Hi I'm Annie Holden, anthropologist and founder of Founder's Formula. Our story began with a trip to the World's biggest beauty trade show Cosmoprof in March 2018 in Bologna Italy. This was my introduction to the beauty world and I was so fascinated but also amazed, as I quickly realised that here were so many beauty products from all around the globe but no Australian Botanicals.
I am a research nerd by nature and as an anthropologist and aspiring ethnobotanist, I was really surprised at the absence of Australian Botanicals as I knew there was sound evidence that our plants, (with wonderful names like Illawarra Flame Tree and Emu Apple), contain active, potent ingredients with huge potential for effective skin care.
I returned home to Australia and spent the next few years immersing myself in the research and building my little lab and experimenting. I found an amazing cosmetic formulator who is now a friend and together we created beautiful products. I have a PhD in economic anthropology so I have a strong research background. I also had a stint teaching Australian Studies at Georgetown in Washington DC – and that really fired up my pride in being Australian and all things Australian
Me in my Happy Place :)
I created Founder's Formula to be the best possible in uncompromising, potent, effective skin care using Australian Botanicals.
My method is that I start with an Australian Botanical with proven benefits, then I consider the most suitable application for that ingredient and with Toni, my chemist, we build a formula around it. All the formulas are strictly Clean Clinical and I use wild-harvested and organic when I can source them and I preference Indigenous suppliers. (You can read about my joint venture with the Wadeye women for the supply of wild-harvested Kakadu Plum here).
I try to keep the formulas as natural and as simple as possible and I am very careful to not add essential oils or fragrance, even though I would love to! I know that customers always smell first before they try but, really, kind skin care has little or no smell. I have super sensitive skin so I had to create formulas that are as gentle as possible. There is already a lot going on with the botanical actives, so I don't want to overload the formula.
I knew that the formulas we had created were perfect for my skin - I was the chief testing bunny! - but I wasn't sure how others would receive them. So I shared my products with friends and neighbours for their feedback - next thing neighbours were stopping me in the street and asking for advice and wanting to buy my products, and girlfriends were coming to the house with cash wanting to pay for products that really I was just grateful that they liked them.
I then commissioned product evaluations and those results gave me the complete validation I needed. 97% of reviewers loved the products and said they would buy them.
Founder’s Formula launched in March 2021 with 4 products and we now have 24 products and have won 35 international Beauty Awards across the globe, including twelve Gold and 4 Editor’s Choice: USA Global Makeup Awards, UK Green Beauty Awards, Organic Beauty Awards, Clean + Conscious Awards, Scandinavian Global Make-Up Awards and UK Beauty Shortlist Awards.
When we won our first Gold I couldn't sleep for two nights I was so excited. When within nine months we had won another 7 Gold awards - I knew we had nailed it!
Because of Australia's geographic isolation our plants are incredibly unique and exotic. Australian Botanicals not only have wonderful names and are extraordinarily beautiful (and sometimes a little weird) to look at, they also have evolved powerful adaptation mechanisms to store vast quantities of phyto-compounds needed to survive the harsh extremes of the Australian climate.
In Australia there are 23,000 known species and less than 1,000 have been studied to date. The opportunities for new discoveries of ancient plants with benefits for skin health and beauty is truly breath-taking. Using Australian Botanicals has allowed me to create an exciting and truly innovative range of beautiful skin care.
Since I am often asked this, I will share with you my favourite product. It is actually the Macadamia Omega-7 Cleansing Oil. Macadamias are also called Maroochy Nut – they are indigenous to Maroochydore which is near where I live. I had always taken macadamias for granted – we used to smash the shells and eat them when I was a kid – but now I understand how amazing they are for skin. Macadamias are very high in Omega 7 (the 'Beauty Omega') and are full of squalene (not to be confused with the synthetic squalane with an 'a') – which the skin naturally manufactures to moisturise itself – and macadamias have both in abundance. I live at the beach and slather myself in sunblock every day, so I wanted to create a rich, organic, nourishing cleansing oil that would remove every skerrick of sunblock clean away but not strip my skin. I love all my products, but that is my favourite.
So as part of the Founder's Formula story, I need to share with you also the other part to the secret of our success - our amazing production team. Founder's Formula is a small batch producer. We do everything in-house and we only make enough to meet our needs. This keeps our products fresh and active. Emily Upthegrove is our Production Manager and she keeps a tight ship with a small army of willing workers who feel as passionate about Founder's Formula as we do.
Emily and her team make Founder's Formula possible.
Dr Annie Holden, Sunshine Coast, Australia.
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