Launched out of East London in 2016, Neighbourhood Botanicals creates 100% natural formulas with a focus on sustainable ingredients and raw plant oils. Founder Micaela Nisbet tells Sylvie Wilkinson how she took inspiration from her Australian roots and the sunny beaches of Byron Bay, where oils and all things natural are seen as the best possible skincare.
The cosmetics industry is often associated with environmental damage, but over the past few years there’s been a push towards offsetting this negative impact and the industry is slowly but surely becoming greener. A trailblazer in this climate-friendly shift is Neighbourhood Botanicals, the UK’s first and only carbon negative beauty brand.
Micaela did not always see herself as a skincare pioneer. Instead, she started out as a sound engineer and spent much of her time on the road touring. This lifestyle began to take a toll on her skin, and she struggled to find products that were natural, effective and didn’t cost a month’s wage. Micaela turned to her own knowledge and started to blend raw oils and extracts, which eventually transformed into Neighbourhood Botanicals.
Micaela’s brand focuses on a simple approach to skincare: ‘So much of skincare is just marketing, but oils are 100% goodness. They’re full of vitamins and fatty acids. Since studying and expanding my skills, I’ve been making one of everything I need in my cosmetic world.’
Neighbourhood Botanicals offers a fuss-free approach to skincare. Their products are thorough yet soft, true must-haves for a healthy skincare routine. Their Face Off oil-to-milk cleanser, described by Micaela as ‘a lazy girl’s dream’, removes makeup effortlessly with ingredients such as mango butter and avocado oil. The Daily Glow facial oil is the perfect morning serum to set you up for the day, with calming notes of green citrus and orange blossom. The latest addition to their collection is the Simmer Down Serum, for oily, acne prone skin.
Although Micaela’s brand is still relatively young, Neighbourhood Botanicals has an unmistakable air of chic confidence. This is remarkable considering the brand is only operated by a team of five. ‘We’ve got two spaces in the Leyton Industrial Village. It’s quite a small team, we make everything by hand in small batches of around 500 at a time […] we’re multitaskers – I do about 10 different jobs.’
‘Sustainability is the future in business across every industry’
The brand has grown organically over the years and is totally self-funded. This gradual growth is reflected in its wider practices, which have sustainability at the heart. For some independent brands, the world of sustainability is seen as intimidating and gives off the wrong impression. For Micaela, this view is outdated: ‘Natural products used to be all about hippies and yoga, that kind of vibe. That’s not me at all, I wanted to create something that was a bit more real world […] Sustainability is the future in business across every industry. I don’t think your business can succeed if you don’t have sustainability in the memo at this point.’
Neighbourhood Botanicals is proud to be the UK’s first and only carbon negative beauty brand. This means they’ve gone beyond climate-neutrality and are preventing more CO2 released into the atmosphere than the amount they create. Despite being such a small company, they comfortably offset more than double their emissions. To do this, they chose to support a hydropower and social project in rural China. ‘We chose to support this project as this is where we get our plastic and some of our bottles from. For us, it was as local as we could get to where we’re making the most carbon emissions.’
In order to gain this status, the brand reached out to Carbon Jacked, an environmental start-up who offer professional, tailored carbon assessments. Founded by Jack Curtis and Jacques Sheehan, Carbon Jacked wants to encourage more brands to consider their carbon footprint. For Jack and Jacques, the case for sustainable business practice is clear: ‘The moral case for taking action is obvious, but it also makes complete business sense. From customers and employees to business partners and regulators, everyone is demanding businesses become more sustainable. If businesses don’t act now, they’ll be left behind.’
For Carbon Jacked, not all is doom and gloom – businesses have a lot to gain from getting involved: ‘In better news, businesses that act first can expect commercial benefits and competitive advantages, as well as the comfort that comes with doing the right thing.’
Whilst some brands rely on a hollow tick-box approach to sustainability, Neighbourhood Botanical’s carbon-negative status has substance and heart. Micaela approaches her brand holistically – for her, it’s not enough to have recyclable packaging, you must do good wherever you can: ‘We’ve started an initiative working with charities to provide refill products to their shelters. The first one we’re partnering with is St Mungo’s, so that’s a big part of our sustainability vision.’
Neighbourhood Botanical’s carbon-negative status has substance and heart
Although the pandemic has been far from easy for Micaela’s brand, it has increased the focus on supporting local businesses: ‘I think people are realising that it’s not bad to buy things. The rise of conscious consumerism is going to be really big for 2021, and I think the lockdowns have been good for making people realise where their stuff comes from and buying local.’
The East London environment has been influential in shaping the ethos and style of Neighbourhood Botanicals. Since moving to London, Micaela has called East London home and currently lives in Leyton: ‘There’s such a good vibe here and the people are all so interesting. There’s colour and life and noise – the best type of urban.’
Micaela is looking forward to East London coming back to life over the next few months and revisiting some of her favourite places to eat, drink and meet with friends. ‘The Laughing Heart on Hackney Road is great – they’ve got an amazing wine list, nice strong cocktails and the most amazing speakers. It’s beautiful. There’s also a great family-run restaurant called Masala India on High Road, Leyton. It’s the best, they’re really lovely and everything is so fresh and delicious.’
Aside from readjusting to normal life, Micaela is looking ahead to creating more new products at Neighbourhood Botanicals. ‘We’re working towards a zero-waste refill scheme, which will arrive in the next two months. There’s also a bunch of new products coming out, like a face lotion and a deodorant – we can’t wait!’
Neighbourhood Botanicals: neighbourhoodbotanicals.com
Carbon Jacked: carbonjacked.com
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