Take a stroll along the picturesque cobbled streets of De Waterkant, Cape Town and you’ll happen upon high end designer fashion, yoga studios, upmarket coffee bars and mouthwatering dim sum. It’s also home to the new Eco Diva store, a natural skin and body brand founded by Nicole Sherwin, offering conscious consumers a 100% guilt-free experience.
I meet Nicole at the The Sofa Company showroom, another one of her businesses, where Eco Diva has taken up one sunny corner. She has a Gwyneth Paltrow post-Goop air about her, with the kind of glowing skin that instantly makes me want to buy whatever she’s selling.
Where did it all start?
With a homeopath, naturopath and acupuncturist as a father, Nicole grew up in this natural world. At one point she lived in Los Angeles where she started a carbon-neutral social gathering called the Green Lounge Experience where every aspect was health focussed and eco-friendly. Then upon returning to Cape Town she worked as editor for Simply Green Magazine, and a cosmetic chef on the Espresso morning show.
“Every Thursday morning on Espresso I’d make a new recipe, and viewers would tweet us asking whether they could possibly buy the products I was making. I didn’t have anything to offer them, at that stage I only had a blog. So I decided to take my top five recipes to a team of biochemists in Cape Town and together we worked to develop the range.”
100% Guilt Free
Eco Diva goes far beyond natural ingredients. Every single aspect of the shop, range and brand is eco-friendly, with vegan formulations and a certified cruelty-free process.
The floor and counter area of the shop have been made from repurposed fruit and veg market wood from the 1950s. All the woods and coppers have been recycled or upcycled. Their packaging is either glass, or made from recycled plastic, and everything is recyclable. They’re also using toxin-free ink in their labels and all their paper and marketing material follow this same approach.
The store also has a refill station so you can fill up your stock at 5% less. “We’re very much about health-consciousness for ourself and our environment,” Nicole explains.
The line itself has been formulated to feed the skin with the best natural ingredients. “We choose ingredients that match the skin’s molecular structure. The skin in its perfect pH balance is naturally glowing. It gets thrown out of balance by bad diet and bad skincare – and by that I mean chemicals that are so foreign that the skin cannot utilise them, and formulations that mess with the skin’s pH.”
The question often comes up whether natural skincare can pack the same punch as high tech cosmeceuticals. For Nicole, natural ingredients are the only way to get real results. “All the ingredients we’ve chosen are collagen boosting. If the skin has the right nutrients to work with, it can do the most incredible things to heal itself.”
They do incorporate potent antioxidants. “Antioxidants are super important! The skin needs these to function properly and maintain overall health. Our products, although they say natural, are very much science driven to get that match with the skin.”
Growing the business
When I ask about her struggles on this road as an entrepreneur, Nicole takes a moment to answer. “I suppose I don’t really look at things as obstacles,” she finally says. “For me the journey is in the journey, and in the past if I went down a path that didn’t fit, I shifted the path.
“There have obviously been frustrations where things didn’t work out like I wanted them to but then I realised that wasn’t the right route for Eco Diva. For me it’s such a creative process that I can’t get annoyed with any part of it, and that’s what keeps you going. Obstacles fly at you all day, it’s just how you bat them and get through each one that moves you forward.”
Any final advice?
Does she have any advice for other budding entrepreneurs? “Don’t ever think anything is a failure, nothing is,” she says. “For me life has been very rich in experience and sometimes the experience feels good, sometimes the experience feels terrible. But you need to go through all of it. That’s life’s journey. To be an entrepreneur you can’t be scared, you have to take the knocks and turn them into something positive. Make lemonade!”
And her favourite products?
Nicole takes a beat to think this over and explains that she really believes in every product she’s put on her shelves. But in the end, she has a few personal favourites. “I have three: The Face Cream and the Face Serum, which have been dubbed our Double Diva Glow because makeup artists have started using it on set to create this dewy, luminous finish. And then the Body Butter, which is just like silk on your skin.”
Once our interview is over I browse the products and I’m definitely excited. Except for the Body Butter and Face Serum I am definitely eyeing their Liquid Vitamin Hydra Mist (hello summer must-have!), and their EcoFoliant Skin Polish. They even have a small selection of home products, including an all-purpose cleanser that’s said tackle any problem spot in your house. I’d say if you’re looking for an ethical, all-natural brand, it’s definitely worth popping in to play.
Curious to try them? Eco Diva is available from their website, select boutiques and from their Cape Town store at 115 De Waterkant Street.