I attended the 4th annual Formula Botanica conference earlier this month and was part of their Beauty Blogger Panel.
Formula Botanica is the world’s leading accredited online Organic Cosmetic Science School. They offer 100% online training courses for skincare entrepreneurs who want to start their own organic and natural skincare range.
It was an amazing event and I got the chance to meet some of their students and graduates.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing Karmen Novak, founder of
Flower and Spice.
Hi Karmen, tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 38 years old, Slovenian and I moved to The Netherlands for love 3 years ago. I love art, cooking and science. I also really love to travel.
What inspired you to formulate your own skincare? And why natural and organic skincare?
Inspiration came from the fact that I needed to find a new job in my new country three years ago. I was working in marketing previously, and without knowing the language very well it’s almost impossible to get a job in that area.
Honestly I had no wish to go back to work in an advertising agency making commercials for big corporations. So I started to think, what is it that I actually want to do? What would I really like to do if I could do anything? It’s not so easy to answer!
I remembered that I always loved visiting those natural stores with bath salts, candles etc. From when I was in high school, I was always catapulted into those kinds of places.
So I started thinking… maybe I can make these bath salts myself? How hard can it be, right? I googled and accidentally stumbled on Formula Botanica, Organic Science school and got swamped in. Since I love science, formulating came natural to me. I created my own mini lab in my house and learnt, learnt, learnt for two years nonstop!
I got so impressed with emulsions, serums and high performance natural skincare that I decided to start my own brand. My marketing background helped, and me believing in my own products gave me the confidence to put it on the market.
Why natural? … I never thought of doing anything else. I was so impressed how good natural skincare can be, there was no other choice.
Interesting fact – I never made any bath salts till this day!
Tell us about your experience studying with Formula Botanica
Studying with Formula Botanica was great. I really love the community that you get while enrolling on their courses. I got to meet many amazing women that are on the same path and that was really valuable. We help and support each other constantly. Formula Botanica gave me great knowledge on how to deeply delve into the science behind natural skincare.
What inspired your brand name?
Spices from cooking. I love cooking, especially Indian, Thai and other foods that include a lot of spices. When I was cooking I thought that if spices are so potent in food, there must be something about them.
So I started to research and was amazed how powerful they can be. Spices mostly come from seeds and roots of the plant, from the core that is packed with everything the plant needs to grow.
Flowers – I live in the Netherlands. We are surrounded by flowers. The Netherlands is the largest exporter of flowers in the world!
What challenges did you face starting your own brand?
When you are small and have nothing to show yet, it is hard to be taken seriously. I was looking for manufacturers and almost no one bothered to even reply.
I was very lucky that this amazing lab from Switzerland decided to take me on board.
How did you decide on what products to formulate?
Midnight Beauty Rich Revitalising Serum was first. It was part of my studies, at least an early stage of the product. I was just so shocked how good it makes my skin feel.
Soothe and Repair Daily Moisturiser I created because I wanted to include a cream in my routine. I decided to make a day & night duo, both are infused with Roses and Coriander.
Instant Glow Calming Exfoliator was also created because I wanted to have a gentle creamy exfoliator that would not hurt the skin and show instant results.
Tell us what makes your products unique.
Spices is one thing. They all have very unique scents.
Basically I just wanted to create very high quality skincare that people would love to use. Not only because it is great for their skin, but also because it would connect them to nature. I want people to relax and destress while using my products, just the way they would walking in the park. It is meant for the body and soul.
What are some of your favourite natural and organic ingredients?
This is a very hard question. There are so many! I love Prickly pear oil because it makes my skin feel very soft. Plum seed oil smells like marzipan. I also love humble Jojoba oil as its very moisturising. Fennel seed oil reminds me of my childhood…I could go on and on.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What does a typical day look like for you?
I love being my own boss. I love to push myself and I love that I have no restrictions. I can be as creative as I like.
My day starts with checking my phone in bed (yes I know, not the best). I go through my social media, posting some new posts, replying to my customers, I also go through my emails to see what is to be done.
Then I get up, do some yoga, make myself a big glass of lemon water and go into my office. I work from home. Sometimes I have formulation days, sometimes I drown in paperwork.
When you are an entrepreneur, at the early stage you have to do it all by yourself… even the jobs you don’t really want to. I am on my phone a lot, constantly interacting with my customers and figuring out what to do next. It’s a 24/7 job but I love it. I love everything about it.
What advice would you give to aspiring beauty entrepreneurs?
My first advice is don’t give up! Second advice – believe in yourself and your work. You are more capable than you think. Don’t be discouraged by big brands that have been around for years. Learn, discover and don’t stop. Consistency and persistency are key!
Most brands that don’t succeed, gave up too early…simple as that!
What’s next for Flower and Spice?
Two new products are on the way. A lot more is already in my head. My plan is to grow and create a complete facial line. Then move to body and I hope someday even wellness.
I also like to keep my options open, who knows what the future will bring!
Thank you Karmen for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us.
I am currently using the products and will be sharing my review in a later post.