Yasmin sat down (virtually) with the founder of waterless beauty brand, Dust & Glow, Gaelle Thieme, to find out how her innovative new clean skincare brand came to be.
You've come from a background working in skincare, can you tell us a bit about your journey in the world of skincare and what was your lightbulb moment for starting Dust & Glow?
I’ve worked in the beauty industry (and especially skincare) for the past 10 years. I initially worked for beauty giant L’Oreal & then headed the Marketing team at Trilogy. 18 months ago, I took a big leap of faith and decided to go on my own and create Dust&Glow
Since the birth of my daughter (almost 5), I have changed my beauty & consumption habits, I became more & more agitated about what is in our products & how it is impacting our planet.
With Dust&Glow I wanted to simplify and rethink the way we use & dispose of our products. Because in beauty, less can be more. If you look at a label carefully, you will soon find an endless list of unknown ingredients. Most products are composed of a blend of 80% water, preservatives and synthetics.
I challenged myself to create a brand with a difference, where every single ingredient has a purpose and a benefit for the skin.
What are your main reasons for creating a waterless beauty range and can you tell us what waterless beauty is?
The scary facts about water:
- By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions.
- That’s nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide. Or, twice the population of the United States.
We all know water is a commodity we take for granted, but when water shortages hit, we realise how essential it is to our daily life. In New Zealand, the average person uses 227 litres of water per day and 70% of it is being used in the bathroom!
Traditional beauty cleansing products contain 80-95 per cent water (Shampoos can be up 90% water, micellar water or sprays can be even higher) and we often have to add more water when using them. Water is commonly being used as a '' cheap filler'' in most beauty products. This means the 'active' ingredients are diluted, and since water can easily grow bacteria, there is a need to add chemical preservatives. Not only is this wasted water, but it also has a massive impact on packaging and the carbon footprint.
The industry is starting to change & some of the beauty giants have pledged to reduce their water consumption in the next couple of years. You can see also some mainstream brands going into solid bars/shampoos.
What was the problem you saw that needed solving?
We’re so used to seeing water come out of our taps, but its position as an undervalued and overused resource is shifting. In beauty, water (aqua) is most of the time the 1st ingredient listed on a label – so it was about time to think about alternatives to protect this resource
I created Dust&Glow to address an all too familiar problem, finding natural products that perform as well as their counterparts that are chemically packaged in single use plastics & filled with water. More & more conscious consumers want to feel confident about their appearance, but not at the cost of the environment.
Running a new business, developing your range and being a Mother all at the same time must be hectic. How do you juggle it all?
Let’s see this year has been an interesting juggling act. With a toddler at home for months, a start-up business & a part-time job , I have had some long days. But it is also part of the journey and working for myself gives me the flexibility to take the time for what matters the most & a new appreciation for the little things ( like walking my daughter to daycare). I have also been on a health kick for the past 18 months and start my days with a visit to the gym. On the week-ends you will find me by the ocean. Since I can remember, the sound of the crashing waves has had a calming effect on me & I am so blessed to call NZ home
What have been the challenges to starting the range?
The biggest one has been formulation. Creating waterless, natural and without any preservative system products, was no easy task. I had the idea in my head for a while before creating Dust&Glow. From a development point of view it took over a year trying to re-engineer how you would usually formulate beauty products. I initially spent hours myself trying to source the ingredients & testing & learning before literally contacting every single cosmetics manufacturer I know in New Zealand.
After a false start (changed manufacturer along the way), and countless samples, we managed to re-imagine beauty & personal care in a powder form.
The second hurdle I would say is convincing people around you to trust you and embark on the journey with you (family, suppliers, and our lovely stockists like you).
And third, I would say Time (and money) , at the beginning you wear a multitude of hats in the same day. From product development, to forecasting, sales or even packing!
What has been the feedback so far?
The range has been really well received in NZ and so many consumers are now switching to powder-based beauty. It is completely different to anything out there so requires a bit of education but the product performance is outstanding.
I am beyond excited every time I see a new customer or consumers ordering refills.
The brand has also just launched in AU and about to launch in Japan.
We love that every product, bottle & label has been carefully considered to ensure they are all sustainable, recyclable and work to reduce the amount of plastic waste normally consumed. Can you tell us a bit about your decision process when choosing these elements?
In an ideal world, I would have no label on our bottles but a direct screen print. But as we are starting up that wasn't an option so I looked at all label options available. I contacted so many printers & label suppliers and did lots of trials in my bathroom as I also needed a label that was water resistant.
Our labels look like a normal paper labels but they are not! They are made of natural limestone waste off-cuts and recycled resin in a process that uses solar energy and generates zero waste. It has a low CO2 emission profile. It beneficially reuses a waste stream. Its manufacture does not pollute waterways and rivers with toxic effluent. Its manufacture uses relatively little energy utilising solar power.
I am also about to move all labels for the Certified Home compostable pouches to paper labels. The refill pouches are designed to be cut in pieces and put in your home compost (they will start breaking down with 12 weeks). I initially had the limestone labels on these too, but the paper labels are a better option as they will also degrade in your home compost. The brand is trying to close the loop and be as circular as possible. This involves also being transparent, learning and improving as we go and grow.
Lastly, who or what do you draw inspiration from?
In the past year I have been fascinated by the founders of Time for the Planet – a French non-profit company that creates and finances companies fighting against climate change at a global scale. Founded by six young entrepreneurs who had a crazy idea to fundraise 1 billion euros to create 100 companies fighting against global warming. Companies created by Time for the Planet will follow the open-source principle and publicly share their discoveries. In one year they raised over €6.5M and have 32,000 shareholders on board (including myself).
In general I am fascinated by the trail-blazers & new generations challenging the status quo.