In Conversation: Kim Magee; Founder of Kibi Raw Minerals


There is nothing more exciting that getting to hear from truly passionate, and inspiring individuals and today we get to share with you just that! We caught up with the lovely Kim Magee on her natural, vegan makeup brand and what inspires her to keep going…


Hi Kim! Tell us a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?

My childhood was what has given me the tenacity and drive to succeed in what ever I do. I was one of the first group of Koreans adopted in Australia. I was an orphan in South Korea with TB and malnutrition, and had I not been supported by the adoption program I would have died. I am therefore incredibly grateful to them.

 

Unfortunately I was in an extremely abusive environment both physically and emotionally for most of my childhood, living with different parents along the way through marriage break ups and re-marriage. I kept to myself a lot as I had moved to 8 different schools before I entered high school. I was very shy and introverted to the point of only having a few friends. I left school at the age of 16 and worked 2 jobs and sometime 3 so I could save to travel. I lived in London for 3 years as my base and travelled as most Australians do through Europe, USA and parts of Asia.

 

Traveling was an educational journey to see the world, and it opened my eyes to what this world offers us with so many opportunities. As much as I desired to have a great education it was too difficult for me to focus on school work, when my main focus was to leave my negative and abusive home environment as soon as possible. In all that has happened over my life it definitely had given me a fighting spirit to make the most of what ever situation I come across with an attitude of gratitude.


When did you create KIBI Raw Minerals and why?

The KIBI Group was founded in 2010 but was not off the ground till the end of 2015. Due to some major life changes I had to put the project on hold untill after I had recovered from a devastating divorce following a 20 year marriage. It all sound quiet grim at present but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

 

My passion for natural organic products began when I worked for Jurlique International. This is where I learnt from the owners and developers of the brand about the holistic approach to health and wellbeing in around 2001. I originally worked as a therapist in their Chatswood Day Spa in Sydney, Australia whilst I was studying beauty therapy. Within less than a year I became the area manager for NSW and had a fantastic opportunity opened their first day spa in South Korea.

 

Following the experience of being on the farm in Adelaide and seeing the bio-dynamic farming, and the process from the farm to the bottle fascinated me. I was totally sold and knew what we use on our skin is vitally important to our health and wellbeing.

 

It was much later in life just before my separation that I decided to create the KIBI brand. It was trial and error testing out different formulas and packaging, and after a few years of refining the brand I developed KIBI raw minerals. I created the mineral makeup purely due to not being able to buy mineral makeup that suited my skin colour and I felt the mineral was not refined enough.

 

I thought the best way to educate women was to offer them something that they could use and wear every day that could make a difference to the their current beauty regime. There was far more competition in skincare and many wonderful brands that had already made a difference but not so many in the makeup arena, so I decided to focus the KIBI brand on makeup.


 


What sets KIBI apart?

Our point of difference is our triple milled mineral. Our colour range covers all ethinic and anglo skin tones. I am originally from Sydney and travel extensively within Australia for business and New Zealand. Our larger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are very multi cultural so I wanted to appeal to all cultures.

 

Also we are of course Vegan and certified Toxic Free. Our price point is within the middle market; generally making it achievable for young and mature women and men to use. It is also water resistant and has a high SPF, so it is great to wear to the beach. I also encourage the gym junkies to wear our makeup as it doesn’t clogg pores like traditional makeup. We do share as much information on the benefits as you will see on the Q&A via our website to educate our consumers on healthier choices.


Why was important to ensure KIBI products were vegan?

Having worked in the beauty industry for more than 25 years it really educated me on how products were made and tested. I don’t believe in animal testing let alone using animal ingredients in any of my products and will ensure all new releases will continue to be vegan and not tested on animals. It is not necessary to have animal ingredients in products in todays world and totally not appropriate for vanity.


What have been KIBI’s bestsellers?

All our foundations have had great reviews as our pigments cover all skin tones from Ivory to the tanned olive tones which we promote to clients who are avid tanners. The second most popular with our young bloggers and audience is our champagne illuminating bronzer that can be worn on your cheeks, lips and eyes.


What’s it like being vegan in the city you live in?

Having been bought up in a major city and later moving to the Gold Coast, it really allowed me to fully embrace a natural and holistic lifestyle. I live in a small city where organic and vegan choices are easy to find with lots of organic farmers markets and cafes that cater to this lifestyle. Health food stores are also everywhere on the Gold Coast. It really has been the best place to create and expand on my brand and lifestyle.



Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?

Consumers are a lot more educated today and conscious of what they eat and the product they are using on their skin. More information is available at our fingertips and this alongside health reasons has meant it has even become a trend with the younger generation. Its been great seeing the younger generation be more conscious and educated in their food and health choices!


What inspires you?

My inspiration is seeing people be the best they can be! I manage a team of great staff who have been with me for many years and it inspires me seeing them develop.  I also get inspired when to know I can grow a brand that will educate and offer consumers a healthier choice and make a difference in their lives.


What’s your average day like? 

I start my day with 30minutes of yoga at 6am. From 7.30 onwards I am answering emails, going to meeting and creating; whether its working on expanding our brand with new product lines, or working on opening a new business, its super busy.


Do you think you have a work/life balance?

Living on the Gold Coast you can’t help but have a great work life balance because of the gorgeous weather. I love where I live as everything is within walking distance for what I need and I get to work from home. I love the idea of work/life balance for my staff and I think it isn’t necessary for us to have to come to an office in todays world. We can Skype and usually once every two months I gather them together for a group catch up dinner.

 

Product development and packaging is all outsourced and organised externally. Its just a matter of being organised and planned.



What is the best part of your job?

I love creating new concepts and new products! I am in the process of releasing a crème compact foundation and also lips sticks in a pot. I love the idea of working differently from the typical corporate environment. For me to create a healthy working environment for my staff that goes against the grain of traditional business is something that has been an important part of my job.


What words do you live by?

“To see change you must be changed”

I created this statement based on my personal experiences in life. Personal awareness to be the best you can be will inspire others to be the best that they can be in life.


What’s next for KIBI raw minerals?

We are currently working on expanding our makeup range as mentioned earlier! We have just introduced organic tea and will continue to expand over the next two years into more of a lifestyle brand creating vegan and natural products in many other areas.


We hope you loved hearing from Kim and learning all about KIBI Raw Minerals. If you want to take a look at KIBI products find them here. If you are a vegan brand, blogger or individual and are interested in being interviewed as part of  {in conversation} please get in touch at contact@theveganedition.com.


All images via KIBI Raw Minerals.

In Conversation: Brenda Godinez, Founder of Crave the Benefits


Happy Friday Veganista’s! Today we get to share with you; our lovely readers our latest {in conversation} interview in the series with Brenda; the founder and blogger of Crave the Benefits. She shares with us her vegan story, how she breaks up her day with her work for Crave the Benefits and which are her favourite recipes. If you are ever in need of some vegan food inspo, Brenda is the one…


Hi Brenda! Tell us a bit about your background and how you feel that has influenced you today?

I was born and raised in Costa Rica. Thankfully, my parents were always very supportive of me and did their best for me and my two sisters to be healthy and happy. I grew up reading all I could (both in English and Spanish), so I believe my love for learning, reading, writing, and blogging stems in part from that. In general, I believe my childhood shaped me to work hard, to do my best, to be thoughtful, and to never stop learning.

 

In the food and nutrition aspect, my mother cooked (and still cooks) homemade meals as much as she could before and after work, but there was a fair amount of fast and processed food in the mix growing up; especially on weekends. I got interested in healthy eating after realising that eating more whole foods and less processed foods helped me improve chronic IBS problems I’ve had for years. I began researching about the benefits of whole foods and how they can help your body thrive, and shortly after, I started trying to help my family make healthier choices. After I moved out of my parent’s house I decided to create my blog Crave the Benefits and start writing about realistic healthy eating, embracing healthy food for their benefits.


When did you create Crave the Benefits and why?

I created Crave the Benefits last year. I was passionate about the health benefits of foods and I wanted to share my passion and knowledge to get people excited to eat healthy to FEEL good, not just to look good. When you look at food from a perspective of nourishment and healing, instead of thinking of it in terms of weight-loss or dieting, it becomes easier to make healthier choices. I want to help people improve their eating habits so they can be at their best.



What sets Crave the benefits apart?

Crave the Benefits is about making healthy eating easy and enjoyable no matter what your schedule or budget looks like. One of people’s main obstacles to eat healthier and take care of their bodies is the amount of work and the investment it takes to start buying and preparing healthier meals at home. It is not realistic to aspire to have the seemingly perfect healthy lifestyle that many wellness gurus and celebs have (unless you have a personal chef or tons of free time) – so I want to help people start where they are with what they have and make the process as easy as possible with quick and yummy recipes and healthy eating guides.


Tell us about your ethos when it comes to food?

I eat a mostly plant-based diet, but I am not vegan. I admit small amounts of seafood and cage-free organic eggs in my diet, but 90% of the time I eat vegan meals. In my opinion, following a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health, the planet, and the animals.


A lot of your recipes are vegan, why do you focus on this?

Because plants have so many benefits that nourish our bodies, and I whole-heartedly believe in the importance of following a plant-based diet to reduce animal cruelty and greenhouse emissions. Also… fruits and veggies are freakin’ delicious. Vegan food is anything BUT boring.


What have been your most successful recipes?

1. Whimsical Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

🌿Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp of almond butter
  • A handful of cashews
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups almond milk

🌿Toppings: Apple hearts and butterflies, and carnations for decoration.


2. Galaxy Smoothie Bowl

🌿Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 2 large bananas
  • A handful of walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk

🌿Toppings:

  • White swirls: Soy yogurt
  • Blue swirls: soy yogurt + blue spirulina
  • Dark purple swirls: blueberry juice
  • Glitter stars
  • Banana stars

3. Blueberry Spirulina Smoothie Bowl

🌿Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp blue spirulina (or 3 capsules)
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 1tbsp almond butter
  • A handful of walnuts (for brain power)
  • 3 tbsps rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk

🌿Toppings:

  • Blueberries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Homemade chocolate syrup
  • Edible glitter stars
  • More blue spirulina


What did you find most challenging about first getting healthier and prioritising your health?

The most challenging thing was learning how to cook things that were healthy and quick at the same time. I didn’t (and still don’t enjoy) spending too much time cooking – which is why now I like to create recipes that are both quick to make but also healthy. Once I learned key cooking tips, coming up with fast dishes became easier. Another challenging thing was learning to slow down and take the time to exercise, meditate, and cook healthy meals on a daily basis. Once I start working, it’s hard for me to let go and take a break to take care of myself. It’s still hard, so I remind myself each day the importance of self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes.


Where do you get your inspiration for your recipes?

Creating daily recipes helps me stay creative. I’m also fortunate to have connected with really talented foodies on Instagram like @cloudberrytales @talinegabriel @frei_style @alpha_foodie @ps.ny @singh.monisha @rachelrenelorton @morning_moringa @myberryforest and many more who make amazing food creations that inspire me to create my own.


What is your favourite recipe you’ve created?

My favourite recipe to make was the Galaxy Smoothie Bowl above, but my go-to smoothie recipe is definitely my creamy green smoothie:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of frozen mango
  • 1 1/2 cup of spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • A dash of turmeric
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup almond milk

What’s it like being vegan in the city you live in?

I live in a city called Alajuela in Costa Rica. It can be challenging to find vegan food or restaurants sometimes as the vegan movement is not too big yet but it is completely possible if you cook mostly at home. Since the population in Costa Rica is 4 million people total, it is really difficult to find vegetarian or vegan people in real life. I have a few go-to restaurants in which I know I can find really great vegan options, but they’re not the majority.



Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?

I believe it is because of the increased awareness that is created by the easy-to-access to information about the food industry, climate change, and nutrition. The more research that is done in these areas, the easier it is for us to realise the impact of our lifestyle choices and change in a way that benefits us all. Knowledge is power when we use it.


What’s your average day like? 

My average day looks like this:

  • Wake up at 8:00am (I’m trying to become a morning person after years of being a night owl) and do my morning routine: make my bed, meditate for 10 minutes, do a flexibility yoga flow, make my daily smoothie or other healthy breakfast and snap photographs to share on Instagram. I then read for 30 minutes while I eat my breakfast, then take in some sun out on the balcony.
  • Edit and share my photographs on Instagram and connect with the lovely community.
  • Work with my clients and on my blog. I usually work from home although I like going to a café from time to time.
  • Take a break to lunch at around 2:00pm. I would usually have dinner’s leftovers as I prefer to work on the day and cook at night.
  • Keep working.
  • Take a break to catch up with my boyfriend when he comes from work.
  • I also prefer to exercise at home with weights and routines from Youtube videos. I personally love Fitness Blender.
  • Cook dinner.
  • Eat dinner with my boyfriend and spend quality time with him.
  • Go to bed at around 11:00pm -11:50pm.

Do you think you have a work/life balance?

I love what I do, so I don’t see my work as something I should balance with my life – it’s part of my life. However, I’m not great at taking breaks at times I should, especially when I’m working on a particularly long project or on a deadline.


What’s the best part of your job?

The best part is when I can be helpful and inspire someone to eat healthier and take care of themselves. It’s amazing to receive emails and comments from people that have enjoyed the articles or recipes I share. Connecting with the community is definitely the most rewarding part!



What words do you live by?

I don’t have specific words, I’m always trying to learn new perspectives from which to look at life. These are 3 of my favourite quotes right now:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“if you were born with the weakness to fall you were born with the strength to rise” – Rupi Kaur


What’s next for you and Crave the Benefits?

I recently launched a free 7 Day Nourishing Breakfast Challenge  to help people jumpstart their mornings with yummy, quick and energising breakfasts that sets them up for a kickass day. If you want to create healthier habits, have better mornings, and enjoy tasty breakfasts that take less than 15 mins to make – this is the challenge for you! I’ll be focusing on helping all the challenge takers in the upcoming months. 


If you were as inspired by Brenda and all her inspiring recipes head on over to Crave the Benefits here.

If you are vegan blogger, business or just about anyone leading an inspiring vegan lifestyle then please get in touch about being part of our {in conversation} interview series 🙂

All images via Crave the Benefits.

In Conversation: Elina Bergert; Founder of Coco’s Liberty


This Friday we are super excited to share with you our latest {in conversation} interview with Elina Bergert; the founder of Coco’s Liberty Jewellery. She shares with us her vegan story and how she first found being vegan in London as well as what it’s like starting up a jewellery brand with ethics and strong values from the beginning. Read on to find out more…


Hi Elina! Tell us a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?

I was born in Sweden to a Swedish Mum and a German Dad, living out the first 10 years of my life in Stockholm. My Childhood was very nice, my siblings and I were out playing all day long. The summers were especially amazing as we would spend the whole time at our summer house in the middle of nowhere at the Sea. When I was 10 we moved to Germany and since then I have just been moving around. When I was 5 my Dad taught me how to make rings from leftover gold and it has been my big passion since!


When did you vegan and why?

I went vegan almost 5 years ago after being more or less vegetarian for almost my entire life. However we don´t really know how it happened; my sister and I were discussing something about having good hair, and how eggs supposedly help strengthen it, and then I think we recognised the suffering animals had to go through for it. My sister and I then both decided to go vegan. I think I was already very curious as a kid as to why we should eat and kill animals just for our pleasure, and that lead to started to refuse to eat meat and fish more and more.


What did you find most challenging about first going vegan?

 5 years ago in Germany and especially in the UK there wasn’t that many vegan options yet, so at first it was a bit of a struggle finding nice things to eat and would end up cooking a lot. I can be quite picky with what I eat and the taste; for example I don’t like things that are supposed to taste like meat. Luckily my sister and I went vegan at the same time, so we went through the same things and always had someone to talk to.



What did you friends and family think of you going vegan?

As my sister and I went vegan at the same time it wasn’t too bad with the family, but they still don’t really understand why we went vegan unfortunately. I think friends reacted quite positively and I have a couple of friends who then also went vegan or at least started to cut out more meat and dairy products. As time goes by, you also make new vegan friends, so that has been really nice.

 

I still from time to time do get the typical reactions when people find out I am vegan, such as; how do you get your protein, but 5 years in I have learned to deal with all these negative comments.


When did you start up Coco’s Liberty and what was the motivation behind it?

 I started Coco´s Liberty 3 years ago after quitting my corporate law job from one day to the other. I was in a meeting with my boss at the time discussing my future within the company and it just hit me, that if that was going to be the rest of my life, someone might as well shoot me now! However, I think even before that talk I became more and more apprehensive that the direction I wanted to go in. I was most passionate about human rights, which was looking more and more impossible and that the other option would be working like crazy in a normal law job and following office policies in order to make it rather than enjoying the field of Law.

 

After I quit my law job I moved to a Friend of mine in London and started studying Jewellery Design and started Coco´s Liberty after more and more people asked me on the tube in London and everywhere else were I got my jewellery from. So that made me realise that maybe I have something going on here, which is great as jewellery as always been my great passion.


What sets Coco’s Liberty apart from the competition?

I call my Jewellery minimal Scandinavian with a Statement edge; in someways it is very minimal because there are barely any gemstones but then it has this fierce sassy empowered statement character to it. In my opinion you can wear my jewellery all day to night, alone or layered up. So it is very versatile.

 

I also do not really play it safe with the jewellery as I try to design pieces that I haven´t seen before, even if they end up sharp and “dangerous” like the Icebreaker Earrings or Azagaie Shoulder Duster Earrings. 


What’s your one jewellery style tip?

I can´t live without Earrings and feel empty without them, so on a daily basis I am a hoop kinda girl and wear the Bolt Hoops a lot! So my one Style Tip is to wear gold Earrings and layer them up with as many other piercings as possible; layering jewellery in any form looks great.


What is your favourite Coco’s liberty piece?

 Oh that´s difficult, I love them all. But I think if I have to choose, the Kolye Choker. To me it is so versatile, you can wear it with a blouse during the day or over a jumper, and in the evening with something off shoulder and have so many different looks with it. And it´s definitely an eye catcher.



What’s it like being vegan in the city you live in?

 In the beginning London was quite difficult to be vegan in; most coffee shops didn’t even offer Soy Milk as an option. Luckily now it has become so much better and everyone even offers Almond or Oat Milk! Restaurants have started with vegan options and there are more and more vegan Restaurants opening up. Even the corner shop near my house stocks vegan options now, so it is become really easy to be vegan in London. I also think people are becoming more and more aware of what they eat, and people are actually interested in what to eat as a vegan. So I feel London is a great city to be in as a vegan.


Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?

I think people are more and more aware about animal cruelty and don’t want to support it, but probably also because they are more aware of their own health. The media also has done a good job advertising Veganism; for example here in the UK we have Veganury (vegan January) and almost everyone I know did it this year and a lot of people then carry on being Vegan.

 

I also think people realise that it is not actually healthy to eat meat every single day and people are beginning to look through the food labelling and see the ingredients list and it is scary! So I think people are luckily becoming more health conscious which in the end leads to veganism.


What inspires you?

 On Instagram there is John from Badassvegan, I think it´s nice to see his vegan blogs and how positive he is and show that especially as a guy it is cool to go vegan and still do Bodybuilding etc. You don´t need meat protein in order to be fit. I love that! Otherwise I get inspired by strong female Characters like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton; both were so graceful throughout the President Campaign. 


What’s your average day like? 

 I usually get up at 7am and get ready and leave my house around 8am at the latest. At home I only drink a Glass of Lemon Juice as I eat breakfast at work. At the moment I work part-time as a lawyer in the city, so I walk there and have breakfast at my desk. By 3pm I go to my studio and get started with Coco´s Liberty stuff or I meet clients, customers, press and media. A lot of days I work really late and often only end up at home around 10/11pm. Often in the studio I forget the time as we don´t have windows there. However in the evenings I do try to either go to the gym or do a yoga class, or go to the Ballet, theatre, meet friends or try out new restaurants.  I try to be in bed by midnight and then read a bit before I fall asleep.



Do you think you have a work/life balance?

 Hm, probably not really as with Coco´s Liberty there is always something to do! I work every day on it but then again it doesn’t feel like working as it is my little baby and I just want to see it grow. But I can also be quite flexible with Coco´s Liberty when I work, such as working on admin whenever I have time for it, often also in bed.


What’s the best part of your job?

 I love the flexibility around the job and seeing my own little Company grow. That makes me really happy and proud. I love being able to design the jewellery I always wanted to have, and find sustainable ways of creating the jewellery such as only using fair trade gold and silver. When I then meet Customer and they love the Jewellery, buy pieces and wear them, this is the perfect satisfaction for me.


What words do you live by?

I am a very positive person, so I try to see things from the positive side and try laugh and smile a lot throughout the Day. I don´t really live by any words but I guess I would say: A Day without Laughter is a wasted Day.


What’s next for you and Coco’s Liberty?

 The goal for this year is to quit my part time Law Job for good and only do the jewellery which will leave way more time for it, so I´m hoping to be able to grow even further. Also I am planning to move my jewellery studio to a bigger space with potentially a showroom or store attached. I am also planning to create a monthly Coco´s Liberty vegan dinner event where I invite customer and friends to mingle with each other.

 

I would also like to grow more with bigger stockists. This year I´m already expanding to Tokyo and Chicago. So my Jewellery will be available there soon, which is super exciting!


If you were as inspired by Elina, her story and her beautiful jewellery pieces check them out here.

If you are vegan blogger, business or just about anyone leading an inspiring vegan lifestyle then please get in touch about being part of our {in conversation} interview series 🙂

All images via Elina Bergert.

In Conversation: Danae Dade; Owner & Head Baker of Cookie&Biscuit


This Friday we have the pleasure to share with you our latest {in conversation} interview with Danae; the  founder of Cookie&Biscuit. We love their inspiring Instagram account and delicious, healthy vegan treats! Read on to find out what first inspired Danae to start up the business and why veganism is such an important part of Cookie&Biscuit. 


Hi Danae! Tell us a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?

I grew up in Buffalo NY, with my twin brother, older brother and my amazing mother. Although my mom worked loads, she always prepared healthy fresh meals for us. I learned from a young age that the kitchen is truly the heart of the home. We were a very veggie-friendly family, which I think was the biggest influence on me regarding food and the importance of whole foods.


When did you decide to start up Cookie&Biscuit and why?

I started cookie&biscuit while on maternity leave with my daughter. I wanted to avoid the sugary, overprocessed treats that were on the shop shelves, but also wanted a delicious, sweet treat every now and again. It wasn’t completely vegan at first, but it was only a matter of months till I mastered baking without eggs/butter. And it was the best decision ever!



What sets Cookie and Biscuit apart from the competition?

Being just a wee bit homesick, I wanted to create healthier vegan versions of some of my favourite American treats. But what really sets us apart is that Cookie&biscuit uses mostly organic ingredients, and I steer clear of white flour/sugars, using primarily spelt flour, raw cacao and coconut palm sugar. Our treats often incorporate vegetables and fruits as main ingredients, beetroot brownies are a big favourite!

 

Once I conquered adapting my recipes over using vegan ingredients, there really was no turning back. My customers welcomed the switch which only reaffirmed my decision.


Tell us why you first decided to go vegan?

I am vegan and it has been a slow and steady transition over the last few years. At first it was for health reasons, then I stopped ignoring the bigger issues surrounding the environment, animal cruelty and general compassion for living beings and I became more immersed in the lifestyle.



What’s your one health tip?

Eat your veggies and MOVE your body!


Whats your favourite Cookie&Biscuit recipe?

That’s like asking me to choose which child is my favourite! But I do favour the rye chocolate chunk cookies because they are the closest I can get to Tollhouse soft batch cookies (American cupboard staple, but way too sweet I can’t even enjoy them if I wanted too!)


What’s it like being vegan in London where you live? London is amazing for vegan food! I just wish there were more restaurants and shops closer to where I live in South East London. My current favourites are the usual suspects: Cook Daily, Fed By Water and next on my list is Mooshies burgers!



Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?

I think there are several reasons; including the greater awareness of climate change and the environment in general. Social media also now means awareness is spread in a more visual, community based way, there are so many more documentaries out now that help educate people on the reality of the meat/dairy industry. It’s hard not to be vegan!


What inspires you?

My husband and my two children, Frankie age 5, Bowie age 1. I have always been a self motivated person, but my family really inspires me to be the best version of myself! (Not to say that we don’t have bad days!)


What’s your average day like?

For a non-market day I wake up around 7am, get the kids breakfast, and make power smoothies for everyone. I check my emails while they eat and then get everyone ready for the day. I go on the school run and then head home to bake/test recipes/post office runs/work on social media updates. I also try my best to fit in a quick workout before midday, whether it’s a short run, or 30mins of yoga. Lunch is usually my biggest meal of the day, full of leafy greens, grain base roasted veggies, and all the toppings (seeds, nuts, dressings, herbs etc). My afternoons are usually spent networking/meetings/running errands before school pick up. Between 3:30-8pm I try my best to put the work away and focus on the kids. By 8:30 I am on the sofa with my laptop planning the next day! I am usually tucked in bed by 10:30-11.



Do you think you have a work/life balance?

It really depends on the day! But my family LOVES food, and we manage to balance it all somehow.


What’s the best part of your job?

Doing events and feeding people delicious food!


What words do you live by?

Thoughts become things.


What’s next for you and Cookie&Biscuit?

I am developing a cookbook with savoury and sweet recipes, and few other top secret projects I can’t really spill the beans on just yet. I also put on a monthly vegan supper club and yoga brunches (with Serena Lee of Vegans of LDN) under the name The V Spot which have been going really well, so always looking for new locations to pop up in!


If you loved hearing from Danae just as much as we did and starting feeling hungry reading this article check out Cookie&Biscuit treats here.  If you are a vegan individual or business then please get in touch to be a part of our {in conversation} interview series at contact@theveganedition.com.

All images via Danae Dade.

In Conversation: Emily Cunningham & Kwami Williams; Founders of True Moringa


On this Friday we are very excited to share with our readers our latest {in conversation} interview with the founders of the vegan, natural beauty brand True Moringa. Emily and Kwami give us the lowdown on what it’s like working at a start-up and what inspired them to create True Moringa. Learn more about this beautiful beauty brand and the benefits to your skin, the Ghana community and all the inspiring work that goes on behind each jar. 


Hi Emily & Kwami! Tell us a bit about your childhood and background and how you feel that has influenced you today?

In our undergraduate careers, I studied development economics and my co-founder Kwami Williams studied aerospace engineering. Kwami was born in Ghana and moved to the US at the age of eight with the ambition of commercializing the flying car. He did a bit of a 180 when he traveled back to Ghana in college on a mission trip, spending time in rural areas and learning about the challenges families faced there. Throughout my college career, I worked and volunteered for a number of organizations involved with poverty alleviation and social enterprise creation in developing countries. We were both drawn to the potential of rural development through investment in agriculture and connections to the international market through very different paths, and we were fortunate that those paths crossed!


When did you decide to create True Moringa and why?

Kwami and I first learned about the moringa tree in 2012 while working in rural Ghana through a program at MIT called D-Lab. Thousands of moringa trees had been planted by Peace Corps and NGOs throughout West Africa for their nutritional value – gram-for-gram, the dried leaves contain more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, more vitamin A than carrots, and more protein than eggs. The trees also thrive in arid climates and require little water. There was no economic incentive, however, for farming families to cultivate and care for the trees, so, understanding the inherent value of the tree farmers came to us with a question – how can we bring moringa to the international market? Back in the states, we began to study the properties of the moringa tree. We learned that the seeds of the tree were rich in antioxidants and unique anti-aging and moisturizing agents, and that by purchasing seeds and leaves from farmers at a fair price, we could increase family incomes by as much as 10x. We set about creating a complete vertical supply chain to introduce moringa beauty and food products to the global market.


 


Why is the origin and manufacture of True Moringa products in Ghana so important?

Our aim is to unlock the potential of agriculture in Africa – too often raw materials like cocoa or coffee beans are exported to be processed and packaged in the Western world with no value addition done or jobs created locally. We believe that by creating a holistic, vertical supply chain we allow conscious consumers to understand where their natural ingredients come from. Understanding and managing the entire supply chain allows us to cultivate and create the finest natural ingredients.


What were the biggest challenges when starting up the business?

We face a unique set of challenges working across two countries in both the beauty space and the agriculture space. We dealt with everything from building trust with farming communities to government corruption and power outages in Ghana, to learning the ins and outs of global import and export, to distinguishing our brand in a huge and growing beauty industry. There’s never a dull moment!


Can you tell us a bit about the benefits of the Moringa tree?

I mentioned the nutritional and environmental benefits for communities – we’ve harnessed these nutritional benefits into a moringa tea product through our sister brand, Minga Foods.

 

From a beauty perspective the True Moringa oil goes on smooth and dry, similar to jojoba or argan oil, but with additional anti-aging benefits. It’s extremely versatile – the same 2oz bottle of all-purpose oil can be used as a facial cleanser or moisturizer, hair serum or conditioner, cuticle oil, and makeup remover. It’s non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. Best of all, it’s very similar to the oil your skin and hair produce naturally, so it’s ideal for all skin types. Moringa oil stabilises oil production for oily or combination skin, and hydrates and nourishes dry skin. It can heal scars and stretch marks, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


What positive impact has the True Moringa brand had on the farmers living in Ghana who farm the trees?

We manage the entire supply chain for moringa products, starting at the farm. We provide farmers the inputs (like organic seeds and fertilizer) and training they need to grow moringa trees to the standards of the international market. We have agricultural extension officers in each region to check in on farmers and assist them with best agricultural practices. They’re also our eyes and ears in the field, alerting us to the needs of farmers we work with outside of our contract (help with financing or additional tools, trainings, or materials). To date, we work with over 2,300 small farming families throughout Ghana to increase farming family incomes by 10x. We’ve planted over 270,000 moringa trees to prevent deforestation and malnutrition locally, and work on small scale pilot programs to encourage job creation and malnutrition prevention. Next year, we’re launching our nucleus farm – the largest organic certified moringa farm in Africa. This will be home to our off-grid processing center, and a training and experimentation ground for the latest permaculture and farming techniques.


What’s your favourite True Moringa product?

I use the Tranquility All Purpose Facial and Body Oil for just about everything – from a facial cleanser and moisturizer, to a hair mask to a cuticle oil. I prefer to keep it simple – especially while traveling!


Was it important to product all natural, vegan products? 

Not only are natural ingredients safer than conventional synthetic cosmetics, they’re also more effective! Oils and butters provide simple and lasting hydration and keep your largest organ – your skin – healthy and youthful. There is a growing consumer movement toward cruelty-free, vegan, effective natural products. By catering to that demand, we can feel good about the products we produce, and provide more income to the farming families we serve.


Why do you think there has been such a rise in veganism over the last few years?

Consumers are growing increasingly conscious of the ways in which their products are manufactured. It’s become easier to research how products benefit you, the environment, and the world, and to choose products that are more consciously crafted.



What is your one beauty tip?

I wash my face with moringa oil (no soap or cleanser, which can be drying) and have found that it’s the best way to care for sensitive skin.


What inspires you?

We’re inspired by the incredible potential of agriculture in the developing world. There are 1.5 billion acres of fertile, uncultivated land in Africa and 120 million small farming families living on that land earning less than $2/day. We hope that our vertically integrated model will be replicated for other natural food and beauty products.


What’s your average day like? 

One of the best parts of working on a startup is that there’s no such thing as an average day! We try to set a regular work schedule of 8 or 9 to 6 or 7, but often during busy seasons we tend to work more than that. I try to make time to exercise or meditate before work – I find that if I start the day with a clear head, I get much more accomplished! On a given day, I am negotiating partnerships with other brands or suppliers, mapping out marketing campaigns, designing products or packaging, taking sales meetings, and thinking about how to make our supply chains more efficient. Meanwhile in the field, Kwami might be overseeing our production teams and agricultural extension officers, visiting farmers in the field, or working on financial models.


Do you think you have a work/life balance?

That’s certainly what we aim for! It does depend on the season though…


What’s the best part of your job?

Seeing the impact that our work has on the families we serve – whether that means that a mother is able to pay for school fees or nutritious food during a season when money would otherwise be tight.


What words do you live by?

Kwami is a huge fan of George Washington Carver and what he did with something as seemingly simple as the peanut. I l really like his quote “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” It’s so easy to get bogged down in the not-so-glamorous parts of getting a startup off the ground – and in those moments, it’s important to remember to step back and think about the grander vision we are trying to build.


What’s next for you and True Moringa?

2017 is going to be an exciting year! We’re in the process of planting the largest organic certified moringa farm in all of Africa and onboarding hundreds of new farming families. We have a few new products on the horizon for 2017, and we’ll be expanding to new stores around the world, and growing our team!


If you enjoyed our interview with Emily and Kwami just as much as we did, and are interested in the True Moringa and supporting this incredible brand check them out here. If you are vegan blogger, business or just about anyone leading an inspiring vegan lifestyle then please get in touch about being part of our {in conversation} interview series 🙂

All images via True Moringa.