Meet Imogen Wakerley - Owner & Creator of Bumi Naturals
I caught up with Imogen from Bumi Naturals to learn more about the inspiration, journey and values behind the natural skincare brand.
For anyone new to Bumi Naturals, can you tell us a bit about the brand and your products?
We make rich and powerful beauty and well-being products from unrefined, natural, and certified organic ingredients. Our mission is to make natural, cruelty-free products the norm and actively look after the planet in everything we do.
What was your inspiration?
There were a number of experiences that collided and gave me the idea to start Bumi. To name a few, I split a chemical in my eye, damaging the top layer and leaving me unable to see for a few minutes. It was later that I was shocked to realise that this very drying chemical is used in many mainstream beauty products (including those who claim to be natural!). I became very curious about what I was putting on my skin, something I had never really paid attention to before. I was confused and frustrated by the labels and started researching natural DIY remedies, such as avocado face masks and cracking an egg in your hair to make it stronger. It was a completely new world to me and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Shortly after this, I spent a few amazing months in Bali, and my eyes were opened properly to the world of natural products. I travelled around the island visiting stores and talking to local farmers, and I was taught how to macerate oils and make basic face and body products. Although I have always had a special connection with nature (I am an earth sign and grew up in the countryside), I had never truly appreciated the power of plants. Ever since that day, I have been completely obsessed with raw ingredients and capturing the healing benefits without harsh chemical processing. I wanted to spread the word about how powerful plants are, and how there really is no need for toxic chemicals that damage our skin and the environment.
Can you talk about the journey of Bumi Naturals
The journey so far has, and continues to be, a huge learning curve for me. From the very outset I was clear about what I wanted Bumi to be and represent – a massive thank you to Mother Nature and an appreciation of plants in all their beauty. I came up with the name Bumi as it means ‘earth’ in Indonesian.
My obsession with unrefined ingredients has really shaped everything we do. I won’t use anything that has been refined (filtered and/or bleached), as I want every natural colour and smell to come through and get the recognition it deserves.
This is also why I decided not to put water in my current products. I wanted them to be rich, raw and powerful. Plus, products like scrubs and masks go way further if you add the water at home. That’s not to say I won’t create water-based products in the future, as they do so much for the skin as well.
The current range was designed based on my own skin woes (which I share with many people!), living in London and tackling pollution. I focus on antibacterial remedies that fight free radicals and repair the skin. I also have suffered from insomnia for years, so the lavender products were created a as a ritual to help people wind down and de-stress. These are issues that are so prominent in today’s fast-paced society and it’s easy to fall into taking synthetic sleeping pills or putting harsh chemicals on your skin to clear up breakouts. I wanted to demonstrate how powerful plants can be as an alternative.
Hindsight is an amazing thing, and I often look back and laugh at some of the mistakes I’ve made and shake my head, but that is all part of growing a brand. I think I may have done things the wrong way round. I didn’t have experience in the beauty industry, or in retail, it was quite a jump from my previous career (management consulting) to Bumi. I discovered natural products and created my Honey and Cinnamon Face Mask, which made a huge difference to my skin, and I was desperate to share it with other people; without really stopping to consider things that seem rather obvious now like, retail, distribution and all those things that sit in the background to my lovely customers. But that’s just who I am, and it really is half the fun! It’s been a huge leap of faith and I have met some amazing people along the way - this industry really is so welcoming and friendly.
You’ve mentioned that you had challenges with your own skin and would throw products at it in the hope of helping. If you could go back and speak to ‘that’ you, what advice would you give them?
Please, please read the label properly! Understand what you are putting on your skin rather than blindly believing claims. Skincare isn’t one size fits all and being aware of your skin type and listening to your body is so important when you are looking to heal an issue or get that glow.
What is next for Bumi Naturals?
I’m currently doing a bit of experimenting with new ingredients and products, which is really exciting! This is definitely one of my favourite things to do!
This year we are also really building our ethical offering. I already mentioned jar lids as something we are updating over on the packaging side, but this year is also all about building a deeper connection with our suppliers and supporting the environment on a deeper level. We want to do more, which is something that can be a bit of a struggle in the beginning when you don’t have the funds – but every little helps right? It’s always been my aim to support local communities who provide our ingredients and go back to our Bali roots, so let’s see if 2020 (or perhaps 2021 given the current climate) is the year when the wheels start to turn on that!