I first met PEARL by Par Olive founder Olivia Boyd-Smith almost a decade ago. It was at a barre class in Bondi, at a time when I thought LED lights were for clubbing and a serum was something you did in France.
But despite being completely clueless about skincare, I did immediately notice Olivia’s skin. It is luminous. It looks like the Paris filter on Instagram (if you know, you know) – but in real life. It’s what most people’s faces look like with the help of a ring light and a great foundation.
Her secret? Her mother. “Oh, her influence has been everything in both my skin and wellness journey”, Olivia tells me. “My mum has worked in Dermatology for many years, and always emphasised the importance of skincare and SPF, but we also had a huge focus on nutrition and minimally processed foods growing up, which I am now so grateful for.”
“I was always the child slathered in SPF from head to toe, and my lunchbox consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts and salad sandwiches, rather than the fun roll ups and chocolate rice pop bars my friends had (and I unsuccessfully begged them to trade me for). At the time, I can’t say I was overly thrilled, but now as an adult I’m so grateful that my mum instilled in me the importance of skincare, SPF and nutrition for long term skin health and wellness.”
“I still remember my mum introducing me to Environ AVST (a daytime Vitamin A and antioxidant) from the age of 13. So it’s safe to say I started very young!”
And it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Olivia says she “jumped around a lot” in her twenties, with stints in writing, Law, PR and Marketing. “I was initially quite embarrassed that I struggled to find ‘my thing’, but I wanted to try a variety of different roles and seek out what I was really passionate about. Skincare and wellness was always a huge passion and love of mine, and I think when I started to follow my intuition, trust myself and believe in myself, I started to see how I could make a career in the beauty and wellness space.”
After launching her beauty website Par Olive, and interviewing some of the world’s most renowned experts on skin and beauty, Olivia realised there was a gap in the collagen market. “When I couldn’t find a collagen supplement that was wild caught, sustainable and traceable, I worked with a leading Dermatologist and Dietician to create it”, she explains. “I try to shop at farmers markets, buy grass fed meat and wild caught fish as much as I can, but I saw such a disconnect with collagen, which is an animal derived product you need to take every day to see results. So many people were taking collagen, with no idea where it was sourced from, or how it was sourced.”
And so PEARL by Par Olive was born – but not without plenty of bumps along the way. Here, Olivia takes us on her journey to creating the skincare you can drink (if you’re a coffee lover, add Coconut PEARL in your morning cup and thank me later). She also shares her current skincare routine, matcha recipe, and why she books in for an annual BBL (for the face, not the bottom!)
Tell me about your early days as a beauty writer. How did you find yourself in this role and what did you love about it?
This was such a special and challenging time for me. I was in my early twenties studying Communications, and trying to find my way. I started interning and was fortunate to intern at magazines such as ELLE and an online publication under the incredible journalist Rachel Sharp. In this time, I realised how much knowledge I had acquired in the beauty and wellness space through my mum over the years, and also the connections in the dermatology, cosmetic and nutrition world that I had garnered.
I’ve always loved the research and science behind skin. At the time (around 2012) there was very little conversation around how nutrition can impact skin health, and wellness was not the buzz word it is now. I loved talking to experts who believed in the inextricable link between how our nutrition and wellness rituals can impact skin health, specific foods and supplements that could improve skin health, and the latest innovations in skin treatments around the world.
Where did the inspiration for Par Olive come from, and how long was it in the making before you launched?
Later in my career I studied law and started working as a Paralegal. It challenged me and my way of thinking which I enjoyed, however, after some time I started to miss my creative outlet of writing and researching the worlds of beauty and wellness.
One afternoon I sat down at my desk in my tiny one bedroom Woollahra apartment and started mapping out the Par Olive website. I wanted to specifically cover beauty and wellness, work with a Nutritionist to create recipes with ingredients known to boost skin health, interview world leading Dermatologists, Plastic Surgeons and Functional Doctors and give everyone a forward thinking view on how to approach their beauty and wellness routine. I put together 6 editorials and went live a fortnight late, and I am still running Par Olive now 7 years later.
Skin is so complex, and there are so many products and treatments in market, and so many different approaches. How do you go about making it approachable, especially when you’ve spent so many years really diving deep and becoming super knowledgeable?
It is truly so overwhelming, even for me. I think education and simplification is key – which is why I love interviewing people like Dr. Shyamalar Gunatheesan who is a holistic Dermatologist in Melbourne.
Everyone is so unique, so your products and treatments should be too. There is a lot of mismarketing in both the topical and ingestible space. Many brands do not contain active or naturopathic dosages of ingredients, so for me, it’s really important to find brands and experts you trust, rather than following the latest fad product or treatment you see on social media.
On Par Olive, I really love to break down buzz topics and treatments to educate our community to empower them individually to make the best decision for themselves. I only ever write about a product I have trialled myself for 4-6 weeks, and will only ever speak about a treatment I have personally done myself. Par Olive is not a revenue driver for me, it is a space to add value for our community and educate them with the latest beauty and wellness news, treatments and trends.
You launched PEARL by Par Olive into a fairly saturated market – there are lots of competing collagen brands now. What did you feel was missing, and what is it about Pearl that’s different?
It is definitely a saturated market, but there was such a sea of sameness in all of the ingestible collagen products. When I couldn’t find a collagen supplement that was wild caught, sustainable and traceable, I worked with a leading Dermatologist and Dietician to create it.
I try to shop at farmers markets, buy grass fed meat and wild caught fish as much as I can, but I saw such a disconnect with collagen, which is an animal derived product you need to take every day to see results. So many people were taking collagen, with no idea where it was sourced from, or how it was sourced. I wouldn’t buy a piece of meat not knowing if it came from China, Brazil or France, so I didn’t want to take a collagen supplement that interchanged suppliers and had no transparency in terms of where it came from.
PEARL is single origin, meaning it is sourced exclusively from wild caught cod in Norway, which is the highest grade of collagen in the world, which I believe is so important when taking a supplement every day. It is synergistically blended with Vitamin C from Kakadu Plum in Australia and Freshwater Pearl Powder from Japan that is rich in sea minerals. All ingredients work synergistically to drive maximum collagen production in the body. We have extremely close relationships with our suppliers so have complete visibility over our supply chain, and we never use fillers like maltodextrin (corn thickener) often used in collagen, or natural or artificial flavourings.
“ In the saturated collagen market, I wanted to raise the bar with a product that has sustainability, traceability and purity at the forefront. PEARL has clinically backed results, and I would rather have smaller profit margins, but a more environmentally conscious brand I’m proud of. Otherwise, what's the point? ”
Sustainability is also at the forefront of all that we do. PEARL is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified sustainable, and all of our packaging is eco-friendly. Our primary packaging is glass, because it is infinitely recyclable, and our refill bags are made of sugarcane and carbon negative. All of our shipper boxes are plastic free and biodegradable, and we donate a fixed percentage from every sale to The Australian Marine Conservation Society.
What was the testing and manufacturing process like, and where did you start with this?
The research and development of PEARL by Par Olive took over 2 years. I worked with a Dermatologist, Dietician and Chemist to ensure we sourced the highest grade ingredients, with the most sustainable practises in the world. There were many corners I could have cut along the way, for example, our Coconut collagen contains only 100% organic coconut flesh with no additives or flavourings. It was by far the most expensive option, and my manufacturer tried to give me other alternatives many times, with natural and artificial flavourings, but I would rather not start the brand at all. It is now our bestseller and our community is obsessed with the taste. That makes it all worth it for me.
It took so long because I wanted a product I could give to my friends, my family and myself and consume with confidence. I wanted to know the supplement I am taking every single day, has the highest quality ingredients, with the most sustainable and ethical practices.
Were there any bumps along the way to finding your perfect formulation?
Many, many bumps. Stability testing with no fillers and preservatives was difficult, which is why we use our UV violet glass jars. They preserve the quality of PEARL, without the need for artificial ingredients or preservatives. It took us a long, long time to land on our final formula that contains naturopathic dosages of each ingredient, and clinically backed results, but we finally got there over two years later.
What’s been your proudest moment since launching Pearl?
There has to be two moments for me:
- Seeing the incredible PEARL community results, and hearing everyday how the product has transformed their skin, hair, nails and confidence. For me, I knew if I created the highest quality products, the community results would speak for themselves. Seeing this come to light, absolutely brings me the most joy.
- The genuine partnerships with leaders in the skin and hair space. Within the first year of launch, Melanie Grant, Diandra Politano, Jaye Edwards of Edwards and Co and Paloma Garcia of PALOMA all started stocking PEARL as they genuinely love and believe in the brand. I have such respect for these leaders in the space, so their belief and love of the product means so much as a small brand with (very) large ambitions.
What’s your current skin routine?
What are your favourite treatments to book and why?
Every 8-10 weeks I have a facial with Diandra Politano, and I count down the days until my next appointment once it has finished. Diandra’s approach combines classical facial massage techniques (I cannot even begin to explain how incredible her massages are), with clinical efficacy. No two treatments are the same, Diandra assesses my skin on the day. It varies from needling and light therapy to a signature lymphatic drainage facial.
Annually, I book in for a BBL (for the face, not the bottom) at my Dermatologist. A BBL is a broad band light which stimulates skin rejuvenation and reduces sun damage. As I am super fair, I love this treatment to treat any sun damage that has accumulated over the year. My mum swears by this treatment annually.
What does a day in your life look like?
So cliche, but so two days are the same. Owning a start up, I work in all areas of the business, all the time. I try to control my morning routine to ensure I am calm and focused for the day ahead. Below is a little rundown of a what a typical day may entail:
6.30am: Wake up, brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, drink a large glass of water
6.45am: 20-30 minutes of Fluidform pilates – this is my saving grace to find balance and strength mentally and physically
7.15am: Shower, and I always finish with 1-2 minutes of cold water to increase circulation
7.45am: Apply skincare, get dressed and ready for the day
8.15am: Make my morning matcha with PEARL, enjoy a bowl of sheep’s milk yogurt with berries and sit down and write my to-do list for the day
8.30-5pm: My work hours consist of manufacturing meetings for new product development, finance meetings, team meetings to discuss upcoming campaigns, meetings for new brand partnerships, shooting content for social media, writing back to customer service questions, writing content for our journal, writing content for Par Olive, fixing a website issue, the list goes on!
5pm: Go for a walk with my dachshund Kramer
6pm: Shower, my partner usually cooks a New York Times Cooking recipe and we are currently hooked on the show Euphoria.
10pm: Bed to read for 30 minutes before falling asleep (if I haven’t already on the lounge)
What’s your favourite way to consume Pearl?
In my morning matcha – I interchange from the Marine Collagen Superpowder in Unflavoured or Organic Coconut. The Organic Coconut adds the perfect coconut creaminess, like coconut milk, for a delicious creamy coconut matcha. The Unflavoured goes undetected, but gives me all of the PEARL benefits of collagen peptides, vitamin C and sea minerals in my morning matcha.
Olivia's Matcha recipe:
1⁄2 tsp. Japanese ceremonial grade matcha
2 tsp. PEARL Marine Collagen (Coconut or Unflavoured) 1 tsp. Maple syrup
1⁄2 cup hot water
1⁄4 cup warm coconut milk
1. Add PEARL, matcha, maple syrup to your mug
2. Pour in 1⁄2 cup hot water and mix all ingredients until combined
3. Stir in warm coconut milk (optional to froth)
4. Sip and enjoy a delicious, warming cup of matcha that contains antioxidants, collagen peptides, vitamin C and sea minerals.