This week Fiona Klonarides, founder of The Beauty Shortlist, a website that I love for its wealth of information, as well as for its always uplifting visuals, has been running the Green Beauty Week , raising profile of organic brands that aren’t only eco-consious but also effective; interviewing beauty experts about their favourite products and health tips and showing us how to become a bit more conscious of the effect that all of us have on the environment. Whether we like it or not, environmental changes are taking place and if we want the next generation to have a good life we really do need to make changes to what we put on our skin, how we recycle, questioning our food sources and manufacturing process and ingredients. So I thought it would be very timely to publish my Q & A with Ekaterina Igumentseva, a fellow Russian living in London, who founded Organic Burst, a company that supports its suppliers, produces five supplements-Baobab, Maca, Spirulina, Wheatgrass and Acai that really do make a difference to your overall well-being ( you can read my review of the Organic Burst supplements here, to give you an idea if you already haven’t tried them-no excuse really, as you can buy them online not only from Organic Burst website, but also from stockists like Wholefoods Market and Ocado now ) and runs her business with ethical wisdom well beyond her young years. She is one of those young women who give me hope and make me think that not only women can rule the world, they can do it with kindness and dignity.
Q & A with Ekaterina Igumentseva, founder of Organic Burst
GAP: Can you please tell me a little about your professional path leading to the creation of Organic Burst?
EI: I graduated from Warwick Business School with a degree in Management Science and embarked on a career in finance (specialising in commodities) in the City of London. I then went onto doing my postgraduate studies in economics at Cambridge University. I was long interested in social and environmental economics before, however, it was only there that I came across the social ideas of EF Schumacher and the fascination with his ideas of sustainable development that arose with his book “Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered”.
GAP: How did the idea of Organic Burst come about and why did you call your company Organic Burst?
EI: While working in the City of London, I came across superfoods and was astonished by their stories and numerous health benefits. Superfoods are whole foods, naturally rich in a wide variety of nutrients; they are very potent because these nutrients all work together synergistically, each increasing the effects of the next. Superfoods have incredible histories behind them, having been cherished by many cultures around the world: the Egyptians, Inca, Aztec, African tribes and people of the Amazon rainforest, the list goes on. I realised that very few people knew about these amazing superfoods, as their usage seemed to be limited to serious health fans and raw foodies, irrespective of their profound health effects.
Having read the works of EF Schumacher, which describe ideas of real sustainable development, I was researching ways of boosting the economies and local communities in developing countries. I realised the best way to help, is to get involved practically. I had an idea to create a brand that will spread awareness of superfoods, encouraging people to take control of their health and at the same time, sourcing the ingredients from ethical organic producers to help develop the local economies and communities, as well as preserve biodiversity – a win/win for all.
I am a strong believer in organic agriculture and its great benefits for the environment and our health; ‘Organic’ is our ethos, therefore it had to be a part of the brand name. ‘Burst’ represents the rich and abundant nutritional content of our superfoods and the burst of energy and liveliness that we get from a nutrient-dense drink or meal. “Organic Burst” was born.
GAP: What pushed you in the direction of supplements, as it is already a very competitive and highly saturated market?
EI: We saw the competitive market as a challenge and a great motivation to bring high-quality products to the people. Superfoods are different from other supplements in that they are wholesome foods created by nature, therefore they are fully “understood” by our bodies and the health effects often come much sooner.
GAP: Why did you choose to create five supplements and what is special about each one of them?
EI: The Organic Burst range was selected to offer the majority of benefits that we are all after today: Organic Burst Maca is great for energy and hormonal balance, our Wheatgrass alkalises and cleanses the body of toxins; our Acai is a fantastic anti-ageing and beauty supplement: it has an incredible antioxidant content with an ORAC score of 70,000 and is also high in fatty acids – omega-3-6-9; Spirulina helps balance sugar and nourish the heart and nervous system, Baobab powder helps the digestion, increases energy and the immunity. All our current and future products have unique qualities to them, fascinating histories and are supported by a wealth of studies.
GAP: How did you source your suppliers? And how long did it take you from the original idea to the launch of Organic Burst?
EI: We conducted extensive research, worked with organic, social and environmental bodies all over the world to identify the best organic producers that invest and develop their communities and help preserve the environment. It took approximately two years.
GAP: What motivates you professionally?
EI: Getting amazing feedback from our customers, who feel better by taking Organic Burst, often leading them to improve their diets and lifestyle; from our stockists, nutritionists, fitness and beauty experts who recommend our products on a daily basis; and from our growers that help change the lives of their workers and help increase the living standards in their local communities.
GAP: Are climate changes affecting the harvesting and the quality of the ingredients?
EI: As our products are all organically grown plants – fruit, vegetables and algae, their harvests are certainly affected by the climate fluctuations. However, our growers have solid organic cultivation techniques in place that makes sure the quality of the nutrients is not affected. We conduct regular tests of our products to verify their high nutritional contents in an independent laboratory in the UK.
GAP: What are your tips for healthy living?
EI: It’s important to listen to your body and find out what works best for you and eliminate what doesn’t. Once you’ve first eliminated the foods and activities that do not benefit your body, then you can add those that enhance its functions. Personally I try to avoid meat and dairy, as well as foods that contain gluten and sugar, however it’s important not to get rigid and fixated about eating – for instance when I’m a guest in someone’s house, I will always enjoy eating whatever is served.
GAP: Do we need to take supplements if we eat a varied diet?
EI: Yes, for several reason. It is widely known that due to years of industrial farming the soil has been depleted of minerals that are needed to produce nutrient-rich nourishing foods. Also, due to our individual lifestyles we may require a higher intake of certain nutrients – for instance when having a stressful office job and spending long hours in the office one may require more antioxidants and more B vitamins to support their nervous system. In this case, it would also be very difficult to maintain a balanced organic diet, especially if you don’t have time to cook yourself. Moreover, superfoods are widely used in naturopathy and nutritional therapy to help with certain health conditions too.
GAP: Are there any contraindications to taking OB supplements?
EI: Our products are organic wholefoods, naturally rich in nutrients, therefore it is hard to overdose on them. However as with any potent foods new to one’s diet, one needs to start with a small dosage – ½-1 teaspoon a day. The only caution would be for those that have overactive thyroid or iodine allergy – they should first consult their GP or naturopathic doctor.
GAP: Why is it important for you to run your business as an ethical one?
EI: For me and the team here It is the only correct way to run a business – as I mentioned our motivation is to bring true lasting benefits to people, whether they’re our customers, the local communities around the world that we source ingredients from or the next generation who will witness the results of our actions today. That is why we stay true to our wish to be gentle, proper and honest and produce 100% pure certified organic health products. We do not use marketing tricks or sales techniques that only allow for quick revenues. We only employ and work with like-minded, sincere people who are qualified in their area. That is the only way to have a sustainable business.
GAP: How does OB support communities/their suppliers in the countries of supplement origin?
EI: Organic Burst superfoods are sourced from ethical, organic certified producers, that take care of their workers and have strict social responsibility rules in practice. By creating demand for superfoods here in the UK and Europe we are supporting many local people in the countries we source from, increasing jobs and educational possibilities in the regions that normally have very few opportunities. For example, we work with PhytoTrade Africa, a non-profit organisation that ensures ethical and sustainable trade. Their work has benefitted millions of people across Southern Africa and enabled them to build their first homes and send their children to school. Organic certification means a lot more than simply ensuring our ingredients are grown without pesticides, non-organic fertilisers and that the finished products do not contain any fillers or additives. The organic standards that Lady Eve Balfour and EF Schumacher advocated contained guidance on social responsibility, as well as environmental and agricultural principles. For instance in Malawi, where our Baobab powder comes from, the harvesters of organic fruit are paid a premium over and above the standard rate ( in comparison to workers of “wild-harvest” would receive ). Trees and the entire ecosystems in the organic certified areas are protected than those outside the organic reserves – this is crucial for the environment and the lives of the local people.
GAP: Are there any people who influenced you professionally or the way that you run your business?
EI: Many people who were not afraid to follow their dreams despite the public opinion and social constraints and liked to have fun while doing it: Richard Branson for instance is a huge inspiration.
GAP: Working within the beauty and supplement industry, who do you find more supportive of your endeavours-men or women?
EI: Along the way we met many inspirational and supportive people – both men and women.
GAP: Do you have any marked Russian habits/qualities that help you run your business outside your country of birth?
EI: I have been living in the UK since my school years, so the British culture and values have had a profound impact on my behaviour, outlook and personality. Nonetheless, I think the two innate qualities that many of us Russians share (and I know you would agree) are enthusiasm and inquisitiveness. They certainly helped me by driving my interests into the new area of competency, allowing me to focus on it and study it inside out.
GAP: Do you have any plans to sell your products in Russia?
EI: We would like as many people as possible to benefit from the amazing health effects of superfoods, hopefully one day they will be sold all over the world, including Russia.
GAP: Do you have a particularly favourite recipe for taking OB supplements?
EI: Yes – you already know it!
- 1 peeled banana
- handful frozen mango pieces
- 1tsp Organic Burst Spirulina, Baobab or Maca
- 100ml almond or oat milk
- 100ml water or apple juice if you want it to taste sweeter
Mix it all in a blender and enjoy in the morning or afternoon! Yum!
GAP: What are your best professional qualities? And what useful lessons did you learn since launching Organic Burst?
EI: It’s a difficult question, I’m not sure. I’ve tried to bring the organisational skills and efficiency learnt at my job in finance. What I can definitely say is that working on Organic Burst has allowed me to practice and develop so many qualities and it’s been one amazing experience!