[7 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday everyone! As we enter into the final weekend of July (WE KNOW!), we have been reflecting a lot about the first half of this crazy year and what it has taught us. While it has been an incredibly tough year for most so far, 2020 has forced us to recognise the importance of taking care of ourselves, both physically and mentally.
This week we are delighted to have been able to pick the brain of Marishka Dunlop, the founder of Life Armour. Life Armour is a new business specialising in 100% natural nutrition, primarily supplements and drops, to help you on your way to achieving your best self.
Below, Marishka talks to us about her background, the importance of prioritisation and how it feels to be featured in Vogue. You’re not going to want to miss this one so just keep reading!
Morning Marishka! Could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you today?
I am half Indian, and also spent the early part of my childhood living in Zambia and the USA. This has instilled in me a love of different cultures and social networks and encouraged me as a child to adapt quickly to new surroundings. Both of my parents ran their own businesses, as did the family on my dad’s side. So I guess you could say the entrepreneurial gene has been passed down to me through the generations.
It definitely sounds that way! So, how and when did you get started in the beauty industry?
After leaving university I started my career at a large well-known consumer business where I worked across UK Marketing and Sales. I then moved into Global Skincare Development at another well-known global beauty giant and it was here I found my passion for developing innovation; working from an idea to product development with the labs, through to executing launches. I even got to make the lip glosses for my wedding guest gifts in the lab, with the make-up team at the time!
My final corporate role was leading Skin Health Innovation for another big corporation on more specialised skin concerns. Throughout my career, I have always got a sense of joy from seeing products I have developed improve people’s wellbeing. From making bath time a joy for babies with eczema-prone skin, to instilling a renewed confidence in women when they are complimented on their glowing skin.
"As a start up you are pulled in many directions and it's important to prioritise, although that’s often easier said than done."
That is wonderful! When did you decide to start up Life Armour and why? Was the timing important?
Life Armour was born out of seeing how the stress epidemic we live in can have such a detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing. Everyone talks about how stress can impact your mental health but there is less of a discussion surrounding the effect of stress on our physical health and wellbeing. From working mums like myself to others who feel pressure from life for different reasons; it seems everyone has their thing to deal with. When I looked at different supplements on the market to support my wellbeing I found it to be a minefield to shop; not only because I could not pronounce what was on the pack, but I also had no idea what those ingredients did. The more I researched I found that quality was not always guaranteed. I was also extremely surprised by all the fillers and binders used in these products that we ingest. I thought that people deserved better! It was a whirlwind 7 months to get to launch. Little did I realise that soon after launch we would all be navigating a global pandemic that has seen stress and anxiety levels sore...
What unbelievable timing! We are really interested in how sustainability factors into each of the businesses we work with. Would you say that Life Armour is sustainability-minded?
Sustainability is a key foundation of Life Armour and something consumers actively ask me about (after the ingredients, of course!) We work with reputable manufacturers who source ethically and sustainably and we consider the packaging we use. Our capsules could have been packaged in amber glass jars, but we spent more time to develop packaging that is 100% recyclable and has a lower carbon footprint.
Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their supplements/wellbeing products nowadays? If so, why?
Absolutely! I am often asked about the ingredients in our formulations. Many times, our consumers will have heard of some of them, but not all. We have found that some people may go away and do more research before buying. People want to make their own decisions and seek advice from other expert sources before making an informed decision. That is why we work with so many nutritionists to support people getting the products that will best meet their needs.
That level of thought and customisation is paramount to meeting consumer needs, I feel. What were your biggest challenges in starting up Life Armour?
As a start-up, you are pulled in many directions and it's important to prioritise, although that’s often easier said than done. I find that I can spread myself quite thin sometimes, trying to do it all. I am so passionate about what I am doing that I want the products to reach as many people as possible and to make a positive impact on them.
Personally, the hardest thing has been losing my “work wife” and one of my closest friends who was supposed to be a big part of this journey. Alix was there to support me through getting the brand to market, however, she tragically lost her battle with breast cancer a month after we launched. She is still my go-to to share our wins with when they happen.
That is so tragic. I am so sorry for your loss! Would you say that your work/life balance is something you need to work on?
Absolutely, but we are in the first year of our business so there is a lot to do in terms of getting the brand off the ground. In all honesty though, I love it! I also have the flexibility to make choices like going for a run in the middle of the day or grabbing lunch with a friend to make sure I am “connected” with other people.
Those little things can make all the difference to your mental wellbeing! I also think those luxuries are what people are enjoying so much about working from home right now! What strategies do you think have been key to the success of your business?
As the Founder of Life Armour, connecting with consumers and understanding what they like and want more of has been invaluable.
I bet! So, what is your favourite thing about your job?
I love making a positive impact on people’s lives! I feel a huge amount of joy from reading the reviews we receive.
That is lovely! And which is your favourite supplement that you’ve ever created?
It’s hard to pick one in all honesty. I have two favourites; ‘Super Me’, which is to build resilience for stress and ‘Drops of Balance’, which is our tincture that helps to calm in moments of chaos. I never expected it to be the hit it is.
That is brilliant! So what do you think makes Life Armour stand out?
Efficacious formulations, and a distinct look and feel. We were working from the idea that people often say that they forget to take their supplements, but if they are on display- as a reminder- it makes it easier. A distinct look speaks a language consumers can easily understand!
"We were featured in Vogue four months after launch, alongside iconic brands like Drunk Elephant. That was pretty incredible!"
I completely agree... and I am definitely guilty of forgetting to take my supplements when they aren’t in front of me. Describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment.
We were featured in Vogue four months after launch, alongside iconic brands like Drunk Elephant. That was pretty incredible! We were then independently nominated by Vogue for the Best in Wellness category at the Beauty Awards.
A Vogue feature is such a huge moment for any business! Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
I spend the first part of my day getting my two girls ready for nursery and school. After this, I either head to meetings or back home to work at my office. The days tend to fly by so quickly! There are so many things to do; from customer orders to social media management to speaking with retailers.
I try to fit in a run by the river or a HIIT class at least twice a week. I feel I should do more of this but currently, there isn’t the time. If I need to clear my head I’ll go for a walk in a gorgeous park closeby.
Walks are fabulous for mental clarity; I agree! What words do you live by?
Kindness, authenticity and gratitude.
Absolutely! So, what’s next for Life Armour?
Coming from an innovation background my head is always full of new ideas. It is about bringing products to market that consumers want and will make a positive difference to their lives.
Like what you read? Head to Life Armour to shop. Alternatively, if you fancy checking out some of our previous interviews, you can find them here. Want more from CAROLINAGMX? Check this out: Face Wash For Sensitive Skin; The 10 You Need To Know