What was your lightbulb moment for setting up the company?

It all started about three years ago now. My brother and co-founder William used to make his own coffee each morning using a cafetière.

Living in central London he didn’t have a garden and so didn’t have enough plants he could use the coffee grounds on, so instead he was simply throwing them away.

He asked his local coffee shop what they did with their waste coffee and was shocked to hear that they were producing so much that they had to pay the council to have it removed and disposed of on landfill sites.

He decided it was a great starting point for a business idea, but wasn’t sure what that idea was. That’s where I came in. Throughout my teenage years I wanted to be a makeup artist so always had a keen interest in beauty and skincare. I knew that coffee had loads of great skincare benefits, so… lightbulb moment! Why not repurpose the coffee into sustainable circular skincare products?

What was your journey to this moment?

Setting up a company usually falls into one of two categories either do something nobody else is doing or do something that is already being done, but do it better. We fall into the first category. We are genuinely doing something different. Waste-free circular economy vegan natural sustainable skincare – who else is doing that? Nobody. It is genuinely innovative and exciting and bringing something totally unique to the market. We wouldn’t have taken the giant leap into starting our own business unless it was a truly differentiated concept.

My brother and I spent many months still in our previous jobs whilst we got the ball rolling on our new idea.

We made simple products which we took to the London Coffee Festival as a way of testing whether people liked what we were doing. We made hundreds and hundreds of scrubs for the five day show, thinking it would see us through, but we sold out before the end of the first day. This was enough to persuade us that people liked the products and were open-minded to the recycled element of the idea.

We both quit our jobs the next day. We’ve never looked back!

What was the best bit of advice you were ever given for setting up your own business?

It is a quote from Richard Branson and it never ceases to inspire me, especially when things are tough and you wonder why you decided to do something so unique and walk an untrodden path. ‘The brands that will thrive in the coming years are those that have a motivation beyond profit’.

Consumers care, we care. The market is changing. We went to leave the world a better place than it was before.

Why sustainable? Why vegan?

Sustainability is so important. We are at a critical time and we need to be conscious of how our actions are impacting the planet and future generations. It is cliché – but there really is no Planet B. Vegan products are important because animal ingredients are not vital to skincare for efficacy nor is it the least harmful route. We want to tread lightly on our earth. Consumers are demanding more from businesses and rightly so. This is what our consumers want.

What are the highs and lows of running a clean beauty business?

Every day has highs and lows. It is a genuine rollercoaster of emotions. The important thing is to occasionally stop and take stock of what you have achieved. Owning your own business you are constantly looking forwards and trying to grow the business and solve issues as they arise. There is rarely time to look back. But it’s important to practice gratitude and acknowledge what’s been achieved.

What does the term ‘clean beauty’ mean to you and how is the beauty industry changing?

Clean beauty means containing nothing that will do harm to you or to the planet. Zero toxicity. I like to say that our products are edible because technically they are. That is when you know beauty is ‘clean’. When you recognise all the ingredients and would happily put it in your mouth! Clean is the new norm. You need to take it one step further – be sustainable, be zero waste, be plastic free. We all need to up our game – toxic products just won’t cut it anymore.

Where are your 3 favourite organic places to eat?

Wild Food Cafe is a gem – they have just opened up a new location in Islington which is amazing. Their raw deserts and cocktails are crazy good.

For delicious farm to table cuisine that really focuses on seasonality and local produce I love Nutbourne in Battersea.

To splurge it would have to be The River Cafe. They do fresh seasonal Italian cooking like nobody else!

How would you explain how you upcycle ingredients?

We intercept ingredients before the point of them being thrown away and avoid this by giving them new life as UpCircle products. For example, we upcycle by-products from another industry – like brewed coffee grounds and chai tea spices from the food and drink industry.

We’re all about taking ingredients with more to give and prolonging their life timeline by transforming them into skincare products. It’s a very imaginative and collaborative process.

What are your top 4 clean beauty items for travelling?

Our soaps for everyday cleansing. My fave is the Fennel + Cardamom bar, it’s ace for preventing breakouts and smells super fresh. Plus it’s lightweight (can use on face and body) and solid – perfect for travelling!

Our serum for moisture. The serum’s versatility makes it the perfect travel companion. It can be used morning and night and doubles up as a hair oil too! Can’t go wrong.

Our new face cream – I can’t give too much away on this one, but it’s jumped straight to the number one spot for my go-to product. Just you wait, it’s unreal. It’s set to launch in 6 weeks.

For everything else a giant tub of coconut oil! Simple, effective, inexpensive.

What are your top 5 things that make you glow?

Fresh water – swimming in freshwater lakes or the ocean! The magnesium and minerals from the sea make me feel so alive and grounded.

Time spent with friends. Stress can cause breakouts and for me, there’s nothing better for relieving stress than having a great time with your pals. They can diminish any problem!

Poetry by Rupi Kaur – Her work is so beautiful it almost brings me to tears.

Going for a run – get a good playlist going and sweat out any toxins!

Deep breathing nothing gets you glowing like oxygen. Don’t waste your money on an oxygen facial sit outside in nature and do some deep breathing!

UpCircle Beauty
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