We sat down with Marlize Nel, owner of Down To Earth, to discuss what inspired her to start this all-natural skincare range and what being part of the Faithful To Nature family has meant to her.
“For years I have been using the African Potato Cream for my sunburn, never did I dream that I would one day own the brand.” – Marlize Nel
1.WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THIS BRAND?
Spanning a career of more than 13 years in the financial services sector, I never felt settled or at home in the corporate world. The opportunity to run a business that matches my personality and interests was something I could not allow to pass by.
I have long been passionate about the restorative potential of nature and have developed a keen interest in natural products: to be part of an industry that promotes health and wellness inspires me. So, in 2014 I bit the bullet and bought the Down to Earth brand. Back then it was a small company with a good presence along the KZN coastline. It was founded by a medical herbalist who has lectured abroad and is a strong advocate for natural medicine.
Once the company was under my leadership, we updated our brand and re-launched a few core products as part of the product line offering, remaining true to the ethos on which the company was founded.
2. HAVE YOU FOUND A MASSIVE CHANGE IN YOUR OWN HEALTH & LIFESTYLE CHOICES SINCE STARTING YOUR COMPANY?
Changes in my eco-awareness and subsequent health and lifestyle choices happened long before my Down to Earth venture.
Having sensitive and reactive skin, it was inevitable that I naturally progressed from conventional skincare and personal care products to natural products. That was the nudge that pushed me into the green culture. Around the same time, my husband started with Meat Free Mondays which gradually evolved into a more dedicated vegetarian lifestyle for our family. We recycle, grow our own vegetables and consider the environment with the purchases we make.
3. WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
We’d like to think of ourselves as the go-to brand for anyone seeking natural relief from pain, inflammation, abrasions or skin problems, as well as those wanting to make and keep their skin healthy. We see our customers as people who are concerned about all the harmful ingredients in conventional products, people who choose because they want to minimise the burden on the environment as far as is within their means.
4. THE ECO MARKET IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE COMPETITIVE – WHAT GAVE YOU THE INSIGHT/ CONFIDENCE TO THINK YOUR BRAND WOULD BE A HIT?
We didn’t necessarily consider this to such a great extent. For me, it was more about following my passion. It started with creating a brand for me and my family with products that we would use. So far I have been thrilled to find out that others appreciate the brand and what we do.
With regards to the newly launched products, I worked with my teenage daughter to develop the Refresh Range targeted at people with more problematic skin. We hope others will benefit from the products too.
5. INGREDIENTS PLAY A MASSIVE ROLE IN FAITHFUL TO NATURE, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PLACE THE SAME IMPORTANCE IN YOUR PRODUCTS?
Years ago I noticed that conventional skincare and personal care products were burning my skin and causing sensitivities. Even conventional household products left the skin on my hands dry and flakey. And so I educated myself about the effects of different ingredients. When I made the switch to natural products, I experienced an immediate improvement in my skin health and respiratory function.
We encourage consumers to educate themselves about what they are consuming. What we put in and on our bodies has a direct impact on our health and on the environment.
6. HOW CAN YOU VERIFY YOUR ORGANIC AND ETHICAL CLAIMS?
The organic ingredients used in our products are certified by an accredited certification authority. We obtain copies of these certificates when purchasing the extracts.
We do not test our products on animals, nor do we use any animal-tested ingredients. We are proudly endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty and our products are vegan-friendly, except where beeswax is used (in the African Potato Cream).
7. WHAT DEVELOPMENTS AND CHANGES CAN YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE?
In addition to further catering to the needs of different groups of people with different skin types and problems, we hope to increase our international presence.
8. PERSONALLY, WHAT ONE THING IS THE ONE THING YOU CUT FROM YOUR DIET AND AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE?
Sugar. I find it very addictive. It affects my mood and mental clarity, not to mention my skin health. In addition to that, I avoid animal products, particularly those coming from factory farms.
9. WHAT PRODUCT OR FOOD ITEM WOULD NEVER GO WITHOUT?
Vegetables! Growing my own vegetables gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction, and it has done wonders for my family’s health.
We have planted lettuce, rocket, asparagus, celery, sweet potato, potato, ginger and turmeric. In the retaining wall, we have a whole lot of herbs growing, like parsley, mint, sorrel, thyme and many more!
Being based in KwaZulu-Natal near the Kranskloof Gorge, we have monkeys that regularly come onto the property, so we are limited in what we can plant and grow, but that does not slow us down!
10. WHAT IS THE FAVOURITE PRODUCT IN YOUR RANGE?
Revive Moisturiser. I use it daily and love it. Now accompanied by the new Revive Cleanser, the pair is an absolute winner for me.
However, I must mention that the African Potato Cream is a close second – I use it for a stiff shoulder that I get from working too much behind my computer. During dry seasons I use it as a general moisturiser, and ever since I started using it, I have never had cracked heels.
Shop the Down To Earth range here.