What do “Miss World Australia” and one of the UK’s best-loved, 5 star reviewed skin supplements have in common? Sonia Bainbridge.
Sonia is a former Miss Australia runner up and Co-Founder of Raw Beauty Lab, the brand behind Vegan Collagen, a British manufactured 100% natural, vegan-friendly and cruelty-free superfood.
In this interview, Business Express spoke to female entrepreneur Sonia to discover how a small idea was to springboard a hugely successful business venture that has continued to grow threefold in the past 12 months and become a beauty revolution.
From Beauty Queen To Beauty Revolution
“Back in 2008, I was a 1st Runner-up for “Miss World Australia”, and during this time I had become increasingly concerned by many of the dubious practices of the beauty industry: There just seemed to be so many products that didn’t work and products with questionable health effects.”
Sonia, who holds a major in pharmacology, was continually shocked by the ingredient labels and health claims she saw;
“I really felt compelled to help consumers make informed choices about the type of products they were exposing themselves to”, She explains.
“And I wanted to help educate beauty consumers on demystifying those ingredient labels, but at the time, I just didn’t know how or what route that would take.”
An Evolution In Brand Development
This was the evolutionary process to the birth of Raw Beauty Lab and Sonia’s quest to do right by the beauty consumers. Fast forward time, and husband Jared and Sonia graduate from Oxford University with business majors.
“Living in Australia, we were used to living active, healthy lifestyles, and both my husband Jared and I have always had an interest in nutrition. Then, when we moved to the UK, we found holding onto a healthy lifestyle as students became more challenging with long study hours and little time to focus on healthy meal planning.”
“Trying to eat well all of the time was difficult, and when our careers took off post-uni, this struggle continued”, Explains Sonia.
“We kept thinking, ‘wouldn’t it be great to create a supplement that tapped into my passion for natural beauty products, our combined love of health and wellness and our business expertise’?”
This authentic interest in health and wellness is at the heart of the business and was the driver behind their first cruelty-free, vegan supplement, Vegan Collagen.
A New Beginning & A New Product Launch
After two years in development, Raw Beauty Lab launched Vegan Collagen, and the couple haven’t looked back since, as Sonia reveals;
“Vegan Collagen supports your skin’s collagen without resorting to animal products or harmful synthetic ingredients. It harnesses over 30 years of nutricosmetic science to support your body’s collagen production using only plants, and our customers report back that they’ve seen visible results in as little as 28 days. The latest science has shown that fine lines don’t first appear in the epidermis (the top layer of skin) as initially thought, but rather in the dermis. Vegan Collagen supports healthy collagen from within.”
Their diverse and expansive spectrum of knowledge, correlated with the couples’ majors in business, has enabled Sonia and Jared to position Raw Beauty Lab as leaders in their field.
“I don’t think I could do what I do and have had the level of success we have had if I didn’t have a genuine passion for the products we create.” Explains Sonia.
As a result, Vegan Collagen has gone on to win beauty industry awards, is regularly featured in the national media and has won the allegiance of thousands of consumers thanks to their unique product formulation and their ongoing commitment to clean beauty and transparency.
The Next Beauty Chapter
With a small but dedicated team behind the brand, they have successfully navigated their way through the pitfalls that many small businesses encounter with ease. Significant events such as Brexit and the pandemic have been steered skilfully through agility and a flexible attitude to change and adaption. This fluidity has seen the British brand launch two new supplement products within three months of each other.
Mama Glow is a pregnancy and nursing safe version of their Vegan Collagen, inspired by Sonia’s pregnancy journey following the birth of their first child and Protein & Collagen Builder, a protein and collagen booster and the only UK made organic plant protein.
Mama Glow, like Vegan Collagen, was similarly born out of frustration on the lack of quality and availability, as Sonia explains;
“I researched what I should include in my diet, but nothing I found focused on beauty supplementation during pregnancy. Everyone talks about that pregnancy glow, but the reality is often very different. Pregnancy can negatively impact your skin, thanks to hormone changes and blood flow. Mums-to-be often experience acne outbreaks, and as the pregnancy progresses, lack of sleep can also impact your skin and wellness.”
Understanding a need for a product and offering a natural alternative is what Raw Beauty Lab does best;
“We are always looking to develop our collection of products. We work closely with our Team, and customer feedback is vital and invaluable for us. We wouldn’t be able to develop our business as much as we have without these priceless people assets.”
And Raw Beauty Lab is not just focused on doing better by the consumer. The planet is also a significant consideration, as Sonia explains;
A Positive Impact On The Planet
“Now more than ever, companies need to think about the environment and their impact on the wider world. We are incredibly proud that our supplements only feature 100% natural pure plants with no artificial vitamins, minerals, artificial sweeteners, colours, shelf-life extenders or preservatives of any kind. We also plant a tree for every supplement order and last year rolled out our compostable and recyclable packing.”
The Future Of Beauty
With this continued emphasis on supporting people and the planet, what does Sonia envisage for the future?
“We want to become a leading brand in the global collagen market and encourage our animal-based collagen competitors to consider environmentally sustainable alternatives.”