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Nourished Life founder Irene Falcone on why choosing natural skincare products is so important for your health and beauty, and for the environment.

What was your initial inspiration? I started Nourished Life as a blog after I switched to natural, toxin-free products but couldn’t find everything I wanted all in the one place, which really frustrated me. I kept double-checking ingredients lists and researching what was safe and what to avoid; eventually, I realised other people had the same problem, in terms of trying to wade through all the information - so I decided to stock the good stuff myself, and turned the blog into a business.

Why is it important to eliminate chemicals from personal care products? I just don’t believe we need them when there are so many natural options available. Think about just how many products we use on ourselves and our children every day, and how people might not look at the ingredients - it puts things into perspective. When I started researching products, I found that the lotions and make-up I was putting on my body were packed with really questionable ingredients. I actually stopped wearing make-up altogether while I was researching brands and finding alternatives, and my skin and general health really improved, because I wasn’t weighing my body down with heavy, artificial products. Natural and organic skincare and haircare is also better for the environment, because there are no synthetic ingredients going down the drain and into waterways, and many brands have moved to reusable and recyclable bottles to minimise waste. My kids have grown up with me reminding them that they can only use certain bubble baths or shampoos because they have allergies that we have to consider, so they understand the importance of natural products - I really like that I’ve passed that onto them.

What has been your biggest challenge? Building a business from scratch has been difficult - it's taken years of hard work to build Nourished Life up to what it is today. There have been many sleepless nights, especially in the beginning when it was just me and my mum doing absolutely everything, from packing orders to answering customer emails. Pushing through that difficult stage to get to the point where it became a successful business and I could start putting together a team to help me make it even bigger was hard, but I'm glad I stuck it out because I’m proud of what it’s become.

What are your founding principles? Nourished Life was built around a very strict ingredients policy, and from day one we have been committed to stocking only the best Cruelty Free natural and organic health and beauty brands and finding the best eco-friendly alternatives to replace the things we use every day: whether it’s make-up, shampoo, lunch-boxes, or sunscreen, we've found a natural or sustainable alternative, and in some cases, we've even created it ourselves. I don’t compromise on any of our banned ingredients. It’s what I call true transparency - it’s a consistent philosophy and it will always be a core element of the business.

What has been your proudest achievement? Watching the business grow into something bigger than just me. It’s been amazing to see the growth of my team and their commitment to the company. We have started to develop our own range under the Life Basics brand, which aims to make essential everyday natural products available to everyone at a much lower price point, and we’re hoping to expand this more in the future. I’m also proud of the positive impact we’re having on the industry by working with suppliers to reformulate products wherever possible and minimise unnecessary packaging waste, which is something that both Nourished Life and our customers really care about.

What's the most rewarding aspect of running Nourished Life? I love hearing customers’ feedback and it’s what has kept me going. Hearing people say that they love what our store stands for and that they’ve recommended us to their friends and family always reminds me that what I’m doing is important and that it can affect people’s lives in a positive way. I love it when customers say that they were able to find the perfect mascara or that their new eco-friendly cleaning spray works better than the mainstream stuff; I will never get tired of hearing those stories and seeing how excited people get.

Your top three favourite natural skincare ingredients? That’s tough, because there are so many! Aloe vera, because it’s so soothing and hydrating and is great in anything from shampoo to body lotion; I also love shea butter, which is great for sensitive skin and calming irritation. Green tea is calming in moisturisers and sunscreens, plus it’s rich in refreshing antioxidants. A brand new favourite ingredient of mine though, is cacay oil which is even more concentrated and vitamin-rich than argan or rosehip oil, and you can use it all over the body from your hair to your nails. It’s sourced from the Amazon and it’s so gentle, but it’s also potent enough to fade scarring and brighten skin. I have had amazing feedback on it so far!

Discover Irene's world of organic and sustainable products at https://www.nourishedlife.com.au/!