In order to truly understand the brand you need to get to know the founder. Only then you will get a full picture of what the brand is about, why the products are different from the others you might be tempted with and even if you want to try the products… or direct your gaze elsewhere. In case of Gabrielle, British-born but Australia-based founder of Fifty7Kind, the more questions I asked, the more drawn I became to the craft and principles underpinning this niche beauty brand. Welcome to brand founder spotlight Gabrielle!
Galina: Why the brand name Fifty7Kind? Does 57 hold a special meaning and why is kindness such an important theme for you?
Gabrielle: The name reflects the odyssey to create a skin health care and well-care brand and bring it to life. 56 iterations to be truly satisfied with the fact that the first product (TANU) was worthy of sharing – not new for the sake of being new! Moreover, an offering born out of integrity, passion, research, and care – to offer an experience of feeling.
It represents the fact that we are all human first and foremost – not a gender, colour, religion, nor a skin type. Being kind to fellow humans, animals, and our ecosystem. Sustainably-grown is the core principle – to do no harm to the air, earth, or water. Only incorporating sustainably-grown or created and minimally processed ingredients. 57 is the numeric value to spell the word HUMAN – 57 shades of HUMANNESS.
Galina: When I read your life story on your website, I was overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge and different modalities that you possess. Do you feel that they all serve you equally well? Was creating your own skincare a natural progression for you? Why skincare and not supplements, considering how important you consider nutrition to be?
Gabrielle: We are what we eat, think, say, and do. I feel such a strong connection to nature and earth. Through my career as a Remedial Therapist I gained knowledge about our energy fields and how we can work with them in order to effect change within the body – so powerful! Working with the fascia and the lymphatic system, but also with the energetic flow from person to person is rather mind-blowing.
Fifty7Kind was my way of combining my obsession with nature and the healing experience … probably a completely insane idea, but I see and feel so much sadness and anxiety in the world and a complete disconnect from Earth/nature, so I wanted to try and help people to slow down and find themselves, care for themselves and have that experience.
For me, it is about NOT trying to change your skin with the products I create, but about changing the way you feel about your skin and yourself. It’s about self-love. If you can feel good about yourself through the experience of the modality of skincare, you put out that vibration to those around you and into the world – this ultimately lifts the ‘living vibration’ of the world and one hopes our collective conciseness too!
Using plants to create hair and skincare potions with my mom while growing up was just my “normal” and I wanted to explore that more – a big challenge, as I am not from a science background, but rather am more of a creative person. I am learning daily and enjoy that aspect of growth. I don’t work with a chemist or outsource anything – I formulate everything myself. I don’t use any products other than my own, as I don’t want to fall into the comparison trap and I only have so much time and skin to use my creations – and I make HEAPS! I have zero ideas what anyone will think of my products or how they compare, which is a risk, but I don’t care for labels or categories or fitting into a box!
I can say I was compelled to do ’this’ and logically have no idea why. I simply had to and whenever I questioned what the hell I was doing, the universe slapped me in the face! That’s a whole other story! If I ever have the time, I am interested in going beyond skincare. Organic growth is my style, as it is slowly considered and helps ensure integrity and quality. Buzz ingredients and trends are not where I choose to ‘play’.
Galina: You list quite a lot of things that you, as a brand founder, do in order to support the planet, rather than damage it – it’s clearly something engrained and not “new” for you. Why is it such an important aspect for you and your brand? Was it difficult to source eco materials/packaging/inks and has it significantly increased your product costs?
Gabrielle: Yes, and expensive too! For me it’s about looking at absolutely everything and asking if it is the best choice I can make with the resources I have available today. Because you can (and I have!) lose sleep over this and drive yourself crazy! Costs – be it for packaging or ingredients – can be prohibitive for a small, self-funded, start-up brand – minimum order quantities still often are beyond my reach. But it is not my intention to be a huge brand, but rather focus on my business that will evolve and improve over time.
Galina: Gabrielle, Can you tell me the story behind the creation of TANU and NADI? Which came first?
Gabrielle: TANU took about four years to formulate. I began creating Fifty7Kind to give me a project, something positive to focus on, while trying to navigate CFS, adrenal fatigue and all that entails. I went from training for a 100k off-road mountain marathon to living on ridiculous amounts of caffeine to just get me through the day! At times I was just crawling on the floor because it was too stressful to stand up, as I had Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS).
Creating Tanu and Nadi has been entirely self-funded – I have used my savings and we have lived off my partner’s income, as all profits from my business have gone back into it, so I could develop more products and upgrade the lab equipment. But then 2020 arrived, pandemic struck – not only have we lost our entire income overnight (my partner worked internationally and suddenly he couldn’t travel, as all the events he would normally be at were canceled). We managed to exist on our emergency savings, as well as some financial help from the Australian government via a business grant and only part-paying our mortgage.
All of my plans and products I was working towards launching during 2020 were scrapped for financial reasons and honestly, all I hoped for was that I would still be able to keep Fifty7Kind going! I only launched TANU in November 2019, so a new brand with only one product was a bit of a worry! On the positive side at the beginning of 2020 I have 95% recovered from CFS, which according to my specialist was not going to happen – at best he thought a 40% improvement may be possible. I was so stressed about absolutely everything – throw in homeschooling – and my health started to deteriorate. By May I was noticing pain in one foot, in one hand, then in my shoulder – it went on and on…four weeks ago I was finally diagnosed with the Auto-Immune Disease Rheumatoid Arthritis.
I had a personal product I had used for years that I called my ‘calm balm’, and so I found myself using it daily. Low and behold, I ran out and couldn’t find my original formula (I can be so organized and yet so disorganised at the same time!). So I set about creating that product from memory and just played with it a bit along the way. Very quickly I realised that I loved this new evolution and on top of that I desperately wanted to release another product during 2020. By that point I was in discussions with Boxwalla about collaborating and Lavanya asked if I had any other products in the pipeline, so I sent her my “calm balm”, explaining that it was never intended to be a product for sale….but she loved it!
I sat on the fence for a while, wondering whether I should release that product or not, as it was such a personal product for me. But I knew how much it was helping me, my skin and my mental health, so I figured there are plenty of people out there who are in the same boat so to speak and this could be my “something positive” to put out into the world. So I did!
I created a limited pre-release of NADI in November 2020, so I could enter it into the Beauty Shortlist Awards ( TANU had won Editor’s Choice in 2020, so I thought it was worth having a go!). I have no idea how my product compares to others because my two products are all I use. To then win not just one, but two awards with NADI ?! I was and still am astounded!
Galina: Gabrielle, do you have any ingredients that you consider to be “key” to the efficacy of your products?
Gabrielle: I often get asked about “hero” or “key ingredients”, but that is not how I think or formulate. I take the approach of being wholistic – it is not a key ingredient that creates magic ( I think this approach is self-limiting for our imagination). I believe it’s the sum of the whole that creates an overall experience. And I am all about the experience – skin, mind, body and heart. The connection back to self, to that moment in time, to the NOW – so powerful, as this switches us from the sympathetic nervous system responses (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system responses (rest, digest, HEAL).
Gabrielle and I might be living miles and continents apart – me in the UK, her, an original Brit, in Australia. Yet our e-mail exchanges provided the content of this post that I am delighted to be able to share with you. I can also add that not only was I privileged to learn from Gabrielle, but how heart-warming it was to be exposed to her all-encompassing sincerity and purity of her flow of thoughts. No pretense to be something or someone she is not. No painting of a perfect canvas of life. Just proof that through pain, fear and unforeseen circumstances something beautiful can and does grow from a small seed. And becomes something that has the ability to change things for the better for those of us who come to experience the products created by the resilient, wise and life-loving woman who doesn’t allow life’s limitations to stand in her way. She spreads her wings and flies fearlessly, taking one day at a time. To know such people is a spice of life. Gabrielle, I thank YOU !
To learn more about Fifty7Kind or to purchase the products, please click here