Draft: Meet the Maker Viola @ Lani

I am super excited to be stocking the tropical scented skincare range, handmade by Viola, founder of Lani. I love supporting Viola and her brand, as like The Kind Store, they support support animal sanctuaries and are a true vegan brand for the animals. I definitely recommend following Lani on Instagram for a mix of skincare and vegan activism.
Now here is where I wish you could smell through the screen. Every single product bursts with tropical scents and smells so so good!! You'll look forward to using each product, they smell good enough to eat. My favourite is the blue mint cleansing powder which smells like a mint oat mylkshake (!!) plus it's a water free cleanser too so even better for the environment.
 
Water free products are super concentrated meaning not only do you get more product for your money, but by removing water there are less emissions associated with the transport of the product due it's weight and size and with the predicted scarcity of fresh water, water isn't being used in the manufacturing process.
 
So let's jump straight in and here from Viola.
Quick fire questions
Favourite essential oil and why I’d have to choose two: Lemon and Peppermint. Both are super refreshing and incredibly versatile.
Favourite skincare ingredient and why Jojoba oil (technically a wax), which I use in nearly all my product formulations.
Your one Lani product you couldn’t live without The Tropical Hair Treatment. Nothing works better on my hair and in a pinch it can used as a body oil too.
Bust a skincare myth You often read it’s important to not apply products to let skin ‘breathe’. However skin doesn’t actually breathe; that being said it’s still very good to give your face a break from using products & heavier make-up.
Your travel essentials I try to travel light but always take with me: A bottle of Blue Mint Cleaning Powder (perfect for travel since it’s a powder) and the Super Serum. I also use a daily SPF and I keep my make up very minimal. I usually only use a little concealer, some mascara and some cream blush.
Zero Waste Hacks.
Grocery shopping My top tip is to do the majority of your food shop in the grocery aisle. That way you can pick loose fruit and veg, plus you’ll know the meals you’ll be eating will be healthy.
Parenting I mainly use cloth nappies and reusable wipes for my daughter, both of which are truly amazing. I’m not perfect though so sometimes do use disposable wipes however I will always search, and happily pay for, more eco friendly alternatives. The wipes I use when we’re out and about are 100% biodegradable. It’s amazing to see so many companies working hard to offer sustainable options.
 
Now we're onto the juicy business related questions. We can't wait to hear all about Lani.
 
Can you give us an insight into why you created Lani and what was your very first product? My interest in setting up a vegan, cruelty free beauty brand started after I went vegan in 2013. I found that most of my products that I used daily, were neither vegan, cruelty-free or made with ingredients I couldn't even pronounce. I wanted simple, affordable, cruelty-free products that smell and feel amazing, and really work so I set out to make my own. I have always loved the simplicity and efficacy of natural cold-pressed oils, and spent a year researching, playing, testing and trialing before I was happy with my first product: The Tropical Hair Treatment. It’s the product I launched the brand with in 2014 and has become a global bestseller.
 
 
How have you found starting a business and what have been your biggest struggles? The biggest struggle for me is to not feel overwhelmed with the many responsibilities that come with running your own business, especially since time for running Lani is very limited since having my daughter in 2017. On the days when my daughter goes to her childminder I work nonstop on Lani but on the days when she’s with me she gets my full attention and spending time with her is my absolute priority. I run the business by my own (with some help from my partner), that means, I create formulas for all the products, I make the products, I pack customer and wholesale orders, I source ingredients. I deal with customer e-mails and suppliers, I run the social media channels, the list goes on. I’m at the point where I will be outsourcing help for packing orders to help with the workload.
 
Running a business that puts sustainability at it’s heart is harder than most, why is this important to you? We are at a critical time in the history of our planet. Time is running out and I think it is time for companies to prioritise our long-term future over financial gain.
 
What considerations/steps do you take - i.e. packaging/sourcing materials/certification etc. I always knew I wanted the products to be 100% vegan, natural and cruelty-free. The range is also partially organic so I’ve chosen the suppliers very carefully and work closely with them to ensure the ingredients continue to meet my standards. I’ve also been working with the same packaging manufactures for years now and they are a very conscious company.
Any struggles? It can be frustrating when the eco friendly options are proving more costly than they’re not so eco friendly counterparts. This is of course to be expected but as a a relatively small business these costs can add up quickly. Hopefully with the awareness of the need for eco friendly materials the costs will go down once the demand goes up.
 
Can you tell us what improvements are you working on? I’m looking to reduce or remove the minimal plastic that I currently use on the products and packaging. The tape on the outer boxes will be switched to biodegradable tape and the shives I use in the jars will either be replaced by cardboard shives or I will stop using them all together soon.
 
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 Lani from supplier packaging to sourcing ingredients and your own packaging. I have been using the same suppliers for years now. Meaning they know my preferences when I place an order with them. For example I usually request larger canisters of oils instead of many smaller ones which cuts down on plastic usage. Many of the void fill packaging that is used to pack orders has now been replaced by eco friendly paper void fill and I will always reuse the packaging and boxes where possible. I have huge boxes full of void fill that then gets used for when I’m packing wholesale orders. I used to buy bubble wrap years ago but there really is no need for it anymore. The glass jars and bottles come in boxes and are separated by recycled paper strips. (They get shipped in pallets so there is a very minimal risk of breaking.)
 
I’m actually really interested in what your day looks like. When did you take the leap to working full time on Lani and how do you structure your day? I was working full time as a Marketing Manager when I decided to start my own business. I took the leap to run it full time after running it alongside my other job after about one year. My daughter goes to her childminder three days a week and an average work day looks something like this… We get up around 6am (sometimes 5am) and have breakfast together and play a little before I drop her off at her childminder. As soon as I’m home I’ll fit in a workout followed by a shower. I’m always at my desk before 9am and will catch up on e-mails first thing.
 
Depending on what day it is I’ll be packing orders which usually takes up a big chunk of the day. I pick my daughter up at 5pm and we’ll spend time together playing and reading books before I take her to bed. My partner and I have dinner together and I’ll then spend the rest of the evening on the laptop working on Lani.( I’m currently working on new product formulations and I’m very excited to grow the range further this year.) When you work for yourself work never stops so every weekend I head to my manufacturing facility to make new products whilst my partner looks after our daughter. I hand fill every single bottle and jar, I must say I have gotten pretty quick and efficient at doing them 😊 My partner also has his own business so we’re used to working in the evenings and on the weekends.
 
Alongside caring for the planet, all of your ingredients are natural and vegan. Why is this important to you? Beauty shouldn’t hurt you, our fellow earthlings or the planet so it’s important to me that all of our ingredients are natural, vegan and cruelty free. Buying cruelty-free and vegan will not only spare innocent animals, it’ll also help the planet since facilities that engage in animal testing dispose of potentially dangerous chemicals, waste, and other by-products of their testing processes into the land and sea. When we empower ourselves with the knowledge of where things originate from, we empower ourselves to make kinder, and more positive choices.
 
I also donate a percentage of profits to animal charities, so every bottle makes a difference. (In 2019 I will be donating to 11 different charities)
We’re all about celebrating success at The Kind Store. We’d love to hear some of your favourite milestones and achievements reached since you started Lani. Winning the ‘Real Beauty Natural and Wellbeing Award’ for the Super Serum last year was an incredibly exciting moment for me. I’d also say getting feedback from customers about how much they love using Lani products and the results they’ve had using them is super exciting to me as well as customers thanking me for using Lani as a platform to raise awareness for animal rights and highlight the reality of animal exploitation
 
And finally, what does the word ‘Kind’ mean to you?
Being kind to me means making better choices, especially when we know better, and to treat others how you want to be treated, and this for me applies to all sentient beings.
 
I hope you've enjoyed finding more information out about Viola and Lani. We just love that the brand was created after Viola turned vegan and couldn't find anything that was ok to use, so decided to make her own!
 
What brand do you want to see next?
 
Tash x

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