Oh Natural is a conscious beauty and lifestyle store providing thousands of 100 per cent natural products. We talked to its founder Jenna Mullinger on the rapidly growing conscious consumer movement, how it’s affected her business and products to start with if you’re interested in a more waste-free lifestyle.
What made you start Oh Natural, an online conscious beauty and lifestyle store?
I was literally just following my passions. Luckily, it turned out that a lot of other Kiwis are passionate about natural, non-toxic and cruelty free beauty products and skincare. It feels like the Oh Natural brand serendipitously hit its stride just as a whole lot of people discovered how many seriously nasty chemicals are used in mainstream cosmetics. Then it was a natural segue to including natural tooth care, period care and hair care, and baby products.
The natural beauty market, as well as consumer interest is growing at an unprecedented rate. Did you expect this would happen when you started Oh Natural?
No, to be bluntly honest, I began blogging about beauty as something to keep myself busy while my (small and very gorgeous) first son napped. When I look back now, with three boisterous young sons and many sleepless years behind me, I realise I could have just relaxed and had a nice cup of tea!
I added the first products to the site because I couldn’t find anything I liked as much in New Zealand and wanted to use them myself. It was a surprise to see how quickly they sold and I decided to add to the range and see what happened. I’m a big believer in giving new things a shot.
Oh Natural now stocks a huge range of waste-free lifestyle products as well as the natural beauty products. Are you personally passionate about waste-free living, and how have you seen this grow with your customers?
Oh gosh yes! I love supporting zero packaging brands and companies that try to eliminate or limit the plastic in their packaging. We also try to support great NZ made brands to cut down on carbon miles, and select ethical brands who support charities and use fair trade ingredients or work for low environmental impact. There are all sorts of ways to shop ethical and we apply a complex logic to sourcing the natural brands that have the lowest impact on people, animals and the planet possible.
In New Zealand we have been a bit slower than a lot of other countries to adapt, but zero-waste living is taking off in a big way now. Pretty much every Oh Natural order has some kind of waste free product in the bag – and of course it’s a fully compostable recycled paper courier bag.
While there is a huge growth in conscious consumerism, people often don’t know where to start when it comes to living lighter on the earth. What advice could you give for people who are just getting started? And are there some easy beginner’s products you could recommend?
It’s a good idea to begin with the idea of ‘do no harm’. Often people eliminate the most frequently used toxin-laden products first – like deodorant, lipstick, foundation and mascara.
It’s a great idea to find a natural perfume you love too as synthetic fragrances are seriously nasty and scientists say that 80 per cent of the rest of the ingredients in perfumes are petrochemical or coal tar based (ie carcinogenic). And when you realise that synthetic scent chemicals are in your shower wash, shampoo, fake tan, hair spray, body oil, soy candles, household cleaning products, laundry powders, etcetera this gives you a pretty good list to work through. Everything on the Oh Natural site is synthetic fragrance free. Laundry products and skincare are also great products to replace with natural, as these are on your skin daily.
With waste free, we recommend starting with a glass reusable coffee cup, a steel or glass drink bottle and cotton tote bags for shopping. So much waste is created when we are out and about and get hungry, thirsty or shop.
What are the most popular products at Oh Natural?
- Natural deodorant is always first, because people don’t want to use aluminium.
- Natural oral care like bamboo toothbrushes, natural toothpaste, plastic free floss and charcoal tooth whitener.
- Foundation, mineral blush and mineral bronzer, because women don’t want to coat their faces in toxins every day – and natural mascara because it is safer for our eyes.
- Natural perfume, organic sex lube, organic Kawakawa balm and the ever-popular bamboo pegs and cotton buds.
- You can imagine, there has been a huge rush on organic cotton tote bags lately too, we are so glad to see the end of single use plastic bags.
Oh Natural have come on board as the official make-up provider for the inaugural Good Sustainable Style Show at New Zealand Fashion Week this year. Why did you say yes to coming on board?
Partly it was the risk-taker in me, excited to do a new thing. We are excited to work with INIKA Organic on the show, and our lovely makeup artist Abbie Gardiner who is designing the ‘look’ using INIKA Organic and skin products from Oh Natural.
We love that Good are using New Zealand Fashion Week to showcase ethical fashion and wanted to support the designers with ethical, cruelty free beauty brands. Finally, we want to show New Zealand that natural cosmetics are absolutely fantastic!