Today I’m excited to share an interview with Lorraine Dallmeier, the owner & CEO of Formula Botanica. I completed my Formula Botanica Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation in 2018, and shortly after I attended the Formula Botanica conference in London, England. The conference was wonderful—it’s not often you can meet so many new people who all love talking about formulation! I also got a chance to meet Lorraine and many other Formula Botanica Staff members, and it was just a lovely experience overall. We’ve stayed in touch (I’ve since done some design work for them as well, designing their 2019 yearbook!), and I’ve recommended their courses to many readers. As enrolment opens for their summer term, I wanted to share an interview with Lorraine for a bit of a peek behind the green Formula Botanica curtain. Enjoy!

An Interview with Lorraine Dallmeier of Formula Botanica

September 2020 update: Formula Botanica is currently offering a free four-part formulation masterclass! You can sign up here 🙂 I highly recommend it, especially if you're wanting to see how Formula Botanica works.

Can we start with a quick run-down of how you came to be the owner & CEO of Formula Botanica?

Thanks for inviting me onto Humblebee & Me, Marie! I am a Biologist and Chartered Environmentalist and worked in the international energy industry for 12 years, all around the world. When I had my first son ten years ago, I found myself realising that this was finally my opportunity to start my own business and escape my 9–5.

I wanted to learn the skills I needed to create my own natural beauty formulations using the finest sustainable, botanical ingredients. I wanted to empower myself to become an organic formulator, being able to design unique skincare lotions bursting with fragrant flowers, petals, seeds, oils and herbs. I also wanted to create my own business and quit my job so I could turn my passion for natural, botanical ingredients into something amazing.

When I realised how straightforward it was to become a professional organic formulator, I became passionate to help as many people as I could do the same. In fact, it became such a big deal for me to help the organic skincare entrepreneurs of tomorrow, that I even bought the school I trained with, because I want to show the world that anyone can formulate.

I took over Formula Botanica in early 2014 with the intention of it being a small hobby business that I would run in the evenings after my day job. At the time, it was a large unfinished business – the website had empty pages on it, the systems didn’t work properly, it was all largely boot-strapped. I set about overhauling every single thing in the school, including all of the courses. I implemented proper marketing systems, I hired people and I made the school visible. Things quickly snowballed and here we are, several years later with a global team, 10,000 students in 160+ countries and multiple awards under our belt.

Lorraine speaking at the 2018 Formula Botanica conference in London, England.

When did you first get into DIY beauty?

I always loved working with plants, so the next natural step was learning how to make my own beauty products. I remember standing in a bookshop about 15 years ago and seeing a DIY beauty book by Jo Fairley, which I excitedly took home and started using to make potions.

I soon realised how simple it could be to make basic beauty products, started creating my own fun blends and then decided to make a DIY beauty recipe book app. In 2012, I launched BeautyCraft for the App Store (only available for iPhone), which contains 101 super basic recipes that you can make with food-based ingredients you can find in the supermarket.

BeautyCraft was always meant to be fun and simple, but it opened more doors for me than I could ever have dreamed of, because it led to me taking the next step to become an organic formulator.

Lorraine & her BeautyCraft app back in 2013.

 

How did you develop an interest in teaching green formulation? What drew you to green beauty & the green beauty movement in particular?

I arrived at my love of green formulation in a slightly different way to many formulators. My love of biology, science and plants drove me to wanting to show the world that plants could have an amazing effect on the skin and hair. I was always fascinated by the idea that plants are filled with hundreds of chemical compounds that can benefit our bodies and our wellbeing.

I’ve since of course discovered that a lot of green formulators start learning how to start their own cosmetic line by wanting to avoid synthetics, whereas that was never my primary driver for formulating with plants. Once I took over Formula Botanica, I wanted to make sure that my love of plants shone through in our online course materials.

Lorraine winning the CEW Digital Achiever award in 2018.

As the CEO of Formula Botanica, you’ve won awards for being an influential figure in green beauty! What do you continue to love about the green beauty movement? What changes have you noticed since you got started, and where do you see trends going?

I love the green beauty movement for its positivity and kindness. I’ve never seen this type of love in any other community and I find it incredibly inspiring to see how formulators and indie beauty entrepreneurs lift each other up. I feel honoured that I’ve been able to contribute to the green beauty movement and I’m excited to see it now move forward and embrace sustainability.

When I first started, people in the mainstream beauty industry would laugh at me when I told them we taught online courses in organic formulation. All of that has changed now. The big players take us very seriously and there’s been a huge growth in the number of plant-based functional ingredients, such as natural preservatives, coming onto the market. People no longer laugh when I tell them we have 10,000 students in 160+ countries. The green beauty movement is now a force to be reckoned with, which is also why we’re seeing so many big multinationals buy up indie brands.

The next step for the indie beauty sector involves embracing sustainability. Conscious consumerism will only continue to grow and I want to see formulators and beauty brands understand what it means to look after their environment and communities.

What are some of the developments at Formula Botanica that you’re the proudest of?

I am extremely proud of the awards we’ve won, the accreditation we’ve gained and the 1000+ 5-star reviews we’ve received. But what I’m most proud of is the success our graduates achieve every single day.

Ranging from selling out their skincare or haircare ranges at market stalls, to winning beauty awards, to being featured in their local newspapers, to opening their own retail stores, to raising investment funding, our graduates are trail-blazing. They are changing their lives through organic formulation and that’s incredibly rewarding to watch, because I know that we played a key role in helping them achieve that success.

As Formula Botanica has grown you now have a staff that takes care of the day-to-day things. How did you decide what to delegate? What tasks do you feel are important for you to keep on your plate as the CEO?

In the beginning when I first started with Formula Botanica, it was just me, but once I saw the demand out there for our online courses, I immediately hired a full Education team as I realised I could not teach and run the school simultaneously.

We now have about 20 people working at Formula Botanica today and several more vacancies to fill. I retain control of financial planning and I am heavily involved in content creation and digital marketing, because those are elements I love in my job. No two days are the same when running Formula Botanica and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Do you still create your own skincare/cosmetics? If so, what is (or what was) your favourite thing to make?

I look for simplicity, because I love the beauty of using just a few ingredients that can have an amazing effect on your skin or hair. I particularly love carrier oils as there is so much diversity in skin feel, colour and effect.

Saying that, my favourite formulation to make has always been an emulsion because there is something very satisfying about bringing together two elements that don’t generally want to mix together!

If someone is looking to enrol in an online course, what should they look for? What are some red flags & green flags potential students should be aware of when looking at courses?

The first thing I would recommend is that you ask to see a sample of the material you’ll be taught so you can make up your own mind. You can then get a feel for the course, the tutors, the learning platform and their methods.

Secondly, I would encourage you to assess the customer support you receive as a prospective student, as this will be indicative of the support you receive throughout your studies. We have 10 agents in our helpdesk now and they work pretty much round the clock to serve our students.

Finally, read real reviews from people who have actually taken the course. We invite every single student who’s completed a course to leave us a review on Trustpilot – this is an independent review site and shows you when the review was left by a verified student. I’m extremely proud to say that we now have over 1,000 5-star reviews!

Lorraine & the Formula Botanica team meet up with some Formula Botanica graduates at In Cosmetics Paris in 2019.

What are you excited about in the world of green beauty right now?

I love the way the indie sector is slowly but surely starting to embrace sustainable beauty. I think sustainability and naturals are going to become the holy grail in formulating in the coming years, and I want everyone to think about the provenance of their ingredients, their manufacturing and shipping methods and the disposal of their packaging.

The beauty industry is filled with rampant consumerism but I think the indie sector has an opportunity to take the entire industry in a different direction.

I’m in this photo from the 2018 Formula Botanica conference in London! Can you find me?

Formula Botanica has such a lovely, warm, and welcoming community—it’s one of the things I mention the most when people ask me about my course there. How do you work to foster that?

My team and I care deeply about our students and graduates and we aim for it to show in the way we run our communities. We encourage all of our community members to treat each other with kindness and respect – rather than think about the student next to you as a future competitor, we want you to think of them as a new friend, potential business partner or networking opportunity. Together we can achieve greatness in the beauty industry and that’s very much what we wish for our students and graduates.

What is your “why” for Formula Botanica?

I believe that anyone can formulate. One day, I dream of formulation being as commonplace as cookery. My passion is to help as many people as possible become a successful formulator and beauty entrepreneur through our award-winning online courses in making natural skin care products. Knowing that we change thousands of lives drives me forward and gets me out of bed every day.

Lorraine speaking at In Cosmetics Paris in 2019.

What’s your top piece of advice for new formulators?

Have fun! Formulating is fun and empowering and allows you to connect with those amazing botanical ingredients that are all around us. Before you know it, you’ll be creating your own lotions, cleansers, toners, masks and balms using herbs, roots, seeds, petals and leaves.


September 2020 update: Formula Botanica is currently offering a free four-part formulation masterclass! You can sign up here 🙂 I highly recommend it, especially if you're wanting to see how Formula Botanica works.

Want to read my review of the Formula Botanica course I did?

Read it Here

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