Clean Beauty Co is a London-based brand, committed to pursuing clean beauty and a healthy lifestyle through the usage of natural products. Elsie and Dominika are the passionate founders of a business that started on the two friends’ pursuit of a clean healthy lifestyle and ended up in the creation of a growing community of green product utilisers in events such as Clean Cult, but also in the creation of a range of natural beauty products and of educational workshops.
Obby: How is it that one gets on a “clean beauty” journey? Who pushed who? Dominika & Elsie: I think we both pushed each other! Elsie and I met in our previous work life - we come from digital marketing backgrounds and we were working together at the same video advertising company. As friends, we shared everything from lunches to baked goods… We got into clean eating eventually and we started doing loads of crazy challenges together: we walked to Brighton (which is 64 miles non-stop), we did an Olympic distance triathlon, we did 10K races… So we kind of got into a healthy lifestyle ourselves. And that’s where we started thinking about the rest of the stuff in our lives.
O: Because it’s not just about a healthy lifestyle, correct? D&E: Well, at the start it was. We started by getting interested in knowing more about what we were eating, reading food labels, really looking at the ingredients we were putting into our bodies. From food we went into the other products and we started to research the ingredients that were in our favourite creams and moisturisers, googling the ingredients what do they mean and what were they there for. The first reaction that we had was that we were quite horrified, as a lot of ingredients that you type into Google are coming up as they are going to cause you cancer. Then it spurred onto the grief stage of “wow we have been spending so much money on these products, are they actually doing what they say they should be doing and are they beneficial for our skin?”. We were feeling a little bit disappointed with the beauty industry...
O: It seems to have been quite the journey… Do you remember any of the things you found out that were in your products? D&E: Yes! The earliest thing I remember we finding out is about lipstick – there is often quite a lot of lead and heavy metals in high street lipsticks! I think that there is something quite harrowing about something that you put on your lips - and it really gets everywhere such as your teeth and mouth… You then think “Am I actually ingesting this product?”. It is not as removed as hand cream or body cream. This is going into your mouth! At that point we thought “This is where we want to make the change as this is not acceptable to us!”. What is the point when we are eating kale, going clean and then we are putting lead in our mouth? It is a bit of a paradox!
O: So at this point you were getting started and exploring the topic… Did you go to any classes or workshops to learn more? D&E: Yes of course. The problem is that actual qualifications in this industry are quite limited… We did a diploma in natural skincare formulation from the only accredited school available! Leading up to that we did other certificates and attended some workshops but there was not a whole amount available. Especially not that are credible and that you can trust! That was one of the reasons that led us to not only want to create the Clean Beauty range of products, but also to do our own workshops and get people on the same journey that we went.
O: And when did you decide to go full time with the business? D&E: It was driven less by the workshops and the courses that we were doing and more by the demand we saw from our friends, family and anybody we were speaking to. When we were telling people our story and the story of the brand, we were trying to encourage people to make the product themselves, but they would just answer “That sounds great, but I don’t have the time” or “I can’t be bothered to make it myself, can you just make some for me?” and as a result of that we went on to develop a small product line. That was when we understood that there is a demand for these products on a weekly basis. The decisions ended up being quite natural and just coming from that clear gap in the market that we could see from our friends and family.
O: Going into your class – what can people expect to take home at the end of the day after learning from you? D&E: I guess we would want you to remember how easy it is. I think a lot of people are nervous to take that first step: unsure of the process, if they can really do it, how difficult the ingredients are to obtain… I think we dispel a lot of these myths in the workshop. We always like people to come back to us a couple of weeks down the line and say “I did this!”. It is always nice to hear stories of people continuing on in their journey as well… A lot of people come back asking to do a next level to the workshop, a level 2. So we are in the stages of figuring out if we can do a slightly more advanced class for people who have done that entry level. The workshop itself is also very dynamic – typically we have 10, 12 or 15 people, we get everyone around the table and it’s a really exploratory and collaborative workshop of talking to people of how we have come to where we are today and sharing the information we have learned.
O: Do I also get skin products? D&E: You walk away with one of everything. A face, skin care mix, hair serum, body balm and a body scrub. It is actually an all-inclusive set.
O: All clean! D&E: Yes, exactly! The whole ethos of the brand is that we are natural, we are simplistic and transparent. We never have to get to the stage where things are really complicated and you need a science lab to put them together. The whole nature of what we are trying to do is to be empowering to the average individual who wants to start making their own products.
O: What if I have some special skin requirement or something like that? Can you adjust the workshop and the products for those people? D&E: Yes - there are ways to customize the recipes to your needs, for example if we have anyone pregnant we adjust based on that. In terms of skin type we only make one type of facial product, it is less of an issue… There are a lot of preferences to a scent so we do a lot of customisations there. But we go through it with everyone and we make sure it’s down to what you need. Also, we run the workshops to small groups, so we work really closely with the students. You can ask any question: skin type, skincare regime, the products that you have been using so far, changing to natural make-up… Anything really! We try to answer as best we can.
O: Looking forward now - You are in this very interesting journey of building the brand, the workshops, spreading the word about clean products… Where do you want to take it? What does the future look like? D&E: I think we have a different number of ways we want to take the business. I think one of the most interesting things is the clean cult event that we run. It is essentially a coming together of everybody in the green and natural beauty industry in London. We ran our first event in July and we had a number of green beauty brands exhibiting: these are the kind of brands that are difficult to get hold of in the UK! If you order these products it is often from an online store rather than any kind of bricks and mortar stores where you can try them! What we want to do is bring them all together and give consumers the chance to try these products from these wonderful brands. Then we also have some fun things going on, so we had a nail bar, a make-up station, massages and superfood cocktails… I think for us we want to really develop clean cult in the short term and because the last one was such a success, we have decided to run another one in December aimed at Christmas shopping and maybe even turn it into an annual occurrence and we are really excited about that possibility. Again, it is about is creating this community, movement and industry.
O: That sounds great! Is there anything else you would like to say to anyone reading this? D&E: Yes! You do not have to buy from Boots and Tesco, you can be empowered to take control of what you consume, you do not have to take just what you are given! That is the kind of message that we want to share – nothing is inaccessible! Whether it is cooking, making your own clothes, making your own beauty products… If you feel passionately about taking control over an aspect of your life, go for it! You can do it.
Want to join? Find Clean Beauty Co workshop and other classes and workshops at Obby