Founder Spotlight: An Interview with Mila Ducheva from Neven Body Care

#Founderspotlight - Neven Body Care - Mila Ducheva

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#Founderspotlight - Neven Body Care - Mila Ducheva

This year, Neven’s Rejuvenate Face Oil is a Finalist in the 5th Clean Beauty Awards!

FaceCare is one of the most competitive categories in CertClean’s Clean Beauty Awards, and Neven’s Rejuvenate Face Oil has made it as a finalist in the Face Oil category!

Neven Body Care, an Oslo based company, formulates “junk-free” and soon to be certified organic skin care products. The brand aims to promote the balance between nature and humanity as key to social progress and environmental sustainability. Besides partners in life and in business, the couple, behind Neven, shares a deep appreciation of plants and their power to heal and provide sustenance for humanity and all living beings.

We had the opportunity to interview the co-founder, Mila Ducheva to learn about the spirit behind her brand, what makes their Rejuvenate Face Oil so extraordinary, why she has a special love of two ingredients – Bulgarian rose oil and cold-pressed oil from wild Rosehips, and oh-so-much-more!

What inspired you to create Neven Body Care?

I’ve always dreamt of running my own business, but never planned for it to be in the beauty industry. In a way, it happened naturally as a consequence of my transition to more connected and mindful living. In the context of what inspired me to start the company, I would say that I drew inspiration from a lot of things, especially from my cumulative life experiences as a student and young adult.

Being a part of the “Young Environmentalists” club in high school, I became more aware and passionate about respecting and protecting our beautiful planet as well as all living beings. Ever since I was a child, I felt that all animals were sentient beings that deserved fair and more humane treatment. I was fascinated by the concept of ecology and how all elements of an ecosystem work simultaneously towards maintaining balance. Around that time was when I first felt the responsibility that each person has as co-habitant on Earth. It became clear that a lot has to change in people’s mentality both in individual mindsets and in the way communities and society think or behave as a whole.

Later in my life as a design student, I felt compelled to “improve people’s lives” sort of like a mission, of which I wanted to be part. At that time, I approached that mission in the context of spatial environments, specifically interior architecture. The philosophy of my projects then revolved around bringing nature inside, using plants in the interiors to blur the outdoors indoor distinction and to emphasize the “green” in spaces that otherwise incorporated various sustainability principles and non-toxic materials to reduce the human impact on our planet.

Parallel to that, I was introduced to aromatherapy and started to include essential oils in my daily life actively. Meanwhile, I enjoyed outdoor activities and hobbies such as gardening and formulating blends of aromatic oils. It turns out I came to this world with a discerning and sensitive nose that helps a lot if you want to compare and contrast your aromatic blends. My love and appreciation for nature grew to a whole new level. As I was learning and experiencing the healing powers of plants, I recognized how profoundly unethical the industry is. Here I am talking not only about the cosmetic sector, but also the food and pharmaceutical. And that was a turning point in my career path. I knew I wanted to educate people about the benefits of using plants as a source of wellness, health, and beauty.

What were some roadblocks/issues that you have faced? During the start of your journey, were consumers receptive to your natural products?

There will always be challenges that small companies need to overcome along the way. Some of the initial problems we faced were determining the price of our products and positioning them well within the respective segments.
Another challenge was finding quality organic ingredients that were from a single source, reasonably priced, and closer to us. We wanted to have a low environmental impact by sourcing our raw ingredients or at least most of them from within Europe, and we also wanted to support small, family-owned producers like ourselves.

Also, in the beginning, the market and consumers in Norway seemed hesitant toward our holistic and unconventional approach. Many of them were reluctant to try facial oils, and not to even mention substituting their moisturizer for oil. Times have changed, and now, more than ever, people commit to living healthier and seek information to make responsible choices for themselves and their families. Subsequently, more and more individuals dare try new things while the facial oils have become some of the best selling products, both online and purchased in person.

Please tell us more about your Rejuvenate Face Oil! Why do you think it is considered as one of the best face oils in the clean beauty sector?

We are incredibly proud that our Rejuvenate Face Oil appealed to the panel of judges as much as our customers love it. What makes this accomplishment feel even more significant is the fact that the formula in its current form differs slightly from the one we used in the first trial batches. The prototype version of Rejuvenate was composed of some organic and some conventional oils. We have gone from that to using 99.95% certified organic ingredients, the crops from most of which are grown in Europe. Oils such as sea buckthorn, rosehip, or borage seed feature in formulations, as star ingredients, because their individual properties are potent enough to allow these “super” oils to shine above all others. In our formula, the star is the blend – the combination boasts higher power than the total sum of their attributes.
With that in mind, I must say that Rejuvenate’s development process felt effortless and pleasant as opposed to some other products where we faced numerous challenges. Initially, I made it for myself, my sister, and my mom, whereas now it connects our company to a significant number of women who now love and enjoy the oil as a primary product for facial care.

You use a lot of organic/natural ingredients! What are your favourite ingredients and why?

It seems like a tough question, but if I only had to name a few, I would choose two unique oils that are close to my heart – the Bulgarian rose oil and cold-pressed oil from wild Rosehips. I grew up around these plants, and they play a culturally significant role in Bulgarian folklore, medicinal practices, and the economy.

The ancient Greek poet Sappho described the Damascus rose as the “Queen on flowers” and many aromatherapists consider its oil as one of the fines. The fact that the chemical composition of its scent includes more than 300 different molecules that comprise it is astonishing. We see it as a gift of nature as the harvesting process is labor-intensive because roses need to be picked by hand during a particular time of the day. Also, it takes 65 rose blossoms to produce only one drop of the essential oil. In other words, you need tens of millions of individual petals to acquire a liter.

Rosa Damascena’s beautiful fragrance has honey-sweet and subtle fresh floral notes. One of the essential properties of rose oil is keeping our skin young. It moisturizes, soothes, and calms it, which benefits dry, maturing, and sensitive skin types. The oil also supports and strengthens the skin’s protective barrier on multiple levels like locking moisture inside the tissues, defending us from bacteria or other irritants, and preventing free radicals from entering our body. This barrier plays a crucial role in our immune system and helps the skin maintain its proper level of nutrients, softness, and health. However, when this protective shield is compromised and damaged, small, invisible cracks appear. That makes it vulnerable because moisture can escape quickly, and irritants can enter. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that the Bulgarian rose oil also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are useful in relieving acne or other skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.

Even more importantly, it heals and brings balance in our body, mind, and spirit. Rose oil also comforts the heart and a troubled mind, especially in times of loss and grief. One of the fascinating facts about this plant is that it simultaneously relaxes and uplifts, making it an important allay to address any hyperactivity, emotional heaviness or trauma, anxiety, sadness, and heartbreak. That is why many people associate rose oil with love, romance, and positive vibrations.

The second raw material we love working with is rosehip oil. The plant is a close relative to Damask rose and carries numerous health and wellness benefits. It bears small red fruits that find application in gastronomy as a superfood and the cosmetic industry as a valuable ingredient in anti-aging products. Both the fruits and their seeds are rich in prized nutrients like vitamins A, C, E with crucial roles in collagen production. As the structural protein in our skin, joints, and soft tissues, collagen keeps them firm and flexible. Our body synthesizes that protein, but as we age, this process slows down, causing loss of suppleness, sagging skin, and wrinkles. Vitamin C stimulates the synthesis of collagen, resulting in more youthful and revitalized skin. Also, rosehip oil nourishes and regenerates the skin due to its high content of Vitamin A, which increases elastin content and acts as an excellent alternative to retinol treatments. Rosehip oil proves effective and gentle on the skin, absorbing very quickly without a trace of oily residue. C and E vitamins also help slow down the aging process by nourishing the cells. As prominent antioxidants, they support the cells by binding to the free oxygen radicals that speed up aging and by creating a lipid barrier to strengthen the skin further.
Rosehip oil not only stimulates new tissue formation, but it heals and maintains the skin’s texture and softness. Deep wrinkles, UV injuries, dark spots, pigmentation, acne, and many skin disorders can improve by treating the area with this natural treasure.

How did you and Veli determine the ethos or philosophy of your beauty brand?

The first time Veli and I had a business meeting; we decided to take notes to differentiate that occasion from the conversation we have daily. It was then, and there we sat for hours brainstorming brand names and discussing the concepts and values that would eventually define Neven’s identity. To summarize, we generated a list of prerequisites we used as a measuring tool. It was something all products had to adhere to, and that list even determined whether or not we would go forward with a product we wanted to formulate.

Potential additions to our line had to be the product of 100% high-quality active ingredients; authentic and efficacious formulating; testing only by consenting individuals, never animals; environmentally friendly and socially responsible business practices; packaging with low environmental impact.

Also, what people can say about all Neven products is that they contain no toxins, no synthetic chemicals or fillers, no harmful substances, no artificial colorants or fragrances. For us, holding to these standards as guiding principles is like following a compass that will always show us the right direction.

Thank you Mila for sharing your story. We are glad that you were inspired by nature’s power to heal, nourish and rejuvenate our skin!

See Neven Body Care’s website, and follow them on Instagram or Facebook!

Learn more about the finalist below!

Neven Body Care Rejuvenate Face Oil

Rejuvenate Face Oil

2020 FaceOil Finalist

Price: $149-430 kr

PurPicks
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PurPicks is the world’s largest directory of organic / natural / clean skincare products with thousands of reviews, like TripAdvisor for nontoxic skincare!

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