We love speaking to our students and graduates – the community is what makes Formula Botanica great. We are surrounded by amazing formulators and entrepreneurs, all over the world, who each have their own inspiring story and passion. Today we speak to Maia from Handmaids Cosmetic, who is based in Bulgaria.
Hi Maia, please tell us a bit about who you are and your background?
I am Maia, a Bulgarian who is fortunate enough to have lived and studied in USA, Portugal, Greece, UK and Switzerland; Content to have seriously worked my butt off in advertising and music event management; Fascinated by the power of natural and organic beauty products, the specifics of the market and the great challenge to start something from scratch and make it grow!
Please tell us about your business – where are you based and what do you do?
Based in Sofia, Bulgaria, Handmaids is my contribution to the world of natural beauty. It all started as a personal project. I was challenged by the idea to create something beautiful AND meaningful. I wanted to help, to be of true service. To create and combine simplicity with effectiveness.
Where did the name ‘Handmaids Cosmetic’ come from and where did you get the inspiration from for your brand?
The name Handmaids came from a little brain storming we had once with my best friend Tania and my sister. Imagining endless possibilities, throwing ideas and seeing the sky as the only limit we decided that Handmaids is what we liked to be called. We would be the young witches who rely on Mother Nature and its secrets to help solve people’s delicate issues.
I love saying “It all started with a rash”. And this is the truth. I had a body rash that apparently no ointment nor paste could heal. It was cureless according to the standard medical practise and the interest shown by the doctors all this time. This is when I turned to the “grandmothers’ fiddlesticks” as we call the herbal medicine often in Bulgaria. I gave it a try. And it worked, of course. Why wouldn’t it? It was simple and pure, natural and made with love. And it got me that very instant. To see how adding 2 and 2 gives you 5 is something worth living for. This synergy of simplicity and logic is what made me dream of doing what I do today.
What type of skincare products do you sell at Handmaids Cosmetic and which one is your favourite?
Handmaids Cosmetic offers body balms and face care products. Although my personal favourite is the Sore Nose balm and the miracular properties of all herbal balms, people are much more interested in taking everyday care of their faces and thus the ultimate winner of our portfolio seems to be the Carrot Eye cream. It’s made with carrot seed essential oil and rose water, rosehip and jojoba oils which all make a surprisingly good combination in every sense!
Which courses did you take with Formula Botanica and how do you use this information in your business?
I first took the Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation. Then it was time for the Certificate in Organic Anti-Ageing Skincare and now I am at the very end of the Advanced Diploma in Organic Cosmetic Science. Prolonging the grande finale as much as possible. If it wasn’t for Formula Botanica and its understandable course work, great support, massive resources, community and intelligent know-how I wouldn’t be here today, still inspired, with a sense of belonging and an even greater desire to dive deeper in the natural/organic world!
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
The most enjoyable thing is to formulate, of course! It is challenging and fun. It is a series of accurate procedures which might turn into a total mess. It’s both art and science. Another enjoyable part is to order new ingredients and to experiment with them when they arrive but that’s a rather costly part of the business.
What was the hardest thing about launching your own skincare range?
The hardest thing was to find out what I had to do to officially launch my own skin care range. The way I see it – starting something so small and fragile is so much harder than setting up a big corporation. I would just pour in all the money, hire the people and switch on the machine.
On the other hand the minimalistic small-scale business stretches the creativity to unseen boundaries. I have never expected to apply so much creativity in accountings or stock level management. So I guess there is a good side of everything.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring skincare entrepreneurs who want to follow in your footsteps?
I would ask them to blend carefully the strength and desire they have with all the grams of patience there is. Then to whisk at room temperature until the mixture homogenises. Analyse the level of acidity and if in balance, slowly add all other business ingredients required to make a beautiful blend. Use the “never take anything for granted” method to keep exploring and learning new things every day. And last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy every aspect of it!
We love Handmaids Cosmetic’s products, ideas and branding! Make sure you follow Maia on social media to support this wonderful Bulgarian natural beauty business:
- Handmaids Cosmetic’s website: https://www.handmaids.eu/
- Follow Handmaids Cosmetic on Facebook
- Follow Handmaids Cosmetic on Instagram
- Follow Handmaids Cosmetic on Twitter
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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.