Interview: Elizabeth Barbalich, CEO and Founder of Antipodes Skincare, Talks Organic Beauty, Teaming Up With WWF And Exciting New Antipodes Releases
On Wednesday I attended the very special launch of Antipodes new Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum.
I was excited for a few reasons:
- I was going to hear all about this new product from one of my favourite natural skincare brands;
- I knew from the invite that Greg Millar, from New Zealand WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature), was going to speak about Antipodes’ new partnership with the environmental organisation;
- And I was going to be interviewing CEO and Founder of Antipodes, Elizabeth Barbalich myself!
Before we launch straight into this amazing chat with Elizabeth where she shares the roots of Antipodes as a company, her thoughts on natural beauty and what it takes to make a brand 100% natural and organic, let’s talk about this latest release, Antipodes Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum.
Enclosed in a cute recycled glass bottle, chia and kiwi seed oil are merged to create a hydrating anti-ageing superfood serum that’s filled with essential fatty-acids that smells amazingly like jasmine and ylang ylang.
Apart from making your skin look plump, fresh and glowing, $2 from every sale will be going directly to WWF. This donation will support initiatives that help save endangered animals and their natural habitats. If there is ever a good time to shop for beauty products, this is it! Such a fabulous cause and a fantastic skincare product that delivers real results.
Shop it: Antipodes Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum, $49
Elizabeth, when was Antipodes founded and what made you decide to jump into the very saturated beauty space?
I spent two years, before launching the brand, really researching the market. And I agree, there are a gazillion-and-one brands out there that all look the same.
I like taking risks though, so for me it was taking a look around and seeing how I could create a cool New Zealand brand that had the X factor and really develop the culture around it. It wasn’t just about creating skincare products, it was more than that, it was about creating a brand that resonated with our values and ethos all at once.
What does the word ‘antipodes’ mean and why did you choose it as your brand name?
Good question! Antipodes is a word that means polar opposites, so if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere you’re at the antipodes or opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, and likewise for the opposite way around. But it’s often a word used for Australian and New Zealanders, we are often referred to as Antipodeans.
For me, it’s a word that means ‘to open the lid and escape to the antipodes.’ So our natural ingredients and way of life.
What’s your personal definition of beauty?
I think my personal definition of beauty is to make the best of the skin you’re in.
I think beauty really needs to be driven from a health perspective, cause I think as you get older if you’re not healthy, if you don’t have good digestion and a good liver and you’re eating foods that are problematic for your body, it’s definitely going to show in your skin.
It’s also going to show in your skin a lot more quickly when you’re 40 onwards, or 50 onwards than the younger generations. At the end of the day it’s important to eat foods that are really good for you and help keep your skin really healthy.
I also think beauty is about having fun. It’s about celebrating being a woman and about enjoying your life. I think happiness is a big thing for beauty.
Has organic beauty always been something that’s very important to you?
Yes, absolutely because organic ingredients are ingredients that are as close to nature as possible. So an organic oil, for example, has not been overly processed. It comes from a sustainable source, it’s the purest possible form of that particular ingredient. The closer you can get to nature, the healthier you are going to be and the better your skin will be.
How many products are there now in the Antipodes range? Because you have quite a few!
We do! We have 40 products in the range, so we have 9 makeup products (mineral foundations and some lipsticks as well), the range also covers daily cleanse, daily ultra care (which is the serums), daily moisturising products and body nurture. So it’s the whole routine!
You feature extremely unique ingredients in some of your products. I’ve seen everything from black fern extract to sauvignon blanc. How do you come up with these and what made you choose to use these ingredients?
I’ve got a science background so I’m really curious about ingredients. There’s a lot of amazing ingredients in New Zealand, we have plants that aren’t grown in Australia or anywhere else in the world and they have a lot of health properties.
Look as Manuka honey, it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, black fern has skin firming properties and then vinanza grape. It’s the grape seeds from the waste product from the award winning sauvignon blanc, so if it’s good enough to drink it’s good enough to put on your skin – it’s very rich in antioxidants.
New Zealand is becoming really renowned across the globe for their natural skincare brands, how has this happened? It seems like all of a sudden people are looking for products made in New Zealand as a priority!
I agree. I think there are some really great brands that have come out of New Zealand and I think that’s because the focus has been on quality, that’s what differentiates New Zealand brands from brands across the world.
But for us, as a brand, we were more looking at what is happening globally. Having products that are made from natural ingredients is great, but the consumer still wants them to achieve results. The French woman will look to see if a product is scientifically proven. If it comes from New Zealand that’s great, but it’s not the key reason she buys it.
The other thing to take into account is New Zealand is a small country. If we do something well, we do it really well otherwise you just don’t stay in business. We don’t have the foot traffic that other countries have. So what ever New Zealand does, they do it quickly and they do it well!
How did you come up with your new Chia & Kiwi Seed Oil? What made you decide there was space for this in your range?
So it’s a little bit different from other products we’ve developed. Normally it would take about 18 months to get a product out into the market because we’re really focused on that scientific angle.
However, this one was more about chia seeds (chia is a trend in the market) and we know that in countries like Mexico it’s mainstream, so we knew this ingredient has some longevity rather then just being a ‘quick fix’ trendy type of product.
We started talking to our oil supplier to see if they could find a reliable, ethically-sourced Chia seed grower that practices fair-trade. We were really focused on developing a product around sustainability and I guess it opened the door for me to start to talk to people like WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) which is really cool.
As a brand we’ve done a lot of more localised community charity, but we were looking for something that would have more of a global link but still had a community feel. People know and respect WWF. It was also kind of fortuitous, I didn’t know WWF New Zealand was actually based in Wellington (where Antipodes is based). It was one of those things where all the dots joined.
You’re also approved by the UK Vegetarian Society. Was this a hard stamp of approval to gain?
So we met with the vegetarian society in the UK, and that was really driven by my daughter who is a vegetarian. She’s 18 but she’s been a vegetarian for about 10 years and that was a moral choice for her. She said ‘Why should I eat animals that have a conscience?’. I respect her for making that choice because it’s not easy for a teenage girl to go without meat. It’s quite hard work.
So it was her who got me thinking about it more. I started talking to the Vegetarian Society and they said they have a massive movement in the UK that’s enormous because the meat products they produce are nowhere near the quality we have here. So a lot of people chose to be a vegetarian because it’s healthier and safer. Where as here, in NZ and Australia, you get great beef and lamb.
Having the tick of approval is a process, it’s an annual audit and we have to provide all these materials and they have to check list everything we use in our products. All of our imports have to meet tough standards.
Okay, well this kind of brings me to my next question. Is Antipodes organic then?
Antipodes is 100% natural with some products being certified organic. That means there are some products that carry an organic certification. There are 11 products in our range that are fully certified organic with the other products that are not certified organic being 100% natural.
A lot of brands merge those two. They will call themselves organic as a whole even if half their products are not. We are really clear. If we can make a product that’s organic, still ethically-sourced and scientifically made then that product will carry a logo, but we don’t go organic for the sake of saying something is organic.
It’s very tricky. The other thing is there are different organic certifications around the world that carry different standards. Some are really strict like our one, Australian Certified Organic, and some are really low.
Are there any secret Antipodes products in the works? I know it’s probably a bit early to share…
Yes there are and you’re going to love them!
Last question, where do you see Antipodes heading within the next 3-5 years?
I definitely see Antipodes becoming more of a global brand and more established out in the market place. Really, my goal is for Antipodes to become an iconic New Zealand brand that can be enjoyed around the world by global citizens.
I see the brand growing in the market and getting stronger. For me thats a great thing, because I’m at the point now where I have 30 staff so we can really take the brand to the next level.
We were also recently named airline partner with Air New Zealand which is really cool. We have all our hand washes throughout the planes and lounges as well as in the business class kits. Air New Zealand flies around the world and they go to Shanghai everyday, so thats opening up that market for us.
To survive in the market I’ve found you have to push yourself and take risks. Because if you don’t take risks you’ll be like everyone else.
Are you a fan of Antipodes? Do you look for natural or organic beauty products? Are you a vegetarian looking to support a great organisation like WWF? Let me know your thoughts below!