As consumers we’re becoming more aware of what we buy and how it affects the world around us. When it comes to the beauty world this usually just ends with the products being vegan and not tested on animals. That is mostly the end of it, but when it came time to create her brand Surface Skincare, Araya Elise Green knew that she wanted to do more.
Not only are their skincare products entirely natural and totally luxurious, they also have a charitable component built into their business structure. It’s this way of thinking about how their products affect the world around them in the larger sense that makes them such an interesting company. Plus, as if you need another reason to love them, their packaging is fantastic! Check out what Araya Elise Green had to say about her journey as a business owner below!
Tell us a bit about your brand and the philosophy behind it.
When we launched Surface Skincare in 2011, our aim was to challenge traditional skincare with products that were made entirely from plant-based and certified organic ingredients, yet still produced amazing results. We had a list of ‘must haves’ that we wanted for Surface and were not willing to compromise on the final result; it had to be safe for our health, skin and planet, use no harsh chemicals, and be entirely natural. Giving back has been a big component of how we do things and this formed part of Surface. We wanted to use this platform to give back to those that are less fortunate.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Surface Skincare is a hybrid of luxe meets natural. We ensure that the products produce results and yet still look fabulous on your bathroom shelf. We have a minimalist approach and believe that less is more. With that in mind, we only have a handful of products but they are suitable for all skin types and effective all year round — it’s about how you use them. We don’t use chemical-based preservatives or use water to fill our products; instead, you will only see high quality hydrosol rose and tea tree as key ingredients, and we’re reasonably priced. We have a social component where we want Surface to be more than just a beauty brand; we give back where possible.
What made you want to have a charitable aspect built into your company?
Having grown up in Thailand, I was very fortunate to have a great upbringing but unfortunately this is not the case for everyone. When I learnt of the hardships experienced by many young people and children, it broke my heart and I vowed to give back where I could. When creating Surface and traveling between Asia and Australia to learn about some of the best natural ingredients, I came across many people that were exploited for their trade. Unfortunately, due to limited opportunities, many are forced to continue working under these conditions, but this doesn’t make it acceptable. This didn’t sit well with me and I ensured that this wouldn’t be something that Surface ever supported.
While our products are produced in Australia, our organic cotton gift bags are made abroad. To do this, we partnered with women in Thailand, supporting the ‘One Tambon, One Product’ (OTOP) project to produce these. OTOP supports locally made products by giving locals access to an international stage to support their trade.
We selected OTOP as it’s an opportunity to give back to a community that is less fortunate, by supporting their trade and paying a fair wage for their work. We believe everyone deserve a chance and know that we have the platform to contribute to this.
What made you pick this specific method (rather than donations or something similar)?
We chose to partner OTOP due to security and structure. As a government-driven initiative, we knew there were strict processes, which gave us peace of mind. We’re not opposed to donations; however, these only go so far and don’t support communities to build on their trade for the long-term. The model we’ve chosen helps communities remain self-sustainable through regular income and to improve their trade, community and life.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome since starting your brand?
The biggest challenge has been getting the word out and demonstrating that natural skincare can rival some of the best brands out there. Social media has been key in getting exposure; however, it’s a challenge to get visibility in a sea of brands.
What’s one piece of advice you were given that really resonated with you?
Don’t be afraid to walk away; to walk from what you’re doing to something better if it’s where your heart leads you, and if there is something even better after that, don’t be afraid to move. I guess it’s about not being afraid of change. You’ll never know if you don’t take the leap first. Yes, the comfort of what you know best is great, but does it challenge you? Challenges are what help us to step outside our comfort box and the results of this can be incredible.
What’s one thing you wish you had known when you started the company?
I wish I hadn’t put so much emphasis on what other people had to say about the brand, our model and product and letting that affect how we went about things. I guess it’s about differentiating what advice comes from a good place to help you move forward.
What’s one skincare sin you wish you could stop people from committing?
Using soap on their face! Unless specificly for your face, soap has been made with the purpose of cleansing your body. Sure, it’s all skin at the end of the day but the needs are different and so are the ingredients and their potency. We have thinner skin areas on our face which can be more sensitive. Soap can be very drying and may cause more bad than good.
What’s your favourite thing about being a business owner?
Being able to be my own boss. It gives me freedom to live the lifestyle I want and do things that I could only dream of doing previously. Being your own boss requires discipline, but the rewards are incredible. There are downsides though and it’s important to be upfront about them. It’s hard work, there is no such thing as 9-5 and working alone can be daunting and lonely. Surrounding yourself with key people is key.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Find your purpose; what are you passionate about? What excites you? What is enjoyable? Then go out there and see how this fits in with what you want to do. Many dive head first into something that seemed like a good idea at the time with no research or passion for the industry, product or service. This isn’t going to be sustainable in the long-term as working on it will feel like pulling teeth!
Once you’re out there, listen to feedback as this will help steer your business; however, don’t let people bring you down. Surround yourself with people that lift you, inspire you and help you be a better person. Your friend may be an incredible friend but that doesn’t necessarily make them your best business partner.
Do things out of passion and interest and not for their dollar value. This is what helps businesses remain sustainable as you’re always going to be lifted by your work. There are hard days but that’s normal in any industry or path you take. Just take it one step at a time and don’t be too hard on yourself or compare yourself to others; every journey is unique.
Be sure to check out the Surface Skincare website for more information about their products and their work with OTOP.