The beauty and wellbeing industry is ever-evolving. New miracle serums pop up every week promising to turn back the clock ten years in ten minutes, and it can be a little tricky choosing between good beauty and good marketing. It isn't easy to fight the urge of ageing naturally either when every second advertisement swears that 'looking younger' is the secret to happiness.
'Good beauty' is not about boycotting beauty products altogether, but rather, using natural beauty products made with safe botanical ingredients.
Bec Johnson agrees, and instead of turning to nasty chemicals for a quick beauty fix, she takes her inspiration from Mother Nature. Bec is the founder of earthYARD and a single origin oils expert, and through earthYARD, she encourages beauty-lovers to use essential oils instead of mystery elixirs.
From calming and comforting multi-use blends to heavenly hair masks and soothing skin-savers, earthYARD's range embodies pure beauty and encourages the humble practice of 'home-making' too.
Bec stepped away from the busy-ness of running her own business to chat all things botanical beauty, health and wellness...
How did the idea for earthYARD come about?
When I was a little tyke, my grandmother gave me an old perfume bottle, you know the ones that have a round hand pump attached by cord that you squeeze to create a mist? It had a gold atomiser and a blush glow mesh pump with a tassel on the end. It felt very 'old Hollywood' to use it. I would fill it up with water and stuff it full of flowers and leaves that I had picked from her garden. I guess this was my first dance with botanical resources.
I grew up around farms; my father has a deep connection from childhood with agriculture having spent his school holidays working on his uncle’s sheep farm. I remember exploring old homestead ruins as a child, and that smell of wheat and dust is still so vivid. The farms I grew up on were in the throngs of drought for much of my childhood and stories of ‘doing it tough’ were common at the dinner table.
Many years later, I was working with my father on his new legacy company, Native Oils Australia, which encourages farmers to diversify their incomes by helping them to establish cropping for essential oil production. We were coming into contact with so many fantastic oils being produced right here in Australia and also around the world, and these oils were becoming vital economic resources for small farming communities. Together launched earthYARD to introduce these oils to the world and show just how important these products were for farmers and for people like you and me.
The earthYARD anthem is about honesty, community and smell-ability. Why are these values so important to you?
Imagine you’ve got a bunch of friends coming over for dinner and you’ve slaved away for hours creating masterpieces for everyone to delight in. You’ve purchased the real vanilla instead of the imitation vanilla for the dessert, you’ve probably spent more than you should have but it’s worth it because every mouthful is appreciated. Smells of home cooking fill the air, laughs are had, and everyone goes home satisfied.
To us, these farmers have poured their hearts, money and energy into producing their pure essential oils and they deserve the credit of not having their product messed with. You can smell it when something is synthetic, and unfortunately, there is a lot of that floating around out there. Big businesses need to be able to cut costs and increase profits in struggling economies, we understand that, but what that does is flood the market with false expectations as to what is available and for what price. It means the farmer who actually needs to make enough money to feed their families has to compete with these deflated prices. At earthYARD, we prefer that our money is spent rewarding the efforts of the farmer and not big business.
There is another side to this anthem and that’s for our customers. We’re open about where were get our oils from, right down to the region. We’re also open about explaining the sciencey stuff that comes with essential oils, and it’s through this that we have a wonderful sense of community with our customers. We love sharing information, ideas, and recipes, and encouraging our customers in their individual journeys with natural products.
Why are you so passionate about natural remedies and turning to the Earth for wellness solutions?
This world of ours is a magical place. Who’d think when looking at the leaves of a gum tree, that what is inside the leaf could calm a cold, heal a sore or change a bad mood into a good one? By harvesting these trees and flowers for their remedial bounties, we encourage regeneration, which is crucial to maintaining habitats and localised climates. It’s a win-win. And we can harness these solutions so simply and delicately too.
I’ve always been sensitive to chemicals and toxins, especially those emitted from technologies. I used to work in media and I worked long hours, multiple screens, devices, you name it. And then I’d come home to more technology, cheap chemical-filled cleaning products and heat-and-eat processed foods. I started to get headaches daily – I still get them today though not as often. I realised that I needed to shift my focus towards finding natural alternatives in my daily life to create balance. I believe it will be a life-long endeavour to become completely toxin-free and explore all the possibilities nature can provide, and that’s why the ideas generated by our customers are so important. Every one of our customers has a differing approach to natural remedies, be it for skin, hair, home or otherwise, and that’s an important place to start.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced growing earthYARD?
I think learning to let go a little and relinquish control over some of the everyday aspects of the business is hard for any business owner. I still jump on the warehouse floor and pack orders from time to time though.
The other challenge I think that every business is facing these days is how to respond and evolve practically with the zero-waste movement. Packaging and shipping oils is a difficult game and there are some great initiatives out there that are still being tested. We have a long way to go, but with a little elbow grease and a lot of passion, we’ll get there.
How do we know which essential oils and native plant products are the best quality?
Every batch is different, and I’m not saying that to be blasé about it. Every time an oil is produced, the outcome is different. It might be aromatically, physically (appearance and colour) and there are so many factors that may impact the end result, such as origin, climate, rainfall, distillation temperature and time. It may be very close, but it won’t be 100% the same as before.
As a consumer, ask for information. If an oil is pure, it will show in the data. You should be able to have an open conversation with whomever you’re buying from and be able to ask for origin and analytical data. If you don’t know what to look for, ask around, speak to aromatherapists, or get in contact with brands.
Perceptions of quality can change from company to company, and also from consumer to consumer. What’s considered 'high quality' to one customer may be different to the next. At earthYARD, we make sure that we have as much information available as we can to answer as many different questions possible.
You’ve just passed the four-year milestone. Happy birthday! What would you go back and tell your 2015-self?
Oh, thank you! I can’t believe it’s been four years. I’d probably tell my 2015-self that it’s okay to slow down and take your time. Nothing is going to go horribly wrong if you decide to take a day off every now and again to re-charge. I’d also encourage myself to take risks and not be shy about speaking out about what I believe to be important.
What’s your favourite oil blend?
I have so many favourites and they’re all suited to different purposes but if I had to pick one, I’d choose Warrior. The wood and herb blend created by our Master Blender, Kim, just picks me back up. I mixed a couple of drops into our base cream and it just works a treat to remind me that I can take on whatever lays in front of me.
If you could time travel, where would you go and what would you do?
That’s a tough one with so many possibilities. I’d like to go back to those days as a child when I would visit farms with my Dad and push the play button on what we’re doing today a little earlier. New plantations can take up to three years to be mature enough to harvest, and Sandalwood can take up to 15 years. The demand for natural products is growing so rapidly, especially Australian origin products. If we had established a few more crops prior to the current drought, some of our Aussie farmers might be feeling a little more comfortable. If I could tie that in with being in the crowd for the 1985 Live Aid benefit concert at London Wembley, I’d be pretty darn happy.
Head to earthyard.com.au to discover natural Australian essential oil blends and stay tuned for our next earthYARD home-made how-to guide.
The Fashion Advocate x