We are so thrilled to bring you this in-depth conversation with the ‘beauty from within’ guru, Carla Oates, of The Beauty Chef - one of our favorite brands for all things natural beauty, supplementation and glowing skin.
Carla reveals what it takes to create and maintain a successful and innovative business, discloses what makes her products unique, tips and advice around productivity and gives us some background on what sparked the fire in her belly for gut health (pardon the pun).
So if you’re yet to explore the world of natural beauty and supplementation then there is no better place to start than The Beauty Chef! We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
I am the CEO and Creative Director of The Beauty Chef, a company that creates bio-fermented probiotic powders and elixirs for gut health, glowing skin and wellbeing.
I really love what I do and it is truly rewarding creating products that make a positive difference to people’s lives.
I am very passionate about the natural world and the synergy we share with it. I love that while I started making my fermented foods in the kitchen, I now work with a team of naturopaths and leading microbiologists on continuing to improve our bio-fermentation process and work with them on the latest research into probiotics, gut health and skin health.
We will continue to do more and more research into the correlation between gut health, certain strains of bacteria and how they impact the health of the skin and overall health and wellbeing – and share these findings and research with our customers in the form of content and new products.
Where did your passion for wholefoods and healthy living begin?
When I was a child, I had eczema and allergies and I went and saw a naturopath and she drastically changed my diet. When I took certain things out of my diet and introduced more wholefoods, I saw a dramatic change in my skin. So from quite early on, I had a very good understanding about how food and gut health can affect the skin.
What gave you the idea to start the business?
Due to my skin problems and also my daughters (who also suffered from allergies and eczema), I have spent the last ten years focused on researching and teaching and creating products that focus on gut health and experimenting with and researching lacto fermented foods (which produce natural probiotics). This has made a huge difference to my skin and also my daughters.
When I created The Beauty Chef, it was with the intention of educating women that glowing skin comes from within, which means feeding your skin from the inside out. And more specifically that ‘beauty begins in the belly' – good gut health is vital for healthy, robust, radiant skin.
At what point did you realise, this is something special?
I had the ‘aha’ moment when I started making lacto-fermented probiotic foods in 2007 and they profoundly helped my daughter's skin and also gave mine a ‘glow’. It’s crazy to look at how far the brand has come! When I started with my first product in 2009, I was the first to create a product in the ‘inner beauty’ category so it was a challenge to break into the mainstream beauty market. Although the reaction from wholesalers who tested the products personally was overwhelmingly positive, the feedback from a business perspective was that they were too left of field. Lacto-fermentation and the benefits of probiotics were more understood in the health arena, than the beauty industry, so it was a very new concept for the beauty world.
Now we have over 500 stockists worldwide with more opening every week, and thousands of women all over the world are taking our products. I’m always thrilled to hear feedback on how much it’s helped them!
What makes your product unique?
Our products are literally alive with beneficial bacteria that help to balance digestive health! If you want beautiful, glowing skin, you need to start with a balanced, healthy gut.
More than twenty years of research have gone into the development of our unique bio-fermentation process called Flora Culture™ that breaks down foods, making them more available for the body to use as well as creating a natural, broad spectrum probiotic to help support gut health. Our blends are rich with carefully selected Certified Organic ingredients that nourish from the inside, so your skin glows on the outside. We have this incredible process that turns natural ingredients into supercharged and super-active ingredients – and it is all done by nature! We work with a team of microbiologists, naturopaths and nutritionists to ensure our products are as efficacious as possible.
What is the most challenging part of running a business?
I think the most challenging part of running a business is wearing lots of different hats and while this can be exciting, it can also be frustrating as you can sometimes feel spread thinly. Also as a creative person, sometimes I have to follow my head and not my heart - I am always trying to find a balance between left and right brain, business and creativity and head and heart!
What is most rewarding?
I love creating a beautiful dynamic business that creates efficacious products and content that helps people be the best, healthiest versions of themselves as well as contributes to a healthier paradigm in the beauty industry. I love art, design and science and I get to work with all three every day. I work with designers, artists and microbiologists! I also love seeing The Beauty Chef team grow and evolve - this is incredible - I have wonderful staff who share the vision for the brand and members who have been with us for a long time and have really grown in what they do. I love seeing this.
What are your top 5 tips for someone starting a new health and wellness business?
- Create an original/unique product that works and offers a solution to a problem that hasn’t be solved yet.
- Have a clear vision and strategy - map out a solid 5 year plan, taking a close look at who your customer is going to be, where you will sell your product and what are you going to need to support you to make it work.
- Stay fresh and ahead of the curve.
- Find your boss voice - it’s what you say no to that shapes your business.
- Look after your gut, be gutsy and listen to your gut instinct.
Did you ever think that the business wouldn’t make it?
No, although we have had challenging times, especially at key growth phases, I have believed unwaveringly in my business and our products.
How do you balance running a business and self-care?
In order to truly succeed as a successful entrepreneur, it's important to try and ensure your work life and home life are balanced and organised. I do this through;
- To do lists.
- Be realistic about what I can get done in a day.
- Prioritise, make sure the important things get done first.
- Have learnt to say no. It is impossible to find life/work balance if you say yes to everything.
- Always nourish my body with nutrient dense foods and probiotic rich foods - beauty begins in your belly! I try and set aside half a day a week to prep food and freeze meals and make snacks - so even in a super busy week, I always have healthy food handy.
- Have fun.
One thing that really keeps me stay productive, focused and energised is going for a walk along Bondi Beach, in particular I love doing the Bondi to Bronte walk as well as long walks around Centennial Park. Walking along the water’s edge or through the park really clears my mind and helps me focus and keep productive throughout the day. While on a walk I find clarity of mind and often come up with new creative ideas for the business! I also find solutions to problems when I walk. It is my daily meditation.I try not to ever skip out on exercising in nature.
What is your vision for the business?
Continue to create products and content that help to create positive change. To keep pushing boundaries in the beauty industry and reinforcing The Beauty Chef’s philosophy that “Beauty Begins in The Belly”. Looking after your skin from within will create a radiance that no amounts of cosmetics can replicate and the bonus is that it makes you feel great too.
Why is gut health so important?
Our gut is where 70% of the immune system lies, where we metabolise hormones, where we make detoxifying enzymes and where we make nutrients, and so much of what goes on in our digestive system can impact our skin. The skin, hair and nails are the last places to receive nutrients, as they go to more important organs first, so nutrition is important for glowing skin, and fermented foods give you dense, supercharged nutrition.
What are your five top tips for great gut health?
- Eat low HI – low human intervention foods.
- Eat foods rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics help boost the growth of friendly bacteria. These include non-digestible food substances found in asparagus, bananas, endive, chicory, garlic, globe and jerusalem artichokes, kefir, leeks, onions as well as foods rich in soluble fibre.
- Eat probiotic-rich, lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and yoghurt and The Beauty Chef inner beauty products! The combination of prebiotics and probiotics helps promote a healthy gut more than either consumed alone.
- Eat smaller meals and chew food slowly so it liquefies before you swallow. Saliva contains digestive enzymes that help break down foods.
- Too much acidity in the body encourages unfriendly bacteria. Reduce acidity in the body by eating more alkalising foods including your green leafy veggies and reduce your intake of acid forming foods.
Drink filtered water and avoid processed foods, stress, pollution, cigarettes, medications and chemicals in personal care and skincare products - wherever possible.
Best health advice you have ever been given?
You are at your working best when you are healthy and content; so looking after your body with good nutrition and exercise is one of the most important steps to success.