In today’s Graduate Success Story interview, we speak to Heather Urquhart from huna NATURAL APOTHECARY who came to Formula Botanica with existing formulation experience and then used our expert Certificates to take her skills to the next level. We’re very excited to read about Heather’s plans and wanted to share the story of this inspiring organic skincare entrepreneur with you. Some of our most popular blogs are the ones which inspire our community and we think Heather and all of her plans are very inspirational.
Hi Heather, please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you!
My name is Heather Urquhart, from Manitoba, Canada. I grew up loving nature and the outdoors, living a typical upbringing on the Canadian Prairies. My father was always an outdoor-enthusiast, and my mother & grandmother enjoyed being outside in the garden and playing with plants. This influence growing up turned into a real passion for plants, and so I went on to study Botany in University with a focus on medicinal & economic plants. I gained a huge appreciation for ‘phytochemicals’- the potent medicinal and therapeutic properties which plants offer, and I consider plants to be my life’s passion! (In fact I’m currently studying to be a Chartered Herbalist while running huna NATURAL APOTHECARY!)
My work experience includes several years working for a major multinational luxury skincare brand, followed by a few years of work experience within the Medical/Pharmaceutical & Consumer Goods industries where I gained a deeper interest and exposure to business and marketing. I eventually quit the corporate world after craving something “more”, so I studied Strategic Management at Harvard University’s Extension School, and felt energized & excited with the program’s entrepreneurial-focus, while developing a more solid strategic business mind.
Where did the name huna NATURAL APOTHECARY come from and where did you get the inspiration from for your brand?
During my time studying, I was searching for all-natural skincare products to nourish and improve the look and health of my skin. I was not only searching for more natural and healthier alternatives to what mainstream beauty brands offer, I was also in search for a brand that was packed with ‘health food’ and nutrition to feed & nourish my skin. (I’m a bit of a health nut, and enjoy nourishing my body with organic nutrition-packed foods, and I figure my skin will benefit from the same treatment externally). I couldn’t find what I was looking for in Canada, so I concluded- to get what I really want, I am just going to have to make my own skincare! I took an online course and thoroughly enjoyed getting my brain & my hands back into botanicals- transforming plant oils, butters + extracts into beautiful nutrition-packed skincare.
huna (which stands for heather urquhart natural apothecary) and its approach of ‘simple skin nutrition’ was born! With plenty of laboratory experience, a passion for plants & natural ingredients, and experience within the skincare & beauty industry- creating my own natural skincare line felt natural, creative, exhilarating, and a challenge I was up for! huna NATURAL APOTHECARY was officially launched to serve Canada in 2014.
Please tell us about your business – where are you based and what do you?
huna NATURAL APOTHECARY creates professionally handcrafted organic skincare products which are formulated by combining the principles of botanical science, skin nutrition + mindful healthy-living. We create our skincare by combining botanical research with organic skin-nourishing ingredients to create a line of ‘skin nutrition’. We favor local Canadian ingredients (like our organic beeswax and rose water), and we choose minimally-processed, ethical and sustainably-sourced whole ingredients. huna skincare is vegetarian-friendly (with some vegan options too), we never test on animals and all of our skincare is biodegradable.
What makes huna NATURAL APOTHECARY truly unique is our family-owned 137-acre homestead in the heart of Canada’s Great Prairies, which is home to our Organic Medicinal Botanical Garden (and where we photograph huna products for the website!). We are committed to growing the highest quality organic skincare from ‘Seed to Serum’, so to speak! Organic Calendula, Chamomile, Lavender, Borage, Echinacea and Licorice root fresh from the garden, hand-harvested and processed to be incorporated into huna’s exceptional line of skin nutrition! It’s going to be an incredible journey and I hope you’ll follow us along to share in the progress of huna’s Organic Medicinal Botanical Garden! (Join our mailing list to be a huna insider and stay in-the-know!)
What is your favourite product in the huna NATURAL APOTHECARY range?
We currently develop ‘skin nutrition’ for Canadian women looking to slow the first signs of aging. My favorite product (and our best-seller) is the Revitalize Face Serum which delivers a nutrition-packed cocktail to improve radiance and provide a healthful glow. Rosehip, Sea buckthorn berry, Pomegranate, Carrot + Perilla are loaded in nourishing vitamins, protecting antioxidants + radiance-boosting essential fatty acids!
We had a great first year in business, and we look forward to expanding our range in 2016 to meet other specific skin concerns, while launching a men’s skin nutrition & grooming line. We’re looking forward to launching our new & improved website in Spring 2016, and we’re also upgrading to eco-friendly premium packaging at the same time. 2016 is going to be an action-packed year!
Which courses did you take with Formula Botanica and how do you intend to use this information in your business?
I came to Formula Botanica after completing another online course. I used the skills that I gathered from the Certificate in Organic Anti-Ageing Skincare to formulate an exceptional anti-age skin nutrition range called Age-Grace, which is coming out later in 2016.
Last year I completed the Certificate in Natural Cosmetic Preservation, which I value because making effective, safe and properly preserved natural skincare is top-priority for huna NATURAL APOTHECARY. I believe strongly in continuous learning, and I’ve greatly enjoyed the courses & community that Formula Botanica offers.Never ever stop learning on your journey to become a #skincare entrepreneur. Click To Tweet
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I absolutely love the creativity, independence, and pride of growing something from a simple idea.
What was the hardest thing about launching your own skincare range?
Overcoming self-doubt, figuring out a balance (the lines of your personal & work lives become quite intertwined as an entrepreneur), and identifying the right people to have around for support.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring skincare entrepreneurs who want to follow in your footsteps?
DO IT! Don’t wait…you only live once, so give your dreams your very best shot. That, and never ever stop learning along your journey.
Thank you to Heather for sharing her words of wisdom with us. We can’t wait to see pictures of the herb farm and see the launch of Age-Grace, which sounds stunning. Good luck to Heather and huna NATURAL APOTHECARY – make sure you support your local natural skincare artisans!
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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.