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How it all began: An Undiscovered Q&A

Girl Undiscovered: We’re talking with the three founders of Girl Undiscovered – Charlotte Devereux, Philly Gebbie and Sara Orme about the origins of the company. It’s been a remarkable journey…

Sara: I know! Launching a beauty company with two great friends is like this wild dream! Once we started talking though, we realised that combining our collective creative experiences had this amazing, natural energy to it.

Girl Undiscovered: Individually, you all have skills that seem to fit together. It’s as if it was pre-destined?

Sara: Totally. I’m a sociologist by background and my work as a photographer has always been about the power of story telling whether it is social documentary or beauty. Photographing the strength and freedom of women has always been the backbone of my work. Philly is definitely our business head, she has so much international experience and she’s our global brand guru. Charlotte comes from a beauty background – her mother Colyn launched her own super-successful bath beauty brand, Les Floralies, back in the eighties – so it’s in the blood!

Charlotte: It wasn’t my mother who inspired this though as much as my teenage daughter. She was having problems with her skin, and I’d been talking to the girls about how I’d been searching for organic, active solutions and this ingredient, thanaka, kept coming up. It’s renowned as a skincare staple in Burmese households, but it was pretty much inaccessible in the Western World.

Sara: That’s how we found ourselves in pursuit of this vision. From the very start we wanted to build a brand that was very much an extension of us and what we believed in. We began talking with the NGOs and fair trade organisations, who connected us with incredible people and put us on the right path to establishing these wonderful relationships with the Burmese people, the families and small businesses who have become our suppliers. It was a journey both metaphorically and physically as we found ourselves immersed in the culture of Myanmar.

Charlotte: It was amazing on our first visit to the market to see women swarming to the stalls that stock the best thanaka logs. There’s this overwhelming sense of tradition witnessing a ritual that is 2000 years old still being practiced in a modern world. You’ll see women in the streets wearing thanaka as decoration on their faces. Every Burmese home has a thanaka grinding stone.

Girl Undiscovered: From the villages of Myanmar to the wild foothills of Bali. What made you go there for your pure virgin coconut oil?

Sara: Oh that was Philly! She’d spent 33 years living in the tropics, in Hong Kong, Bermuda and Bali so when we started to compile our list of must-have beauty ingredients she said “Ohmygosh – I know the best organic coconuts in this village near where I used to live.”

Philly: There’s this wonderful sense with Girl Undiscovered of our lives coming together for the three of us and also this sense too of a wider community of women. I adopted four of my six children in Bali and I wanted to create a business that could be a true partnership with the local village families and communities, developing sustainable income from free-range farming.

Sara: We’re committed to a feminist approach all the way along out production chain for all our products. One third of Burmese households have no men and we wanted to support these women who are at the heart of their households and effectively managing small businesses to attain financial freedom through fair trade.

Charlotte: Organics were at the heart of our core principles too from the start, but we soon realised that if we really wanted to make a better world then our focus should be shifting to finding ingredients as they are found in nature. Not just organic, but also naturally foraged. For us, it’s about supporting pure and natural foraged ingredients with no pesticides, chemicals or herbicides and these come to us via small communities and villages that could never afford the prohibitive costs of organic certification.

Philly: Many organic products are handpicked from the backyards of local villages and family dwellings and we know everyone in our production chain intimately so we feel really passionate about how honest it is. We are 100% WILD™.

Girl Undiscovered: You have three products currently selling out fast on your online store. Do you each have a favourite?

Philly: I love pink, I feel this real sense of energy when I wear it. My moods are very influenced by colour. I adore our Under The Waterfall Crystal Cleansing Water; it has real stones of pink quartz and citrine right there in the bottle.

Charlotte: It was so hard sourcing those crystals! It’s really hard to find ethical crystals!

Sara: My favourite is the Stumbled Across Paradise Face Mask. It just has the most wonderful scent like sandalwood when it is on your face and it makes your skin so soft.

Charlottte: The Stars Aligning Organic Face Elixir. Because I love the way face oils make your skin feel nourished. Each bottle contains a calendula flower that infuses the oil to soothe the skin. We gave this product its name because we all feel like our stars really did align when we came together.

Girl Undiscovered: Are there new products to come?

Philly: Yes absolutely! We’ve been so busy bringing Girl Undiscovered to life that it’s been hard to focus on final-phase development for the new ones but there are three to come very soon...

Sara: ...and we're really excited about them!

Charlotte: Watch this space!