On Wednesday, August 7th, #CBAChamber team had the pleasure of sitting down with our newest member, Indigena Skincare.
Indigena Skincare is a unique brand that is setting the stage for a greener skincare revolution and challenging us to become familiar with the ingredients in the products we use.
In 2013, the brand was invited to the Golden Globes to be featured in their celebrity secret lounge and this year they have more exciting news!
Check out our interview with Indigena’s CEO, Lisa Walsh down below:
CBA Chamber Team: What made you want to get into natural skincare?
Lisa: My grandmother used to make tinctures, simple ones, and my mom was in the hospital a lot when I was young, so I used to stay with my grandmother and aunt. We used to make rose and clover tinctures. That was my first introduction to it (natural skincare). Then I got into hairdressing when I was 18 and loved it… like totally loved it.
I spent a lot of time between my 3 salons and then I started to get sick with bronchitis. I used to work a lot, so when I was working I could actually taste the hair colour in the back of my throat… and then I ended up getting a bout of bronchitis for 11 and a half months.
When I was 36, I went to a specialist and he told me I was going to have to get out of this profession… because by the time I turn 56 I’d be dead. That’s how dangerous it was.
So I said, “I must go into aesthetics.” I worked on nails and makeup for NTV, so I knew a little bit about that side. When I went into aesthetics, I started researching the ingredients in products because I also had really sensitive skin and I’ve always had acne. So when I started researching what is in products… it’s like nitroglycerin. It’s just shocking! With that, I decided I would start making my own.
CBA Chamber Team: How do you formulate your products? What are some of the key
ingredients you focus on using?
Lisa: When we first started, I knew that… you know… our weather is so bad here that there’s got
to be a beauty to our plants. There’s got to be something in our plants that’s not in other plants
because obviously, especially on the Avalon, plants get challenged all the time. They have this
adaptability to survive extreme changes in weather on a daily basis. I didn’t just want to make
the brand ‘clean’; I didn’t want to just be considered a “kitchen sink business.” I wanted there to
be some guts to this brand.
I think the science in your formulas is very important. So we hired Memorial University to find just what I was looking for. They tramped all over Newfoundland and they found 37 edible botanicals that they considered to be the best. Then we got a grant from the National Research Council and hired our first scientist. With that came our Muscle Recovery Balm, our first project.
When it’s your first time you really don’t know what you’redoing… you’re just taking baby steps. After finding out the great benefits of Labrador Tea and doing more research, the Labrador Night Cream became our second project. We then realized that obviously if we combine some of these botanicals in different ways, we’ll get different results. So we have an anti-aging blend that exponentially increases the ability of the product to fight free radical damage. So when you put on the Labrador Tea Night Cream, you know that there’s something different about it. Some of these botanicals we use are not used anywhere else in the world, such as Sweet Gale – which mainly grows here and on the Scottish Highlands.
CBA Chamber Team: What did the process of creating your first products look like?
Lisa: It’s basically trial and error. The Muscle Recovery Balm is my most crooked formula and sometimes you make it and it breaks… then you have to start over. Your ingredients have to be the same temperature, that’s the key, it has to be done in a room with no humidity. You can’t do it in a metal pan, you have to do it in a Pyrex bowl. It’s just simple stuff that you wouldn’t normally think of. It’s like making bread or a fancy recipe, that if you do one thing wrong it’s going off the rails, you know?
Though beautiful things happen when you’re not really paying attention too. I didn’t know how to make skincare but I knew how to make Eggs Benedict – the oil and water emulsion. The first batch of Muscle Recovery Balm that I did… it was heavy and greasy like a butter because I hadn’t tried the oil and water emulsion.
So I did the emulsion and I stuck it on the mixer and left it there and forgot about it for 3 hours! When I went back, the cream was after growing like a soufflé, it was so nice! I realized that this worked way better. Where the shea butter whipped so well, it meant that the ingredients were able to absorb better into your skin. It’s really all trial and error… and sometimes luck.
CBA Chamber Team: What elements can affect the outcome of a natural ingredient?
Lisa: Your textures of all your products change depending on the season. It’s hard to get consistency. All my pink roses didn’t bloom this year; all my white ones did, so I had to do all my formulas with white rose. Now that’s good because the formula’s not going to be tinted orange but the customers that got the product last year are going to wonder where that tint went. Nature gives you different gifts every year. Anyone using a natural product needs to know that there will be inconsistencies in the product and that’s not a bad thing.
The timing when an ingredient is harvested also affects the value of the product. If I pick my roses in August, I’m not going to get a very strong oil, so that’s the other side of it. If you’re foraging, you have to forage at the right time. If you’re picking seaweed, you have to go down to the water in March or April, froze to death, getting the little bubbles of seaweed because when you get the older stuff, all animals have lived on it and used it already. There’s lots of little things to learn and every year you learn something new.
CBA Chamber Team: What’s next for Indigena Skincare?
Lisa: We have exciting news as well. We are going to Toronto to TIFF this fall! We’ll be featured in the celebrity lounge. This year I thought, with everything going on with Come From Away becoming so big and Newfoundland being recognized, it’s time for me to do something in Canada. So TIFF is a great opportunity for us. We also did about 4 episodes of Entrepreneur NL that will be streaming on Rogers across the island.
CBA Chamber Team: Where can people find your products?
Lisa: We are all over Atlantic Canada. We are in over 80 Sobeys stores and a few PharmaSaves and one PharmaChoice. We are in Whink and Needs across the island. We are in Foodland down in Torbay… you’ll find us in a lot more Foodlands this year. We have different products in many different places.
Indigena is looking to continue to find greener ways to offer their skincare and are looking to expand to a retail storefront in the future. We want to thank Indigena for this wonderful interview and for being a part of the Chamber. The #CBAChamber team is very excited to see what’s in store for their brand!