I was introduced to and interviewed by Catherine about 3 months ago, we just chatted away on the phone as I wandered around the garden and then she said I love this story, I know what I am going to do with it......then out came SnapShot!
Cindy Luken, 47, firmly believes that if you do what you’re good at and what you love, the world falls into place. And so with a respect for natural beauty and a background in science, the mum of two has created a make-up range made entirely of food.
I didn't know anything about business until I met my husband. My father was a truck driver and my mother was as an accountant but my husband taught me that having your own business meant having the freedom to achieve your goals. I wanted a life like my husband’s where he worked solidly for nine months and had three months off.
It wasn’t just about money but more about the fact I was determined to do something, make it work and enjoy the journey. I originally wanted to be a chef but my parents wisely helped me work out that I needed to do science in order to go to university to do a Bachelor of Applied Science in food and nutrition. I did that when I was 17 and had my degree when I was 21. I worked at Sara Lee in its laboratory and I was about to commit further to the food industry when I met my husband who opened my eyes to styling my own life, not just working for someone else.
I started a catering company to begin with and that taught me how to be organised and how creativity gave you an incredible edge. I started making my own little biscuits that I used at boardroom functions and weddings. When I decided I wanted to run a business based on a product, not a service, it was the biscuits I turned to. It branched into two brands †” Bite Me and Be Spoilt, which were the biscuits sold in supermarkets, and Luken & May, which was the gourmet brand. Luken & May biscuits, which ended up selling in Sainsbury’s in London, were the No.1 gourmet brand at David Jones and were sold in five-star hotels and to the airlines.
I grew that business very quickly to being worth more than $5 million at wholesale within five years. But my passion wasn’t with supermarkets so I put
Bite Me up for sale. The company that bought it wanted to buy the whole business. I wanted to have a family but I couldn’t work out how to run a business
and have a family so I sold it all. It was only then that I had the chance to reflect on why that experience had been so enjoyable, energising and magical all the time.
I didn’t do it consciously but I knew what I was good at and that is what made it easy. If you do what you’re good at, you’re always in sync with your heart. That lesson has been crucial in developing my new natural beauty business. You must have an ability to identify who you are, what you love, what is good for you because then you have the core right and the world falls into place.
Those are the principles I embraced with my brand, Luk Beautifood. It’s such an important part of my philosophy. You need to eat well to feel good about
yourself. If you eat well, you become your natural weight. Eat whole food that isn’t processed and you can’t eat too much. Then take time to nurture yourself for 20 minutes a day by walking and doing yoga once a week. You don’t have to work your butt off to be the right size. I’m not advocating a six-pack stomach for women.
After my first child in 2006 I started to experiment with creating make-up from food, thinking how amazing women would feel if they could use make-up that was as healthy for them as food. What was the point of eating well if you were putting a whole lot of chemicals on to your skin and therefore into your body?
I’ve never been one to spend a lot of time making sure I had the perfect shade of lipstick or the perfect outfit. I’ve always been very practical but still beautiful. I’ve never felt I wasn’t beautiful. I know I’ve got a big nose but I just think, †˜Well, look at my eyes instead’. And I’m a size 12. If I didn’t eat well I could be a lot bigger but the point is beauty to me is about being full in my heart, doing what I love and people respond to that. I’m always being asked why I’m so confident but I’ve never questioned not being able to do something. I just know the answers.
So I developed a range of lipsticks that are like reading a menu †” orange and juniper, lemon and mint. They are all flavoured with the pure oils from
citrus and spices, along with avocado oil, sesame oil, honeycomb, cornflour, jojoba oil, natural vitamin E and beeswax. They’re all foods. I’m not against having your hair stripped and bleached but for me beauty is to enhance what you already have. Be sensible and realistic about it. Everyday natural beauty is gorgeous and if you eat properly, it’s the greatest beauty treatment. I honestly couldn’t go to a beautician every week. It would drive me insane. There are so many things women need to get done. It saddens me to think we are tied to having to maintain ourselves so much that it’s stopping us from living. If you have manicured nails how do we put them in the dirt of our garden or tend to the pots of herbs on our balconies? My make-up look is like a healthy naked glow. I worked out very early in life that men don’t like a lot of make-up. Men are attracted to who you are, not your colourful nails.
I’ve been working hard for a few years in the laboratory to come up with a range of make-up †” foundation, mascara, eyeshadow †” made entirely
from food. It’s about feeding your face with goodness. Others have done this with skincare but not make-up. Even the colourings of the make-up are from food so I’m very excited about it coming out this year.
Then, in 2017 we’re going to travel around Australia for a year, just as we lived on a 100-year-old barge in France for a year six years ago. Every time we follow our hearts it works out for us. When I sold the biscuit business a wise gentleman said that if I could bottle what made it successful, I would be happy. And that’s what it is †” to do what you’re good at and to follow your heart. That’s why I’m happy.
as told to CATHERINE LAMBERT