Meet Melanie Blane from White Rabbit Skincare
I caught up with Melanie Blane, founder of White Rabbit Skincare, to discuss the brand, advice for those looking to move to a more natural skincare routine, and what the future holds for this incredible brand.
For those who aren’t familiar with White Rabbit Skincare, can you tell me a little about your products & brand values?
Our products - and brand as a whole - can be summarised as:
- Premium – high quality
- Produced by hand – right here in our unit in Ayrshire, Scotland
- Plant based - vegan
- Plastic minimal – we aim to become entirely plastic free as soon as we can
- Planet friendly – we think of the planet/environment in almost everything we do, and try to make positive changes wherever possible (for example using entirely dissolvable potato starch peanuts in our postage boxes)
We are certified by The Vegan Society, Cruelty Free International, PETA, Orangutan Alliance (palm oil free) and Naturewatch. I am vegan myself and very passionate about, and committed to, making positive changes for our planet.
Our company's purpose is to boost confidence, spread health awareness – and save the world!
That shows real passion and ambition, can you tell me how White Rabbit Skincare began?
The idea for White Rabbit Skincare came about whilst I was at university (studying History - completely unrelated to anything skincare!) and was diagnosed with the skin condition psoriasis, which is frequently brought on by stress. I was prescribed steroid creams, but when I did my research and discovered there isn't a cure for psoriasis AND 60% of what you put onto your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream, I started to think what better way to guarantee where a product is from, what ingredients it contains, how it's made, etc etc than to make it myself? It originally started out as just products for me to use, and I literally made them in my kitchen in my tiny one bedroom flat, but after friends and family started taking an interest, I approached The Prince's Trust and was lucky enough to secure funding which enabled me to test and brand the products and set up the website, whilst still working full time. I took the plunge into working solely for White Rabbit December 2016 after being let go from my job, and I've never looked back!
What a journey, and fantastic starting point. What were the biggest challenges you faced when you started out?
Cashflow – and managing it properly! There is also so much more to business finances that you aren’t necessarily told about initially, from VAT payments to employee PAYE and pensions.
Lack of planning – it’s very easy to spend most of your time working ‘in’ the business rather than ‘on’ it, and the old saying of ‘If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is often very true!
Finding the right people - certain skills are crucial not only for your business to survive, but also for it to grow, but sometimes hiring doesn’t go smoothly!
That is a lot to deal with, especially considering you started out without business experience, what are you most proud of with your brand & all you have achieved?
Getting White Rabbit Skincare to where it is now, largely entirely on my own, and turning it from my hobby to my full-time job. You have to be a ‘Jack of all trades’ and learn on the job every single day, and it is without a doubt the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also the best thing, and I'm so proud that we are here 6 years later. I'm still very much hands on with nearly everything, and we still handmake every single product in house.
You mentioned your starting point with White Rabbit Skincare was researching your own skin challenges, what tips or advice would you give to people looking for a more natural approach to skincare?
Don’t over-complicate things! It can be easy to think you need to use ALL the products and create a 27-step routine, but good old cleanse, tone, moisturise is still best and works. Same with regards to ingredients: more isn’t necessarily better. You’ll notice in our products there aren’t tons of ingredients – our serum only contains 4, but they’re all incredibly effective in their own way.
Also be curious; do your research; ask questions. Your skin absorbs 60% of what you put onto it into your bloodstream, so you should want to know what you’re using! And always remember to patch test: just because something is natural doesn’t mean you might not have a reaction.
Sorry Melanie, this may be like asking a parent to choose a favourite child, but which is your favourite product?
That is exactly what it’s like! I have to say our Eucalyptus & Lavender cleansing balm is a favourite of mine: it was one of the first products I made (originally called the Comfort Cleansing Balm) and for being such a relatively simple product it’s so effective (at removing makeup and cleansing skin) and ultra-gentle on all skin types.
Have you seen a recent change in consumer focus on sustainable products, and how do you think large corporations/well known brands are responding to this?
I’ve definitely seen a change in consumer focus on sustainable products – even just in the last 6 months or so. I think even if sustainability isn’t necessarily a personal priority for people, they are now more attracted to the idea of being able to do good through their purchases – it’s the idea of ‘every little helps.’
I think sustainability is ingrained in smaller brands/companies from the outset – as we say, it’s in our DNA - whereas the larger corporations and well-known brands are having to adapt to be seen to respond to consumer demands and remain in their favour.
What is next for White Rabbit skincare & what ambitions do you have for the brand?
I really want to expand the team this year (COVID19 allowing), obtain more certifications, and expand the product range, such as into baby products and hair care.
Long term I want us to become THE leading plastic-free skin care brand.
Thank you very much for your time Melanie. (The cleansing balm is one of my favourites too...)