She is also the founder of Love Mae, which is one of my all time favourite brands that I came across as a new mum myself. As some of you may have seen on my Instagram, I adore their bio-degradable, non-toxic, plastic free, bamboo dinnerware which we use daily for my daughter. I didn't know that their range is actually a lot more broad, including; lunch boxes, stickers, wall decals and kid's room decorations.
I wanted to know more about this ambitious Mumprenuer in Byron Bay, and I want you to know more about her as well!
WELCOME Peta!!!!! SO happy to have you!
A lot of people might not know that you used to be a photographer and a chef before starting Love Mae in 2008. What did you learn most about yourself when you were in these professions?
I learned early on that you can do anything if someone gives you the chance…. and that I work well under pressure. The pressure makes me tap into this "can do" space in my brain and all the noise of failure and insecurity disappears. At that point I can just do what needs to be done. It’s such an empowering feeling, and these days I feel like I can tap into that space whenever I like. My brain is wired to achieve.... some days that is good…. and others it is just purely annoying! he he
What's your house like in Byron Bay? Is it as perfect and whimsical as your designs?
Actually I think I’m a little in between styles at the moment. We moved from our renovated hinterland cottage about three years ago and headed back to the beach… worst house, best location kinda situation. I live about 15 minutes north of Byron in an old holiday house, that is small and desperately in need of a makeover. I’m not too precious though and I can easily wait while we work on the plans. Meanwhile, we can hear the waves and we’ve made it comfortable with relaxed furniture and landscaped the backyard. We spend our time on our large back deck where there is a huge table for hanging out with friends, as well as a lounge area for lazing…. although being winter we spend more time around the fire pit than anywhere else.
My favourite restaurant in Byron is Folk. What's yours?
Oh I love Folk, I could live there… quite literally. It’s hard to talk favourites… do you mind if I give you my Top 5? For lunch, they would be 100 Mile Table (The Best!), The Farm, Luscious, Barrio and the pop up Japanese that you’ll find in a caravan Tuesday to Friday out the front of the surf shop. We are spoiled for choice and that is not even taking into account the cafes and restaurants in the town centre of Byron.
Why did you choose bamboo for the dinnerware range?
We originally used to make our dinnerware in melamine. It took a lot of time to allow myself to free the guilt from producing something so disastrous for the planet and it’s oceans. That stuff will never break down, and I still cringe a little that we did it. When I went looking for an alternative, bamboo was the one that stood out for us because it ticked all the right boxes. What a brilliant thing that these sets will not cause the troubles that melamine and other products do.
What's the very first thing you do every morning?
Meditate…. it’s the only way my brain won’t self destruct. ;-)
Childbirth: Traumatic, transformative or ___________?
Interesting… slightly questionable that it needs to be like that (he he)…. but in the end, amazing! Nothing beats that moment of the last push and the sound of your baby realising they are filling their lungs with air.
My favourite time of day is….
This is hard, I love so many parts of the day. At a push my favourite part is my swim in the ocean. I swim almost every day of the year… including winter. Nothing beats the rush in winter and in summer it’s just pure weightless bliss.
The best thing about being a small business owner…..
Giving a shit about everything… employees, customers, products… even the layout and look of the studio. It feels so good to care and to ride the ups and downs of your own decisions. It’s not like I ever feel in control, but if I lean enough in a certain direction it steers the ship and that feels great.
The worst thing about being a small business owner….
I find hiring and firing very painful. I get so nervous interviewing and need help throughout the whole process. I’m a bit awkward at the best of times and in that situation I’m a mess. As for firing…. no words needed! No one enjoys that process and I’m lucky it's so rare I don’t usually have to worry about it.
How do you practice self care?
Every morning I rise before anyone in my house and sit still for 15 - 20 minutes (meditate), then exercise and finish off with a swim. I’ve only just gotten back to the exercise bit, and I’ve sworn to my body to never give it up…. even when I get back to fitting into my clothes!
Recently I fell off the wagon and it wasn’t pretty. I now find the strength to get up every morning and show the body and mind complete respect.
What’s the best book you have have ever read?
Again I’m sorry…. it’s too much pressure for something I have such passion for… I LOVE reading! Here’s my Top 5.
Aztec, by Gary Jennings (History is so disturbing and intense and this is not for the feint hearted!)
Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter (my kind of bible)
The Signature of all Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Mallawindy, by Joy Dettman
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.
I know that as soon as I press send I’ll think of another 5 books I wish I had of put here. I love books so much.
In your opinion, what determines success?
Perseverance and endurance. You need to wholeheartedly want to complete things no matter the odds. Admittedly, sometimes the stars need to align and I have all sorts of personal theories on that. The important things it to know how to get things done and keep at it no matter how rough the road may seem.
Your work culture at Love Mae is “Family First,” which I love. Over the last ten years, has it been difficult to put your family first juggling life, work and two daughters?
In all honesty, it is easy to create that ethos for everyone that works here, but for me it’s the hardest thing ever. The assembly performance coincides with deadlines for the new range, or the NY trade show falls on my husband's birthday, my girls are sick when I’ve got meetings that took months to get… the list goes on, but I just take each day as it comes. I hope that my girls have memories of my being there for them despite the fact that sometimes I cannot.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to our readers who are new to the War On Waste
This shit needs to be taken seriously….. start making changes! There is so much more we could be doing. And why isn’t unnecessary packaging controlled? Imagine how many plastic containers are being opened right now, whether it be toys or fruit and veg, that are immediately put in the landfill bin. It's insane!
As a mum to two girls, what are your aspirations for them as young women?
I’m not sure this is my biggest aspiration, but it’s a theme in our house at the moment.
We are working on taking responsibility for our own reactions as no-one can make you feel anything unless you give them permission. Sometimes a tilt of the head, a smile on your face and a feeling of curiosity can get you through the most hurtful situations. When people hurt others, it’s because they are hurting. We can help make them feel better if we just know how to forgive and not take things personally. Concentrate on the good of a person and hopefully they will give you that same grace when you are having a bad day. Anything can be turned into a positive if we just leave our defensive responses aside.
What exciting things can we anticipate for Love Mae in 2018/19?
All going well, new products! You’ve no idea how much I wish I could tell you more…. but I’m seriously very excited about the processes we are going through at the moment to make this happen.
Chey Birch is making waves in the natural beauty community.
Her journey began in 2000 when she started mixing essential oils and botanical extracts in a small bowl with a black chicken painted on it. Black Chicken was hence created, and with it, a philosophy that really stands out. They don't make skincare with the intent to make people look, smell or feel good. Their skincare line is actually created to nurture the whole person and make a difference on a physical, mental and emotional level.
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Black Chicken. It holds a special place in my heart because it was my first deliberately handpicked non-toxic beauty item that started my family's transition to low-tox living. So, it goes without saying, that I'm also a huge fan of Chey.
Tell us, what was it like studying aromatherapy?
Life changing! I studied it as a hobby and when I learnt of the therapeutic properties of the oils I was hooked. I started making blends to every ailment I could think of! I remember sitting in class one day and the teacher said that Myrrh essential oil can eat puss!! Gross I know but also fascinating in healing wounds!
Who was your biggest supporter of Black Chicken in the early days?
It was actually a store in Jersey in the Chanel Islands in UK! Random I know but the owner of the store Emma absolutely loved everything I created and she sold so much it really helped me get started even before I was well known in Australia.
When did you make the transition to living a low-tox life and what was the catalyst for you to make the change?
It was around 2000. I’d been suffering with irritated skin and sinus problems for years and nothing I tried was helping. I went to see a naturopath and she suggested I take a look at all the toxins I might be unknowingly consuming. I began by looking at my soaps, cleansers, and scrubs. After a whole lot of research I was shocked to find that the ingredients in these household products were synthetic and borderline toxic. I had been covering myself top to toe with these chemicals every day, so of course my body had been trying to tell me something.
What is your most favourite Black Chicken product and why?
It’s a very tough question for me, but I’d probably have to say Cleanse My Face – it’s an oil cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin’s natural oils, it calms and balances your sebum production. Oil dissolves oil! Plus it smells amazing and after a hard day, massaging this into your face is just heaven!
What Black Chicken product was the most challenging to bring to fruition?
Both Axilla Deodorant Pastes took a lot of testing. It took a whole year of research and trialing different recipes before I came to the formula we have today. Then Barrier Booster was a whole other challenge. To create something without bicarb, that can be used on sensitive skin but still works just as well was no easy task.
Your Axilla deodorant paste has made waves in the holistic health community. Why did you choose a paste?
When I created Axilla it was perfect as a paste so I didn’t want to add anything to it to make it a roll on or a stick especially any chemicals so I left it as the most effective I could!
I’m currently working on a stick formula, but I certainly won’t be adding any nasty chemicals - all our products will always be 100% natural!
Essential oils are...
powerful remedial extracts from mother nature!
What's the very first thing you do in the morning and very last thing you do every night?
Haha good question – first thing I do is tongue clean with our copper tongue cleaner and oil pull with our oral swishing oil. The last thing I do is have a cup of sleepy time tea and a sniff of our Slumber nasalette!
Living in Sydney is wonderful because….
I love swimming and the ocean! I swim 1km every day and also paddle board on Sydney Harbour, so there really isn’t any other place like it for me. I have 2 Burmese cats who paddle board with me too sometimes! I know... crazy cat lady!!
One piece of advice for….
Our pregnant readers: There are a lot of fear around the use of essential oils in pregnancy however many can be so beneficial. All of our products are completely safe to use during pregnancy – all quantities of essential oils are way below required amounts deemed safe to use whilst pregnant. If in doubt ask the provider of your products about their essential oil dilutions and if in doubt avoid using them for the first trimester.
Our postnatal readers: Products rich in remedial oils are great to help relieve the skin caused by having a baby. The skin stretches and can also dry out especially as you aren’t the centre of your world any more. OurBalm of Ages is one product that is a multi purpose product. Use it on the baby for rashes and use it on your belly for stretch marks!
And the men and women still using “regular deodorant” : Aluminium is a common active ingredient in many antiperspirants, as it essentially plugs the sweat gland to minimise perspiration. Once in the body aluminium mimics the effects of oestrogen; a hormone that has been found in high concentrations in many breast cancers. Its not worth the risk.
Journal Entry :: 23/7/18
"This morning was my last breastfeed with Ry. Dan brought her into the bedroom and she was wearing my favourite blue leopard Bonds jumpsuit. We cuddled up while she drank, like every other morning for the past 17 months.
I was so quiet and still, savouring the moment and trying to remember every little thing, knowing it would be our last feed together:
The way she felt.
The cute little noise she makes when she opens her mouth to latch.
Her sweet suckling sounds.
What she smelled like.
The pressure from both her feet pressing through her bunny sleeping bag into my thighs.
Dan took a photo of us, but I haven't seen it yet. Tomorrow will be a really rough day, and I'm dreading it so much. I have no idea what to expect or how she, or I, will cope. Sometimes babies chose when to stop on their own. I had a feeling that wouldn't be the case, despite the fact that's what I did to my mum when I was 10 months old. In some circumstances mums are unable to feed, opt not to, or you might have to stop feeding when you aren't ready, like me.
I think I cherished breastfeeding enough though. You have to wonder in times like these if you did, and I really think I did. My sweetest, fondest memories were breastfeeding her after our move to Brisbane when she was still only a few months old. Each morning Dan would bring her into our bed and she would fall back asleep on my breast and we would cuddle, wrapped up around each other in a sleepy haze.
Being a mum to this little girl changed my life in so many magical ways. I hope we have another baby because I'd love to relive those moments, and I take none of them for granted."
Mon practices what she preaches and she's on a mission to spread the word that non-toxic, cruelty free beauty can be affordable and attainable for every woman. She blogs at the Beauty Journal, a platform I highly recommend if you're looking to make a transition to “cleaner" beauty.
So, without further adieu, let's hear more about this incredible gal... Welcome Mon!
What is your life philosophy in one sentence?
I have two deeply resonate life philosophies and they are –
“The relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship in your life”
“People can only meet you, as deep as they have met themselves”
You recently shared a post on Instagram which read "People should be counting calories less and chemicals more."
I'm obsessed with this quote! When did you start to make your own personal transition to clean beauty?
I started transitioning about 2 years ago. I was still working in the mainstream cosmetic industry at the time, but after some on-going health issues I started to research how the products I was using everyday could be stalling my healing journey.
What was your first non-toxic purchase, and what was the experience like using it for the first time?
Oh my gosh, it would have been about 5 years ago now! I tried “Living Luminiser” by RMS cosmetics and was instantly blown away by its luminous goodness. I remember I went through it so quickly! It has since been a makeup bag staple of mine ever since!
You started the Kind Beauty Movement with Natalie Sellers of Kindred in 2018. What was your initial goal starting this eco- body conscious empowerment movement and what are your goals over the next 6-8 months?
The idea was born over a lunch together about a year ago. Our initial ambition was to help women transition over to using natural beauty. With Nat’s phenomenal skin experience and my makeup artistry knowledge we thought what better way to empower women than to join forces and create a masterclass that includes self care and education all in one. It's only early days, but our goal is to reach more incredible women by running more workshops and even taking our classes interstate!
You have a beautiful and successful blog, but some people might not know that you're also a make up artist for hire in Brisbane. What's the best part about being hands on with clients, face to face?
Oh thank you so much. Yes, I've been a makeup artist for over 8 years now. There is so much I love about it. I do have a soft spot for weddings though. I’ve have had the privilege of doing over 100 brides/bridal parties. I always feel so honoured to share in what’s such an exciting and special day for my clients!
What is the most fascinating aspect of the mind gut connection in your experience?
I find the gut microbiome very fascinating! Knowing that we are all made up of around 2 kilos of bacteria is pretty interesting. Gut health affects SO many aspects of your overall health and I can’t wait to see how the research on the mind gut connection grows over the next 10 years or so.
Social media, friend or foe?
Both….I think social media is an incredible tool for connecting with friends and family, promoting businesses and spreading awareness for all sorts of important issues. I also think it can be a bit of a rabbit hole for self comparison and judgement. We are easily becoming stuck behind our phones, instead of getting out there and being in the moment!
Speaking of social media, your website and Instagram is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye! How do you get such great captures?
Thank you! Well a lot of it is my own makeup work which I just use my iphone for. I like to mix up my posts with a variety of education, product inspiration and makeup work!
I love yoga because...
It makes me feel open, connected, aligned and present.
My favorite yoga pose is...
Ohhh only one? I can’t choose haha! I love Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose and Half Pigeon pose! Oh, and of course savasana!
Essential oils are a key component to my life because they....
Can completely alter my mood, ground me, assist with healthy glowing skin. My essential oil collection is pretty much my medicine cabinet!! Haha!
You love to cook healthy, body nourishing food. Where do you source your produce from in Queensland, and do you think organic food is crucial when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle and looking after your skin?
I source my fresh produce from Home Fresh Organics, my meat from The Australian Natural Food Co and most of my pantry staples come from The Source Bulk Foods. I'm a huge believer that you are what you eat. Diet plays an integral role in the health of your mind, body and skin. Food really is medicine. In saying that though, I'm also relaxed in environments I can’t control. Whilst I try to eat as organic as possible and make sure that my meat is all sustainably sourced, grass fed etc, I also believe in balance and I remind myself that I'm doing the best I can.
What are your top five favourite podcasts?
I AM SAHARA ROSE
LOW TOW LIFE
DR STEPHEN CABRAL
Who is the Beauty Journal's biggest fan, and would you like to give them a shout out?
Definitely my Mum! Hahaha! Bless her.
Have you ever thought about starting your own cosmetic beauty line?
Its definitely crossed my mind. I would LOVE to formulate my own base products. I find that perfect Low-Tox foundation is the hardest thing for women to find when they transition over from mainstream beauty.
Give us your fast five:
I'm listening to... Brene Brown The Power Vulnerability
I'm reading... Gabrielle Bernstein – The Judgment Detox
I'm loving... Magnesium salt baths
I'm lusting over... My new crystal quartz facial roller by Krystle Night Jewellery
I'm inspired by... my brother who is currently overseas living his dream dancing!
Last month I received a sweet Facebook message from a follower that told me Bea Johnson was coming to Australia. I thought, "Oh yay!" Who is Bea Johnson...
Google Search... bam! Oh... neat, she is all about the War on Waste. She had started a Zero Waste movement that was growing fast. That's cool. I'm trying to learn more about that at the moment. I just so happened to get an email from my local Source Bulk Foods in Bulimba the following day announcing the early bird ticket sales. The event happened to be in Sydney at the Concourse in Chatswood. Hey I'm moving there, I think. It was going to a 2hr seminar, $15 and a 30 minute drive from our new home. I was keen as mustard.
* (I didn't know it when I booked, but The Source Bulk Foods gave everyone a reusable bag as well as a $20 voucher to use at their shop....so impressed).
I knew I would have only lived in Sydney for a few days by the time the event rolled around, so I booked immediately, hoping to go and make some friends, network and learn a bit.
Paul Medeiros the co-founder and owner of The Source Bulk Foods opened up the conversation before handing over the mic to Bea.
Let me be completely candid.
First thing that stuck out to me about her was how she looked.
I caught myself being superficial as I was looking at her thinking; great bod, fab outfit, nice hair ... she looks completely normal. Her clothes in particular stood out right away. "This woman is killing it. Her book has been published in 25 languages. Cha-ching! I bet that outfit cost a mint, she looks fabulous and professional," I thought.
Not long into her powerpoint Bea pointed out that she only shops second hand. Um, what? She added that her chambray top and crisp white skirt were both second hand and her designer (looking) black boots were a whopping $5. Gobsmacked.
Bea and her family moved into an apartment in California and needed to place about 80% of their belongings into storage. After the one year was up on their apartment, they visited their storage unit and quickly realized they had not missed much of anything stored there. They ended up selling most of their possessions and donated the rest. Her family of four (plus one adorable chihuahua), found that they were clutter free, a lot happier and more active. Something had switched, and Bea wanted more.
From there they started to be more aware of their water consumption, and then she proceeded to eliminate harmful toxins in their house, such as cleaning products and plastics. One thing Bea said which really stuck out in my mind was about household cleaning products. She said that these companies have tricked us all into believing that we need different cleaning products for different parts of the house. For example: a certain product to clean glass, another for grout, yet another for mould, another for the showers, bench tops etc. Bea simply uses vinegar and castle soap for all her home cleaning, and her space is spotless!
"Zero Waste helps me to invest in voluntary simplicity, so that my family can have a life based on experiences instead of things. A life based on being instead of having."
But, back to her story! Bea and her family moved again, but this time it was to a place that was more conducive to walking and riding their bikes around. Once again Bea felt inspired to live with even less.
She focused specifically on her family’s waste and here are her 5 R’s:
So to keep it simple, Bea and her family only put into the recycling bin what they cannot refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle or rot. Since plastic can't be reused more than once, (example plastic bottles converted into a park bench), Bea switched to items such as glass, metal, cardboard and wood. Her family of 4 fills ONE glass jar of trash a YEAR. Yes, you read that correctly, a year (see photo at the bottom of this article).
Bea became vigilant when it came to detail. A few things that stand out in my mind are:
All I could think of was:
How satisfying it must be to lead such a rewarding, low-tox, waste free life.
How I personally would find it hard not to buy brand new materialistic temptations.
How liberating it would be to live in a home without papers, clutter and unnecessary items.
And she must have known that most of us were thinking somewhat along these lines because she clued with this:
"Zero Waste helps me to invest in voluntary simplicity, so that my family can have a life based on experiences instead of things. A life based on being instead of having."
Cheers to that Bea!
This little corner of the internet is for non yoga topics like motherhood, low-tox living and products I love.