The British Design Hub - Introducing Oskia
Georgie in our Cape Collar Shirt
The story of your brand is quite remarkable... the wonderful powers of MSM refocused from racehorse rehabilitation to collagen boosting oils and creams, this is a beauty brand with a difference. Tell us a little more about your founding story.
Beauty for me is all about inner confidence, which I believe is the route to true happiness. And a healthy, good skin condition has a huge positive effect on confidence. As a teenager – way too many years ago (I’m mid 40s now) I was painfully shy and had weak skin and terrible knees (from too much skiing from a young age) which didn’t help my lack of confidence. However, my father’s nutritional supplement business introduced a supplement designed to regenerate race horse’s mobility and which I took (after much persuasion) in the hope it would improve my knee joint condition. The supplement was MSM – the most bio-available from of sulphur which is present in over 150 different biological functions including collagen and keratin production (as well as amazing anti-inflammatory properties and glutathione production). Not only did my knee condition completely improve but my skin condition transformed – from dull, eczema and acne prone, to strong and glowing. A seed of an idea was sown, but it wasn’t until 13 years later when MSM was still not used in skincare, that I began researching the effects of nutrients on skin health with a team of incredibly scientists. OSKIA (meaning to deliver beauty, nutritionally) was launched four years later in 2010. We are incredibly fortunate to have our own factory and lab – unusual for a skincare brand – in Wales near where I live, so I spend the majority of my week here, with a few days in London where our Head office is.
We love that your products are all designed and made in Monmouth, Wales. How have you found the early years of building your business?
Unlike most businesses, we built OSKIA with no external investment and no large budget from the start – it grew purely on the efficacy and success of the products. Today we are still 100% family owned. Building a business this way, rather than with huge marketing budgets is a much slower process of brand building, but I do believe it can make more solid businesses, though the first few years when we knew we had to stand our ground, were hard. Luckily, my husband, George Gordon, joined just before launch, so we’ve built the brand together hand-in-hand from the day we returned from our honeymoon (I got him terribly drunk one night and persuaded him to join) so we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. Having someone close to share the experience, the ups and downs, has been fantastic. He’s a brilliant mind.
Your packaging and presentation is simple and beautiful. We love the concept of nutritional skincare and Super-C Beauty Capsules which we saw you launched at Emilia Wikstead fashion show last year. How important is branding and presentation to the success of your brand?
At the end of the day, efficacy is what sells a product in today’s market when customers are very well informed, educated on skincare and expect results. I feel very strongly that there is no place for products that aren’t brilliant and don’t work. However, branding is so important and I feel there is a huge emotional connection between branding and how you feel. Our branding hasn’t changed for 10 years and it will be here to stay.
We put our skin through so much with weather, pollution and more. What is a sensible (and realistic!) routine for busy women today?
I’m not a fan of huge routines with endless products. Instead, products packed full of actives, that are multi-functional are ideal, which means a daily routine should consist of 3-4 products max. Cleansing is key, think of it as your underwear. Always double cleanse at night, unless you have not been wearing makeup or sunscreen and your skin is dry. A fantastic serum is a must. I love to use 2-3 types of serums depending on how my skin is or the time of year. The most important thing you can do for your skin though is to use clinically proven anti-oxidant product – I wish someone told me this when I was young – and an SPF everyday (but don’t rely on the SPF in your foundation or moisturiser as it needs to be reapplied regularly when the sun is out.
What is your typical day, including any health / exercise and food balance to your busy work calendar?
If I was asked my typical day a year ago it would be very very different to what it is today. Gone are the days of daily exercise (I used to climb a few times a week in London) and would adore spending time in the kitchen (I was a food editor for years before OSKIA). Now, with lockdown, trying to find 5 mins to yourself is a miracle – so I can forget an hour! I’m sure every parent in the world is absolutely fed up of cooking endless meals (3 constantly hungry children), so both those pleasures have disappeared. I long for Deliveroo in London!
You are wearing the TROY Cape Collar Shirt, what made you pick out this design?
I adore all Troy clothing! Every single stitch of Troy! I’m very much a jeans and blouse girl – nothing beats a white shirt, but it needs to be very special and beautiful in detail - just like this utterly amazing Cape Collar.
How have you found the lockdown period, both professionally and personally?
Like all business at the beginning, we panicked. However, skin care is very much self care which is vital at times of stress and can easily be over looked when anxiety kicks in. Our industry has been OK, but the spa and treatment industry desperately needs the support of the government urgently. It is one of the safest and most hygienic of industries – unlike pubs!
From a personal side, I don’t think there is anyone who can’t say their world hasn’t been turned upside down. The biggest challenge has been dealing with everyone’s anxiety, especially the children’s, but also my own. On top of that, like all parents, homeschooling has been hell – we have three very unwilling students and clearly the School of Mum & Dad was terrible. However the hardest has been that there has been no ‘off’ time. Even going to the office could be seen as a breather. However, it has been the small things that have given me most joy. Nature is the best medicine! I have always been a very positive person so as long as we’re all healthy, everything else will fall into place.
You have won many prestigious awards and your star is on the ascendance. What is next for Oskia?
Thank you for saying that. We’ve won lots of awards but the most rewarding part of my job is receiving emails from people who’s skin we have transformed. The only reason I went into this business was to improve people’s confidence, to make people happy, so hearing this makes all the hard work worth while. We work a lot in Europe, but there are so many markets that we haven’t concentrated on yet particularly Austrialia and Asia – so this is what’s next. We’ve lots more products in the pipeline too which I am very excited about. Watch this space!
For our last #BritishDesignHub giveaway we're offering you the chance to win our Silk Scarf in Sky & Pale Blue with Oskia's Super-C Beauty Supplements, Renaissance Cleansing Gel and Nutri Bronze Serum, worth a combined £325.
Simply enter your details below, the winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday 25th August and notified by email.
Shop our full range of shirts here.
We so hope you've enjoyed getting to know the incredible brands in this years #BritishDesignHub. For more information on all of them, as well as a full list of available products, click here.