Our Guest Blog this week is Optiat, a local brand producing ethical skincare created with natural quality ingredients that would otherwise be discarded and sent to landfill. We asked Anna, one of the founders, to tell us more about her daily routine, and here we are with ‘A day in the life of Optiat‘!
‘I never would have suspected that I would end up running a business alongside my big brother William. We have always had such different personalities that I couldn’t have imagined a business that we would both have a shared passion for. The fact that I have begun a career in skincare is no surprise at all, but the fact that the initial idea came from William is… hilarious! Who would have thought!
Coincidentally myself and William both live in our own flats in the same building in Battersea, so not only do we spend the entire day together at work 6 or 7 days a week, we also travel to and from work together too! It’s a LOT of sibling bonding time!! We cycle to and from our parents’ house where our Optiat office is currently located. Over the last few years Optiat has slowly taken over more and more of our family home. Originally it was just an office and a bit of stock all in one room. Now, there is barely a room which hasn’t been taken over in one way or another… One for fulfilling online orders, one for filling and packing sample sachets, one for wholesale orders etc. etc. It’s fair to say that our parents are extremely tolerant!
I usually get a knock at my door at around 7.30am from William ready to get on our bikes and head off in the morning. Initially I had been a little intimidated by the idea of cycling through London, but now I can’t imagine getting to and from work any other way. As well as the obvious environmental benefits of cycling, it is also extremely time and cost efficient. We always know how long our journey takes as it isn’t affected by traffic, and we don’t have to endlessly feed our Oyster cards with every penny that we earn!
I eat my breakfast at my desk as I try to get through as many emails as possible at the start of the day. In the winter months I usually go for overnight oats, chia pots or even something like banana pancakes, on the less hectic days! Now as we move towards better weather I am excited to start back up with my breakfast smoothie making – perfect after working up a sweat on the way into work!
In my previous job I had to wear heels and a suit every day, and with this I would also opt for a full face of makeup. Now it is quite the opposite, I wear sportswear on office-based days and I very rarely wear any makeup at all for work-related activities. I took the decision a while ago to use my money to vote for the future I want. The price of fashion is horrifyingly cheap and people have got used to paying low prices for products they know very little about. Transparency is hard to come by and the true repercussions of our purchasing choices are hidden from us.
I am a big believer in energy and think that the energy that goes into something matters. Whether that is the energy of the people in a business, the love and time used to produce, design or grow a material, or ultimately the energy an item holds. Buying items where the business is run ethically, in a way that makes you proud to own the product and put your financial resources behind the vision that business, is key for me. The longer you have an item, the more uses it gets, the more you drive a circular economy. Getting more uses out of every product and keeping every item in the system as long as possible to extract maximum value is, as you know, what we are all about – in our personal lives and in our business!
I apply this same philosophy to all of my purchasing decisions, whether it’s the clothing I wear, the food I eat or the skincare that my brand produces!
The great thing about heading up my own company is that rather than having one clearly defined role, myself and William must fulfill ALL roles, which means my days are very varied. Of course, when we have a fully-fledged team around us then this will change, but until then we are here, there and everywhere! Some days are almost entirely operations based; managing outgoing orders, manufacturing and delivery is a huge task and on some days it is all I deal with. On other days I may be out of the office all day, we do lots of shows and festivals and I get invited to speak at many events on topics such as sustainability, zero waste and promoting a circular economy. This is something that I may have found daunting in the past, but speaking to a captive audience about a topic I am passionate about is something that I have found increasingly difficult to be scared of! In fact, it is now one of the aspects of being a co-founder of Optiat that I find most fulfilling.
The other thing that I absolutely love to do is research and develop new products. This is a task which I never really switch off from and often find myself thinking about a lot in the evenings or as I’m going to sleep. For those who don’t know, our brand name Optiat is an acronym for “One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure”. Our ethos is to use ingredients that would otherwise be discarded. We aim to show people that these ingredients still have a huge amount to offer us. If we can produce high quality, effective skincare products by promoting sustainability as our core message, our hope is to demonstrate that we can all be more resourceful, that we can promote a circular economy and to inspire the beauty industry as a whole to be less wasteful.
I am always looking to source and rescue skin loving natural ingredients otherwise destined for the trash heap. The most recent range that we have developed is a range of soap bars made from brewed chai tea spices and we have a further two product launches to come this year. Building on the success of our coffee scrubs, we have now extracted the coffee oil from the used coffee grounds collected for use in our scrubs and have created a facial serum and lip balm from that oil. We are at the stage now where companies are coming to ask us if there is anything that we can do with their natural bi-products! It’s truly exciting and really makes us feel like Optiat has the potential to make a real difference.
As we finish our day William and I make sure to check in with each other with what we’ve been up to. We sometimes struggle with actually drawing the line and calling it a day! I live next to Battersea Park, so when I get in I like to go for a jog around the park just to unwind. William’s wife Fran is a passionate cook and writes all our food-based blogs and social media content, if I’m lucky by the time I get back they might have some leftovers for me to get on board with! I publish our evening social media content before finally getting cosy with dinner and blankets on the sofa, ready to catch up with my flatmate.’
Discover Optiat in our stores and on our online shop !