I was so delighted to be invited to have a chat with the lovely Anna from fabric_dreamer. Here are the highlights of our conversation discussing my background in food science and obsession with flavour, texture and clean beauty that launched Lük Beautifood into the world of luxurious lip and body care. Watch the full interview below!
Tell us a little about your life.
I'm a mature mother. I'm 55 now. I have an absolute passion for food and I followed food my entire life. I studied food nutrition. I had a biscuit company that I built up and sold and I ended up in makeup and makeup made from food because I just so believe that, what you put in your body is a result of the energy, the good skin, everything about who you are and what you do. And I figured that if you eat good food, you might as well put it on your skin. So I started 10 years ago, I launched my first product.
Personally, we're in the lower north shore of Sydney. We live in the Bush. I go walking every morning. My kids are 13 and 15 they're into life. I have the most amazing husband who had his own business. And he inspired me to get into business many, many years ago because he just was in a position of choice. He chose what he wanted to do, and he gave me the most amazing philosophy to pursue that you don't have to be in a job 24/7. You can just be responsible for every action you make. So I am.
What was the turning point for you to launch Lük?
A girlfriend of mine was looking at putting together an indie beauty company with small independent Australian brands, and she asked me if I would do some due diligence on one of the brands. And so I did. This was whilst I was pregnant, about to have a baby. And whilst I was doing that, I saw how a lip tint was made and I was just fascinated by it. And I went home, I researched it. This is around 2006. I researched how to make lipsticks. And I couldn't read the formulation with the ingredients.
I thought, I don't know what's in these products! And we are putting them on our lips and we are eating i!. And that's what sparked me to enter the beauty industry. And so what I did is I interpreted the formulation and ingredients. I realized they were fats and oils and waxes. And then I just went out to ingredient suppliers and on my big stainless steel center island kitchen, I'm telling you I had 30 oils, 20 waxes and, you know, butter and everything. And I just became a mad scientist.
And then I really learned about the different dry oils, wet oils. Whether it absorbs whether it didn't absorb and really worked on that. And I just decided, I'm gonna make the creamiest smoothest yumiest lipstick. That is just really sheer. That can go in my pocket. I can wear it all the time and is not really makeup-y. And, and honestly, that's what I did.
So you've got bricks and mortar being your stockists.
So we have about 700 stockists now that are beautiful fashion stores, gift and lifestyle spas compounding pharmacies. So really nice pharmacies where women go in to get their quality products. In America we are in about 50 stores and they're beautiful stores. Like the canyon, ranch spas, milk and honey spas, and those customers love our products. We're in Hong Kong. We're in Taiwan.
Tell us a little bit about the edible nature of your products and what sort of things you've seen in the beauty space. Based on your experience, what showed that people are slowly waking up a little bit to toxins in makeup?
Absolutely. I think it goes back to 2006 when I was trying to read that recipe and I didn't know what the ingredients were. And when I did work it out,, they were mostly synthetics. They were honestly derivatives of petroleum, so they were plastics. And that's the part that shocked me first and foremost is that we talk about mineral oil or we talk about the synthetic bees wax and things. And it just doesn't make sense to me because that creates an inclusive layer. It stops your skin from breathing because it is like a very, very fine plastic wrap. And so it was only last month that for the first time ever, they've actually discovered plastic in the bloodstream. They've made the first discovery of plastics in our bodies. And I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of exploration of what is in our body.
So I see that as a synthetic, I see that as something that's not natural. So I personally don't like synthetic ingredients and that's everything from the waxes to the oils, to the texture modifiers to the preservatives and also the colours. So that's why you don't see synthetic colours, the FD and C dyes in our products. And that's also why our products don't last on your lips as long as other products that have these ingredients. And so that's why I built a ritual into the application of lip nourish. It's just like, look, it's that little stick is your permission to pause. It doesn't last all day, but it means that you have to stop when you are doing something and apply a bit more, and it's a good thing. It just allows you to stop and refocus.
Take a breath and apply it.
Can you explain or expand on that a little bit more where people may not understand what's in traditional cosmetics?
So when you look at the ingredients that are in cosmetics, there are some of the heavy compounds in some for example, the FD and C dyes, they use lakes, they use metals to attach the dye to it. And that can introduce heavy metals into your toxic load. And you hear a lot about lipsticks that have got lead in them or Cadmium or various things. And then if you can then look at your preservatives, people make sure they don't have Phthalates and Parabens in their products. So Phthalates, they're a texture fixer. But if we look at it, Parabens have been linked to disrupting your hormones, and they've been linked to cancer. And so when you actually have a look at some of the studies related to the preservatives related to some of the texture modifiers, it just doesn't add up.
And so you just need to make a decision for yourself. Do you kind of wanna have a product that is clean? You don't want to have an effect on your body's natural process. And I think a lot of it stems back to when women are thinking about having a baby and they really want to clean their body up. They wanna give their baby their first chance. They see a doctor, they see a naturopath. And I think even in Asia, there's a tradition. You just don't even wear lipstick when you're gonna have a baby, because you make sure that you're giving that best start. And so that information and that knowledge have very much been driven by the internet, by the sharing of knowledge, by the conversations that are going on.
So I've seen a massive awareness and a massive change in the conversation over the last 10 years. It's, incredible. And I think that it's really exciting, but what's also a little bit hard for people is those long chemical names. It's hard to work out if it actually is a naturally derived ingredient that is still a good ingredient. And so that's where it's a little bit hard. And now that the natural industry is branded as clean. It's now rebranded conscious as well. And that's very much about eco-friendly sustainability, which is a whole other arm. But it just means that it's really not hard for you to work out. You just can pick up an ingredient statement now and understand what it means.
Now that money's piling into this industry, the ingredient companies are creating beautiful ingredients that mimic the performance of some of the synthetics that really gave amazing results, but weren't necessarily good for you. And so we are entering that next year of science and clean and natural. And that's just as exciting as well because women don't want to give up performance. They really don't. And in this day and age, there's amazing science that can create clean ingredients that are not synthetics, that are just performing incredibly.
What talking about all the exciting new products that you're launching, is this something that you dream up or are you solving it a problem? Are you investigating and finding a product that needs a safe, clean, alternative, and that that's your domain to create that?
Oh, what a gorgeous question! Really interesting because with my Lip Nourish range, the original dream was I was gonna make six lipsticks and make a hundred million dollars and live on an island! Because every product takes time and every product takes inventory and, you know, the quicker you grow, the more product you need, the more money you need to invest. So there was a dream there.
So that those six lipsticks expanded to 14 and then about two and a half years ago when the conversation about sustainability and consciousness of the materials that are being used by cosmetic companies was starting, I created the lipstick crayon range in response to consumers' need to have a low-waste product. And so those crayons have just been an amazing addition.
So I called it a lipstick crayon because it does not only line, but it's more of a lipstick. It's a handy lipstick and you use a sharpener. Because the shavings do not have a heavy colour enamel on them, they can just go into the compost. The crowns are made from coconut oil and they've got vitamin E in there and they've got a little bit of silica in there, which just gives them the beautiful benefits, but it also gives that sort of soft focus. And so that product has been an absolutely beautiful lipstick product for us.
And then we were hit with COVID right. So two years in COVID with women at home, not needing a lipstick. And if they did go out, they had a mask on which is not great for a lipstick business.
We really navigated it well by creating some ritual products for lips. Why don't I help women have beautiful, soft, silky lips? Why don't I make a scrub and a polish and a sleeping mask? Why don't I do some serums? And so I just went into hyper product development mode, like seriously developing five new products for lips that all came from creating this ritual and creating products that had as pure ingredients as possible.
The Supergreens Lip Scrub™ came from scratch. I didn't go to the manufacturer because normally what happens is you go to the manufacturer, they've got a whole wardrobe of formulations. You take something and you then tweak it and then it's yours. I don't want a scrub where all the sugar falls out. I want something that's a soap-like texture. I want something that's light. I want something that when you lift that lid, you go right. And that’s why all of my products you'll notice are multisensory. So that comes back to food, that comes back to texture, flavour, colour, everything about them.
With Supergreens Lip Scrub™, I wanted it to have super greens. I wanted chlorophyll I wanted grape seed oil, high antioxidants. I wanted taste with lime, the citruses that's in there is amazing. And so that's how I create a product.
Hey Cindy, what is your go-to daily product from your range? I know there's a new one, but like the one that you cannot skip?
One, I cannot skip is my lip nourish in Rose Lime. So it's the colour of my lips, but better. So it just fills them in. I can wear it at home. I can wear it out. I can put a little bit on my cheeks and so I never have a day without lip nourish. Lip nourish without a doubt. Rose lime is my absolute and then the Pure.