Meet Kat Narelle, founder of conscious skincare brand, Gracious Minds
The importance of self-care and nurturing the skin, mind and body is at the heart of skincare brand Gracious Minds and the life journey of its founder Kat Narelle.
After running a successful but highly stressful photography business for a decade, Kat found herself suffering from depression, anxiety and alcoholism. Kat and her business partner sold the business and Kat set about working on getting sober and being kind to herself—taking the following year for self-care. It was during this pivotal time in Kat’s life that the idea for Gracious Minds was conceived.
Kat launched Gracious Minds with the aim of reconnecting to self through a holistic skincare brand that catered to even the most sensitive skin and was formulated with high-performing, clinically proven organic and natural ingredients.
Here, Kat shares her vision for Gracious Minds, how product development has become a family affair, her passion for sustainability and the Gracious Minds product she never leaves home without.
What did you do in your career prior to Gracious Minds and how did that experience translate to founding a beauty brand?
“I started a photography business at the age of 20 and by 30, it was a seven-figure company with over 15 employees, all female. After ten years, my business partner and I decided to sell, and the company sold just before Covid-19 hit. This business was very stressful, in fact I became an alcoholic and had depression and anxiety daily. When the business sold, I knew I had to get sober, [especially] for my son [who was one] at the time. I forced myself to a women’s AA meeting and got sober. The next year I worked on myself, self-care, journaling, meditation and being kind to myself. This is when Gracious Minds was born.”
Tell us about when you started Gracious Minds and how the idea came to be what it is today?
“Gracious Minds was born in 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. I started Gracious Minds because I couldn’t find a holistic wellness brand that promoted the unity of skin, mind and body wellness. Self-care goes a lot deeper that just treating our skin, we must also focus on mental health and meditation.
“It was also clear through market research that our audience wanted to try new, advanced skincare extracts but they had to be safe for sensitive skin. I worked with an Australian lab to formulate a skincare line that was safe for all seasons of life—from your early 30s to menopause and from pregnancy to nursing. Basically, natural products curated from the best-performing and clinically proven natural extracts. We use a mixture of certified organic, organic and natural ingredients to ensure each product is highly active and delivers results. Gracious Minds is about returning to the self, nurturing our skin, mind and body.”
As a conscious beauty brand for sensitive skin, how does this ethos guide your brand and product development?
“Two words: family testing. When we work with our lab on a new formula or talk through ingredients, we always test our samples on our friends and family who also have very sensitive skin. My sister has eczema, my mother has rosacea, and I also am very sensitive to certain ingredients.”
Can you talk to the ingredients you use and where you source them from?
“Our first product was Vitamin Sea Luminosity Night Oil and [it was essential to me] to have New Zealand native totarol bark extract in it. It’s three times more powerful than vitamin E and a really potent antioxidant for anti-ageing. The problem was that the laboratories in Australia were not using it. I had to go straight to the manufacturers in New Zealand and, as a start-up business at the time, paying thousands of dollars for one extract was terrifying. The ingredient is extracted only from fallen and recycled totarol bark as the tree is a thousand years old, so it comes with a very strict BioGro certificate [BioGro is New Zealand’s organic product and produce certifier].”
How are sustainable and ethical practices incorporated into your business?
“It’s really at the forefront of everything we do. From packaging to certification, contribution to the Australian Conservation Foundation and having a firm understanding of where our ingredients are sourced.”
What is the importance to you of being made in Australia? And why is it so unique in the beauty industry?
“From an overseas perspective, I think anything made in Australia is seen as exclusive but even more so when the ingredients are Australian native extracts. For example, Australian native [Tasmanian] mountain pepperberry is so powerful as a vitamin C extract, it’s seen as a rare ingredient in the beauty world.”
What excites you about the potential and future of Australian-made beauty and skincare products?
“Seeing brands become more sustainable instead of packaging with 100 per cent plastic. We only have a 12 per cent plastic recycle rate in Australia of household waste, so even though a product might have the recycle symbol on it, it’s irrelevant [if it’s not being recycled].”
What is the one product you always recommend from your range?
“Vitamin Sea Luminosity Night Oil.”
What is your personal beauty regimen in the morning?
“…Are you giving me five minutes or half an hour? ;) If I’m running late for school drop off, I’ll literally spray Beyond The Surface Hydration Enhancer Mist on my face and know that I’ve ‘fed’ my skin antioxidants and hydrated [my skin]. If I have more time, I’ll apply Beyond The Surface, Alpha-Berry Morning Vitamin C Serum, Green Genes Hydrating Face Cream, and SPF.”
What has been the most rewarding part of being a business owner?
“When I first started, I didn’t think Gracious Minds would be so sought after by stores. I had no idea about wholesale, but this is where we took off. So, I’d say that I feel grateful for the stores we stock with. This is the most rewarding part, working with incredible Australian businesses like The Day Ahead.”
And what has been the most challenging?
“Marketing. Finding the time. Knowing what to post.”