The Formula Botanica Conference 2018 was our biggest and most international yet. Held on 2-4 November in one of central London’s most prestigious venues, County Hall on the South Bank, the conference hosted some 200 Formula Botanica students, graduates, guest speakers, sponsors and team from around the globe for an action-packed long weekend of learning, sharing and community.
Our speakers this year included world-renowned names and leading lights in the natural beauty industry from pioneers and researchers to major online retailers and buyers, and from logistics and distribution experts to successful green beauty brands, bloggers, influencers and business coaches.
We started the event on Friday afternoon with a formulation workshop for our Elite ticket holders who got hands-on experience with a cold process emulsifier, Sucragel, and Vitamin C; both ingredients are extremely useful in high-performance skincare but can be tricky to work with. Under the guidance of the Formula Botanica education team, attendees learned new skills to take back home to their own formulation labs across the world.
Formula Botanica Conference 2018: Day One
Our first full day kicked off with a keynote speech by Robert Tisserand, a renowned lecturer, researcher and pioneer of the safe use and topical application of essential oils. Robert tackled in easy steps the science of skin barrier function and also set about dispelling myths on essential oils as well as taking us through some of his favourite essential oils and their beneficial properties for natural skincare.
Then, we heard from Ian Taylor, business manager at Green People, one of the first and largest UK-based natural skincare brands. He talked us through the challenges of growing a business and tackling various organic certification processes.
After break-out and lunch, the afternoon saw a panel of four leading on- and offline natural beauty retailers discuss trends in green beauty now it’s mainstreaming and maturing as a sector. Rare Beauty, Bath & Unwind, Love Lula and Planet Organic founders and beauty buyers gave our students and graduates the low-down on what they looking for from new indie beauty brands and provided tips on how to stand out and be noticed when pitching to retailers.
Wrapping up our first day and hard on the heels of the retail Q&A panel came a practical session on preparing your brand to be retail ready. The session led by Catherine Collins of Upfront Consultancy, an experienced distributor who has brought several prestigious brands to the Dubai market, gave us plenty to think about as attendees dived into their mission, brand values and potential retail propositions.
Formula Botanica Conference 2018: Day Two
Day two saw us start with long-time grower, distiller and retailer of aromatic waters, Joe Nasr of Avicenna talk about the amazing beneficial properties of aromatic waters for the skin. In an hour that saw our conference hall filled with fragrance, Joe focused on the therapeutic and skincare benefits of aromatic waters as well as explaining the important difference between hydrosols, floral waters and aromatic waters.
Our day two keynote speaker Antonio Burrell brought home the challenges, hard graft and immense rewards of running your own skincare business. In a roller-coaster ride speech, Antonia took us through her rags to riches journey in building her own name natural skincare brand. Her experiences provided much food for thought and inspiration for Formula Botanica students and graduates as they start out on their own paths to entrepreneurship.
A huge part of that path is getting comfortable using social media to gain visibility and also knowing the ‘rules of engagement’ in dealing with beauty influencers. Our panel of green beauty bloggers and influencers shared their side of the story and gave us invaluable insights into social media tactics along with their top tips for approaching and working with influencers.
Serial beauty industry entrepreneur, now business coach and consultant Melinda Coss took the stand after lunch to talk about how to build a business based on a firm mission and with clear goals. Melinda is a familiar face from her webinars and podcast with us and she once more wooed the audience with her straightforward wisdom on finding your purpose and what it takes to build a beauty brand.
The conference closed with a panel on distribution and logistics, which is critical to getting your brand onto shelves and before customers. These are issues many beautypreneurs leave on the backburner but which need planning up front. Logistics’ expert Rachel Whittaker of Indie Beauty Delivers joined Catherine Collins and Melinda Coss to field questions on tactics and best-practice in getting into online and bricks-and-mortar retailers.
The 2018 Formula Botanica Conference closed with our heads buzzing with ideas inspired by our speakers and through the networking taking place on the fringes. New friendships were forged, and online and old friendships rekindled. The event was Formula Botanica community-building beyond our dreams.
If you missed out on joining us for the 2018 Formula Botanica Conference, do take a minute to watch the round-up video above as it shares the vibe so well.
If you’d like to be part of our vibrant, sharing and learning community, why not sign up for our sample class to experience what it’s like being a Formula Botanica student. Browse also the range of online courses we offer in organic, cosmetic science and formulation. Soon, you too could be part of our student and graduate community creating your own natural cosmetics’ business.
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Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.