Susie Willis is the founder of 100 per cent natural skincare line, Romilly Wilde. Before entering the world of beauty, her background was very much focused on food. Susie launched her first business, Plum Babyfood (the UK’s first organic baby food brand) back when wellbeing was still a very niche market.


What was your lightbulb moment for setting up Romilly Wilde?

On one trip to a beauty store, after assessing the labels on a variety of items, I couldn’t believe the ingredients that were being used heavily in some of the most popular brands and products.

I knew then that there was a clear space for a beauty line that could marry luxury, effective products that are a joy to use, with my knowledge and passion for natural and safe ingredients. I’ve always believed that what you put on your skin and body, is just as important as what you are consuming nutritionally.

They tried to be as innovative and unique in the ingredients they used, favouring what were then unheard off superfoods like quinoa and spirulina. Susie soon turned her attention to the world of beauty.

What was your journey to this moment and how much of an advantage was it to have already run one successful business?

I started Romilly Wilde having already been at the helm of a successful business however I knew that entering a new market, and an incredibly competitive market, would be a huge learning curve. Logistically it did make things easier as I already knew the lay of the land of what running a business entailed however, as with everything there have been lots of challenges along the way.

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

Know your customer and know the market. If what you are bringing to the market isn’t different or unique in some way to what already exists, you will not be able to cut through the noise.

Do your research, have confidence that you have a compelling offering and trial it out small scale before you invest in marketing and production.

These are the areas where significant financial investment is needed.

What is the best bit of advice you can give to someone thinking of starting a wellness business?

‘Wellness’ is now big business, there are so many offerings which now sit in the space so there is a need for future sighting ie. look forward to the next great trend. Again it is a point of difference that is the most crucial element for a successful business. Also stay true to your personal passions and creativity, there is no point in creating something that has no personal connection to you and that you don’t feel strongly about.

Why clean beauty? Where did the name come from?

Clean beauty is creating a real stir at the moment. When I first created Romilly Wilde, the first principle was that it was going to be as clean (non-toxic) as possible. Avoiding synthetics, and only using nutritional ingredients that are there to benefit the skin, not preserve or give a bleached white, synthetic cream. Similar to creating highly nutritious baby food, our formulations are 100% created to perform, they haven’t been stripped or bulked out.

This for me is what clean should mean when it comes to beauty. It bothers me when brands decide to call themselves clean, but only avoid only a handful of the more common sinister ingredients.

We are not ‘cleanish’ but 100% clean and are therefore #CleanBeautyDefined. We’re setting the bar high which is what consumers are rightly starting to demand of the brands they use.

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

Highs are the knowledge that we are truly ahead of the curve, lows are that there is a lot of patience and education needed. Highs are the knowledge that we set out with this standard, and lows are that we know that so many other brands take advantage of this claim and therefore give it a bad name and create this controversy.

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

For us ‘clean beauty’ is not doing anything by half measure, we avoid all toxic chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Consumers are starting to educate themselves on the ingredients in the products they are using, and as they start to learn more about bulk agents, parabens and other synthetic ingredients they are starting to shy away from the products which use these. We’re excited for what this means for the market, something which was once niche is now turning into a huge movement.

What are your favourite active clean ingredients for skincare? What ingredients should our community look for in skincare?

I’ve personally developed the formulations we use in Romilly Wilde so of course, all my favourite clean ingredients are on our INCI list. Some of the best are the actives from flower stems, buds and roots, for example Desert Rose Leaf which we use for its hydration qualities and Gardenia Cell that works to prevent collagen loss. These are bio farmed and truly where science meets nature at its most advanced and ethically sourced.`

Where are your 3 favourite organic places to eat?

I’m a big foodie, as you would expect for someone with a background in nutrition! I’m also on the hunt for my next favourite, at the moment you can find me in Wild Food Café in Islington where they have an excellent line-up of desserts including my favourite Chocolate Tart, Andina in Shoreditch for group dining and The Petersham at Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden for seasonal goodness.

What are your top 4 clean beauty items for travelling?

Hydration is the key to surviving any journey, for this reason Romilly Wilde’s Power Pair are my go-to. One pump of the serum combined with one pump of the oil and then applied to my skin gives me the boost I always need after a long flight.

We use a lot of essential oils in our formulas too which are incredibly grounding when you’ve been up in the air for many hours.

Not necessarily a ‘clean beauty’ item but definitely the key to a glowing complexion is water, water, water. I usually take a flask on board with me and ask the cabin crew to keep topped up to ensure I’m drinking enough throughout the journey.

Finally, and maybe this is cheating again, is an eye mask (we have a great one!), everybody can attest that a good night’s sleep can cure all which is trickly when travelling but blocking out the light and any distractions (ie. never ending movies!) does help you to get at least a little bit.

What are your top 5 things that make you glow? (eg reading, travelling etc.

My animals; dogs, Gump, Duggie and Bertie, pig, Butternut and ponies, Freckles and Shadow.

Reading at bedtime, my favourite book is Shantaram

I love a yoga session at Heartcore in Notting Hill.

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