Entrepreneur, business woman and mother of two, Andrea Horwood-Bux is what you would call a multitasking inspiration. Not only has she helped launch some of the biggest names in beauty throughout her illustrious career, namely BECCA Cosmetics’ first foray into the US and UK markets and founding Invisible Zinc, the world’s first global chemical-free sunscreen line, but she’s also the co-founder and CEO of WelleCo, The Super Elixir Alkalising Formula products alongside model and mogul Elle Macpherson...
Born, raised and now based in Perth, you could say a career dictating the latest and greatest in beauty and wellness products was inevitable thanks to an entrepreneurial spirit that started with the launch of cult independent magazine Australian Style. “We were young (I started the magazine at 19), we were brave and we knew exactly what we liked. The freedom we had to choose our interview subjects, how we wanted to photograph them, the idea behind the story, and the art direction on the page produced a unique result. It was my creative education and I carry the lessons with me today,” says Andrea of her time spent at the helm of the trailblazing publication. It’s no surprise then to hear that WelleCo’s Super Elixir is the magic ingredient behind the successful businesswoman’s overall health, energy levels and weight management, with the highly absorbable and alive nutrients making smoothies (at the moment mixed with hemp milk on Elle’s advice) the foundation of her morning routine. The results, ranging from improved digestion to clearer skin, are noticeable in mere weeks as the body becomes more alkaline, lean and nourished. If you need any more convincing, fellow WelleCo fans include Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Reese Witherspoon, to name a few. We recently caught up with Andrea to delve a little deeper into her approach to business, overall health and wellbeing and why focusing on “we” instead of “me” is a driving force behind her approach to motherhood. Go to www.welleco.com.au
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Awake. Curious. Open.
Can you tell us about your childhood – where did you grow up, what are some vivid memories of your childhood?
I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. The youngest of four children meant there were not a lot of baby pictures of me (mum had her hands full with four young children, a calf and a baby goat – both also on bottles). My father managed to bring his country upbringing to the suburbs of Peppermint Grove and our old house was a true menagerie. As the youngest in this mayhem, I was quiet and fairly self-contained, earning the nickname ‘Mouse’ that has stayed with me all my life. With two big characters for older brothers, keeping out of their way, finding small places to be on my own was probably my natural survival intuition! Some early memories involve going for a ‘ride’ down three flights of stairs in the bottom of a sleeping bag – you get the idea. They went on to be my protectors when boys started coming around, one still is to this day.
What do you remember most about the days when you were editing Australian Style?
We were young (I started the magazine at 19), we were brave and we knew exactly what we liked. The freedom we had to choose our interview subjects, how we wanted to photograph them, the idea behind the story, and the art direction on the page produced a unique result. It was my creative education and I carry the lessons with me today.
You went on to launch BECCA Cosmetics globally and then start INVISIBLE ZINC – have you always been ambitious/determined?
If the idea takes me, if I am compelled by it then yes I am dedicated to making it work. I had just sold my magazine when my friend Rebecca Williams asked if I would help launch her cosmetic range. Becca was in the development stage and I helped raise the capital and launch it in New York and London. She deserves all the success that brand has had. I then started Invisible Zinc after hearing a compelling story from one of the research scientists in the particle engineering department at my local university. They had found a better UV blocker using micronized particles of zinc that could mean the complete evolution of sunscreens away from what is considered less than ideal chemical sub filters. The issue was, the public had no knowledge of what was wrong with the chemical sunscreens so there was no demand. An education piece was required and I felt I could do this, the background in publishing definitely helped. So a brand had to be created, that brand ended up being more valuable than the original company who held the patent. We were in around 8,000 pharmacies in Australia, all Coles and Woolworths and department stores when we sold IZ to Valeant Pharmaceuticals. This was around six years after start-up. Like publishing, I loved the fast growth and having a product that touched a wide audience, it feels more relevant to me.
How did WelleCo begin and can you tell us about the WelleCo journey?
Soon after the sale of IZ, I was doing the last press tour with Elle Macpherson (who I had contracted as the face of the brand) and she told me about her nutritional doctor and the murky-looking green powder she was taking every day. This started a series of late-night phone calls between the doctor in London and myself and by the end of it, I was in. It was so compelling to me that the future of beauty was from the inside, and the future of supplements was going to be natural, absorbable and food based. We were the first to take a natural ingestible onto the beauty floor at Selfridges three years ago. Again, WelleCo products needed an education piece but it really is a no-brainer. Our standards of manufacture and unique formulations result in an efficacy that absolutely drives our growth. Our customers feel transformed, they share on social, they tell their friends and family, they are our best advocates.
What’s the secret to a successful business partnership?
Trust in the people you choose to work with and their skills. I had had to ask my Board and my team to take a leap of faith as we invest in a digital-first strategy from day one (80% of our sales are online and through our own welleco.com site) and create our own internal team who could communicate to our growing community the values of our brand and the way we can add to their lives. We don’t outsource this; it comes from us and it’s genuine. I think this shows.
Why do you think you’ve been so successful in business – what’s your approach to making a business successful?
Everyone looks for a secret, a nugget of golden advice and this may be unfashionable to say but there isn’t one. It comes back to hard work. The holidays you will miss, the planes you have to catch, the extra lengths you will have to go to. A good idea plus hard work.
How can women expect to feel after they start taking WelleCo’s Super Elixir?
First I have to say for me it was more energy, not getting up tired every morning. The nutrients are alive and highly absorbable so this was an instant and potent kick at the start. Then after a few weeks as my body became more alkaline you see the effects in so many ways, including digestion, and as a result of being nourished, your skin glows and looks plumper. Hair and nails, energy and weight loss without trying anything different, just a result of your body functioning within its healthy natural range. And I haven’t had a cold in years (that’s something when you have young children).
Can you tell about your approach to health and wellbeing?
Be good so I can be bad. Kidding. I start the day with hot water and lemon, followed by a Super Elixir smoothie. This morning’s was Hemp milk (Elle recently showed me how easy this was to make and I wanted an alternative to Almond milk to change it up), 1 scoop Super Elixir Nourishing Protein chocolate, 2 teaspoons Super Elixir Alkalising Formula, ½ frozen banana, blueberries and a teaspoon of organic turmeric as I’ve been on a plane for the last week and need a boost. Add half an avocado for a super creamy option if your skin is a bit dry. If I start my day like this, then I know I have set up a good foundation for any potential missteps. A complete nourishing breakfast, done. I am also really trying to move to a completely plant-based diet. It’s not easy, I grew up with a mother who does the best fillet of beef with béarnaise sauce, but I really feel it’s the way forward. For our health and the planet. So, for now, it’s less animal and more plant and see how I go. I’m not into strict diets or extreme exercise programs. I walk every day and go to a couple of classes a week, but I want to have time to listen to music, read and hang out with friends. The art of doing nothing in your downtime is greatly underappreciated. So, you could say my exercise program is just enough to get the blood flowing and keep me acceptable visually.
As mothers, we all crave more energy. What kind of foods would you recommend busy mothers fuel themselves with?
Super Elixir! Not kidding. It changed my energy levels and my natural healthy weight as a result. I won’t preach, so try my breakfast smoothie (as mentioned above) Monday – Friday for two weeks and see how you feel.
What’s your approach to sugar?
Approach with caution. I don’t add it, but it sneaks its way into the house in just about everything you buy that’s manufactured or prepacked. Get your kids drinking water young so they never develop a taste for juice or sugary soda and the rest is easier. For cakes and recipes, I like air-dried coconut sugar or just fruit. When you have kids it all about balance. At 12 and 14 they are winning at the moment but again if they drink water as their #1 choice, you are already ahead.
How long do you personally think it takes to break a bad habit or set a new healthy habit?
They say 21 days, don’t they? I say you can do it overnight or in a lifetime. Depends on your will and the bad habit. I’m good with some, not so good with others. For example, feeding the ego is as bad a habit as feeding yourself sugar, both not good for you.
What’s your approach to self-love and what will you teach your children about self-love?
Ultimately I want to teach my kids to be contributing, valuable members of society. The world does not need more self-interested spoiled people. My approach is less ‘me’ and more ‘we’. The journey of self-improvement involves looking into the galaxy within, it also means looking at the community of people around you and the effect you have on the lives of others. Your kindness, your inspiration, the energy you put out. How your actions impact on others. So, if a degree of ‘self-love’ is required to be a grounded person then as long as it’s not to the exclusion of others. I kind of like the gentle people, the ones who are a little unsure, open and searching. Important in a world where selfishness, vanity and pride are endemic, so maybe approach self-love with the same caution as sugar, it can be addictive.
What are your top management tips?
Find your people and look after them. Then you get to have the most amazing ride together.
If we opened your fridge, list three things we would find…
Day old opened wine, a bag of hemp seeds and tooth whitener. Tis the duality of my life.
Talk us through a typical morning in your home…
It’s not that interesting but here we go. Wake at dawn usually and start to open up the house for the day. Curtains and blinds open, music on (my morning playlist to coax the kids out of bed in a nice way, important to get your playlist right with grumpy tweens). Feed the Koi and put the dogs out after extracting them from under someone’s doona. Then I have hot water and lemon and scroll Instagram to see what my peeps and @superelixir are up to. In summer this is in the garden watching the sunrise, in winter it’s back under the doona. When it’s lighter and the kids are moving, I’ll make my breakfast smoothie and lay out some ingredients for them – they make their own Super Kids smoothies on school mornings and are very particular about their personal blend. I have learned not to interfere in this highly sacred teen ritual. After a grumpy exchange or two about who stole who’s uniform or components thereof, we sit together for a fleeting moment in the kitchen. Some consultation on what’s going into their lunch bags and they’re off to school. They walk to school and I walk to work so we are truly blessed to be able to start each day without the stressful commute.
How do you unwind at night?
I come home from work, cook dinner and play music in the house. I love cooking and involve the kids as much as I can. My mother is a wonderful natural cook, so is my sister as a result. It’s part of our family. The kids do their homework (or not) and we have dinner together. We all love snuggling in bed and watching some TV before bed. When they’re settled, I start on some work calls and emails, usually to the US.
How much time do you spend on social media – do you ever detox and do you think it can be a negative thing to spend too much time on social media?
I love it when it’s used in a positive way. It can inform (my then 11-year-old became a Bernie Sanders supporter during the US elections, without anyone’s prompting). To exchange ideas, start movements, it’s the modern resistance. And the democratisation of information is a positive that will affect not only our time but the kids going forward. Intelligent people will use the tools in a considered way. There will always be stupidity, you just have to sidestep it. My kids grew up communicating this way and they have a fresh take. For example, they don’t show off on IG, that’s considered deeply uncool. They can’t be ‘sold’ to, they have a keen bullsh*t radar and they aren’t mean. Mostly they are kind and very funny. They know they have to give me complete access and the rules around private accounts, people they don’t know etc… so we’re steering our way through. Steady as she goes.