LM Woman #36 / Olivia Thorpe
Olivia Thorpe is the mastermind behind the brand Vanderohe. Launched in 2016 with a single face serum which quickly received a plethora of awards, Olivia meticulously crafts each formula herself ensuring her products are the perfect concoction. We recently sat down with Olivia and got talking about her bespoke brand and all the work behind it.
Before starting Vanderohe you founded an online beauty forum as a type of "anti-blog". How did this blog influence the brand you own today?
The blog was Vanderohe.com and I created it as a professional-led forum where I could open the doors onto brands and pros in the industry without any of the bias that comes with paid advertising and marketing. Everyone I spoke to was so willing to share so much of their experience and expertise that over the 4 years that I was doing it, I unwittingly amassed a detailed knowledge and understanding of the beauty industry. I was also testing products constantly and this, alongside everything I was learning, allowed me to really understand what constitutes an effective beauty product.
What about beauty resonates with you?
It has the power to change how someone feels about themselves; it can give someone confidence and make them happy. It can even save a relationship. And I've only really understood this since I launched Vanderohe and received countless messages from customers precisely along these lines.
Over the last 10 years, the beauty industry has taken off and new brands are continuously emerging, in 2016 Vanderohe launched with just one product - did you except the recognition and support you have received and why do you think it was successful?
I didn't expect even half the recognition and support we've received, especially during the first year in 2017 when we only had No.1 Nourishing Face Serum and yet it won 6 awards and was featured in every leading publication in the UK. However, I did (and do) feel confident always that if someone just tries the product, they will fall in love with it and will see an immediate improvement in their skin. I just didn't expect the product to reach that testing phase with editors who have mountains of samples on their desks!
Vanderohe donates a proportion of their profits from the best selling No.1 Nourishing Face Serum to Marine Savers who work towards conserving the Maldives - why did this cause speak to you?
I had seen their (hard) work firsthand and my husband and I had contributed to their reefscaping programme many years prior and seen how it had flourished. I didn't want to just cherry-pick a load of charities that meant nothing to me personally as it wouldn't provide the drive I feel from working towards donating to a cause I really truly care about.
Why do you choose to work with oils?
Because they saved my skin and healed it when no other cream or ointment could.
What is your favourite product?
No.1 Nourishing Face Serum. I can't imagine living without it now.
I understand you started using natural and organic products after being diagnosed with intolerances - do you think people without skin issues focus on using hypoallergenic ingredients?
I had already started switching to organic products because of my first pregnancy and breastfeeding, but the intolerances I suddenly developed in Singapore (when my first son was roughly 6 months old) certainly helped to cement that switch. I think that regardless of whether people have skin issues or not, we have been programmed into not reading a cosmetic label and that's where the problem lies. With all the fast-food products, pollution etc out there these days, I think that everyone needs anti-inflammatory ingredients, whether they're actively looking for them or not.
You created the recipe for your hero Face Serum - what was the process like to get to this formula and how involved are you with establishing new products?
I'm 100% involved in every Vanderohe product. I create the formula from start to finish and hand blend every single product myself. The thought of entrusting that process to someone else, or a lab, makes me feel very uneasy as I cannot imagine anyone - or any machine - to be as strict and precise as I am with the process. I was pregnant with my second child when I created the formula for No.1 Nourishing Face Serum and I had an extremely strong sense of smell. I had chosen 10 or so of the most anti-inflammatory plant oils and started blending them by following my nose. I arrived at the final formula because the scent was so incredible. I simply followed my instinct, based upon my research and I still believe Mother Nature somehow led me to the formula my body needed to be able to heal.
Are you planning on expanding the line?
Yes, we have lots of exciting things in the pipeline.
Your packaging has been created in collaboration with artists Lara Pilkington - what lead to this collaboration and not choosing the typical graphic design route?
Lara was my very best friend when I was a kid. I had lost touch with her and hadn't seen her for about 10-15 years when I formulated my first product, but by chance, I stumbled across her Instagram page and saw that she was a botanical artist (!), so I picked up the phone and explained what I was after. I couldn't imagine more perfect designs for my products.
How difficult is it juggling your business while looking after three little kids?
It's extremely difficult! I'm constantly exhausted, but I thrive off adrenaline (and caffeine!) and it seems to get me through ok. I absolutely love my kids and I hate being without them even for a second...and I love my job passionately, so when I feel really run down I just have to remind myself of both those things and then I feel grateful to be ABLE to juggle them alongside each other, as I know loads of mums would love to be able to work alongside raising their kids.
Do you have a daily uniform?
J Brands, American Vintage white tees and The Row cashmere. On repeat! I have some beautiful pieces in my wardrobe that never see the light of day...when I finally don't have food and muddy wellies being thrown at me, I might finally be able to wear them!
What is the most treasured piece in your wardrobe?
My red Hermès Birkin bag.
You currently live in London - where is your favourite place to eat?
The River Cafe. Always.