In retrospect, shifting consumer demand for natural, clean beauty products over the last few years should have been expected, not only as a backlash to the growing awareness of traditional cosmetic companies’ use of harmful chemicals like preservatives and stabilizers, but also as a result of the rising importance of wellness in our everyday life. Two brothers who predicted the potential of such a market more than a decade ago are Jeremy and Keston Muijs whose Australian clean beauty label Grown Alchemist has captured not only health-conscious consumers but also beauty aficionados the world over.
Based on organic botanical ingredients from around the world, and fuelled by innovative formulas developed in the company’s numerous research labs in Europe and Australia, the brand’s products, which range from face and bodycare to probiotc supplements, are all about optimal skin health. As Jeremy explained to Yatzer in a recent chat, beauty for Grown Alchemist is about looking healthy rather than looking perfect, a departure from the cosmetics industry’s narrowly defined beauty standards. To this end, the brand’s philosophy is centred on a simple, three-step regime – cleanse, detox, activate – that aims to transform the skin from both the inside and outside. This straightforward, efficiency-driven approach is also reflected in the minimalist sophistication of the sustainable packaging which swaps glamour for sincerity – courtesy of the brand’s in-house design team led by Keston. With several new launches planned for next year, including the new Anti-Pollution Mist, an advanced formula that not only protects against pollution but also hydrates and smooths fine lines, it’s an exciting time to sit down and talk with Jeremy about the company, the working relationship with his brother, and the brand’s future.
(Answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.)
What made you transition from product development to starting your own skincare brand?
After working for many years as consultants in product and brand development, we decided to move towards the natural side of the skincare market. It was during this shift that we witnessed our clinical results demonstrating improved cellular function when exposed to natural ingredients. It is this realization that gave birth to Grown Alchemist and which continues to inspire us today.
Why did you name the company Grown Alchemist?
The name encapsulates the duality of our brand, one that is built on biology, then backed by science. As a brand, we have one foot firmly planted in the natural world utilizing the power botanicals we use in our formulations, and the other rooted in the alchemy of science in order to harness the potency of these naturally occurring ingredients. This duality makes us who we are as a brand.
What distinguishes Grown Alchemist from other natural skincare brands? What are the brand’s hallmarks?
We distinguish ourselves from other brands in the market through one key focus: restoring skin function. The skincare industry has conditioned consumers into thinking that the answer to amazing skin is all about a magical ingredient. Naturally, as a beauty brand we do believe in the power of science and active ingredients to visibly transform skin. But without a healthy, capable skin cell nothing really happens. It’s just a waste of powerful ingredients. So unlike other brands, natural or otherwise, we spend the majority of our time and energy enhancing the skin’s capability through detoxification; a function-restoring process that is just as much about what we add back to the skin as which toxic ingredients we leave out. Once we restore skin function, we then focus on activating it. No other brand focuses on cellular function in this way and it’s a point of difference that guarantees real results.
How important is technology in the “alchemical” transformation of natural ingredients into potent skincare products?
We think of our brand as the perfect fusion of advanced natural alchemy and cosmetic science, continually driven by technological advances. From our exposure to some of the world’s finest formulators, we understood the science behind using active, natural ingredients to stimulate the biological functions that support healthy skin. We can only continue to build on this alchemical understanding through the advancements in technology so as to offer a deeper understanding of how we can optimize our topical and supplementary skincare treatments.
Which natural ingredients do you consider most promising and which most useful?
Our skin needs a host of essential elements to maintain optimal health so we don’t usually promote any single ingredient. However, if I was looking for a ‘universal’ natural ingredient to profile I would suggest our Tri-Hyaluronan Complex found in our Instant Smoothing Serum which offers three times the potency of traditional Hyaluronic Acid for an instantaneous lifting, plumping and smoothing effect on the skin. It's one product I always recommend for those looking for rapid dehydrating teamed with anti-aging benefits.
On average, how long does it take to bring a new product to the market?
The timeframe for bringing a new product to the market depends entirely on the type of product we are creating. For some products it can be as quick as 18 months while some of our NPD formulations have been on the table for over 9 years.
This is holistic beauty. This is Grown Alchemist. This is the biology of beautiful skin.
Video © GROWN ALCHEMIST.
Grown Alchemist’s packaging is underpinned by an austere sensibility and minimalist elegance. How did this particular design language come about? How important is product packaging for the brand?
At Grown Alchemist we believe that good things come in considered packaging. We wanted to create a product exterior that does justice to the amazing formulations inside. We believe that packaging has the power to attract and engage the consumer as well. This is why we have been so careful about the presentation of our minimalist, sustainable packaging. We want to retain an aspirational element to the Grown Alchemist consumer experience.
Beauty has always been narrowly defined by the fashion and beauty industry while the rise of social media has further distorted beauty standards. What is your idea of beauty? Do you think there is such a thing as ideal beauty?
For us, beauty is all about health, which is often a departure from how our industry has traditionally defined it. In fact, our brand ethos is built on the equation that healthy equals cellular function equals beauty. Rather than trying to run a race to nip and tuck every part that is considered an 'imperfection', we see the idea of beauty as a holistic concept that strives to achieve optimal internal bodily function and that results in a 'beautiful', radiant exterior.
What are the challenges and perks in working together with your brother?
Although we’re very different, we understand how to play to each other’s strengths and have respect for what the other brings to the table. Another benefit of being family is the trust between us, it’s one of the things I value most about our working relationship. At times, this familiarity can be challenging in the workplace, sometimes we can be more blunt with one another than if we were just business partners, which is okay from time to time but can wear thin after a while so we often have to remind ourselves at work that we are colleagues first and family second.
Which is your favourite destination for culture and which do you prefer for relaxing?
Italy for culture, I love the Italian space and getting absorbed in their cultural canvas. For chilling out, I’m happy in any island so long as it has palm trees and warm, tropical air, but honestly there’s no place like home in Melbourne, spending time with my family.
Where do you see Grown Alchemist 10 years from now?
As a brand we have always had a laser focus on being the best in beauty. It’s a space that evolves quickly and will continue to do so. As time goes on we have learnt that beauty cannot be a singular skincare experience, there is no one magic pot of cream or serum to solve everything. So when I think of where we will be in 10 years, I think we will be following the same outcome of being the best, holistic beauty brand. Whatever mechanism to create healthy, beautiful skin the future holds, that’s where we will be.