At seven months pregnant, most of us would have our ankles up, stockpiling nappies and wistfully surfing Instagram for babywear – quite frankly, taking it as easy as possible. But the day-to-day of heavily pregnant Claire Vero couldn’t be further removed from that scene.
The mum-of-one and founder of luxury skincare brand Aurelia Probiotic Skincare is in the back of a taxi, on her way to Denmark for 20 “back-to-back” interviews for the brand. There is little rest for this multitasking CEO, but then there’s much for her to do.
This month sees the result of two years of concept boards, design meetings and a lot of determination to create a dream – the launch of Little Aurelia, a bio-organic luxury skincare range for children.
It’s a gap in the market that Vero, 35, believes was begging to be filled. Its phenomenally successful bigger sister, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, is stocked in the hallowed aisles of Liberty and Space NK, its probiotic-packed formula lusted after by many a mama needing a botanical pick-me-up.
The lightbulb moment for Little Aurelia (think of it as probiotics for preschoolers) came when Vero was pregnant with her son, Henry, now three. She explains: “In our wisdom, my husband and I decided to buy a holiday home in Mallorca and renovate it in my five weeks of maternity leave. I had zero Spanish and was breastfeeding every five minutes, whilst dealing with builders. But each time I went to the airport, looking for things to buy, I felt like there wasn’t any luxury skincare for children.
“So I thought, right – I’m going to make a range for mums who want something a bit special for their little ones. There are some lovely, organic products out there for children, but I felt we could improve things and do better.”
And improve things, she has. Available to buy at aureliaskincare.com and exclusively at Liberty soon, Little Aurelia is a range of probiotic, bio-organic skincare made using ethically sourced, cruelty-free ingredients, without sulphates, parabens and other nasties.
The first five products include Top to Toe Wash (£26) made from Little Aurelia’s special Sleep Time blend of Lavender, Linden Blossom, Angelica and Chamomile; Top to Toe Cream (£28); Bath & Massage Oil (£36); Rescue Cream (£32) and the divine-sounding Pillow Mist (£22), an infusion of flowers and rose quartz crystal water to soothe. There’s also a capsule range that comes in a sweet suitcase (£140). If that’s not enough to send them into serious slumber, there’s a book to go with it (Sleep Time Tales, £14).
Vero says: “Our ethos is caring about what we put on our skin and into the environment. The luxury element is the natural, organic essential oils we use, which have a huge benefit for relaxation, and this initial range is all about sleep time (who doesn’t love that?).
“You slot into a routine early with kids, and the wind-down routine is so important – what you do in that process makes a difference to getting the best out of them at bedtime, and giving everyone a good night’s sleep!”
Vero is more than your run-of-the-mill, beauty-brand CEO, she is the pharmaceutical force behind it too. Having worked at GlaxoSmithKline, she was on the team that launched the first ever cervical cancer vaccine. It was during a stint designing a drug for patients with chronic plaque psoriasis that she stumbled upon probiotics.
She says: “I was meeting people whose bodies were 90 per cent covered in psoriasis, but when they used oral and topical probiotics it helped the inflammation drastically. Probiotics were transforming their skin and I knew I was on to something.”
Inspired, she set about creating her own range, launching Aurelia Probiotic Skincare in January 2013.
Funding the launch by working full-time in consultancy, Vero describes working until 3am each night as she gathered the team and product-tested, travelling to Africa to meet community farmers who still supply the botanicals. She says: “It was a hard slog – I was juggling home and work, and fell pregnant six months into launching with bad morning sickness. But I felt so committed to making it work.”
The Fulham-based business is now 18-strong, and this week alone Vero’s diary includes launching at Thyme Spa in the Cotswolds, facials at Liberty as well as global travel. Holidays are spent at the renovated finca in the Mallorcan mountains, a remote place she describes as her go-to spot for “thinking and planning” her business.
“I feel very passionate about Little Aurelia, and hope people love it as much as we do,” says Vero. Proudly ‘Made in England’, Little Aurelia has much to live up to – its big sister brand has scooped an astonishing 70 industry awards in just four years.
But if its grown-up sibling is anything to go by, Little Aurelia will be making a big impression.