So this is a weird and unusual situation. If you'd told me several months ago that I'd be featuring Oh Natural here at belle&sage, I'd have said that all those years of using conventional cosmetic chemicals have affected your brain!
But my decision to move away from from retailing other brands in order to formulate my own kick-*ss natural makeup brand, meant I needed to find a solution for you, my loyal customers and Sage Babes.
My mission remains to guide you to finding the best natural, conscious products on the market. And to make sure it's from a source that shares the same values of being safe, natural, conscious and effective. Oh Natural is all that, and a bag of kale chips, so it's a win-win really!
I'd like you to meet Jenna Mullinger.
Oh Natural is an online shop dedicated to stocking natural, cruelty-free and eco-friendly beauty and lifestyle products. It started about 6 years ago now, when I was on maternity leave with my first baby, I was trying to think of something I could 'do' from home, kind of just as my own little project but really with the hope that one day it would grow into something lucrative enough that I didn't have to go back to work! I was kind of stuck on where to start or what to do, so someone suggested to me just doing 'something' to do with what I loved, and not to worry about the money side of things - that that would come later if I really loved what I was doing.
Looking back now it sounds a wee bit corny and cliché, and possibly not sound advice at all ha! But somehow.... things just worked out! I've always been into natural beauty and skincare so I started a blog reviewing various products on the market, and it was by doing that that I found some really awesome natural products that weren't available in New Zealand at the time - Soapwalla Deodorant (the first natural deodorant I found that actually worked!), non-toxic nail polish, and Hurraw Lip Balms - so I added a small shop area to my site and things just grew bit by bit from there really!
I first became interested in natural beauty in my teens. My mum had been to see an acupuncturist and during the appointment had been told about unhealthy ingredients in body care products like SLS and an ingredient in supermarket toothpaste that is also used in rat poison!?
That really stuck with me and from then on I pretty much always opted for natural products. There were a few products that took a couple of years to find natural versions I liked - like hair care products, deodorant and mascara, as I was pretty fussy - but natural products have definitely come a long way since then and I can honestly say that all of the products I use now are at least as good as, if not better than their synthetic counterparts.
It's true what they say 'good skin starts from within'. You can spend all the money you like on the best/most expensive beauty products but really, if you aren't getting enough of sleep, drinking plenty of water and eating foods that nourish your body the results just aren't going to be as good as they could be! For me, wellness is the starting point for beauty, from there, good skincare to protect and nourish your skin, and lastly, when you feel like it, a little natural makeup to enhance your favourite features!
It means making informed and deliberate decisions about the products that you use on your body and the brands that you are supporting. For me it comes down to four main things - choosing products with all natural, healthy ingredients, only using products that are cruelty-free, supporting brands who make sustainable choices with the way that their products are packaged and ingredients sourced, and also of course ethical decisions in terms of using fairly traded ingredients etc.
I also love stocking brands who go the extra mile by supporting causes - we have some amazing brands like these on our site such as Tsuno, Essence of Humanity and Spud Sponge which spring to mind first.
It's a bit of a juggle, as while my eldest son is at school now my other two are still at home during the day - but definitely a lot less of a juggle than last year as my husband is now working on the business full-time too (hooray!!). After everyone is fed and my eldest is off to school we both kind of alternate between one of us packing orders/sorting customer queries and the other keeping the kids alive/happy!
We try to work around the school day as it quickly became apparent after the birth of my third son that three kids is not a one person job (... no only kidding!) so we finish up around three and often we'll go down for a swim at the beach or just do normal, family stuff until dinner and the boys go to bed.
I thought that when my husband left his job we'd get everything done during the day and have the evenings to lounge around watching Netflix but this hasn't really been the case sadly... haha! Work life tends to start up again once the boys are sleeping and my husband will sometimes be in the office sorting orders (yup he knows everything about Mooncups and serums and stuff now!) while I work on the computer in the lounge, or for a real treat we'll pack orders together haha... :-)
I have a sky high pile of business related books I would really love to get through in the evening but the reality is time to do that is few and far between at the moment.
I'd love to say I do two hours of yoga a day and make pretty smoothie bowls every morning but the reality is life is super busy and I do not! I try to fit in sporadic exercise when I can - usually this is just a half hour or so walk to and from school in the morning and afternoon! But I love to walk, so I'll fit that in whenever I can.
Being a mum has definitely made me value my time alone and the idea of an uninterrupted walk on my own with just my thoughts is literally something to dream about! So health and wellness for me is just very much about the basics, I try to drink enough water, get as much sleep as I can (although often that's beyond my control!) and not get too unfit...
Speed is key often when it comes to food prep but I think my saving grace is wanting my boys to have a healthy diet so generally we eat pretty well and we have become getting really good as sneaking as much undetectable healthy stuff into meals as we can!
I do try to take a good multivitamin and add in extra nutrients where I can via the amazing Misty Day and Beauty Chef ranges too! Things are busy, crazy and probably so far from perfect in terms of health and wellness now, but in a lot of ways I am happy with things as they are - I spent so many years when I was younger trying (and failing) to eat perfectly and forever trying to lose weight I probably didn't even need to lose, that balance and happiness really is where it's at for me now!
Outside of Oh Natural stuff, my favourite things to do would probably be just spending time with my boys, going to the beach or just watching them grow and learn and try new activities and things! Having coffee with my mum and my nana... reading books (oh how I would loooove more time to do that more!) and really... just the little things that make up a life really! What beauty items currently can’t you live without?
I'm pretty low maintenance so for me it's definitely the vitals like mascara (as I have very fair lashes) - my #1 favourite being the Inika Long Lash Mascara. Also I definitely can't get through the day without lip balm - I love Hurraw Balms and Epic Blend, and the huge range of flavours across both brands means I never get bored! My faves at the moment are the Hurraw Papaya Pineapple Lip Balm and the Epic Blend Banana lip balm... so delish!
I love facial oils and take much pleasure in trying out all of the facial oils I can get my hands on! At the moment I'm loving the Zoo Cacay Oil and the Eco by Sonja Glory Oil.
And lastly, and possibly most importantly... natural deodorant. The Black Chicken deodorant has been our best seller pretty much from the first day we started stocking it and it's the one I keep coming back to for 100% reliability!
It can be rather daunting to look at all of the products that you use as a whole and think about making the switch to all natural/conscious choices, so if you find yourself in that boat my advice would just be to take it one by one. As you run out of a product, replace it with a natural version of a product - it can actually be quite an empowering process to read up on a product and brand to make sure that it fits your criteria in terms of ingredients and ethics. Or... just check out our site (shameless plug, I know!) or find a similar one you like the look of and trust, which takes the hard work out of it for you!
It has to be, as I mentioned before, to pursue something I loved and worry about the money side of things later. And also, just to start! Wherever you are at with your career or another aspect of your life, rather than waiting for that perfect time to start doing something - just to start. Where do you see yourself and your business headed in the next few years? I would love to see things continue to grow as they have done!
There are so many other amazing new brands I would like to stock and other ideas that I cant wait to explore, but I am so happy with where we are now - so really, more of the same for me! :-)
Thanks Jenna, and I look forward to working with you to further expand the conscious beauty revolution!
Jenna has very kindly offered a 15% discount for any of you who are new to her site. To stock up on your favourite natural goodies, enter the code BELLEANDSAGE at checkout.
And I'd like to remind you that I'm still and always will be here and available to offer expert advice on natural beauty, cosmetic ingredients and application. To get in touch, just message me here.
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