How Botaniq is challenging the science of beauty
Interviewed by Adam Bryce
Photography by Adam Bryce
Styled by Sara Black
With 100 per cent naturally derived ingredients, Botaniq rules modern haircare. We talk with science grad and founder and Adelle Rodda.
Tell us what you do and why you do it.
I formulate and develop salon-quality, natural hair care that is environmentally and socially conscious. I believe that hair care should be uncomplicated, enhance and celebrate people’s natural hair textures and focus on long-term hair health.
Tell us about the creation of Botaniq and what drove you to start your own brand?
I have a science degree (BSc. Dip Form Chem) and I’m also a hairstylist. I couldn’t find natural hair care that performed like the premium salon brands I was used to using, so I thought I’d give it a go because how difficult could it be? Quite difficult, it turns out. After years of research and development, I launched with four styling products that also have a treatment focus. They contain scientifically backed ingredients that are 100% naturally-derived and are designed to prevent damage while elevating your natural texture. The active ingredients also provide heat protection, so if you choose to get creative with hot tools every now and again you won’t overly compromise the condition of your hair.
The core value of Botaniq is to use naturally-derived ingredients, it might seem obvious, but can you tell me what the actual benefits of this are?
By using natural ingredients, botaniq can connect people with nature. I want the brand to be part of a wider conversation which compels people to think more about consumption and a better way of doing things.
We need to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and traditional hair care ingredients are predominately made using petrochemicals. Advances in green chemistry mean that alternatives that don’t rely on petrochemicals as raw materials are becoming available. There are also some amazing botanical ingredients that have been used for centuries by Indigenous cultures and science is only really starting to explore how these work now.
You have strong opinions of sustainability in the marketplace and in society as a whole, where did these values come from? What informed this way of thinking?
I grew up on a farm and in small coastal towns, so I think that upbringing is responsible for the way I think about nature and our relationship with it. At uni, I learned how to look at information critically and through a scientific lens, this now forms the basis of all my decision making. With botaniq, I take the entire lifecycle of our products into account, from seed to shelf to recycling bin and beyond. This helps me to select ingredients and packaging with the lowest carbon footprint and the best environmental and social outcomes.
The beauty and hair industries (alongside fashion and many others) have been accused of using sustainability as a marketing strategy, what are your thoughts on this?
It’s a real bummer when companies just pay lip service to sustainability. Sustainability is about much more than profits and image. If you are a brand making products or providing services you really have a responsibility to do so in a way that respects the environment, people and their cultures and communities.
Consumers are not ignorant, people vote with their dollar and those who are actively choosing brands because of their ethics are usually pretty discerning and do their research. Those companies that are full of it usually get found out pretty quickly. Thankfully, there are lots of brands who are really trying to do the right thing.
How does working as a hairstylist while running and creating Botaniq help inform your decisions?
Working alongside some of the best hairstylists in the industry makes research and development really fun, it’s the best environment for new inspiration and pushes me to make products that stylists want to use and recommend. Testing out products in-salon means I can really refine new formulations too.
How do you find work/life balance?
Does that exist? I’m lucky that my work for botaniq never really feels like work. I love working in my lab.
What, if any, are the challenges or benefits in creating a hair product here in New Zealand?
We don’t produce many cosmetic ingredients here so it can sometimes be impossible to get a hold of certain things and if you want to formulate with a low-carbon footprint it can be quite restrictive. Packaging can also be a challenge but I don’t think that is necessarily specific to here. Some of the best creativity and innovation happens in response to limitations and I think that is often what makes New Zealand brands so great. So I try to enjoy the challenge of having limited access to ingredients.
How did the recent lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic affect the way you think about your work and how you go about running a business?
The lockdown and global pandemic made me reflect on every aspect of my work and business operations. I am fortunate that being small and sourcing most things locally has meant that I haven’t been too impacted by it but it’s still an ongoing thing so who knows what will happen. I think being adaptable has been my biggest lesson from it.
I have been more affected by the recent protests over George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement. It has definitely opened my eyes and made me reflect and educate myself about the issues we have with racism here in Aotearoa. Going forward, I am committed as an individual and business to anti-racism action. This, along with being an eco-conscious brand, is now a core part of my business practice.
What are your future goals for the brand and how do you see these being accomplished?
I have lots of future goals but I like to hold at least some cards close to my chest. I can tell you that I have shampoo and conditioner launching hopefully by the end of the year, coronavirus really threw a spanner in the works with that project. I also have a really exciting new product collaboration coming up that I’m immensely proud to be a part of and I have some exciting packaging initiatives that will reduce our environmental impact further but I can’t give too much away just yet.