By Sonia and Jared, Co-founders of Raw Beauty Lab
There are lots of reasons why budding entrepreneurs come up with great business ideas, but drawing from your experience as a former ‘Miss World Australia’ runner-up isn’t something you come across every day! Former Beauty Queen, Sonia Bainbridge and husband Jared Bainbridge are the Founders of Raw Beauty Lab, the natural beauty brand behind the UK’s much loved ‘Vegan Collagen’, a 100% natural skin formula. We caught up with Sonia to talk about her best-selling skin supplement and her campaign for ‘clean beauty’.
We start by asking Sonia why her time as a beauty queen was instrumental to spring boarding Raw Beauty Lab;
“Seeing the beauty industry from the inside gave Jared, my husband, and I a new and uncomfortable perspective on the beauty world: from products that didn’t work to products laced with unpronounceable chemical names and questionable health effects.”
Holding a major in pharmacology from her bachelor degree at the University of Sydney, Sonia could see past the slick marketing claims and felt compelled;
“The more I knew, the more it frustrated me” She explains.
“I wanted to help consumers make informed choices about the type of products they expose themselves too and help consumers interpret ingredient labels. At that point, I felt compelled for change but didn’t have the funnel in which to drive this commitment.”
It was after Jared and Sonia both graduated from Oxford University with MBAs that they sought to pair their business education with their passion for health and wellness.
“We had always been interested in wholesome foods and the power of natural ingredients.” Explains Sonia,
“As we began to get busier with our careers while attempting to juggle family life, it became harder and harder to find the time to plan nutritious meals and our health began to suffer. We started looking for a nutritional supplement and were shocked at how difficult it was to find a product that was 100% natural and had ingredients that were proven to work. We saw this as a huge gap in the market and served as our ‘aha’ moment.”
The couple spent two years developing a 100% natural supplement that is completely free of toxins, sweeteners, artificial ingredients and shelf-life extenders of any kind, and Vegan Collagen was born.
“We wanted to create a beauty product where the benefits were more than just skin deep; To support healthy ageing and overall wellness.” She explains.
Creating the perfect skin supplement embracing entirely natural ingredients, came with its own challenges;
“We sought to create a product that harnesses the power of the wholefood matrix – that meant no artificial colours, fillers, additives, as well as no natural ‘flavours’ (which are artificially made) or added sweeteners (or fruit extracts which can have untested health impacts). It took us two years of experimenting with 100% natural plant-based ingredients to come up with a blend that tasted delicious, had a beautiful vibrant natural colour and delivered results without taking ‘synthetic’ short cuts.”
“Vegan Collagen, is, as the name implies, vegan-friendly, but it is also cruelty-free. There has been a huge shift of sentiment in the beauty sector over the past 10 years and we wanted to embrace this change in beauty consumer buying habits.” Explains Sonia.
Creating a business from scratch in a highly competitive field has been a learning curve for the ambitious duo:
“We’ve had our challenges along the way”, Sonia exclaims with a big smile.
“But, we took the approach from the beginning to listen to customer feedback. We continuously iterate and improve based on what our customers are telling us. We’ve come such a long way and our success is really based on the strength of our customer relationships and building a genuine community of women who have similar values, goals and objectives.”
What advice does Sonia have for other women entrepreneurs on the cusp of thinking about creating a new business?
“Spend a long time looking at the markets you’re personally interested in. It’s easier to motivate yourself in the tough times if you’re already in love with the industry. You’re searching for gaps or under-serviced market segments.”
“When searching for gaps, it’s hard to find what people ‘like’, it’s much easier to find what people ‘don’t like’ or things they wish were better. Find those things that people dislike, imagine an improved version, see if your imagined solution is possible, and then ask those same people if your imagined solution is something they would buy.”
“Don’t take the feedback personally, and it will at times be tough, building a new business is about developing the right product or service for the market, that’s a tough journey. It’s not about your solution; it’s about the right solution for the market.” She adds,
“As a partnership, we have been able to bounce ideas, discuss and develop plans together. Jared runs the day-to-day aspect of the business while I guide our new product development and our marketing plans with our marketing team.”
“At the end, there is a great feeling of elation when people start to trust you enough to buy your product.”
And your vision for the beauty industry?
“Having clearly labelled products which actually inform consumers how “natural” a product really is. At the moment, if a product has only one or two natural ingredients, it can call itself “natural” even though it is predominantly synthetic. Synthetic isn’t always “bad”, but it is essential that consumers have the transparency on the labelling to make informed decisions for their health and well-being. Vegan Collagen is 100% natural.”
Natural beauty for the 21st Century.