Brand Beginnings: An Interview with our founders Leanne & Scott

Brand Beginnings: An Interview with our founders Leanne & Scott

1. Hi Scott and Leanne, tell us a little bit about yourselves - how did you meet?

We met in southern Turkey while backpacking in 1993. I was heading to Israel & Egypt & Scott had come from Israel, Jordan & Syria. It was a chance meeting as we were heading in different directions. We met up in England & then continued to travel the world for 2 years before returning to Sydney. Our experiences restored an appreciation of life’s simple pleasures and filled us with the inspiration to create a unique range of bath, body & home fragrance products that enhance and celebrate everyday rituals. My background in visual merchandising was complemented by Scott’s experience in business, steering Urban Rituelle from its infancy to the thriving international business it has become today.

2. Inspired by the sanctity of nurturing both body & soul, your Australian-made bath, body & home fragrance products offer a welcome escape from the everyday. What inspired you to start Urban Rituelle?

We both always knew that we wanted to start our own business. It was one of the things we had in common when we first met. We also both knew we wanted to make our very own Australian-made products.

When we returned to Sydney after travelling through India, I started studying Japanese ceramics and the ‘ritual of making’ at university. The Japanese culture places a very big importance on rituals and ceremonies, and this fascinated me at the time (it still does). Little things like lighting a candle, enjoying a hot cup of tea, relaxing in a nice warm bubble bath… enjoying slow moments and life’s simple pleasures. I just loved the idea of how rituals shape our everyday life & celebrating the simple things you experience in your everyday. That’s how Urban Rituelle was born. We took our idea to the inner Sydney Markets in Glebe, where we had our trestle table, then launched at the Reed Gift Fair not too long after. 21 years later and we haven’t looked back.

The Urban Rituelle Story

3. Urban Rituelle is an environmentally aware company, your products contain certified sustainable, natural ingredients that are ethically sourced & harvested and are free of sulphates, parabens, artificial colours, mineral oils, or harsh chemicals. Can you tell us more about your approach to sustainability, in particular, the sustainable practices you have implemented across the business?

It’s always been our mission to create rituals that make people feel good. It is also a core value of Urban Rituelle to create feel-good products that are kind to our planet. We have always operated with people and our precious planet at the forefront of our minds and believe that every shift, no matter how big or small, can make the world of difference to the health of our planet. We are not perfect however we are questioning ourselves & our suppliers daily to make changes to the way we do business. It’s about being better, always doing more, solving problems & questioning old ways, improving our processes & not taking no for an answer. We are embracing our responsibility as a brand & a community to protect the beautiful places on our planet that mean so much to all of us.

We always choose the most sustainable option that is available to us. We have manufactured our newest collection ‘Natural Remedy’ using certified natural & organic ingredients & botanical extracts, thoughtfully packaged into post-consumer materials that can be recycled, to fight the war against waste. We reduce packing waste by not wrapping products in plastic or placing items into plastic bags. We have invested in technology that repurposes cardboard waste, reducing our reliance on packaging required for shipping. We only use environmentally friendly biodegradable void fill, paper & cardboard for shipping & distribution of our goods. We also print marketing material onto recycled papers whenever possible.

In 2020, Urban Rituelle committed to 100% renewable energy, ensuring that our business is now powered by renewable sources such as wind & solar. We advocate power saving & recycling in our office and warehouse. We are continuously researching new manufacturing methods and we are committed to adapting to the most environmentally friendly techniques & asking our suppliers to do the same.

The Urban Rituelle Story

4. Your packaging for your new Natural Remedy collection uses post-consumer recycled materials, can you tell us more about the decision to move towards sustainable packaging?

When developing the Natural Remedy collection we wanted to select the most sustainable options that were available to us, to be as kind as possible to our planet. The packaging for Natural Remedy is made using recycled post-consumer materials that can then be recycled again, saving valuable materials going to landfill. The materials we choose for our packaging also help to tell the story behind the collection – a range of feel-good products that are better for both you and the planet.

When we first envisioned this collection 3-years ago it was challenging to source packaging repurposed from post-consumer recycled materials. We did extensive research overseas, however we were thrilled to discover that our Australian supply partners had recently developed recycled packaging that aligns with our vision for a sustainable, natural & organic feel-good collection.

We are very proud to be using Australian-made 100% recycled PET bottles and Australian-made 50% recycled PE tubes, as well as 100% recycled paper boards for our boxes. While more expensive, post-consumer materials are one of the most environmentally friendly choices as it repurposes previously recycled materials, that can be recycled again to help fight the war against waste. 

5. Can you talk us through the process of sourcing and selecting the ingredients you include in your formulations?

The quality of ingredients is of utmost importance to us, that’s why we always choose the highest quality natural & organic ingredients available on the market. Waxes, oils & extracts are never selected by price point or budget, but instead by performance in the final formulation. We test all formulations, then test again, and again, and again until we get to the "aah, that's it" moment.

By working with premium Australian suppliers & selecting natural, organic, ethically sourced, and harvested ingredients, we can ensure that our formulations are not only healthy for you and your home but that they also deliver beautiful results without compromise.

The Urban Rituelle Story

6. What ingredients are you loving right now, and why?

Kakadu Plum – it’s the world's richest source of vitamin C that’s grown right here in Australia. It’s amazing for the skin. Kakadu Plum is rich in not only vitamin C (for a glowing complexion) it is also rich in antioxidants to help your body produce more collagen to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Another hero ingredient is aloe vera. It’s one of our favourite ingredients to use across our hand creams, body washes, and body lotions. Aloe vera is proven to be soothing, nourishing, and great for restoring hydration to dry skin. It’s also calming for the skin, so it is great for sensitive, delicate skin types & sunburn.

7. When it comes to candle care, what are your top tips?

Always remember to trim your wicks before each burn, we recommend trimming them to around 5mm. This promotes an even burn, which is super important for you to get the most out of your fragrance. It also helps promote a steady flame, reduces sooting and mushrooming of the wick.

Another tip would be to always make sure your wicks are standing upright before each burn. This prevents the wicks touching the outside of the glass, which can cause the glass to overheat &also stops soot from forming on your candle vessels.

The Urban Rituelle Story

8. Scott, what are your skin-care essentials, and do you have any tips for men wanting to delve into the skincare world?

Right now it’s the Natural Remedy Shave Cream. The combination of natural and organic ingredients feels great on the skin and provides a rich, creamy lather so I can shave with precision. Its been a cult product of ours for years, so glad we’ve got it back for people again.

For men wanting to delve into the world of skincare, I would say just go for it! I’ve been using Leanne’s skin care for years, but now I finally have my own. Everyone benefits from a skincare routine – it keeps skin clean, healthy, and feeling fresh. Start with your basics – a good cleanser, a daily moisturiser, and build from there.

9. Leanne, tell us about your skin-care routine, what products do you have on rotation right now?

When I approach skincare, I look for products that are natural, organic, effective, sustainable, and, most importantly, contain kind ingredients for my skin and the planet. I also love the delicate scent of natural essential oils.

I am religiously using our Natural Remedy Cleanser to wash my face every day and night. It’s my daily cleansing ritual. The gel gently removes all traces of makeup and any dirt and grime on your skin. A pea-sized amount is all you need for skin to feel cleansed and purified, without stripping skin of natural oils. I’m also loving our new Natural Remedy Purifying Face Scrub. It contains skin-loving ingredients like organic Kakadu plum, ground bamboo stem, and white kaolin clay that leaves my face feeling amazing. I use this around every second or third day to smooth skin and reveal a healthy, glowing complexion.

The Urban Rituelle Story

10. Blending ancient culture & modern sensibilities, Urban Rituelle celebrates the time-honoured ritual of bathing. How important is self-care to you and what practices do you implement in your own lives to nurture yourself inside and out?

Self-care is important – it teaches you a lot about yourself & you can’t help others or lead a great team if you aren’t looking after yourself. Taking the time to relax and unwind and taking the moment to pause gives insight into what you need to be the best version of yourself. You discover what sparks joy in your day, what rejuvenates your senses and what helps calm your soul so you can think clearly and productively. When you take the time to meet your own needs and take the time to feel good, you’re prioritising your wellbeing. When you feel good, that projects out to others and the world too. 

Daily yoga & meditation is my number #1 feel-good ritual, as well as long walks on the beach in the sunshine. In the evening I love lighting my favourite candle, currently, Alchemy White Lotus, running a bath, pouring a glass of wine, grabbing my current read, The Beekeeper Of Aleppo & locking the door.