Oskia is the British skincare brand that has been making positive waves on the beauty market and winning prizes, even though it was only launched at the end of 2009, so when brand’s founder Georgie Cleeve agreed to meet with me and answer my questions about Oskia, I felt the surge of excitement. For whatever reason I expected to see a very serious, driven career woman, who would be reserved and to the point. Instead I got a very pleasant surprise when a tall, slim, pretty woman with luminous skin and a shy smile walked into the Botanist in Chelsea. And let me tell you, if you saw Georgie’s skin close-up , you would rush to buy Oskia’s products straight away, as you don’t often see such glowing, blemish free skin.
Georgie grew up on the farm in Wales and says that her future was predetermined in a way from early on, because her father had a natural supplements company and she saw doctors, scientist and nutritionists whirring with activity, which made her want to do something entrepreneurial too. On the other end of the scale Georgie’s mother was an Olympic skier, so Georgie started skiing from the age of three, but by the time she was in her late teens she started having knee problems to the point that she couldn’t get out of her skiing pants after doing just one ‘run’, as her knees would swell up to the size of a football. Four surgeries later and no solution in sight, as doctors warned her that she wouldn’t be able to ski or run-not the words any active teenager wants to hear – her father made the decision to try her on the MSM supplement that was developed by Dr. Stanley Jacob ( initially this supplement was used to treat horses, particularly their legs and hooves, which come under tremendous pressure and incur huge damage during the animal’s lifetime).
Our skin and body cycle is gradual, not instant, so in order to see a difference while taking MSM you need to take it for at least three or four months and then continue using it ( as vitamins don’t stay in our system forever, hence the importance of nutrition, of which there will be more later ), but in Georgie’s case the transformation was incredible, so not only is she a very active mother of a little boy and an entrepreneur, she can also run and ski to her heart’s content, time permitting, of course.
Georgie worked as a food journalist for Home & Garden for several years and while writing about food, she became even more curious about the correlation between nutrition and supplements and the subject of what we should actually be eating in order to be healthy on the inside and radiant on the outside ( in her teens Georgie had acne, a very common skin condition nowadays, that is often linked to the gut health. In Georgie’s case taking MSM supplement on a regular basis also helped to get read of it completely, hence my fascination with Georgie’s beautifully healthy skin ). After doing extensive research and assembling the team of like-minded professionals, including renowned skin chemist Colette Haydon, Georgia, together with her husband George launched Oskia in October of 2009. The range is based around MSM plus various nutrients that help to re-build cell health, solve skin problems aided by bio-active ingredients. Georgie did stress to me that it is important to take MSM, while using Oskia skincare, as the two compliment each other.
The name Oskia is derived from ancient Greek, meaning ‘delivering nutrients and beauty’ and in the beginning the range comprised seven products that have all been slightly tweaked since the initial launch. Georgie approaches her business with the eye on consistent result and organic growth, and I find such almost nurturing principles quite endearing, especially in our fast paced times and almost fanatical approach to instant profit making. Georgie makes a very convincing argument about combining nutrients in the supplement form with bio-active skincare, being the most effective way to re-balance our bodies & skin. Nano particles don’t get absorbed deep inside, so targeting both the inside and outside makes perfect sense, if you pause and think about it.
Georgie has trained as a therapist in the past, to give her the understanding and well-roundness of that profession, but she no longer practises herself, instead hiring an experienced therapist Abigail James to create a well thought-out range of treatments that pamper, relax and renew.
Oskia offers facials from time to time at either Fenwick or Liberty’s of London treatment rooms, but if you fancy a more extensive treatment list, then you can try them at Oskia’s spa at Covent garden, which came on the scene in September of last year, in collaboration with Glow Yoga. The treatment menu includes treatments like ‘eye wonder’, ‘glow on the go’ facial, ‘reneissance’ & ‘revaitalise’ luxury face & body treatments or non-invassive derma rolling, which is great for skin cell stimulation.
Creating a skincare range isn’t as simple as one might think-you can come up with an idea, but then the hard work will start, from consulting with nutritionists and cosmetic scientists, to testing and trials, creating packaging and doing extensive consumer testing, so you are talking at least a year from the birth of an idea behind the product to the finished result.
Georgie works together with her husband ( who was a corporate lawyer in the past, working on mergers & acquisitions of companies ), who deals with the business side of things, allowing Georgie to concentrate on the creative and scientific parts. She laughs and says that their first business meeting of the day takes place in the bathroom in the morning, but they both have very clearly defined roles with a strong relationship at the core, which allows them to achieve balance in their joint venture.
Oskia takes each customer personally and bears in mind that many women have sensitive skin or problematic skin, not aided by the environmental factors, so while the products are active and you should introduce them into your skincare routine slowly, to allow your skin to adjust ( there are also no essential oils in the formulations, which can make our skin slightly more reactive in general ). I found Oskia’s micro-exfoliating balm a bit too active for me, but Georgie suggested that I try adding more water to it, before applying it to my face, thus making its effect milder. She surprises me with saying that she also tests other brands on the market, to make sure that Oskia is very distinct and when answering customers queries ( yes, she still does that, as she considers customer service an essential part of successful skincare DNA ) she might even recommend a product from another brand, that she herself has tried, if Oskia doesn’t have a solution to the customer’s current skin concern.
At some point during our conversation, easily flowing between the sips of milky morning coffee and a smoothie, Georgie brings out the subject of the water conservation fund that she has started with her husband. The reason behind it, you would ask? Well, how about this fact-to produce an average jar of cream requires 1,500 litres of water? Shocked? I certainly was….One of the things that Georgie & George are doing, is introducing a new range of ingredients, manufacturing of which doesn’t produce as much waste and conserves water, making Oskia a sustainable and conscious business in its evolving progression.
I think all the praise that Oskia is getting from its customer base and the press is well deserved, after all, you have to be good at what you are doing, if your ‘get up & glow skin serum’ wins the top prize for the best skin perfector, awarded by Natural Health Magazine earlier this year, when tested against 500 of other products (Tatler also praised Oskia’s ‘micro-exfoliating balm in their first beauty awards launched this year ), yet Georgie remains grateful and hard working as ever, even though she is not only the wife and a professional woman, but a mother too and you can see her eyes twinkling when she talks about her son and her desire to possibly move back to the countryside in the future, in order to give her little one the freedom and fresh air that one can’t get while living in the City ( for the time being the family tries to go to Wales during their free weekends). When she talks about it, you fall under the charm of her knowledge and easy-going manner, even when you are not a county person yourself, but then she grew up surrounded by the understated beauty of Wales ( it’s also where Oskia’s factory is based).
We also touch down on the subject of sun protection, as Oskia’s products don’t contain SPF, unlike many other brands and Georgie explains to me that the main ingredients, titanium or zinc oxide are quite heavy on their own and when you integrate them into the skincare product it becomes even heavier, preventing the cream from quickly sinking into your skin and more likely to be ‘sitting’ on top of it. A possible solution might lie in the creation of SPF booster, possibly using nano-particles. Georgie stresses that SPF is very important, even if the product that you use is non-organic, but a so-called ‘chemical’ boost can still be nicely effective for your skin, while helping it to be protected from the harmful sun rays-think about it, every natural ingredient is a chemical of sorts, so it’s the way that we look at things and the knowledge that we have to make an educated decision. Georgie gives me an example of perfumes that are over-saturated with chemicals-no wonder that I can’t stand perfume halls after ten minute or so, feeling like you are being bombarded with too many molecules of different scents, so in Georgie’s case she prefers to use essential oils.
Looking at Georgie’s complexion I urge her to share her secrets, apart from eating and drinking sensibly and using Oskia, so Georgie adds regular exercise and facial massage to the list ( both increase blood circulation and help us shift the toxins out of our system ). She also says that lately, together with her husband, they started drinking smoothies daily, using ingredients like beetroot, spinach, avocado and parsley, which boost your body defences and nurture your skin, hair and nails. Why smoothies? Well, unlike juices, smoothies contain fiber, which our bodies need in order to effectively eliminate the waste. As Georgie loves food ( not that you would notice it, looking at her slim, yet healthy body ), she says that as long as you balance what you eat, you will be fine-if you eat cake today, aim for staying away from sugary treats the following day and try to increase your intake of grains or vegetables for example.
Oskia’s head office gets several stockist request a week, but as Georgie wants her brand to remain high-end and grow naturally ( in the summer a new sub-range of skincare will be launched, based around Oskia’s very popular ‘renaissance mask’, as well as plans for the launch of additional supplements that are currently in the works ), she approaches each contact individually, not wanting to stretch the resources before they are ready. There are plans to launch in the US and later in China, but all will be done with grace and logic and not just a profit motivation, which feels very refreshing and dare I say it? -right in the current times……