Dining

Brunch at the Espresso Room, Northcote

Brunch – noun
A late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch. Thanks Wikipedia ha!

Actually brunch is one of my favourite things. It combines a normally long sleep in, with just enough time to excuse an eggs benny as an appropriate dish past noon. Once finished it’s generally time for another nap, which is another one of my favourite things to do.

Back to where this tale begins. Fresh off the plane from Hawaii, we headed to the Espresso Room in Northcote. A great space, located on the corner of High Street in Northcote with a tram stop right out the front – perfect.

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The space is my idea of heaven with an industrial chic feel. Love the use of the graffiti art within the cafe and the seating is perfect.

They even have their own deli section, so you know what you are getting is fresh off the slicer!

We started with ordering smoothies as it was such a warm day and the smoothie list was  welcomed with open arms. Smoothies are $9.50 each and are massive!

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The Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie – $9.50

I chose the Detox – spinach, kale, mint and cucumber. Perfect to get some nutrients into me post flight.
@chefjordanbird went with the Anti-Inflammatory – tumeric, mango, banana, coconut water, honey and cinnamon.

Next we had to decided on what we were going to eat! This is always the tricky part, lucky I spotted the specials board as a dish quickly grabbed my eye.

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Haloumi & Fig – $17.50

The Haloumi & Fig dish consisted of Turkish toast topped with haloumi, poached eggs, caramelised figs and basil pesto. The moment anyone mentions haloumi, I’m on board!

I found the dish tasty, and loved how the sweetness of the caramelised figs worked with the salty haloumi. The Turkish bread was soft and toasted to perfection.

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Eggs on Hash – $17.50

Of course I had to order something with hollandaise, it’s a cheeky accompaniment to any breakfast dish.

Eggs on Hash was so delicious, I loved the crispy hash brown and they didn’t shy away from using many slices of delicious smoked salmon.

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Buttermilk Pancakes – $16.50

No brunch is complete without something a little sweet on the side and of course, I had to get a totally instagramable dish – the Buttermilk Pancakes.

Oh boy, these. These are the pancakes of the gods. So fluffy, so soft and not too sweet. The infused mascarpone was perfect alongside the fluffy goodness. I also loved that there wasn’t an excessive amount of cocoa crunch, it was just right.

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The Brunch Gang!

Hang on a second, what about the coffee. One of the most vital drinks, one that Melburnians have perfected? I hear you asking, don’t worry read on to hear my thoughts on that!

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Of course I had to try the coffee, after all they roast their own beans on the premises. How cool is that! I ordered a small soy cappuccino to take away and it was perfection.

Smooth, creamy and utterly delightful. I highly recommend you adding a coffee to your order.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Espresso Room, Northcote. The food was wonderful, well priced and plentiful. I highly recommend you pop along and try this place for yourself.

Have a browse of their menu http://www.theespressoroom.com.au and check them out on instagram @espressoroomnorthcote.

Thank you for having us guys! We will be back soon!

Let me know of any places you would like me to check out next!

Renee
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Business in Focus

Meet the Makers – Sarah from Summer Salt Body

Welcome back to Meet the Makers! This week we are chatting to Sarah from Summer Salt Body, and I couldn’t think of a better brand to interview in the weeks after arriving back from Hawaii (take me back!).

I met the lovely Sarah a few months back at a trade fair here in Melbourne. It was lovely getting to know and chat with Sarah, it felt like we were old friends even though we had only chatted on social media before meeting. Sarah established her brand, Summer Salt Body in 2014 and it is a Melbourne based brand.

Summer Salt Body creates skincare and beauty products that are natural and vegan, and that are utterly beautiful!

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R. Hi Sarah! Thank you for taking part in Meet the Makers, I know you have a bunch on your plate so I really appreciate it.

Walk us through how you decided to start Summer Salt Body!

S. I was working as a sales rep in the health food industry and became very inspired by the people I would meet everyday who all owned their own businesses. I am passionate about natural remedies and so started creating products and selling them at local markets. It grew from there as we gained stockists very quickly and after about a year I quit my job and took Summer Salt Body full-time.

R. That’s amazing you were able to grow the brand significantly in a year, what an achievement. As the business grows what does a typical day look like for you?

S. I head to the factory in the morning then make a start on emails/ orders/ invoices ect. The courier arrives to pick up all the orders for the morning then we start production of any product low in stock. We have a great little team who work so hard to get everything done.

R. I would think the most important thing in small business is having a supportive and capable team around you so it’s great to hear you have got that. 

What would you say is the biggest challenge in business?

S. Keeping up with everything all at once! As the business grows it becomes harder and harder to keep track of everything at the same time. That’s when you need to start employing people and delegating a lot of work which I find very hard to do.

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R. It’s a challenge isn’t it as you want to balance what you have, cash flow, staff, timeframes – the list goes on!

In business and in life, when a challenge or a tricky task occurs how do you tackle it?

S. There are always challenges in business. I try to step back from it and find a solution. It’s very easy to get swept up in a challenge and let it worry or stress you in some way. All you can do is accept it, find a solution and move forward.

When I find myself over thinking things I try to have a bath and a herbal tea surrounded by crystals, candles and relaxing music. Another thing that’s always good is to get back to nature. Take yourself to the beach and watch the waves roll in or go for a walk in the forest. You’ll always feel rejuvenated and you’ll realise the thing that was worrying you wasn’t really that bad at all.

R. Yes! I think removing yourself, by taking a step back helps immensely. It can help clear the head so you can think of a solution and move forward.

I mentioned above you focus on natural and vegan products, why is this important to your brand?

S. We only source the highest quality natural, vegan friendly & organic ingredients. It’s really important to us that we only use these types of plant-based ingredients in our products which all serve a purpose in nourishing the skin. Anything you put on your skin goes straight into your bloodstream so it’s extremely important to stay away from synthetic or toxic ingredients. This relates to everything you use.

R. This is why I love the products coming from Australian Makers, the awareness around what we put on our skin and how important it is to choose natural products. I love that consumers have access to these wonderful ingredients.

What’s next for Summer Salt Body?

S. We’ve been very busy creating new products in the lead up to Christmas this year! We have just launched a range of Face & Body Oils infused with 24K Gold, Wild Flowers and Crystals as well as crystal infused mists and Crystal Face & Body Rollers. I have a bit of an obsession with crystals so there may even be a few new crystal inspired products launching soon.

I’ve also had a lot of requests for mens and baby products so this will be something to think about in 2019.

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R. I absolutely love the Body Oil, I actually have it packed already for Hawaii. It smells like heaven!

What would you say to someone who is considering starting their own small business?

S. If you’re passionate about anything then just start! I always hear people saying that they want to start something but can’t because of this or that. For me this business started out as a hobby and I never dreamt it would be as big as it is today. You may need to juggle a new business with full-time work but if you just start and put time into it then it will grow and eventually you may be working for yourself full time instead!

R. Oh Sarah, it’s so true. I often say this to people, just start! I wish I had started years ago, but I could find a reason why. I look back and think, I should have just done it, made mistakes, learnt from them. It’s the only way!

Where do you draw inspiration from?

S. I am constantly inspired by the people around me. Wether it be other business owners, successful athletes or someone busking on the street. I absolutely love seeing people follow their passion and it really inspires me to be a better person myself.

R. Very true, inspiration is all around us. Our time here is so short, I love seeing those around me taking risks to get the life they want. 

What are your thoughts on purpose and gratitude?

S. I think it’s really important that everyone feels they have a purpose in life. I am really passionate about the things I believe in. I don’t know that I’ve found my purpose but I think it changes depending on what stage you are in your life. Right now I’ve got a little one year old girl and another baby due very soon. I just want to provide the best life I can for my little ones and give them lots of different experiences that this world has to offer.

I always try to remind myself of how lucky I am in this life. There are always things to be grateful for. I try to go to sleep each night with a thought of gratitude in mind. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of wanting more or never being satisfied with what you have. This isn’t a bad thing as it keeps you motived to keep working hard but it’s definitely important to step back from time to time and appreciate what you’ve accomplished and what experiences you’ve gained. It’s not about material possessions and I really believe that less is more.

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R. It’s such a fine line with material possessions. I’m struggling with that a little at the moment as I head to Hawaii. I absolutely love Sephora, but do I really need the stuff I want to buy there? Would I be better doing a boat cruise or snorkelling adventure – it’s a tough one!

As it is #selfcaresunday, any self-care tips you would like to share?

S. Self care should be practised everyday and it can be as simple as accepting help from others when you need it instead of overextending yourself. It could even be simply appreciating your body for how amazing it really is rather than picking out all the things you don’t like about yourself. Self care doesn’t always mean taking a relaxing bath or treating yourself to a face mask. It’s about the way you treat and talk to yourself from day-to-day. Talk to yourself as you would a friend.

R. I like that, sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves. I am going to make a note to talk to myself as a friend this week and consciously keep that a the front of my mind – thank you!

What is your go to skincare or makeup product?

S. Summer Salt Body! 🙂 I pretty much only use my own products or I create something that I’m looking for. I’m all about natural remedies so I’ll never put anything on my skin that is fake or toxic.

img_7726-e1540094115894.jpgR. Amazing! I wish I could just whip something up to suit whatever I needed for my skin. That’s an achievement in itself having those skills!

Thank you again for joining us Sarah, best of luck with the new Bub and the Christmas rush!!

You can read more about Sarah on the Summer Salt Body website located here www.summersaltbody.com and via Instagram here @summer__salt

Enjoy your Sunday lovelies!

Renee
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skincare

Product Review – Olive Oil Skincare Company

I love meeting new Australian brands and was introduced to Olive Oil Skincare Company  roughly a month ago when they were extremely kind and sent over 2 products for me to try and review for you all.

Olive Oil Skincare Company is located in Sydney, Australia and you can purchase their products via their website oliveoilskincare.com.au and in selected Priceline stores.

All products contain 100% Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and are free from additives, palm oil, sulphates, parabens and artificial fragrance. Where products are fragranced it is with 100% pure essential oils.

The Original Soothing Balm – $19.99 AUD

Generous in size, The Original Soothing Balm has just 2 ingredients – 100% Australian Olea Europea (olive) Fruit Oil and Sorbitan Olivate. Sorbitan Olivate is an emulsifying agent found in olive oil.

This multi-use balm is perfect for chapped lips, it’s been one of my main balms I’ve reached for since receiving it. I also use a generous amount on my cuticles and on my hands just before bed. This is extremely hydrating and provides a moisture boost to dry, chapped lips.

Other uses are chaffed skin such as nappy rash, dry elbows and heels.

Cleansing Oil – $24.99 AUD

Beautifully packaged with a handy dropper to provide just the right amount of oil, this Cleansing Oil is perfection! It is lightly scented with notes of Orange, Cedarwood and Bergamot essential oils.

The texture is a light oil which rubs easily into the skin and works to remove makeup effortlessly. When water is applied, it turns milky and easily washes off from the skin.
When using this to remove makeup, I like to cleanse twice with this to ensure all of my make up is removed.

My only feedback is I wish it was bigger! I really enjoy using it and will be repurchasing this!

I’ve enjoyed using both the Cleansing Oil and Soothing Balm so much. They are both two beautiful products made with pure Australian ingredients.

I’m looking forward to picking up the Face Wash next however right now I’m off to pop some of the Soothing Balm on my lips as they are a little chapped!

Enjoy!
Renee
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Business in Focus

Meet the Makers – Simon Karlik, Cheeki

Meet the Makers was a little delayed today due to my flight from Sydney last night being cancelled, cue the screams of horror! Yes, there will be one complaint letter being written to Jetstar Customer Service ha!

I’ve been very excited to share this Meet the Makers with you as I am a massive fan of the brand, as you can see on my Instagram. Today we are chatting with Simon Karlik from Cheeki – the founder of the very groovy stainless steel straws, stainless steel insulated bottles and more!

Any business who is working towards a better environmentally-friendly future has the tick of approval in my book, and that’s just what Cheeki is doing.

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Simon Karlik, Founder

R. Hi Simon! Thank you for taking part in my Meet the Makers series! Let’s start with the all important question, what lead you to starting Cheeki?

S. I had sold my first business (a brand of outdoor & ski clothing) and had had a good break so was looking for the next idea. I wanted my new business to make a real positive impact on the environment and was getting very tired of seeing single use plastics everywhere. I formed Cheeki with a mission to create a healthy and environmentally-conscious alternative to disposable plastic containers. Cheeki’s range includes reusable bottles, coffee cups, lunchboxes, food jars, straws and tumblers.

R. I love what you are doing over at Cheeki, I took my Cheeki stainless steel bottle and straws all over Hawaii with me!

If you weren’t running Cheeki, what would you be doing?

S. Probably running a smaller and lower-key enterprise and spending much more time in the outdoors. However in saying that, I am incredibly fortunate with the success of Cheeki and that we are based on Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches.

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Cheeki at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu

R. The Northern Beaches is incredibly beautiful. I’ve lived all over Sydney however I haven’t been fortunate enough to reside on that side of the bridge – yet!

What inspired you to run a business that has such heavy focus on the environment?

S. My background is as an outdoor guide/educator so the environment is close to my heart. When you spend so much time outside you develop an appreciation like no other for our environment. I am inspired by the challenge of creation but for me, it needs to make a real and positive difference and Cheeki products have and continue to do so.

R. So true, I mentioned above I popped over to Hawaii 2 weeks ago and I’ve left with this amazing appreciation for the land and the beauty it hold.

Walk us through what an average day looks like for you at Cheeki.

S. The beauty of my job is that it is a real mix – general management of a business sees me working on new products, sales into new markets, managing staff, supplier and customer relationships, accounts, cash flow, stock ordering, quality control, marketing – the whole gamut.

R. It’s great you are able to mix the day up! Anything new on the horizon for Cheeki?

S. Later this year we will be releasing our new Active bottle range which come with “Tri Tech” adjustable flow lids – meaning you can sip straight from the bottle without unscrewing the lid, and have the choice of different rates of flow. This has been a two-year project in the making involving a lot of development.

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Cheeki at Haleiwa Beach, Oahu

R. Wow, 2 years in production. I bet you can’t wait for the release and see all that hard work come alive.

Outside of running Cheeki, what do you get up to for fun? Any hobbies or interests?

S. Currently relaxing out in the fresh air as I’m pretty busy with the growth of Cheeki right now. When not so busy, my main interests are hiking, skiing and kayaking.

R. We are so lucky to have access to all these outdoor activities. I’ve recently started bush walking and it’s so much fun!

What would you say is your favourite part of the day?

S. Early mornings which is right now as I write this – I am clear, relaxed and ready for a great day.

R. Where do you draw your inspiration from each day?

S. Seeing the appreciation that people have for our brand and the knowledge that our message of Refill / Reuse is making a difference and being understood. We receive countless messages from people all over the world testifying to this.

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Cheeki at Espresso Room Northcote (I took these with me!)

R. There is nothing like getting that feedback from customers. I always enjoy seeing your Cheeki social media accounts and how your customers interact with you.

Where is your favourite place in the world to travel to?

S. Montana, USA – my happy place with its friendly people, extraordinary landscapes and sense of history and native culture.

R. Oh one place I haven’t visited, however its on the list.

Who has inspired you most on this journey?

S. It goes without saying, my wife.

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Cheeki at Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i

R. Finally Simon, what would you be doing if money was no object?

S. Live somewhere more rural, relax more, be more active in the outdoors but still do something positive for environmental protection.

R. I think that’s the dream right there isn’t it. I have a similar one to get a place in rural Victoria and run a bed and breakfast.

Thank you again for your time Simon, it’s been a real delight!

If you would like to read more about the Cheeki range, you can do so via the website www.cheeki.net.au plus also follow along on Instagram @cheeki_bottles

Have a smashing week all!

Renee
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Beauty, skincare

Product Review – Enbacci Skincare

On Saturday I published my Meet the Makers interview with the lovely Yong-Li from Enbacci Skincare, you can find the interview here. I really enjoyed getting to know this Melbourne based brand a little more, and so did you! It was one of my most read interviews in a couple of months!

I mentioned I had been trialling a few of the products for a month or so also and thought it would be the perfect time to run through them with you.

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The three products I’ve been trialling are;

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The products are made here in Australia, and they even package everything themselves with recyclable packaging. They also seek to use fruit and plant stem cells which work actively on the skin to repair, moisturise and protect.

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Microdermabrasion Exfoliating Scrub – $45 AUD
Made with fine environmentally friendly micro-beads, this is extremely gentle on the skin and I find it easy to use without overworking it. I enjoy the smell, its light and not overpowering.

I love how it leaves my skin feeling fresh, clean and smooth. I notice my skin is brighter after using this also.

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Detoxifying Clay Mask – $44 AUD
Like all clay based masks, I don’t allow this to dry completely however the texture is more a creamy base than a traditional clay base mask. Kaolin Clay is a hero inclusion which works to draw out impurities in the skin yet is gentle on sensitive skin.

Once applied to my skin, I immediately feel my skin cooling and tingling which is refreshing. As I mentioned above, I love that the mask doesn’t dry down completely which makes it easy to remove and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry.

My skin is left feeling smooth to touch and not tight at all.

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Pore Minimiser – $30 AUD
As the name suggests this is a light cream that works to reduce the appearance of pores. While I haven’t yet tried wearing this under make up, it is noted on the Enbacci website that this can be worn under it.

Tea tree oil is one of the hero ingredients, this acts as an anti-inflammatory also. I quite enjoy the smell of tea tree oil so the smell of the Pore Minimiser doesn’t bother me. It works well into the skin and leaves a beautiful matte finish with no sticky residue.

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The whole range of products can be purchased on the Enbacci website where AfterPay is available. There is also a retail store in Prahran, Melbourne which I have been desperate to visit! Nothing like a physical store where you can go and smell everything.

I’ve really enjoyed using this range, especially on my #selfcare days as it feels like a luxurious spa day at home!

Have you tried the range?

Renee
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Business in Focus

Meet the Makers – Yong-Li Zhou from Enbacci Skincare

Just like that, Meet the Makers is back after a 2 week break while I was in Hawaii. I met some amazing Makers while I was in Hawaii and I’m thrilled that some even said yes to taking part! Keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of weeks for various blog posts on where I visited, where I ate and where I stayed while in Hawaii. I can’t wait to show you all my adventures.

Tonight however, we are chatting with the beautiful Yong-Li from Australian made Enbacci Skincare. Nan, her mama and co-founder, and Yong-Li created the beautiful range right here in Melbourne with Nan wanting to create something that worked with her sensitive skin.

I have been trialling 3 Enbacci Skincare products and will have a full review for you published this week, keep your eyes peeled!

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Yong-Li Zhou

R. Welcome to Meet the Makers Yong-Li, I’m excited to learn more about Enbacci, especially since your line has some great concepts such as the use of fruit and plant stemcells. Tell us, how was Enbacci Skincare born?

Y. My mum had always suffered from sensitive skin, but as she got older, the severity of her allergic reactions worsened. It didn’t matter how luxurious the item was, if she had a reaction, she would end up with sores and open wounds. It was because of this that Mum and I sat down together and decided that we needed to create something that she could use.

R. Ouch! That sounds super painful. I like you pointed out it didn’t matter how luxurious a product was, your mum would still break out. Sometimes it’s easy to think that just because something is expensive it will work, when really it’s all about the ingredients and how they work together.

Walk us through an average day at Enbacci Skincare.

Y. A typical workday sees me sculling down my protein shake in the morning before heading off to the gym for a morning workout session. I am not really a morning person but I have found this to be an effective way to get me going for a day at my desk.

Between 8am and 8.30am, you can find me on my phone updating all our social media with a post for the day.

By the time 9am hits, I am at my desk writing down my to-do list for the day. Tasks can range from accounting, product development planning or just doing some product development, product designing and editing, ensuring our website is up to date and answering interview questions like these. I also like to be in the know when it comes to our clients, so you can often find me in our new store chatting away with them, getting to know them and developing some rapport. For me, the contact at a retail level is one of the most important for a business as this is where clients determine through their experience whether they will be returning or not.

R. I have been meaning to get into the retail store! I really wanted to attend your last event, I was sad when I couldn’t get there. 

What do you think you would be doing, if you weren’t running the business?

Y. I co-founded the business with my Mum when I was in my first year of Uni. I was so quick and eager to finish my degree (having graduated within less than three years) so that I could properly focus on the business. If I wasn’t running this particular business, I think I might have gone on to do more studying for a time being but I definitely would have found a way to start a business of my own, one form or another

R. What have you found to be the biggest challenge so far in business?

Y. There are so many challenges both from a business perspective and from a personal perspective that one may experience in business. I think for me, it is finding that balance between the two that is most challenging. It is easy for friends to say “you need to relax and take a break”, but what they don’t understand is that you relaxing and taking a break means time away from your business which ultimately provides for your livelihood and the ability for you to relax and take a break free from stress.

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R. Agree! It’s especially tough when you are running a business and have so many ideas and dreams – your mind is constantly on the go. 

I recently found out someone has started copying one of my ideas, it’s a bit rough but I’m trying to take it as a compliment. How do you deal with negativity on a business level?

Y. Not going to lie. It is hard, particularly when you get negativity about something you pour your heart and soul into creating. I recently watched a Youtube video that had someone review one of our products that they received in a Bellabox. The negative comments started to flow out just as she began to open our products. Firstly, she didn’t like the particular full size product that was in her box (there were four possibilities that month) just because it’s not something she needs. Her comments then followed on to suggest how wasteful our product packaging is and how unnecessary it all is and how she would never go on to purchase a product with so much packaging. Ok, valid comments, but that really hurt to hear given that my Mum and I do everything in-house from developing the product, designing the packaging, even selecting the packaging types and finishes so that we are as environmentally conscious as possible as a brand, to hand wrapping (yes, hand wrapping) each of the products in their recyclable plastic security sleeves. Needless to say, this kept me up a couple of nights thinking about how we could fix everything wrong with our packaging until my Mum stopped me in my tracks one day and said, “you can’t listen to every single negative comment out there. We just need to stay true to who we are”. And she was right. There are people out there who aren’t going to like us, but I know that there definitely people out there who love us and love what we do. So now, I listen and I consider the negativity and if it isn’t constructive feedback, then pfft…oh well and bye, not-a-potential-customer.

R. That’s intense, I really enjoyed seeing how you tackled it and got into a better head space, with the help of mum. If I am writing a review, I am always thinking about sticking to what’s relevant, ingredients and how I found it worked. 

Anything new happening in the world of Enbacci Skincare?

Y. We are always working on new and exciting things. The most exciting project at the moment is the development of sheet masks. Its taken us a very long time to develop a serum formula that we meet all of our criteria and more importantly, that we are able to combine them with the particular sheet masks we have designed. We are also working on a campaign for the sheet masks that I am really excited about because to me, it just highlights who Enbacci is and what we are all about.

R. YES! I am so excited to hear this, I absolutely love sheet masks. 

Tell me, how do you celebrate a win?

Y. With family, good food and good wine, then, a good sleep-in!

R. That sounds perfect! Who has influenced your personal and business journey?

Y. Definitely my parents. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their unconditional support. Growing up, I saw them start and end several businesses of their own. I believe I developed that drive I have for business from watching them working hard.

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R. Is the use of organic/natural ingredients important to you and your brand?

Y. Something I say to my clients all the time is that I don’t like using the words organic and natural in our industry. I feel like they are heavily conflated words. Something that a lot of consumers may not know is that organic and natural ingredients are often not a closely regulated, which could mean allergies or other side effects that have not been disclosed, or that they are more likely to have microbes

I prefer to say that we try to use ingredients that are naturally derived or organically sourced, but to me, to have a product that is actually natural or actually organic, the final product won’t last two weeks in your fridge. The exception to that are certain balm/wax products but that’s getting into more of the science and preserving ability of ingredients.

R. There is just so much to learn about terminology, and how much greenwashing plays into it all. I really love your honest and clear response.

Outside of Enbacci Skincare, what do you like to get up too?

Y. I love reading, particularly fantasy and sci-fi genres. When I’m not going through a text-book, you can find me sitting on the couch, rugged up in a blanket with a good book and a cup of tea.

I do also love cooking and baking. I love creating gluten-free decorated layered cakes and other sweet treats that can be enjoyed by family and friends. I have seriously considered turning this into another side-business!

R. I think you could be onto something, gluten-free layered cakes sound delicious!

What would you say is your purpose?

Y. Tricky question! I believe everyone definitely has a purpose but I don’t believe we all have to know what it is. I definitely haven’t figured mine out yet. My mum says to me that my purpose was to kick my parents up the butt so that they would get their act together when they were younger, but I would like to think that my purpose has changed a bit now. Perhaps it is just to be the best person I can be and a role model for others?

R. Well, I think your work ethos is incredibly inspiring! Purpose constantly changes, so don’t worry if you haven’t got anything set in stone.

Favourite part of the day?

Y. As much as I do love my work, there is nothing quite like the feeling of coming home to my husband and furbaby and enjoying a home-cooked meal.

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R. There is nothing like time on the lounge with the fur baby! I’m excited to see mine furbabies after 2 weeks away, and the husband – ha!

I love hearing about other’s beauty routines, walk us through yours.

Y. Morning: Cleansing with our Vitis Vinifera Rejuvenating Gel Cleanser, followed by our Age Revitalising Eye Defence and our Vitis Vinifera Rejuvenating Essential Creme. I usually just apply a little eye liner and fill in my brows and that is my make-up for the day.

The following is my full night regime that I do once-twice a week:

  1. Remove makeup with makeup remover.
  2. Scrub with our Microdermabrasion Exfoliating Scrub.
  3. Apply our Detoxifying Clay Mask and let that sit for about 20 minutes whilst I am watching something on TV.
  4. Rinse off the mask and apply our Creme.

On most nights, I forego the scrub and mask and just use out gel cleanser to get rid of the excess dirt and oils from the day.

R. I am loving the Microdermabrasion Exfoliating Scrub!

Favourite skincare and makeup product?

Y. My go-to skincare product is our Vitis Vinifera Rejuvenating Creme. I always tell clients how important it is to moisturise your skin no matter your skin type.

My go to makeup product is black waterproof liquid liner. My favourite is MAC liquidline because it is the only one that does not melt on me.

R. Agreed! The MAC Liquidline is amazing, and stays put on eyes too without transferring to my upper eyelid. 

How do you practice self-care?

Y. As basic as this may sound, getting a good night’s sleep and keeping yourself hydrated. There are so many studies out there that look at the negative effects of each of these can have on the body when we lack good sleep or adequate amounts of water. The only thing we are required to do is make a few habitual adjustments.

R. Sleep is so important, not only mentally but physically too. I always know if I’ve pushed myself too hard and not gotten enough sleep – you can tell on my skin!

If you could pick anywhere in the world to relax, where would you go?

Y. Definitely by the beach. Any beach is fine but if I really had to pick one, it would be Kua Bay in Hawaii.

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R. Oh Hawaii, take me back! There is so much beauty there, my favourite too!

Lastly, imagine money was no object. What would you do? 

Y. I’d hire more people to help me run my business so that I can go travelling the world more!

R. Oh that’s the dream isn’t it! Maybe you can launch Enbacci in different countries around the world and use that as an excuse to travel the world!

Thank you so much Yong-Li for your time and your open and honest answers. It was so refreshing to learn a little more about Enbacci Skincare. 

If you would like to see the full range of Enbacci products, you can do so here http://www.enbacci.com and also connect with Yong-Li on Instagram @enbacci

As I mentioned above, I will have my Enbacci product review live this week too, stay tuned!

Happy Saturday!

Renee
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Business in Focus

Meet the Makers – Sydney Makers Meet Up

On Friday, I hosted a lovely lunch with some beautiful Sydney based beauty makers at the Grounds of Alexandria. When I say hosted, I really didn’t do much as the moment everyone arrived magic just happened. I loved that it was intimate enough that everyone got to chat with each other, that at one point Louella whipped out some products for a little demo and that there were so many smiles to be seen.

A special thank you to Davroe and Malie Organics for sending over some surprise goodies for the ladies! They loved them!

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The Grounds are a beautiful place to meet, there is so much to look at and to talk about. Kevin Bacon has left the building but they had the cutest little piggy in his place!

I loved seeing the spring blooms everywhere against the lush green backdrop – so beautiful!!

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Of course I started with a cocktail, it was called a Garden Pavlova – oh boy! It was so yummy with Gin and St Germain the free dried raspberry was a treat!

The Grounds also still had some left over Halloween decorations which was fun to see, I love the styling of this place. They know how to do events!

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After lunch we enjoyed some vegan ice-blocks which were perfect as it was so hot once the sprinkler system shut down! This was the tropical ice-block with kiwi, raspberry and blueberries!

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I thought for this Meet the Makers, it’s a day late – I’m on Hawaii time, I would recap the day and who came along to celebrate all things beauty!

The beautiful Makers included Louella from Kiss Ready Lips, Polly from Sage Cosmetics, Louise from Devine Oils, Sara from Mermaid Cove Organics and Marisa from Marisa Robinson Beauty. My Mum also came along.

All of these beautiful ladies have been so gracious with their time, taking part in my Meet the Makers series. So I thought for this week, we will also recap on their interviews!

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The Makers!

Starting with Sara, my was my first ever Meet the Maker interview. This beautiful lady has gone from strength to strength since opening her online store, Mermaid Cove Organics. Specialising in small-batch products from green beauty makers such as Herbs & Heart, Black Robin and Ili Skincare, Sara has now launched her own face oil range too. It was so lovely to finally meet in person!

You can read Sara’s Meet the Maker interview here.

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The beautiful Marisa from Marisa Robinson Beauty and I hit it off! We have built a lovely friendship online as Marisa is so supportive of all those around her. It felt like we had been friends or years.

Marisa specialises in the digital world, but blogs about beauty after hours. Just last week she launched her first e-book titled “A Bloggers Guide To Working With Brands and Agencies and is a perfect read for those new & old to the game. Marisa also runs Blogging Bootcamps, which sound amazing and something I need to take part in!

You can find Marisa’s Meet the Makers interview here.

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The beautiful Louella from Kiss Ready Lips and I have been friends now for close to a year. I met Louella at Finders Keepers Sydney, where she gave the most passionate demonstration of her products that feature Chia Seed oil.

Louella was kind enough to bring along some goodies for me to try, her new Skin Veil and the very stunning Glowing Dawn Body Oil. With a quick demonstration of the oil that left everyone in awe, friends you seriously you need to check this oil out – so shimmery!

You can find Louella’s Meet the Makers interview here.

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Beautiful Polly from Sage Cosmetics, it was so wonderful to meet you. Another soul that I’ve met, where it felt like we had been friends for ages. It was refreshing to speak with you so openly about life, motherhood, everything and anything.

I love what you and Lou are doing, running workshops to teach those how to make their own skincare products, I can’t wait to come along to one when I am in Sydney next.

You can read Polly & Lou’s Meet the Maker interview here.

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Now, the beautiful Miss Louise from Devine Oils and I did not get a photo together. How did I let this happen? Not happy Jan! Ha! It was beautiful to finally meet you Louise, such knowledge of the industry which I think is wonderful to share. I’m glad you were able to experience The Grounds, you will have to make it your new go-to place/

I also just realised I haven’t interviewed you for Meet the Makers! We will need to change that ASAP. Instead, you can read my review on the beautiful trial set from Devine Oils here.

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What I took away from the lunch, was how beautiful it was that I was able to be 100% myself. I was nervous to meet so many faces, what to say, do, act etc. The thoughts we all have when we meet new people, but I was instantly relaxed and happy.

I am so grateful to you all for joining me for lunch and sharing more about yourselves.

Truly grateful.

Renee
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Hotel Reviews

Airbnb Review – Mancuso Country Cottage, Metcalfe

For my birthday weekend, I wanted to go somewhere with our puppy Zoe. Unfortunately she gets severe car sickness, so where ever we decided we were going to had to be close.

I really love Kyneton, located just over an hour from our home in Melbourne. It is a beautiful, sleepy town with just the right amount on county feel to it.
Piper Street is where the best cafes are, beautiful homewares shops and also houses with their doors painted in bright colours!

So when I found a house located near Kyneton that was dog friendly, I knew that was the place for us!

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Pulling up at the house, you are greeted by the most quaint cottage around!

Inside consists of two rooms. A bedroom with fireplace, bar fridge and tv and a 2nd room which is the bathroom.

Although it’s not a 5 star hotel, it is extremely comfortable with everything you could possibly need. Especially in winter, thick blankets on the bed with electric blankets. The cottage also holds heat extremely well.

Some of the neighbours. I took the dog for a walk around the property on our first morning and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw an emu across the road! I thought I was dreaming, there was also an alpaca, sheep and a cow!

An extremely large spa tub was just want I needed! It was huge. Although, I didn’t want to waste water so I only filled it up a little.

The rest of the compact bathroom, again everything you could possibly need. The large sink doubles as a spot to wash any dishes and is large enough to do so.
The mirror is quite high, lucky we are tall-ish! Ha!

How cute are these retro glasses that were in the shack!

The front verandah, with a comfy lounge and a BBQ to the left. We were left with sufficient firewood too, however if we got too low there was more near the back shed.

So many places to sit and ponder, read a book and just take in the fresh country air.

Having a quick photo with my pup, Zoe. She absolutely loved it too, unfortunately we couldn’t let her off the leash as she doesn’t come back when we call her – still training her on that. Plus I wouldn’t want her to scare any of the resident cows.

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How cute is my pink hat! I picked that up from Alex Muir in Kyneton. One of the cutest interior shops I have ever been into. Alex is also lovely, well worth a visit!

The pup taking in the little creek down the bottom of the house. So many new smells for her to take in!


This well was built by the Chinese during the gold rush – an amazing piece of history on the land, a pleasant walk down the hill.

Our first Air BnB experience was so easy. We are so grateful for our hosts, who made the stay very comfortable and pleasant. The property was wonderful and I can’t wait to return! Hopefully sooner rather than later!

I had several questions about whether children could stay here, however I don’t think it would be possible as it is just the queen bed and not much room for any additional pullouts etc.

If you would like the link for the property, feel free to reach out. I would be more than happy to share this little slice of heaven.

Renee
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Business in Focus

Meet the Makers – Vanessa from v e e.p bath and body

Another week done and dusted and I am now in the final week before Hawaii! The countdown is well and truly happening – I am just so excited!

Today we are chatting with the fun and utterly fabulous Vanessa from  v e e.p bath and body, a quirky Melbourne based brand with a focus on bright and colourful vegan skincare.

You may have seen my posts about the “Sunday Blues” Mask from v e e.p bath and body. I picked that up on my recent visit to Finders Keepers in Melbourne. It is pure heaven, made to uplift your spirits, which let’s be honest we all need on a Sunday night. It also has ingredients that have been formulated to brighten the skin and also help balance the skins oil production.

Not only has Vanessa created a range of skincare to help women feel confident in their skin, she also supports Soap Aid. This organisation supports communities who do not have access to basic hygiene items, such as soap. In March, Vanessa introduced the one for one soap initiative. For every product sold, Vanessa donate’s a soap bar to a child living in poverty around Australia and across the globe. Since March, she has donated 600+ soap bars! What a beautiful initiative.

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R. Thanks for joining us Vanessa! I simply adore your Sunday Blues Mask, it’s such a treat to use on a Sunday evening as I mentally prepare for the week ahead!

Lets start with what led you yo starting v e e.p bath and body?

V. I’ve always wanted to run my own business and I knew it would be something creative, but I never pictured myself creating skincare. The business started by accident really. I wanted to learn something new so enrolled myself into a soap making class. I soon became addicted to soap making and it kind of went on from there!

R. Ha! That’s amazing. Well you can see the creative side in your products, the packaging is so colourful and fun!

Walk us through a day at v e e.p bath and body.

V. My days throughout the week a quite different to each other.. the day could be spent doing production, admin, photoshoots, designing, developing new products or studying! I do everything myself so no 2 days are ever the same really!

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R. What have you found to be the biggest challenge while you’ve been in business?

V. Comparing myself to other entrepreneurs/businesses and ‘fraudy feelings’ – feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing and eventually I’ll fail (#realtalk haha)

R. It’s so easy to do isn’t it. Second guess yourself and even compare yourself to others. I can tell you now, you are doing amazing things girl!

Have you had to deal with any negativity?

V. I haven’t had to deal with much negativity from others. The main negativity I deal with is from myself. I am quite an optimistic person so it’s not often that struggle with negativity but when I do it’s usually because I’m stuck in a rut or I haven’t had enough ‘me’ time. So I usually schedule in a night by myself (TV, mask, long shower etc) or I watch inspiration youtube vids, listen to like-minded business podcasts.

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R. I find if I’m stuck in a rut then it is super hard for me to pull myself out of it too.

What helpful advice would you give someone who is looking to start their own skincare business?

V. Take time developing products and testing them out before launching. I would get a few great products ready before launching. And have a brand story ready to launch with. I’ve redesigned packaging 3 times since being open for 4 years haha. In saying that though, don’t wait until everything is perfect or you’ll never start. Also, be aware of other brands out there but don’t be following them too closely or you’ll just end of comparing yourself and feeling down. Have a couple of brand role models but be ORIGINAL! There’s a lot of green beauty businesses with almost identical products – down to the labels and product names! That’s not cool.

R. I agree about not following anyone too closely, in any profession. Especially now with social media, what’s going on behind closed doors is often very different to what is happening publicly. I think it’s so important to keep in mind, just to always be yourself.

What’s next for v e e.p bath and body?

V. We recently released 3 new products! The Sunday Blues Brightening & Exfoliating Mask, Cop That! Brightening & Exfoliating toner, and the Anoint face oil.

I’m currently working on 2 face creams and have plans for a hand cream later on in the year!

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R. Wooo a hand cream, alongside cleansers they are my second favourite beauty product! I can’t wait to see the packaging for that.

I also love hearing about people’s skincare routines, let’s chat about yours – what does it look like?

V. I try to do my beauty routine morning and night, but usually it’s just once because I can be lazy. This is going to sound like a plug but I literally don’t use any other skincare products apart from vee.p bath and body haha

  • Cleanse with Mellow Yellow Cleansing Oil or Calming Charcoal Cleanser – depending on what my skin needs that day
  • Tone – ALWAYS TONE! With either of the vee.p toners but currently the go to is Cop That! Exfoliating toner as my skin needs some smoothing out
  • I use a jade roller to depuff my face and get circulation going
  • I sometimes use a face serum that I made up myself for fun 😝
  • Moisturise with the Rosy Posy face cream (coming soon!)
  • 4 drops of Anoint face oil. Massage it into my skin

People always think that’s a lot of steps but it takes me about 10 minutes.

R. Once you get the routine down pat then its super easy. My morning routine is normally just a quick cleanse and moisturise but I spend a little longer in the evenings as I find it nice way to relax.

Now we touched on the skincare routine, what would you say is your go-to skincare or makeup product?

V. My one go-to skincare product is our Anoint Face Oil. I’m obsessed. I put it on morning and night and sometimes just randomly throughout the day.

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R. I will have to pop that on the list of products to try next!

You mentioned above you always thought you would end up doing something creative and have ended up in skincare. How do you think your purposes evolved?

V. Purpose is something I think about a lot. I’m quite a ‘big dream’ sort of girl so when I picture my life and my business I aim to grow not just to have wealth or be known in the beauty industry. I want to grow so I can create jobs and a great work place. My vision is to employ people (mainly women) who struggle to find work – new mums, single mums, unemployed for long periods of time, previously homeless. And I want to grow in revenue so that I can give more back to the community through charities.

I think my purpose is something I’m always working on but currently I feel its to help other women (and men) feel they are beautiful, inside and out; that they are loved and they matter.

R. That’s so beautiful to hear, and what an opportunity to help those that need it. I have no doubt that this is something you can achieve!

Running a business can be chaotic, how do you practice self-care?

V. Self-care is not selfish! And it’s almost much more than a face mask or a bath with a glass of wine. It’ll be different for everyone. If you’re an introvert like me, it might be having the TV to yourself for a night. If you’re an extrovert it might be going out. Self care is knowing what you need and putting that before anything else. Schedule it if you need to.

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R. I agree 100%, sometimes it’s even scrolling mindlessly for an hour on Pinterest putting together your dream home! It really does mean something different for everyone.

I’ve really enjoyed writing this interview with you Vanessa, wishing you the best of luck with all your dreams and goals! 

If you would like to connect with Vanessa you can do so her website www.veepbathandbody.com or via Instagram @vee.pbathandbody

Happy Sunday all!

Renee
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Beauty, skincare

Product Review – Biome Skin Care

Biome is a truly gorgeous business doing some amazing things for planet earth. They sell a range of products from reusable coffee cups and straws to lunch boxes, skincare products and books.

All products listed on their website and in store are inline with their core values which I have copied below directly from the Biome website, it includes hyperlinks back to the Biome website. The strict set of core values are;

Source – www.biome.com.au

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Biome also has their own skincare range, which is where I come in! I was invited to try a selection of their products which was very kind but also very exciting! I LOVE the less is more movement – reduce, reuse, recycle!

The products all come in environmentally friendly glass packaging, which you can reuse (I’ve already got flower ideas for the 3-in-1 Skin Trio bottle).

The products are as pure as can be, they are palm oil free, cruelty free and vegan. No additives or preservatives are added and they do not contain any synthetic fragrance.

I selected the following products to review;

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Biome 100% Jojoba Oil 100ml – $22.95 AUD

I choose the Jojoba Oil as the benefits, such as acting as an antibacterial plus it is very mild, makes it perfect for the face. I picked this with removing my makeup (surprise surprise) in mind and I love that it is 100% pure.

I start by massaging the oil into my skin and around my eye area. Although this is non-greasy, I find it easiest to remove the oil from my skin with a damp cloth.

It is light on my skin and leaves it feeling smooth.

The Jojoba Oil is multi-use, you can also use this in your hair as a treatment, in the bath and also as a massage oil.

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Biome 3-in-1 Skin Trio Face Clay Normal – Seaweed, Green Clay & Spirulina – $39.95 AUD

Not only can you use the 3-in-1 Skin Trio as a mask on #selfcaresunday (or any day!), it can also be used as a cleanser when mixed with castile soap or as an exfoliator when mixed with a hydrosol.

I enjoy using this as part of my weekly masking session. I am obsessed with the ingredients! Seaweed provides nourishment, the Green & Yellow Clay draws out impurities while the Spirulina acts to stimulate the skin. Gentle pumice stone powder acts as an exfoliant. Plus it smells like the ocean – delicious.

Never let a clay mask dry completely as it will pull on your skin when you remove it. This is where one of the Biome Hydrosol’s come in handy! I love to spritz around 3 minutes into the mask with the Biome 100% Pure Hydrosol Chamomile to provide moisture and added nutrients.

When the mask is removed with cool water (I prefer it), my skin is left feeling cool, refreshed and incredibly smooth. The ocean smell lingers but it is refreshing and not a bother.

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Biome 100% Pure Hydrosol Chamomile – $27.95 AUD

What’s a hydrosol you ask? I have written about it before, it’s a fairly new term being used in Australian skincare. A hydrosol is where plants/flowers are steam distilled to create an infused floral water.

Aside from using the Hydrosol mid-mask, as mentioned above you can use this with the 3-in-1 Skin Trio to exfoliate the skin or even just to freshen your skin during the day. I enjoy the calming properties of chamomile, especially if I am feeling stressed!

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Biome Scrub + Soak Citrus Burst – $29.95 AUD

My favourite time of the week, is when I get to take a soak in the tub. Usually on a Sunday! The Scrub + Soak in Citrus Burst has been such a delight to use.

I start by sprinkling a little into the tub before I jump in, to let the Epsom salt blend into the water while Calendula and Chamomile flowers swirl around. Once I am in the tub, I place a little into my palm and massage into my skin. The inclusion of coconut sugar and oatmeal work to exfoliate the skin.

A citrus blend of essential oils works to lift my mood and makes me feel energised. So much energy in one bottle – I absolutely love it!

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In conclusion, I absolutely love the Biome range. Not only are the ingredients pure, natural, vegan and cruelty free when I use them I know I am leaving a positive footprint in the world with the sustainable packaging and naked ingredients.

I love the bright packaging that sits beautifully in the bathroom too – the photos don’t do the bright packaging justice!

For the full range, head over to http://www.biome.com.au or via Instagram at @biomestores

Let me know your thoughts if you have also used anything from the range!

Renee
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