We are very happy to have you here, Bec. Please tell us your story. What attracted you to start organic skincare line and how Avirida was born? Thank you! We were deeply inspired by the TV show War on Waste. When my partner and I realized the extent of the plastic problem around the world, we decided to live as plastic-free/zero-waste as we possibly could. This lifestyle change came with a lot of sacrifices as we were actively not purchasing items we previously had used regularly. This included a lot of bathroom products such as skincare, deodorants, toothpaste & lip balms. At this point, I started to research & learn to make my own skincare products. I used only high quality certified organic ingredients and the results were even better than the lotions and creams I had been paying so much for. I started getting lots of compliments on my skin & friends asking to use the products I was making as well. Then we decided to provide these products to the rest of Australia, but in line with our personal values, did not want to use any plastic packaging. We wanted our business to be as ethical & sustainable as possible. So we came up with timber as the material to contain our products. My partner Jack has a wood working background, so he started making gorgeous wooden pots for my products to go in. Of course, we source our timber sustainably from recycled, storm-damaged or plantation sources, and plant a tree for every sale, which ensures we have an overall positive impact on the environment.
We love that all your products are organic, chemical-free and cruelty-free. Why is it important for you to create such specialized items?It was really scary to see the ingredients some very common big brands use in their formulations. We try to eat healthy and care about what goes in our body – but we seem to rarely think about what we put on our skin. Part of being ethical requires us to use sustainably sourced ingredients of the highest quality. We source our beeswax from a local beekeeper, and our hemp oil is Australian grown and hulled. It’s especially important to us to support the hemp industry in Australia (which is still very small) as hemp is such a versatile plant that could replace many uses we currently put plastic to.
When shopping for earth and skin-friendly products, what are the most important things people should remember? Beware of greenwashing and false marketing. Question everything, and read between the lines. Are they telling you all of the ingredients, or only the “active ingredients”? Is there palm oil hiding in the ingredients list? Do they ship their products plastic free? The more we question and push businesses, the more change we will see in the world.
Avirida plants a tree for every purchased product. How do you plant them and how many trees did you plant so far? We plant through Trees for the Future (trees.org) and Greenfleet. We’ve planted 6000 trees so far through Trees for the Future. We plant through Greenfleet to offset our travel and shipping carbon footprint. We also plant 3 trees to replace each plantation tree we use locally in our town Dorrigo, NSW. We have a planting day coming up in spring to plant some native rosewood trees on farm land with the help of the community.
Why is it important for beauty products to be natural? Are there any ingredients you actively avoid when creating Avirida skincare products? We consciously avoid palm oil and any derivatives. We also do not use any non-natural preservatives. We rely on the anti-bacterial properties of beeswax and natural Vitamin E to preserve the product up to 12 months. Consumers should also take care to avoid parabens, aluminum, artificial fragrance and SLS, as these ingredients have proven to be detrimental to our health.
What kind of things should people look for when choosing skin care products to get the safest products that they can? A simple question to ask yourself would be: do you recognize all of the ingredients? If you don’t know what an ingredient is, question the company. Another precaution consumers can take is to read product reviews and see what other customers’ experience have been with the product.
Among Avirida beauty products, what is it that you are most proud of? We are very proud of our eye balm ‘Eyes up Here’, as it’s been our most loved product with many repurchases and positive feedback. We love the chance to go to local markets and speak to our customers face to face about our products, and the feedback on Eyes Up Here is that it’s amazingly gentle and leaves you feeling soft & silky. It lasts for a very long time, and so is great value for its price. I use it every day myself love the way it feels on my skin.
Bec, where do you source your natural ingredients? We source our ingredients locally wherever we can. Our beeswax is purchased directly from the local beekeepers, and our hemp seed oil comes from Australian growers. We try to source our essential oils directly from the farm wherever possible as well. We take care to learn as much as we can about the source of the product, and ensure it is genuinely organic.
What is the shelf life of your handmade skin care products and how should be Avirida products stored? The shelf life of our balms are 12 months, and the mud & clay face mask (because it is in dry powder form) lasts for 24 months. The timber pots should be kept away from moisture, so please store outside of the bathroom and at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Please avoid contamination with water.
What can you advise consumers who want to make the most of Avirida’s ‘Face the Music’ Mud & Clay Face Mask? The best way to enjoy this mask is with a bunch of girlfriends while watching a romantic comedy and drinking wine! But in all seriousness, this mask will truly be one of the best masks you’ve ever tried, with a visible difference to your skin. It is great for oil balancing without stripping all of the oil from your face like most pharmaceutical products do, and draws out dirt from clogged pores, preventing breakouts before they even happen!
What is the timeline of your product production? We are very curious to know how, for example, Avirida “Boo Lips” Lip Balm is made? The bamboo pots are very unique and quite fiddly to make! The issue is that bamboo poles grow in all different shapes and sizes, so Jack has to make every single one individually and it’s quite time consuming. But it’s all worth it as the product is a patented design & unique in the world. The lip balm has all edible ingredients, which makes sense in a lip balm! It’s designed to soak in & moisturize, not sit on your lip like a waxy layer. So you don’t actually feel like you’re wearing anything on your lips at all, and you don’t feel the need to keep reapplying all the time!
Can you tell our readers, why beauty industry is one of the biggest pollutants and why sustainability really matters here? If you walk into the beauty section of any supermarket or pharmacy, 90% of the products you see come in plastic packaging. The rest come in glass with plastic lids. A small percentage may come in aluminum. This is because unfortunately plastic is dirt cheap and effortless to source. The problem is that most the public think recycling is the solution, and are unaware of the impact their trash is having on our planet. Recycling is essentially non-existent in most of the world (only 9% of plastic ever created has been recycled!). These companies want us to believe in the myth of recycling so that we can keep purchasing plastic products guilt-free. Would anyone be buying single use face mask sheets if they knew it will end up in the ocean, possibly in the stomach of a turtle? It’s important to be informed, and make purchasing decisions consciously, because that’s the only way we can push companies to do better.
Tell us more about Avirida compostable wooden jars please. Where do you source your timber from? What feedback do you usually receive on your wooden packaging? We use mostly weed species (non-native, invasive trees) as these tend to get chopped down & burnt by farmers, and we’re able to salvage them to give them a new life as jars. These introduced species include Camphor Laurel which we find a lot of locally, and running species of bamboo which grows incredibly fast, spreads through rivers & waterways and chokes up river banks. Bamboo usually gets sprayed by Landcare and the councils because it is such a pest. So we put it to good use!
So, do you have a refill program? How does it work? We sure do! You can either drop off your jar at our factory or at our market stalls, and we’ll refill it for you with a 20% discount! You can post your jar back to us as well, and you get the same 20% discount plus we cover the return postage.
What plans do you have for Avirida skincare? Do you see your line expanding in the future? Absolutely. We’re working on a plastic-free natural deodorant that won’t require using fingers to apply, and a natural sun protection balm. Watch this space!
What helped you the most in self-producing and getting your skincare label known? Markets have been incredible for us to get our brand out there, and provide customers the opportunity to physically feel & test the product. In terms of help with the production, we received a grant from Jobs for NSW to assist us with the costs of producing compostable packaging, in an effort to support businesses towards a more sustainable path.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who wish to succeed in the beauty industry? Like any business, it’s really important to be passionate about what you do. Your business should have a purpose that is above just providing you with income. I believe it’s important to focus on having a positive impact on people and the environment, and when this philosophy resonates with your customers, success inevitably comes.
Bec, how does your perfect day at Avirida look like? We get up around 6.30 am and take our little golden retriever puppy Luna for a walk around the neighborhood. Then we arrive at our factory and Jack gets straight into producing some jars, so Luna and I play tag outside for a while before the first meeting of the day. Then there are online orders to fulfill and emails to respond to. Rest of the afternoon is spent making skincare products, preparing for our next expo/event, and working on developing new products.
If you could say something to everyone on the Planet, what would it be? Please live consciously of your environment, fellow people and animals. All actions have an impact – and you can decide to have a positive one.
What would be your tips for our reader trying to lead a more sustainable life? Try to avoid plastic, buy less & make it last, support business trying to do the right thing.
Tell a surprising thing about yourself please. I actually have a corporate background – I was a banker for 5 years in Sydney before deciding to quit the corporate world (as it felt like I wasn’t making a real contribution to humanity), move to a small country town and start a business with my partner that we both love!