Meet Matt Stiegler, co-founder of hemp oil infused natural skincare brand, Cannabella
The Gold Coast-based founders of Cannabella, Matt and his two brothers, Tim and Michael, created their natural skincare brand out of a desire to help their mum who was suffering from dry skin as a side effect of her cancer treatment. And, as Matt told The Day Ahead, the first product they produced using only natural ingredients worked really well at treating his mum’s dry skin issue.
The brand grew by word-of-mouth and five years later, Cannabella offers a range of 100% natural, hemp oil infused serums and balms that regenerate and renew the skin naturally.
Read on as Matt shares the story behind Cannabella, including the surprising challenge they faced on social media with their brand.
“Cannabella started out about five years ago when my mom was diagnosed with stage four cancer. At that time, we helped her change her diet to become completely vegan as well as changing many parts of her lifestyle. Her skincare was the last thing I looked into because one of the side effects of her chemo was dry skin. That’s when I started researching skincare and all the ingredients – or the nasty ingredients – …in it and decided to start making it myself from scratch.
The product we developed really helped her. After making the decision to start doing things myself, I was just basically making products for people that were going through similar stuff to my mum such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Friends of friends started asking about it and passing it onto other people [who] were going through cancer treatment. This led to other people with eczema and psoriasis trying it and the word just got. I ran with that for about a year-and-a-half just making it and giving out free to people and it went from that really and just kind of grew.”Can you talk about the ingredients you use and where you source them from?
“We use completely unfiltered raw hemp seed oil. It’s a lot denser in chlorophyll. It’s really thick and it’s still got a bit of plant matter through it so it’s super healing for the skin and also doesn’t clog the pores and lets skin breathe. And that’s why all skin types can benefit from it. It’s great for acne, anti-ageing, [and for] people with eczema or inflammatory skin problems.
We only use Australian grown hemp seed oil from Tasmania and Victoria along with other plant-based ingredients like broccoli seed, turmeric and Australian sandalwood.”How are sustainable and ethical practices incorporated into your business?
“Hemp is one of the most sustainable plants in the world. It’s one of the most versatile plants that you can use. You can create fuel from it (ethanol), make building materials, food, and of course also oil for skincare. The plant itself is absolutely amazing for the soil. It uses less water than cotton and a lot of other commercial crops.
For our packaging we use glass instead of plastic. Everything we do, we try to reduce waste or reduce the impact on the environment.”What is the importance to you of being made in Australia? And why is it so unique in the beauty industry?
“Basically, we have full control and know what ingredients we are actually using and how those are being produced. It’s also important because Australian grown ingredients mean less carbon miles.
There are companies in Australia that import seeds from China which are actually dead seeds. They’re not live seeds just because they have to be fumigated for customs. Our hemp seed oil is produced from Australian growing hemp, so the seeds are actually living seeds which are far more nutrient dense than imported seed that’s been fumigated.”What changes have you seen in the Australian beauty industry and the ‘A-beauty’ category in recent times?
“I haven’t been involved in the Australian skincare industry for long, but what I’ve noticed in the last four years is the rise of natural focused products. Stuff that used to only be in health food stores or be thought of [as] ‘hippie’ alternatives, is now becoming more mainstream. People are becoming a lot more aware of ingredients and the impact they might have on your health.”What excites you about the potential and future of Australian-made beauty and skincare products?
“People having more choice and a better choice of what they’re putting on their skin. Skin is a living organ, and we feel through it, like a change of weather. It’s connected to our environment around us. So, the last thing you want to do is be putting toxic chemicals onto it.”What is the one product you always recommend from your range?
“The Hemp Jelly because it is so versatile. It’s a multi-purpose balm that you can use for eczema or other skin conditions, but it’s also great if you’ve been out on a windy day, or if you have sunburn or anything like that. You can use it as a night-time moisturiser or lip balm. It’s the most versatile product we have.”What is your personal skincare regimen? Including face, body, hair, beauty treatments and anything else!
“Every morning I use our Clarify Serum. It absorbs in really quickly which is great living up here in Queensland where it is a bit more humid and warmer. I’ll [use] the Hemp Jelly if I’ve been out surfing during the day.”What has been the most rewarding part of being a business owner? And what has been the most challenging?
“The most rewarding has been getting all the positive feedback, especially when people say we’ve given them confidence. That’s how we started and why we started – because we wanted to help people. The most challenging aspect for us has been Facebook and Instagram because they keep trying to block us. Hemp seed is legal worldwide but they don’t really distinguish between hemp, hemp seed, and cannabis.”
What are your qualifications and what had you been doing in your career beforehand?
“For the last 15 years I was a musician. I lived over in LA few times, playing music and travelling lots. I got into the health and wellness side of things around 12 years ago when I went full vegan. I’ve been living plant-based for about 18 years now. When my mum was diagnosed with cancer I already had that foundation of clean living and plant-based medicine.”