Today I’m super excited to interview Natalie Bloom of Bloom Cosmetics!
Natalie is a Melburnian who started out her eponymous business in 1993 from her parent’s home and has now built her brand into an internationally recognised range of over 300 cosmetics, skincare and bath and body products.
I received a Bloom lip gloss palette one Christmas and have been a big fan of their prettily-branded products ever since. Bloom Cosmetics are always innovating and expanding their product range and their latest release is the Australian-manufactured Bloom Organics body products.
I’m so thrilled that Natalie has taken time out from her busy schedule to speak to me today. Natalie’s entrepreneurial spirit, obvious passion for her products and social media savvy are a huge inspiration for me as a budding online business owner. To be honest I’m slightly in awe. Thanks Natalie!
Natalie, tell me a bit more about your background and the story behind Bloom Cosmetics?
After studying Graphic Design, I found myself working in a small studio. As the work was terribly uninspiring, I started creating and selling homemade cards and gift ideas in the hope I would feel more creatively satisfied.
I didn’t have a long term strategy and simply produced quality products that I was passionate about and that had a strong design sensibility. Before I knew it my range grew to include Essential Oil Blends, Massage Oils and an Aromatherapy Lip Balm. The Lip Balm evolved into a full lip category, then came eye products and soon a full cosmetic line was on the horizon.
At the time, I never dreamed that Bloom could become a global success story. However, as I became more strategic my hobby turned into a business – and there has been no looking back since!
What’s the philosophy behind Bloom Cosmetics and the products you sell?
Bloom is an approachable beauty brand for the young at heart that inspires through its whimsical and creative spirit. We are obsessed with creating innovative products that are directional in concept, design and that include a dose of botanical goodness.
From designing greeting cards and gift ideas from your parent’s home you’ve now built a brand which is stocked in US, Canada, UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
Firstly, you have to love what you do. If you’re not passionate you can’t sustain your business and keep it going through the hard times. And secondly, whatever you do, do it with integrity.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your 17 years building Bloom Cosmetics and what have you learnt from your experiences?
In the early day, one of the biggest challenges I faced was staff management. As the business grew I soon realised that I couldn’t keep doing everything myself and that I needed to employ staff.
But at the age of 22 and having had no previous experience in running a business, I didn’t know much about putting together a team to support my vision, management and leadership. So that I could get up to speed as quickly as I possible, I sought out several mentors who could share with me their insights. Even though Bloom is now more than 17 years old, I don’t think you ever stop learning. I continue surrounding myself with inspiring people that can offer an insight I might not have thought of.
What’s a typical work day for you?
Whilst I’m still incredibly hands on at Bloom, no two working days are ever the same. The only similarity is that there is always a demanding mix of meetings and creative brainstorming sessions on product, business and brand development to attend!
You’ve just released a new range called Bloom Organics. What was your inspiration for branching out into organic products?
The Bloom brand has always had its grassroots in essential oils and botanical ingredients. But now more than ever, consumers (me included!) are interested in and want to be educated about organic and green products. They are reading labels and looking for buzzwords when shopping. They want to change but don’t necessarily know how.
It was from this consumer insight that the seed for Bloom Organics was sown. We saw an opportunity to be an educator. To become a wellness, eco and ethical champion. And above all else, use our voice to create change.
What makes these products special in your view?
There are so many wonderful layers to Bloom Organics that it’s hard to single out just one thing! I am incredibly proud that this range has steadfast integrity and that 17 of our 20 formulations are independently endorsed by Australian Certified Organic, this country’s largest certifying body. I love that we were able to collaborate with Mahon & Band to design packaging that conveys a fresh spirit that breaks with the conventions typically associated with organic skincare products. But most of all, I find it so rewarding that we’ve created a range that reflects my belief that living organically is not just a trend, it is a lifestyle. I feel like Bloom Organics enables me to do my small bit to encourage people to tread more softly on the earth, to think what they consume and take small steps to protect our future.
What are you next plans for Bloom Cosmetics?
We are already working on new product launches for 2011 which includes additions to the Bloom Organics collection as well as our ever-popular colour cosmetics range.
Finally, you’re head of a worldwide company but born and bred in Melbourne. What HOT places and things do you love about your home town?
- When I want to shop, I always head to Gertrude and Smith Streets!
- I know it’s the flavour of the month with many Melburnians, but we recently had a stand out meal at Hellenic Republic (34 Lygon St, Brunswick East +61 3 9381 1222). I love their no fuss approach while still remaining true to a traditional sensibility.
- Lawson Grove (1 Lawson Grove, South Yarra +61 3 98663640) is hidden in a quiet cul-de-sac just around the corner from my house. It’s the perfect spot for coffee and a sweet treat and was my ‘home away from home’ when I wrote my book Beauty in Bloom.
You can find out more about Bloom Cosmetics by reading their blog, joining their Facebook page and following them on Twitter.
For chats with other interesting Melburnians, click here.
(All images from Bloom Cosmetics)