What was the tipping point for you both when you realised together you could run a business and drive change in the industry?
Dominika: Having our book published was a real tipping point for us. The process of publication went to a six-way auction in the end which was a total pinch-me moment and we decided to go ahead with Penguin Random House as our publisher. Having that many established publishers take an interest in what we were doing made us realise that there was definitely a potential business idea in what was then Clean Beauty Co. They were validation that a very traditional industry like beauty was due for a shakeup and it inspired us to be the duo to do it!
Elsie: We also used to run DIY beauty workshops back in the day where we hosted a room full of beauty enthusiasts and taught them how to make things like body scrubs. Having that community, even if it was small at that point, was a real validation that we were onto something. Everyone we taught was passionate about natural, sustainable beauty and made us realise there was an appetite for the change that we wanted to create.
How does being a female founder feel? Are there any pros and cons?
Elsie: It feels exhilarating and bloody exciting! It’s amazing to know that we are changing those female diversity stats, and pushing for change among the business leaders of the world. I truly believe that things are progressing and we are among a wave of female leaders paving the way for so many more to come. It’s so great to be a part of that.
At times being a female founder can feel daunting, that’s probably not exclusive to being female though I think founders of all genders regularly feel terrified! We are so lucky to have each other as co-founders, having two of us means that there are rarely occasions when our voices aren’t heard, no matter who we’re talking to. Personally, I find having Dominika at my side gives me the confidence in situations that perhaps being a sole female founder might feel more daunting.
Who are the women that inspired you to start your BYBI journey?
Dominika: My mum has to get a shoutout here! She is the OG DIY beauty queen and I grew up around her experimenting with natural beauty ingredients and recipes. We relied on her expertise when we first started; we’d send her recipes to get her thoughts or suggestions. She was the one who found Pequi oil which is what gives Babe Balm it’s lovely smell!
Elsie: Definitely my mum too but I’m also really lucky to be surrounded by a group of strong female friends who have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. From attending our early workshops to buying the book and endless recipe testing, their positivity and enthusiasm from the very beginning was what I needed to have the confidence to start.
Are there any women you know you can turn to for professional advice?
Dominika: When we started out we were super conscious of the fact that we didn’t have direct experience in the beauty industry so set out to surround ourselves by experts who could help fill our knowledge gaps. Most of these experts are female and have developed into mentor figures for us who are calm, collected and highly knowledgeable voices when we’re making business decisions or having a bit of a freakout!
How does it feel to work with and lead a 100% female team?
Elsie: Neither of us have worked in an all-female environment in our past jobs so having only women in our office definitely feels different! Without being too cliched or generalist here, having a 100% female team has led to an open, honest and truly collaborative environment - everyone is comfortable and confident to voice ideas and opinions. The whole team is passionate and driven, there’s a real sense of working towards a shared goal and everyone is willing to jump in to support their teammates at any point.
Do you think women have any business superpowers?
Dominika: The women in business that I’ve met all benefit from great emotional intelligence as well as business acumen, which is a superpower in my eyes as it means we’re able to read rooms and situations.
Elsie: As cliched as it is, multitasking is a superpower in my book and women tend to be pretty good at it! Running a business means juggling a hundred different things at once so multitasking effectively is crucial. Our mind-reading skills are also pretty special ;)