Laura Rudoe, founder of Evolve Beauty based in Hertfordshire, on a sustainable approach that has caught the eye
What were you doing before launching Evolve Beauty?
I was the founding employee of the natural skincare brand NUDE, which is where I discovered my entrepreneurial side, and also my passion for designing natural and organic cosmetics. I was formerly a management consultant and I have an MBA from Harvard Business School.
What inspired you to launch this business?
I created Evolve Beauty to give people a way of making healthy green choices in their everyday beauty habits. Evolving is all about making small steps towards something better, and that is our vision. My aim for Evolve is to make organic beauty desirable, affordable and accessible to a wider audience.
I am fascinated by ethical business where there is no trade off between doing well financially and doing good in society. I was inspired to create an ethical beauty business in particular because of my interest in helping people to maximise their wellness by following a natural lifestyle. When I was younger I actually suffered with bad skin, so I have always been interested in skincare and learning about the best ingredients and natural solutions for skin problems.
That was back in 2009 – how do you look back on the early days?
Fondly, even though we faced a lot of challenges! Natural products, formulations and ingredients were not as easily available then and many formulators told us that what we wanted to create wasn’t possible, but we persevered and 11 years later the brand is available across the UK and in over 30 countries.
Why are natural ingredients key for you?
I believe that natural and organic ingredients are better for us and for the planet. I love using natural products which are packed full of high quality and pure ingredients. It’s also important to recognise what’s left out of our formulations as we don’t use any potentially harmful ingredients or preservatives.
There is also a common misconception that choosing natural and organic ingredients means fewer ingredients to choose from, but in reality this is far from true. There are actually hundreds of clinically-proven organic ingredients available, which is how we’re able to create such effective skincare without compromising on quality.
What else do you think makes you stand out?
I believe Evolve Beauty stands out from other brands by striving to be super transparent about everything we do. We know that we’re not perfect, but we’re continuously reflecting on where we are and thinking about what we can do next to go even further as a sustainable and, one day, regenerative business.
We also make all of our own products, by hand in small batches and that means we know what is in them, why each ingredient is included and where every single ingredient comes from.
How would you say you have evolved over the years?
We started off outsourcing production and we now produce everything ourselves in our eco studio in Radlett. We are constantly striving to become greener and more sustainable and from where we started 11 years ago we have changed our packaging. We now use glass bottles made from fully recyclable glass and when it comes to plastic, we opt for 75% to 100% recycled PET plastic, which (unlike PVC) is fully recyclable and if it is put into landfill, it doesn’t leach any chemicals into the soil. We have also just changed our cartons to grass paper.
You have been confirmed as being the first climate positive beauty brand in the UK. What does this mean to you?
This is huge for us! Our long term ambition is to move beyond being sustainable to become regenerative as a business. This means putting more into the planet than we take out: restoring, revitalising and renewing the world around us, as well as the wellness of everyone who uses our products.
Today, what type of products do you offer?
We offer a full range of skin, hair and body products, all handmade in our eco studio.
Tell us about your eco studio in Herts…
We’re very proud of our eco studio. It’s furnished with sustainable flooring, we’ve used recycled carpet and recyclable non-slip flooring, which are reminiscent of natural materials. We’ve also used recycled astroturf in our break out area where the whole team gathers for lunch everyday to catch up and unwind. The whole unit is powered by sustainable energy and we’ve fitted it with eco-friendly motion activated LED lighting.
The studio’s fit out is based on Biophilic Design to make sure we’re creating the best working environment for our artisanal team. The team are working in an area with lots of natural light, which helps to reset circadian rhythms and improve wellbeing. There are also lots of plants and natural imagery as nature can replenish our mental and attentional capacity whilst also improving our air quality.
Is there a typical day in the studio?
There is never a typical day, which is why I love doing what I do. Each day has structure, but I could be researching new ingredients, testing formulations, brainstorming green initiatives with the team, filming for TV interviews, meeting press, discussing new products, talking to customers… the list goes on!
Do you hear from many about how your products have improved their lives?
Yes! My proudest moments are when I hear something I have created has helped someone. Whether this is one of our products helping to improve someone’s skin condition, or even putting a smile on someone’s face, that has to be my favourite moment.
Do you still have ambitions for Evolve Organic Beauty?
I do. We are always looking at ways we can become more and more sustainable. One way we are evolving is to become completely transparent about our impact on the planet by publishing an annual impact report, starting with our first report this January about our 2020 impact.
We know that we have an impact all the way from ingredient sourcing to the moment our products are used and the packaging is (hopefully) recycled. Our aim is not only to become sustainable but to eventually become regenerative. Regenerative means our impact is not zero, it is actually positive: restorative for the planet and restorative for body and mind.
How long have you lived in Radlett and what do you like best about it?
We first moved to Radlett in 2012 and recently moved back after four years away. We are so delighted to be close to lots of friends again and I’m now close enough to bike or walk to the office.