Jeremy Muijs, founder of Grown Alchemist, on skincare misconceptions, what constitutes a healthy complexion, and more

Jeremy Muijs, founder of Grown Alchemist, on skincare misconceptions, what constitutes a healthy complexion, and more

Under the microscope

Text: Emily Heng

There are possibilities aplenty as to why you're perusing this article. Perhaps you've stumbled upon it on your Facebook feed (hi), or maybe you're a loyal reader who has long entrusted Buro. Singapore to keep you up-to-date on the latest beauty happenings (thanks!). Whichever the reasoning, it stands to reason that you are curious about the next big thing within the realm — which, in this case, presents itself as holistic Australian label, Grown Alchemist. Priding themselves as a natural skincare brand utilising scientifically-innovative formulas, they bear marked similarities to sustainable, clean, and diversity-touting labels in the vein of Aesop and Bybi.

Still, that's not to say that Grown Alchemist doesn't bring anything new to the table. In fact, on the contrary, the differences between said brands are particularly distinguishable in terms of philosophy, values, and even efficacy. Founder, Jeremy Muijs, breaks it all down for us, dishing the dirt on organic formulas, GA's hopes for the future, as well as his personal journey with skincare.

What was the first-ever skincare product you used?
My first memory of beauty is that of a Clinique ritual taught to me on a department store floor when I was quite young, say about may be 10 or 11. A very active beauty adviser grabbed me and asked me if I have a beauty regime. I was then given some samples of the cleansing soap, toner/exfoliant and the Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion.

Grown Alchemist has a really interesting philosophy. How did you come up with it?
After working for many years as consultants in product and brand development, Keston and I decided to move towards the natural side of the skincare market. It was during this shift that we witnessed our clinical results demonstrating improved cellular function when exposed to natural ingredients. It is this realisation that gave birth to Grown Alchemist and which continues to inspire us today.

The name Grown Alchemist encapsulates the duality of our brand, one that is built on biology, then backed by science. As a brand, we have one foot firmly planted in the natural world utilizing the power botanicals we use in our formulations, and the other rooted in the alchemy of science in order to harness the potency of these naturally occurring ingredients. This duality makes us who we are as a brand.

What is it like working with your brother?
Although we're very different, we understand how to play to each other's strengths and have respect for what the other brings to the table. Another benefit of being family is the trust between us, it's one of the things I value most about our working relationship. At times, this familiarity can be challenging in the workplace, sometimes we can be blunter with one another than if we were just business partners, which is okay from time to time but can wear thin after a while so we often have to remind ourselves at work that we are colleagues first and family second.

What was the first Grown Alchemist product you ever created, and how did you conceptualise it?
The first product we ever created was a moisturiser. Our conceptual product development process starts the same with every product. What is the need the product is going to solve? Once we understand the need we work backwards to solve the need using natural formulations. This is natural, scientific process.

Is there a common skincare related misconception that you'd love to address?
That organic and natural products don't work as well. Clinical research has compared the antioxidant and nutritional benefits of organic ingredients with non-organic ingredients. The results show organic ingredients are richer in essential nutrients than conventional ingredients. These nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, mineral salts, essential fatty and amino acids, are critical for skin-cell function and repair, optimising the beauty result.

Because of the restrictions placed on how organic ingredients are grown, they are also free from harmful and potentially carcinogenic chemicals. Grown Alchemist products use organic ingredients certified by the internationally recognised organic certification body, ACO (Australian Certified Organic).

Are there certain skincare products you wish people used more of?
Many people don't realize that some of the most chronic complexion conditions (acne, eczema and inflammation) are our biological response to the accumulation of toxins in the human body. Our skin is constantly being exposed to external stressors which trigger this response such as pollution, environmental debris, blue-light emissions and harmful synthetics found in common cosmetics. This is why we place such importance on the detoxification process when it comes to maintaining a healthy, youthful complexion.

What would you say is the secret behind running a successful beauty brand?
First listen to your customer and what they need. Second, understand how you uniquely meet this need.

If Grown Alchemist could have a celebrity ambassador, who would it be and why?

We are fortunate enough to have a diverse customer base from Millennials to Baby Boomers and everything in-between. I personally believe that our customer's commonality is found in their desire to shop clean, natural and environmentally considerate products to enhance their complexions.

At Grown Alchemist, we are guided by our strong moral compass to celebrate diversity, uniqueness and beauty wherever it is found. We chose our models and muses because we loved their unique beauty. We work with people from all walks of lives and are great representation of our brand.

If you could recommend three Grown Alchemist products for the Singaporean consumer, what would they be?
At Grown Alchemist we advocate our 3 sequential skincare stages: Cleanse — Detox — Activate. Our products work in synchronicity. Restoring skin function, detoxing the skin and then activating skin function using the latest cell-communicating ingredients.

So, I recommend Gentle Gel Cleanser, our hero product Detox Serum and our best-selling Hydra-Repair Day Cream to Singaporean consumers taking into consideration the climate in Singapore.

What is a product you're looking to develop for Grown Alchemist, but haven't gotten around to yet?
As a brand, we have always had a laser focus on being the best in beauty. It's a space that evolves quickly and will continue to do so. As time goes on, we have learnt that beauty cannot be a singular skincare experience, there is no one magic pot of cream or serum to solve everything.  So, we will continue to be the best, holistic beauty brand in the years to come. Whatever mechanism to create healthy, beautiful skin the future holds, that's where we will be.

Grown Alchemist is available exclusively on Takashimaya Online from October.