Into the wild
We chat with Charlotte Devereux, co-founder of Girl Undiscovered
Launching a natural beauty brand into an already jam-packed market might seem like a crazy idea to some, but for close friends – and now business partners – Charlotte Devereux, Sara Orme and Philly Gebbie it was the perfect opportunity to combine their talents and create something wild. Girl Undiscovered launched in New Zealand in 2016 and isn’t ‘natural beauty’ as we’ve come to know it. We speak to Girl Undiscovered’s co-founder and lead product developer Charlotte about free-spirited beauty, the vitality of moodboards, the power in naivety and the wonderful women that help make her tick.
Tell us about Girl Undiscovered and how the idea for 100% Wild skincare came about.
Girl Undiscovered is a natural skincare brand with an ideology that reinforces our belief that naturalness and imperfection should be celebrated. We emphasise honesty, openness, realness and a love of life by sharing real stories about real women. Girl Undiscovered is for the ‘girl’ in us all, and everyone, regardless of age, can share this journey with us.
As for 100% Wild, it means two things. Firstly, it is all about the woman who is making an empowering commitment to living totally wild and true to her herself. On the product side of things, our three hero ingredients are foraged in the wild by local communities: our thanaka in Myanmar, our virgin coconut oil in Bali, and our kanuka honey in New Zealand are all as wild as they come. These three magical ingredients are ethically and sustainably grown with no chemicals or animal testing.
There’s so much competition in the beauty market, especially when it comes to natural and organic products. How did you make Girl Undiscovered stand out?
Aside from our unique packaging which is definitely attracting attention we are a brand that stands by our ethical practices and quest for female empowerment. From day one, we travelled to Myanmar and Bali to locate core villages and providers of our ingredients. It was essential that we met our suppliers in person to form lasting relationships. Ethical trade is a given for us, and the stories of our suppliers are as important to us as our consumers. We also celebrate what beauty feels like, not just what it looks like. So rather than focusing on imperfections we are celebrating what makes you unique. We are all about the ‘make under’, rather than the makeover.
This issue of NADIA has a focus on new beginnings. What was it that set you on the path to a new beginning with Girl Undiscovered?
I was incredibly lucky to have been in business with my mother, Colyn Devereux Kay, for 15 years with Egg Maternity. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and could no longer work at Egg, it was the closing of a chapter for me.
As I had grown up in a household of strong, successful women who loved skincare, starting Girl Undiscovered was a natural progression for me. The beauty business is in my blood. I was also deeply blessed to have my childhood family friend Philly Gebbie move back to New Zealand when her own darling mother became sick. Here was the perfect
opportunity to form a company together. Philly’s amazing business expertise, our co-founder Sara Orme’s incredible work exploring femininity and beauty ideals and my love of creating is a winning combination that formed the ethos behind Girl Undiscovered.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from launching a business from the ground up?
When I launched my first business, The Devereux Boutique Hotel, I was only 24 and had the freedom and energy of youth on my side. If I had known what I was getting myself into I’m not sure I would’ve taken the plunge, so I am grateful for my naivety in a sense and very lucky that it became a success. This taught me that if you have a dream, anything is possible. Don’t over-think things and go with your gut instinct.
My next business, Egg Maternity, I hatched with my mother. It was definitely about planning as we grew very rapidly. We had 23 franchise stores and 60 stockists at one point, so growth was very strategic. Mum always said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” These are words that I still live by to this day.
Do you have mentors or other women in the industry whom you look to for inspiration and motivation?
Dr Rangimarie Turuki Arikirangi Rose Pere is hugely inspirational to me. She is a renowned Maori elder and orator who features in a thought-provoking documentary called Soul Places; she’s definitely a force of nature. Rose runs courses in traditional Maori healing and wellbeing that I am signing up for to discover more about our indigenous plants. I would love to incorporate more New Zealand flora into our skincare and learn about traditional Maori healing.
I have become a bit obsessed with reading beauty and wellbeing blogs and anything on holistic beauty. There is a wealth of knowledge out there. Emily Weiss from Glossier is definitely a woman I admire and she’s shaking up the beauty industry with her fresh approach.
At Girl Undiscovered, you work with a great team of women. What’s your advice for finding staff who suit your vibe from the outset?
We do have an amazing team of like-minded women at GU, all of whom came to us or we found through word of mouth. As Philly, Sara and I are very passionate about our brand, we don’t stop talking about it (which probably drives our families nuts) and putting the vibe out there. Tell your story, share your enthusiasm and the right person will find you.
Do you set goals for yourself personally and professionally and how do you do this?
I am very visual and like to create moodboards for inspiration. I am always looking for and reading about the latest in product innovation, but in saying that I am not so driven by trends. I believe we can create our own trends and become leaders in our industry.
On my wall I have these words from a product innovator who really inspires me:
> Set high goals and act on those goals.
> Embrace the power of possibility – be willing to create new categories or forms that have not yet been considered.
> Try new experiments.
> Turn fire into light. As innovators, we have to accept the
need for discourse; we have to challenge each other.
> Keep your eye on the horizon and your nose to the
grindstone. Be daring and formulate.
Where do you see both yourself and your business heading in the next couple of years?
We are soon to launch in the US, with plans to move into Europe within the next few years. I plan to continue indulging my love of travel as we look further afield, and to be able to visit our wonderful women’s collectives on a regular basis. I would love my family to be a part of my adventures, too. A health and beauty retreat in Myanmar would be a dream come true!