Draft: Meet the Maker" Melanie @ White Rabbit

I love White Rabbit Skincare and I have my Mum to thank for that! Three years ago I was given a mini bundle for Christmas from my Mum as she was so happy to have found a vegan brand, made by a passionate vegan and she knew my love for plastic free items. So, when I opened my store, they were top of my list to stock as I've been using and loving Melanie's products for over two years!
White Rabbit Skincare is made by hand in small quantities by Melanie and her small team. So let's get stuck straight in and hear from Melanie...
 
Skincare Quickfire Questions
Favourite essential oil Sweet orange essential oil. It smells AMAZING, but also has so many amazing properties, such as inflammation relief, prevents infection and aids depression.
Favourite skincare ingredient Jojoba oil. It is very similar to the skin’s own oils so is very compatible and easily absorbed, as well as being ultra hydrating.
Your one White Rabbit product you couldn’t live without Our lime and coconut cleansing water. It is a 2-in-1 makeup remover and cleanser, and can be used on all skin types, on face, eyes and lips to remove all types of makeup, including waterproof!
Bust a skincare myth Oily/combination skin types can’t (or shouldn’t) use oil/serums, when in actual fact oil is AMAZING for all skin types. Think of it as using Like with Like. If you try and strip your skin of oil, it will produce more, and so on.
 
Your Skincare Routine
Sunday self care routine Lime & coconut cleansing water to remove any makeup and daily grime. If makeup has been worn, then follow up with comfort cleansing balm accompanied by a facial massage and then removed with a hand-hot flannel. Apply glycolic cleanser and leave for 3-5 mins for ultra smooth, glowly skin. Remove and then wipe over skin with orange and aloe toner Eye cream, serum and then – if skin is feeling dry that day – moisturiser. I love our rosehip & camellia cream.
 
Top Low Waste Hacks
Reducing waste at home
  • Make a meal plan at the beginning of the week. If you know what you’re making and when, you can ensure you have the right ingredients and won’t buy anything simply for the sake of it, which can go to waste. Similarly, ‘meal prep’ lunches or batch cook dinners, and package them in reusable containers.
  • Cancel unnecessary mail: bank statements for example can now be viewed online.
  • We have become a throw away society, so to counter this try and learn to repair, rather than disregard.
Travelling
  • Take a reusable coffee cup and water bottle with you. Most places will fill up your water bottle for free, and many coffee shops give you a discount for using a reusable mug.
  • Don’t forget your reusable bags either!
  • Say no to disposable straws and/or cutlery – and ideally bring your own
  • When in hotels, rather than half-use the toiletries provided (which tend to be thrown away afterwards), leave alone (and they can be given to the next guest) and bring your own in refillable bottles.
  • Also consider bringing a bar soap/shampoo/conditioner which cuts out even more packaging!
  • Where possible, shop at local markets rather than supermarkets, which cuts out excess, unnecessary plastic packaging.
 
Business related questions
Can you give us an insight into why you created White Rabbit and what was your very first product? I always say I’m a bit of an ‘inadvertant entrepreneur’, as I never really set out to start my own business! Whilst at university I was diagnosed with the skin condition psoriasis (which in my case is hereditary and also stress-induced) and after doing my research into steroid creams and the other products often prescribed by doctors (and quite frankly being horrified by the effects) I decided to start using more natural solutions. My Mum bought me a ‘make your own skincare’ book, and I was soon experimenting with different formulations in my tiny kitchen at home. Interest in what I was doing started to grow, and so I officially launched White Rabbit in April 2014, with my very first product being our Comfort Cleansing Balm – which we still sell today!
How have you found starting a business and what have been your biggest struggles? Having your own business is both the best and hardest thing I have ever done! Every day is completely different with it’s own set of challenges, but conversely nothing beats knowing you have created something of your own, which is actually helping people. One quote I’ve screen shot is ‘pull over to the side of your journey and look how far you’ve come’
 
I’d say my biggest struggles have been (and are):
  • Imposter syndrome/Feeling like you aren’t good enough
  • Practical business problems, like cash flow!
  • Trying to be a jack of all trades, when generally it is physically impossible. I have recently been delegating/outsourcing a lot of tasks, and it has made SUCH a difference. It helps prevent burnout too, which is a major problem for small business owners
Running a business that puts sustainability at it’s heart is harder than most, why is this important to you? The concept of sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. At its core, it's an approach to balancing different, and quite often competing, needs against the awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations businesses face. Put more simply, it's about managing People, Planet and Profit, and I think we all need to do our bit to make a real difference.
 
What considerations/steps do you take - i.e. packaging/ sourcing materials/ certification etc? We are registered with The Vegan Society, cruelty free certified by PETA, and endorsed by Naturewatch, and in the midst of applying for three further (globally recognized) certifications. We work closely with independent, UK based suppliers, and source/use packaging for our products that is as plastic free as possible.
 
Any struggles to stay sustainable? The attitudes of some bigger companies are incredible. We attended a packaging event earlier on in the year thinking we would come away with loads of contacts for companies who can produce plastic free packaging, but the attitude towards plastic was that ‘it’s just the way it is’ - I think because it is a such a cheap, high volume, easily shifted resource. So sometimes I get a bit frustrated because I think these companies have the opportunity to make real change, but don’t.
 
Do you have any further improvement you are working on? One of our biggest goals is to be come the first 100% plastic (and ideally waste) free skincare brand in the UK (and eventually beyond!). It is a project we have been working on for some time, and will hopefully come to fruition this year…watch this space!
 
Although customers are fully on board with reducing packaging and non-recyclable waste, it’s much harder up the supply chain. Can you briefly share how this works at White Rabbit from supplier packaging to sourcing ingredients and your own packaging? We tend to work with the same suppliers, and have done for some time, and we’ve been quite vocal that if packaging or ingredients arrive completely packed in plastic or unnecessary ingredients, we tell them. That’s not to say that it has completely solved the problem, but one of our suppliers no longer sends our aluminium jars in individual plastic bags (which were then wrapped in more plastic!), and if we ever get bubble wrap or similar we will reuse it pack out some of our boxes – or donate it to friends/family for their own boxes! It is very frustrating that plastic packaging is still being used in the supply chain, when there are so many other eco-friendly alternatives available, such as starch packing peanuts, or even rolls of paper packing.
 
When sending out our own orders, we use recycled material postage boxes (and for bigger orders we re-use boxes from our suppliers), packed out with paper and starch packing peanuts, and then seal the order with paper tape.
 
I’m really interested in what your day looks like. When did you take the leap to working at White Rabbit full time and how do you structure your day? I feel like the universe decided for me! I was still working full time 3 years after launching White Rabbit Skincare, and was always waiting for ‘the right time.’ But I was let go from my last job in December 2016, and so decided to focus on White Rabbit – and the rest is history!
 
A typical day for me looks like:
06:30am: get up, feed the animals (we have a cat and a dog), make a cup of tea and breakfast. I’m trying to develop more of a ‘me-focused’ morning routine, so try to do some reading, journaling etc before I leave the house.
08:30am: head to the unit and get set up before Paul, our Head of Operations, arrives in at 9am and we have an update/set out a plan for the day.
9am until lunchtime around 1pm: ‘reactive’ daily tasks such as responding to emails, ordering supplies, talking to stockists.
Afternoon: ‘proactive’, developmental tasks (working ‘on’ the business, instead of ‘in’ it!)
Half 5: head to the gym
Evenings: check/respond to emails, do some computer-based work if required – and try to get an early night!
 
Alongside caring for the planet, all of your ingredients are natural and vegan. Why is this important to you? First and foremost I’m vegan, so it would be a tad contradictory for me to be vegan but my products not to be! By following a vegan lifestyle, and also my company being effectively vegan, we are contributing less air pollution and putting less stress on our natural resources. The benefits of plant derived ingredients are incredible, and we are on a mission at White Rabbit Skincare to encourage consumers to be more conscious and aware of the products they are using. We are one of millions of species on this earth, and it doesn’t belong to any of us. As humans we have the obligation to look after our planet (although right now we are generally doing the opposite) and I am deeply passionate about contributing to leaving the earth in a better state than when I arrived.
 
We’re all bout celebrating success at The Kind Store. We’d love to hear some of your favourite milestones and achievements reached since you started White Rabbit. There has been so many – including being asked to do this interview! Every day I have ‘pinch me’ moments because I can’t believe I’m actually running my own business. But I’d have to say things like Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch raving about our products on her instagram, or being invited to Prince Charles’ birthday celebrations at Buckingham Palace, or when our products win Industry awards are pretty amazing ☺
 
And finally, what does the word ‘Kind’ mean to you? To be generous, unselfish, considerate.
 
I've loved hearing from Melanie and it really puts a personality behind the brand. I hope you're enjoying our interview series. Let me know if there is another brand you want to hear from!
 
Tash x

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