part of the little 'me time' I give myself as I don't get much more of that during the day!
I eat breakfast away from my desk – If its sunny I try and sit on the deck and get a bit of a vitamin D hit! I use this time to write my daily to do list and listen to some music without pressure of getting a million things done. Then the work starts! I check the website and fill orders. (This time is a bit of a bonus because I get to walk or ride to the post shop- fresh air is always awesome!) I do some admin. I respond to emails. I file receipts. I make orders for ingredients and packaging and labels! I apply for markets and expos. I try and keep up with my banking. All of that stuff I find so tedious but it has to be done! Some days I have a meeting or make a batch of product in the afternoon! I am still trying to find the time to write a business plan but I'll get there eventually. I try and do at least one social media post a day and I place a lot of importance in responding to people! By now it’s usually 4.30 and I am starving! It’s hard to find time to eat when there is so much to do!
In the evenings I try and cook a healthy meal and spend a little bit of time with Levi. Even if it’s just half an hour and a wee cuddle – I think it’s important to make time for love! I usually have to go back to work though and don't finish working till around 9/10 at the moment! Hopefully that slows down a bit in a while though! A friend once told me that if you don't wash your face you deserve to have bad skin, and although some nights I just want to crawl into a warm bed with a hotty and a hotty bottle – I look after my skin because it looks after me amongst all this pollution and city life!
9. Who are the people that you most admire?
This is going to sound extremely cliché – but I really love Beyonce! I love her music and her strength and her vulnerability and how much of a woman she is while also being independent and getting sh*t done! Most of the Delicious Skin range is brought to you by Beyonce's latest album! It’s what I listen to while I'm 'cooking'.
I am also extremely inspired by Maz from Sadhana Kitchen. She took her passion and she turned it into a business. She worked so hard to get to where she is and she still does and that shows in her work. Raw, delicious, healthy vegan food is something she genuinely loves and is excited about and she is a fantastic boss! That is something I hope to be able to bring to my brand and portray through my products too!
Last but not least – my Mama. She was a single Mum who worked extremely hard and did what she had to do to put us through school and feed us every night. She is strong and brave and left a tough relationship at a time where it was frowned upon to be on your own. She went back to school, retrained and always worked hard at everything she did.
10. Name your 5 favorite foods at the moment?
I cannot get enough of the Superbowl and the Wagon Wheels from Sadhana Kitchen! I pretty much eat one of each everyday! I also love passionfruit! I always have but our next-door neighbours have a vine and they have been donating us bags of the delicious wrinkly fruit, which makes me super happy! I could eat ten at a time!
For breakfast I have been making smoothie bowls out of frozen berries, hemp hearts, coconut flakes, goji berries, raw nuts and water – blended all up super thick and topped with Loving Earth chocolate buckinis! YUMMO!
Also I am obsessed with the chai lattes at Soda Pony on South King Street. It’s hard to find a good Vegan chai and they tick all the boxes! They keep me going on tired afternoons! I think that may be more then 5… Can you tell by all the exclamation marks food makes me very excited?
11. Do you have any advice for passionate creative’s who haven't quite made it yet?
I definitely do! Although I haven't been doing this too long I feel like I have learnt a lot. I think it’s most important to believe in yourself and believe in your product. I have something I am very proud of, I know it’s ethical and it works great so it was pretty easy to get behind! If you’re lucky enough to have this too then do whatever it takes to get it out there! I have been pouring all of my money and time into this for months, now the range has been on sale one week and already I feel like it’s been worth it. Great reviews and repeat orders are already happening!
Along with this, give yourself a break sometimes! Even just an hour to take a nap, or have a cup of tea. One week I went a little crazy with too many to do lists and ended up in tears at the shops because I couldn't buy a blender! Keep yourself sane somehow. Take advice from friends. They want the best for you and remind you that you’re not always right!
Also, know your strengths and highlight them. I like crafting and creating – so it was fantastic watching my vision come to life and standing behind my ideas. But that would have never have happened if I had attempted my own designing! So – know your weaknesses and outsource. I had a great Graphic Designer (Marianne @ A Bit Graphic) who did a fantastic job on my branding, labels and website. She listened to everything I had to say and had some great ideas. I also had an amazing photographer from Two Little Birds Photographs who was doubled a stylist in disguise and captured everything about Delicious Skin that I wanted to showcase with a hint of who I am in there too.
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by loving souls who believed in me, and my product even before I knew I could make a business out of it. I have had a lot of encouragement and support and that has helped me get to where I am.
But I think you also have to help yourself – it is so important to visualize your success everyday. Have a picture in your mind of what it will look like and hold tight to that when you feel like sleeping for 100 hours!
12. Where can we purchase your delicious range?
Online at www.deliciousskin.com.au or in person at:
Sadhana Kitchen 147 Enmore Road, Enmore.
We will also be at a few markets and Vegan events around Sydney over the next few months so keep an eye on our social media channels for more.