Bye bye multi-product contour tutorials, hello inner beauty. As the modern beauty consumer continues to seek holistic answers from products that are natural, long-lasting and results-driven, the industry is experiencing a seismic change. Rather than arming themselves with a litany of products that camouflage and conceal, women want to glow from the inside out.
Enter WelleCo, an innovative Australian ingestible wellness company founded by serial entrepreneur Andrea Horwood and supermodel Elle Macpherson, built on the tenants of the latter's plant-based lifestyle that earned her the covetable title of “The Body."
The proposition is simple: One drink a day, every day, gives you everything you need to neutralize acidity, support your immune system and promote gut health. Filled with a plethora of plant-based ingredients like pre and probiotics, vitamins and super greens, WelleCo's finely milled powders can be added to water, plant milk or blended into a smoothie for results that many have called “life-changing" on reviews and social channels alike. “One of the brightest parts of my day is when I go and I read the comments from a lot of the people saying that it's completely changed their lives," says Macpherson.
And it's catching on. Showing growth to 20 times the business size from its 2014 launch, WelleCo has expanded to include plant-based Nourishing Proteins, and even a kid's chocolate drink. With an 80/20 direct-to-consumer/retail model, Horwood says the brand's messaging is naturally personal and authentic, which is an important reason consumers are connecting with it. “The modern customer is well informed, educated and prioritizes nutrition and the value of wellness in her life," she comments. “We talk to our customers on an elevated level because we feel they are informed and understand."
“One of the brightest parts of my day is when I go and I read the comments from a lot of the people saying that it's completely changed their lives," - Elle Macpherson
An Organic Match
Just call them modern superwomen. With accomplishments that range from Horwood introducing the world's first non-chemical sunscreen brand, Invisible Zinc; to Macpherson becoming an international symbol of beauty and wellness, the pair are a force to be reckoned with.The two met when Macpherson became the face of Horwood's revolutionary suncare brand, and have worked together for over a decade, with Macpherson also being featured in the pages of Horwood's first venture, Aussie magazine, Australian Style. It was, in fact, a chance moment of intuition that lead them to launch WelleCo. One day during a press junket, Horwood, noticing Macpherson's incredible stamina and energy levels, inquired about the green water she'd been sipping on. “Elle started to talk to me about an Australian nutritional doctor [Dr. Simone Laubscher] who had been working around a highly effective combination of plant-based, whole food nutrients designed to keep your body at a healthy balanced pH level," Horwood tells SWAAY. “It kicked off an interest in me and after many late night conversations with Dr. Laubscher in her Harley St London clinic, I went back to Elle because I knew she wanted to be more than just the face of a brand, she wanted to be in the business, and I explained 'I really think our venture together should be this green supplement'." It was a version of that green supplement that became WelleCo's hero product, The Super Elixir.
And for Macpherson, who had already dipped her toes into the world of entrepreneurship with a lingerie line, the opportunity to be a partner on something she believed in so deeply was a natural fit. “I saw this very considered approach, and that's what I wanted to share with other women," she notes. “So that's how the business started, when I took this product for myself, when I saw the benefits of it, and then I thought, actually, I'd really like to be able to share this with other women."
“After swapping my diet for a predominantly whole-food, plant-based, alkalizing one, and started taking the WelleCo Super Elixir, everything changed for me: my body, mood, skin, hair, they responded so positively and very quickly." -Elle Macpherson
The Magic Inside
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, star products are designed to address personal challenges. WelleCo's Super Elixir is no different, with Macpherson discovering that as she got older, she didn't have as much energy throughout the day as she used to. “I was approaching 50, my lifestyle needed a rejig in order to achieve maximum wellness, and I couldn't rely on my genetics for my well being anymore, so I went to see a nutritionist, [WelleCo formulater] Dr. Laubscher." It was after this meeting Laubscher prescribed Macpherson an alkalizing green powder, an early principal behind the brand's now best-selling Super Elixir Greens.
“Every experience has been different but I've always been interested in disruption. My worlds of independent publishing and brand building have collided with WelleCo - we produce our own content and the brand voice comes from us. We've built a strong team and culture within a brand and its precious to us." -Andrea Horwood
“When she [Laubscher] looked at the average imbalances of an adult, [and the] specific ingredients she could include that would support gut health and balance the body's 11 systems, she included lots of ingredients like horsetail and Omega 3 for healthy hair and skin and nails; probiotics and prebiotics to support the digestion; shitake mushrooms, miyake mushrooms," says Macpherson. “We made a product that was really great for the immune system."
According to Horwood, at the core of the WelleCo formulating process is a direct delivery of everyday nutrients via a highly absorbable finely grained powder, comprised of more than three dozen premium botanicals. “Your body recognizes whole food nutrition, it knows what it is, uses and absorbs it," she says, adding that they are processed gently so the nutrients remain alive. “The traditional argument is you should be able to get those nutrients from your diet, but I don't see any horsetail, aloe or sea algae in my usual market shopping cart. Adding this to a drink once a day is a simple way to give body wholefood nutrients. And this absorbable wholefood nutrition can have a profound effect."
Carving a Niche
To be sure, WelleCo is a radically new proposition in terms of positioning and even describing to retailers where it fits into on the shelf. According to Horwood, being a brand that falls somewhere in between beauty and wellness may have its difficulties, especially in terms of consumer communication, but ultimately serves as an opportunity to do her favorite thing, disrupting.
“We do sit on the beauty floor but our proposition is far deeper because wellness is transformative." -Andrea Horwood
“We were one of the first pioneers of the ingestible beauty category," says Horwood. “We were carving a new territory and talking to customers, department stores, press and distributors about a product that didn't fit neatly in beauty or traditional synthetic supplements. We created a new category of its own. That was our challenge, but I felt quite strongly this was a compelling new space for the modern customer."
The brand's best-selling product, The Super Elixir.
Despite the challenges, growth has been organic, Horwood says. Since launching, the brand has entered over 52 markets including China, the UK, and Europe, and now with a splashy launch in Barneys NY and LA, WelleCo has found its way into the US market, where there's a hungry (well, thirsty) customer waiting for it.
“We found a loyal and growing customer base in the US through our WelleCo.com site, before really touching that bricks and mortar market," says Horwood, adding that more than half the company's global sales come directly from the US. “For us, we felt Barneys is an iconic premium New York department store, and one that is serious about the shift to inner beauty, responding to the profound shift in customer behavior."
Although many beauty brands are clamoring for digital sales, Horwood is of the belief that there must be an accompanying opportunity to interact with the product, especially with ingestibles. To wit, the company's second standalone store will open its doors in downtown New York this summer. The wellness space, which will include consultation areas, in-house demonstration events with blending counters for green drinks and smoothies, is meant to give the whole 360 bespoke wellness experience.
“You can walk in, meet our trained staff, consult with our nutritional doctors, customize your supplementation according to your own needs, and of course taste our amazing plant proteins," says Horwood. “We have one store in Australia and it's shown the value of this customer connection - over 90 percent of the customers who walk through the door purchase our products. The store allows for a deeper appreciation of the brand and its philosophy."
“It is mainly efficacy of the product, driven by word of mouth. People take our Super Elixir, they feel the positive effects, which actually affects how they respond to our brand as well." -Andrea Horwood
A Cult Following
It's no secret that being able to put a face to a name is an entrepreneurial ticket to success. Macpherson, who holds an impressive record of five Sports Illustrated covers, is a timeless figure in the fashion and modeling industry. Her personal brand melds seamlessly with WelleCo and has elicited an excited response across all social media channels by fans ready to buy into anything that will give them even a semblance of Macpherson's enviable vitality and physique.
Going against the social media grain in 2018, WelleCo favors deep and authentic collaborations with like-minded individuals and brands. “We have great fans like Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Cara Delevingne, Jessica Seinfeld, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bobbi Brown and Kate Moss," says Macpherson. “Many people in the fashion industry really love the brand and they're not influencers, or paid influencers, they just really love it. And one of the brightest parts of my day is when I read the comments from a lot of the people writing to us saying how it's completely changed their lives."
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.