Beauty / Feature

Anna Lahey on the power of investing in people and inner beauty

In partnership with Vida Glow. 

 

Anna Lahey has been an advocate for health and ingestible beauty for a long time. It’s the reason she founded Vida Glow. It’s a brand that focuses on a holistic approach to beauty and wellness.

My grandfather always used to say, if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. After connecting with Anna, you can see this is certainly a sentiment she shares. After a trip to Japan, she learned of the benefits of ingestible marine collagen. This compound is steeped deeply in the history of Japan, a country which is so uniquely tied to the ocean. The experience impassioned her to capture the benefits of marine collagen and introduce it to her own community.

“Collagen is a bit of a buzz word now, but when we started five and a half years ago it wasn’t,” Anna says. In today’s rapidly changing world she says “it’s too late to be following a trend.” So both she and Vida Glow have needed to “focus on innovation” to achieve the brand’s long-lasting success.

Starting any company from the ground up takes determination of course. But there is a lot more to building a brand than just tenacity. Anna has shared with us her story. She speaks of her people, she knows that the people you surround yourself with – the people who spend their days working and grinding for you – are the real reasons for success. She knows that there are some things she should have known earlier. And she definitely has a few secrets on how to balance business and raising her family.

 

Growth and change is about learning. What is the biggest lesson in business that creating Vida Glow has taught you?

“The biggest lesson we’ve learnt is to really invest in people. The people that help you grow your business are the foundation. If you have the right staff, you have to nurture them and invest your time in them. It’s also essential to nourish the culture of the business and invest in hiring slowly, giving a grace period to see if that person is really going to fit into that culture. I once read a statistic, and I don’t know if this is true or not, but only 3 percent of people are happy in their jobs. The people that are working for you – those people that are so imperative to the success and growth of your business – they have to be invested, they have to love your product. I believe you have to have a good relationship with them, you have to have an open-door policy.

The way you treat people is everything. 

In a time like this, it’s never been more important to nourish that work culture and make sure people are heard.

The other thing I’ve learnt is ‘stay in your lane’. You can’t think too much about what people are doing to the left of you, the right of you. Competition is healthy. There will always be competition, so don’t necessarily see them as a threat. There is enough for everyone to succeed. What is most important is what you’re doing and what you are offering. You can’t get caught up in what everybody else is doing.”

 

What is one thing you wish you knew before starting out?

“The biggest thing is having a better understanding of brand architecture. We hadn’t done this before, so building a brand was completely new to us. We started a business based on a passion. I don’t have any regrets as I’ve learnt so much from this, but we didn’t have that clear understanding of where we were going. We started with one product in the beginning. The first two to three years, we wasted time and resources investigating new products that probably didn’t fit the brand. Obviously you have to be flexible, as you can see how the world is changing, but It’s useful when you begin to have some sort of road map to really envisage where the brand is going.”

 

For you, what is the hardest thing about the beauty industry?

“It’s a saturated market and that’s a challenge. I’m a fan of social media, and for us as a business, it’s a useful tool, but there is so much new noise all the time. It can be challenging to cut through and be heard as a brand. Our product is quite a complex product – it works differently than a hair, skin and nail supplement and it’s different than a moisturiser. Finding a unique product offering is really vital to success in this industry.”

How do you create? Where does the idea for a new product originate from?

“My personal struggle with hair loss and brittle nails was actually the inspiration behind the brand. Before discovering collagen on a trip to Japan, my hair would fall out to the point where I had to put acid down the drain due to the amount of hair I was losing and I relied on synthetic nails.

Before that trip I had never heard of collagen supplements, but noticed it was available everywhere. You’d go to the gym and they’d offer you water with collagen in it, you could have your soup infused with collagen.

I was interested enough to speak to a pharmacist and she explained that collagen supplementation had been around for 300+ years. 

I was sceptical but I started taking collagen and I was diligent about it. Nothing in my lifestyle had changed, but when I went to get my hair extensions 3-4 weeks later I couldn’t believe how much my natural hair had grown. Within six weeks I was getting infills every week because my nails were growing so much. I didn’t have any major skin issues, but I definitely noticed my skin appeared plumper.

After taking collagen for about six months, the results that I saw made me dive deep into the research and I found so many studies and clinical trials – that is what inspired the idea of bringing this to life. That was in January of 2014 and we sold our first unit on the 13th September 2014, which was also our wedding day.”

Can you explain the health benefits of ingestible collagen?

“The interesting thing about ingestible collagen is the way it works is so different. Once you mix it in water, it passes the lining of the stomach and is absorbed by the bloodstream in about 30 seconds. Then it travels via the blood vessels to the collagen matrix underneath the surface of the skin where it stimulates the proliferation of fibroblasts, which are the cells responsible for collagen production in the body.

Its absorption rate is really high and the bioavailability of the product is huge. Because it’s a hydrolysed marine collagen, the molecular weight is very low – at about 2,500 daltons. Whereas other types of collagen tend to have a higher molecular weight, which is why their serving sizes are higher. The lower the molecular weight, the higher the absorption. As a result, we have a really high repeat customer rate and most people see results in about 30 days.

We invest in studies and marine collagen is clinically proven to improve the health of hair, skin and nails. The benefits include restoring skin’s hydration levels, smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, stimulating hair growth as well as strengthening the nail structure. My favourite benefit of collagen is that natural plumpness it gives to the skin.

We make beauty claims but a lot of people say to me ‘how do you have so much energy’ – if I have stopped taking it I notice the difference in my energy levels and a difference in the vibrancy of my skin. 

We also have so many customer reviews on collagen helping to improve skin conditions and inflammation, which we also don’t make claims on.”

What’s in your beauty routine?

“I take our collagen twice a day, in a glass of water every morning. It’s my favourite. I am pretty strict with taking two of the sachets a day, especially being postpartum and breastfeeding. I also take Anti G-Ox – you can dissolve it onto the tongue or drink it in water. It is basically an internal defence system against lifestyle and environmental factors that cause premature ageing.

I do a cleanse in the morning and a Vitamin-C serum, then I use a rich moisturiser. I go between the Vida Glow moisturiser and the Biodroga 24 hour + moisturiser. I always use an SPF and put it on the back of my hands. I recently discovered Ultra Violette and I use that most of the time as its 50+ SPF, but if I’m just inside all day, I really like the Chanel CC cream that is 30+ SPF and tinted.

I never leave the house without my brows done. I use the Amy Jean products. She has a micro stroke pencil which is the best because it has a little brush and fills the brows in a very natural way. And if I am going out I use the Brow Velvet Duo. In terms of makeup, I love Chanel’s products. I use the Chanel Coco Rouge lipstick because it gives you a stain but it’s not too heavy. Their eyeshadow palettes, bronzers and blushes are all great, but I only really wear makeup when I am going out.

I get facials regularly at Will and Peta in Bondi Junction. She is the most amazing woman with such an incredible story. She is an absolute formidable force as a transgender woman speaking out about the health of young people. Her knowledge is quite incredible. I also love to consult with Melanie Grant and Jocelyn Petroni. They just give such good, honest advice.

 

How  do you manage stress? What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

“Walking. I know people meditate, whatever floats your boat. Building a global business and working in different time zones is really stressful, especially having three children under three.

The best way for me to clear my head is to get outside and clear my head. Whenever I’m overwhelmed there is nothing like going for a walk to change my mood.”

 

What’s next for Vida Glow?

“We are very ambitious and our goal is to be world leaders in the ingestible beauty category. New product development is imperative for our success going forward entering different international markets including the UK, Europe and the US, whilst also fostering our biggest market in China where consumers are very advanced in their knowledge of the ingestible space. We don’t believe in following trends. Instead, we have been investing heavily in research and development to formulate innovative, market-leading products. That’s been possible because we are supported by a global distribution network which allows us to reach our consumers the world over.”