What is your role at Washpool Skin Wellness? In a nutshell, my primary role is to ensure that our wonderful Washpool team can do their job. Whether that means training, ensuring they have all the raw materials they need, implementing systems or identifying potential areas for improvement, that's my job.
While I’m in the lab a little less than I have been in the past, I’m still very much hands on. I’m typically involved when soap batches are blended and poured. I also work on product development and constantly review formulas, often as a result of feedback or suggestions from our customers.
Was there a specific event or time that prompted you to develop natural skincare? Many skincare brands get started due to a particular skin problem, however my progression into natural skincare was the culmination of many things. When I married and moved to a remote cattle property, I left behind a city life that included study and career in education. I love to learn, so when my young family presented me with dry and sensitive skin issues, I jumped at the opportunity to research (and create) solutions.
What inspires you? After more than ten years I’m still inspired by the power of plants to enrich our skincare routines, so I will continue to draw on that passion to offer simple, yet effective products for our customers. I’m keen to introduce even more plant goodness into our products using distillations and plant infusions. We’re also increasing our plantings of skin friendly plants and herbs on the farm, so we’re looking forward to harvesting those.
What fills your cup (makes you feel complete)? I love making a cuppa, setting myself up in my comfy chair on the farm and diving deep into a good book. I have an eclectic collection of reading materials near my single seat lounge and find myself reaching for very diverse topics - from permaculture to vintage soap manufacturing books to health and wellness.
Do you have any mentors or influencers? I am inspired by a select few skincare brands and often keep certain products in mind as a benchmark when I’m formulating. Naturally, everything we do is unique; however I take pride in ensuring our products are comparable. As I’m currently studying with the Institute of Personal Care Science my continuing education in the Diploma of Cosmetic Chemistry helps inform my formulation process.
How does being in nature and the surroundings in Ballandean make you feel?Do you have any favourite places to go? Ballandean enjoys a somewhat Mediterranean climate, so the types of plants that do well in that region usually grow well here too. Lavender, Helichrysum, Grapes, Stone Fruit, Rosemary, Roses, Olives and many more offer inspiration. On top of that, Native Australian species such as Strawberry Gum, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, and various other species also grow in abundance so it’s very much a meeting of these strong traditions contributing to our products.
What textures are you drawn to? Growing up in Queensland with a Mum who was a seamstress, we always had an appreciation for cool natural fibres. I’m still drawn almost exclusively to linens and organic cotton as I enjoy the breathability, natural texture in neutral shades.
What are you reading? I meet with my accountant quarterly, not so much to discuss figures but to discuss goals and indicators to mark whether we’re achieving them. Success is not measured by a numerical figure but by whether I’m meeting personal, health and home goals. Too often, as I approach another quarterly meeting, I realise that I haven’t quite achieved the balance I planned for (who has with everything that's been going on in the last couple of years?) Nevertheless, a key benchmark that my wonderful accountant is holding me to is that we will have built a kitchen garden near my back door. That’s a long way of saying that garden design books by well-known regional garden designer, Carolyn Robinson, and ‘Kitchen Garden Revival’ by Nicole Burke are on top of my reading pile. Also of note is the latest copy of Peppermint magazine as well as a new book on Australian Plants for health.
What is your favourite essential scent blend at the moment and is there any Washpool products you can’t live without? Hands down, it’s our Sleep Easy blend with Sweet Orange, Lavender Maillette, Petitgrain, Chamomile Roman and Sandalwood. I love it most in our L1 Luxe Soap bar with calendula petals, but it’s also included in our candle, room spray and bath bomb products. After more than ten years of making soap, I can honestly say that this one is my all-time favourite.
Do you have any self-care routines? I do. When I study, I always light a candle, whether it be day or night. I call it my study candle and when I light it I tend to knuckle down and focus. When I’m finished with my session, I blow it out and move away. It's a very specific signal to encourage focus.
I always enjoy using our moisturising face oil - both as my last step before bed and after washing in the morning. I love the scent and the light but rich feeling of the oils, applied when my skin is still a little damp.
What are you loving about Ballandean, and it's surrounds at the moment? We’ve had so much rain recently so I’m just trying to drink in the green views while I can. Like so many other regions, we’ve experienced record breaking drought over recent years so the beauty of so much water and green grass is unbeatable. The natural beauty of Girraween National Park is outstanding right now. Although the scars of bushfire are still there, the recovery is heart-warming and a good metaphor to remind us that after hardship, great joy can be around the corner.
What's your ideal getaway destination? I am a coastal girl through and through. I love the country, but the Northern NSW coast and hinterland really feeds my soul. I love the dolphins, the whales, the colours, the scent of sea spray. I love curly messy hair, minimal cool clothing, ocean swims and beach walks.
What's on the horizon for Washpool? There are a few products that just never seem to have made it to the top of my ‘to do’ list. Products that we’ve been asked for a number of times - such as a balm cleanser or a facial spritz. The challenge is to create products that are unique, fit the ethos of Washpool and its’ customers and include raw materials that are kind to the skin while being sustainable.
How are you being sustainable as a family? The Thomas family lives in an off-grid home, entirely self-sufficient for electricity and water. This year we plan to increase our kitchen garden space to provide more of our own veggies. We tend to buy groceries with low food miles, predominantly from independently owned businesses. As we stock a range of eco products in our store, we also use the same products in our home, and we are often testing new products (like some waterless home cleaning bases at the moment). We are implementing regenerative agriculture practices in our farming country and enjoy learning how we can be better stewards of the land we live on.
How do you use your Washpool products in your life and around your home? Many Washpool products were created out of needs we had in our own home, so it’s natural that we use them there. We all use the conditioning shampoo bar and find it particularly convenient now we’re swimming. I recently visited the home of a Washpool staff member and noticed their bathroom smelled lovely and I was interested to note they had one of our new diffusers beside the loo. Note to self to select one for home, as the subtle effect was perfect. I haven’t used liquid kitchen detergent for years and prefer to use a solid kitchen soap block. We like to keep things pretty simple and minimal at home so it’s a case of a few good products that serve us well, used often.