The Beauty Chef was born out of Founder Carla Oates’ own skin and gut-health frustrations. As a child, she suffered from eczema and allergies. To help her find relief, Carla’s mother took her to see a naturopath. And instead of providing her with topical solutions and antihistamines to cover up the symptoms, the naturopath prescribed Carla something much more valuable; a healthy diet that would work to fix the root of the problem. After removing gluten, dairy and processed foods from her diet, Carla’s allergies and eczema quickly subsided and that’s when it hit her – health and beauty begin in the belly.
As she grew, Carla carried that quiet wisdom with her. And when her career as a journalist took off and she became beauty editor for a mainstream newspaper, that inner knowing starting growing louder and louder. It got to a point where she could no longer ignore its calls.
"I was inundated with lots of beauty products from mass market brands. It was exciting at first, but then I became aware, through researching their ingredients, of the many toxic chemicals in skincare products," Carla recalls.
"Women from all over Australia were writing into my column, asking for advice on what products to use for their eczema, psoriasis, acne and other chronic skin issues. And I knew that looking after your skin properly started with what you ate – none of the chemical-laden products would actually help, heal or regenerate the skin."
"My forever motto is to look after your gut, be gutsy and follow your gut instinct." – Carla Oates
This was the tipping point. "I decided to make it my mission to help change the paradigm in the beauty industry and help educate women on how to look after their skin in a healthier and more holistic way," she says. "So, I left the newspaper, wrote a book called Feeding your Skin and became the natural beauty writer for Wellbeing Magazine. For six years, I also penned a natural beauty column called ‘DIY Beauty’ for the for Sunday Telegraph newspaper."
Fast-forward to today, and Carla is killing it in the inner-beauty wellness category. Her ingestible beauty brand The Beauty Chef, which was founded in 2012, features an array of edible powders and elixirs that promise to deliver everything from healthier hair to smoother skin and stronger immunity. And now, Carla’s upped the ante even higher with the creation of her own state-of-the-art, bio-fermentation facility called Fermco in Villawood.
From late nights to finding the right partners and making her vision a reality, Carla tells The CEO Magazine all about her new baby, Fermco.
Carla Oates on building a natural beauty career
What was the "Ah-Ha" moment that led to Fermco’s creation?
Having my own manufacturing plant was always the dream, albeit as a ‘pie in the sky’ idea initially. From the earliest days of the business almost 13 years ago, I wanted to create our products in a place that belonged to The Beauty Chef. So, I suppose that ‘Ah Ha’ moment was setting out the vision to actually create our own plant. That took five years of passion, late nights, early mornings, and relentless work with my team of microbiologists to study the transition from our network of hand-picked Australian manufacturing partners to realise a new state-of-the-art, brand-owned, bio-fermentation plant in Sydney. To this date, it is one of my greatest career achievements, and something I am incredibly proud to have accomplished.
What opportunities and benefits does Fermco afford The Beauty Chef?
Fermco has enabled us to make our bacterial fermentation processes more sophisticated. It’s made it possible to control probiotic outcomes more closely. Fermentation is both an art and a science. Having our own team of microbiologists in our own fermentation plant allows us to be on the frontier of creating innovative, advanced, but natural probiotic and nutritional supplements. This gives us a competitive advantage in the market with speed, quality, cost and management.
What’s your best advice for staying focused and turning dreams into a reality?
There is no doubt, success comes with hard work, diligence, confidence and passion in what you are creating. My advice is to not be backwards in coming forwards. Always ask questions and trust and believe in yourself.
It’s important to understand all aspects of business – so learn to love maths! While I have a creative business, I have my eye on the numbers every day. It’s important to be across the P and L, your taxes and all the financials.
And, it’s equally important to look after and nourish your body, especially your gut, as it regulates your immune, skin, brain and metabolic health. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so self-care and nourishment have to be a priority. My forever motto is to look after your gut, be gutsy and follow your gut instinct.
What is Carla Oates’ favourite product of all time?
"My first and enduring love has to be our GLOW Inner Beauty Powder," she says. "GLOW is our daily all-rounder and is so much more than just a skin supplement. Containing a powerful selection of bio-fermented wholefoods, prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics, fibre, phytonutrients, antioxidants, it is a true multitasker, designed to elevate your wellbeing, nourish your gut and help you to glow even brighter."
As a mother, wife and successful businesswoman, you juggle a lot. How do you do it all?
Balancing these facets in my life is something I constantly work on. While success in your career is rewarding, at the end of the day, love, family and friendships sustain. Nurturing good relationships and a healthy, supportive community is very important for the heart and the soul, as well as the planet.
I try and take time to ensure I am present with my loved ones as much as I am at work. Being mindful and strict with my diary around time with friends and family, as well as time for exercise and healthy meal planning, is important. To be honest, with running my own business, this balance is not always there, but it is something I continuously strive for.
How would you compare yourself on day one of your Beauty Chef journey to yourself today?
I like to think I still have the same passion, drive and creativity that I had from day one. Of course, certain things change with age and experience. At the start, there were days when I felt extremely overwhelmed, a little unsure and confused. But as a business owner of almost 13 years now, I have become far more resilient and confident.
I knew, when the business was founded, that I had created a product that wasn’t just a band-aid, but something that really worked to help people be the happiest, healthiest version of themselves. That certainly hasn't changed as we continue to launch beautiful efficacious products, and our desire to help people underpins everything we do at The Beauty Chef.
Sometimes I pinch myself when I take in all that I have created. I have a great team that I am fortunate to work with, and my vision and ‘pie in the sky’ dreams have been realised.