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The Interview: Abbie Oguntade, founder, Freya + Bailey

Kelle Salle
27 October 2022

Stress has a major impact on our society, with 1 in 14 adults feeling stressed every day, according to CIPHR. While stress can inhibit our ability to function in our day to day lives, it can also exert negative effects on our skin. Studies have shown that stress can trigger a variety of skincare conditions such as psoriasis, hair loss, eczema and acne. The connections between stress and beauty have primarily focused on the ritualistic and calming aspect of indulging in a skincare routine until recently. Stress-care, as it has been called, is gaining momentum in the beauty space, particularly at a time when consumers gravitate towards hyper-specific skincare.

Freya + Bailey was launched in 2019 by Abbie Oguntade. She believed that stress was the reason for the many of the skincare issues people experience. She also believed that stress was the daily constant that compromised skin barrier health, stopping skin from functioning at its best. The brand has one mission: to help people build stronger, beautiful and more resilient skin. Launching a beauty brand was something Abbie always wanted to do. “I was always incredibly fascinated by the beauty world. Working within the personal care sector was my first glimpse into the world of diverse beauty that catered for all genders and identities. Once I helped launch the skincare division at the company I used to work for, I knew that the beauty industry was where I was meant to be,” Oguntade said.

Oguntade believes that beauty is more than what is seen on the surface. “Beauty means feeling comfortable in your own body and accepting who you are, imperfections and all,” she said. Abbie’s personal skincare journey inspired her to launch Freya + Bailey. While working as a VP at a global organisation, she suffered from stress related cystic acne. She felt extremely self-conscious and as a result, decided to create a skincare line that would help her and other people have better skin days. “Once I re-evaluated my lifestyle and skincare regime and eventually found a plan that worked for me thanks to a skin resilient beauty approach and the clinical team I now partner with at Freya + Bailey. It reignited my passion for skincare,” Oguntade said.

Freya + Bailey

Oguntade’s heritage also inspired her journey. “I am originally from West Africa and most African beauty rituals and traditions make use of pure essential oils that are known for their healing and nourishing properties,” she said. Freya + Bailey’s mission was to transform the way people feel about skin care through effective, science-backed products and mental health advocacy. “While we pride ourselves on formulating products with the most well-researched, science-backed ingredients possible, we also believe that the journey to healthy looking skin is equally important. We want our customers to enjoy it,” Oguntade said. The brand doesn't believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all' approach to skincare, they prefer to take an intersectional approach to create their products, campaigns and company culture. They specialise in addressing stress-related issues and damage from external aggressors of modern day life. Their unique collection of products are centred on wellbeing and managing the ever-changing needs of skin.

Freya + Bailey do its own research and development within a small closed loop for maximum ownership and responsibility. All of the brand’s products are vegan and they’ve always taken a sustainable approach to business operations. “For us, sustainability isn’t about marketing. It’s just the way we’ve always done things. It’s impossible to be a green company without a green product and that means everything from ingredients to manufacturing to packaging needs to take the planet into account,” Oguntade said. Green Technology, balancing science-based active ingredients with botanicals, has been at the heart of the brand since they launched in 2019. “We want to create formulas that deliver efficacy, quality and purity without compromising health. This has been our springboard for pioneering our Freya + Bailey ‘Reboot. Revive. Reset’ process,” Oguntade said.

Freya + Bailey

Freya + Bailey consider themselves to be a clean and clinical brand. They produce highly green formulas with refined textures and scents that serve as problem solvers for the modern world and invest in research beyond what would be expected for an independent beauty brand. “Our performance barometer is skin health and the resilience of the skin barrier. When the skin barrier is normal and healthy, skin feels plump, hydrated and supple,” Oguntade said. All Freya + Bailey products have been expertly blended to elicit a dose of calm for our customers as they go about their everyday lives.

The brand’s must-have products are the Biome C Reparative Serum and the newly-launched Peptide Renewal Neck and Decolletage Treatment. The bestselling Biome C Reparative Serum has been formulated with a proprietary Moleczyme Technology Complex (MTC) that activates and heals stem cells. “The results from our 30-day clinical trials have been amazing, with customers reporting a visible improvement across a spectrum of skin issues like fine lines, wrinkles and discolouration,” Oguntade said. The Peptide Renewal Neck and Decolletage Treatment combines a dual head roller which enables customers to perform a self-lymphatic drainage massage across specified body parts. “It helps to tighten vertical lines, de-stress and de-puff while connecting the mind and body through touch. It’s the perfect combination of self-care practices,” Oguntade said.

The beauty industry has embraced diversity by becoming more inclusive. While positive changes have been made, there is still work to do. “In order for true diversity to endure, it needs to be authentic and come from a place beyond what’s good for brand perception. Under-represented groups need platforms and this is something I hope to see in the future. I can vouch for the commercial and societal benefits of inclusivity and I think the skincare industry is still learning the ropes. I believe in the power of beauty as a source for good and more importantly, as a vessel for change,” Oguntade said.

The highlights of Oguntade’s journey include growth milestones, landing listings for certain retailers and winning awards (Beauty Bible and Beauty Shortlist). “The thing that makes me smile the most is meeting a total stranger who is familiar with the brand and loves what we do. I love meeting people who are as passionate about the products as I am,” she said. Some of Abbie’s biggest challenges as an entrepreneur have been internal. Entrepreneurship has changed what she’s been conditioned to believe and encouraged her to grow in unexpected ways. “Self-belief is paramount and there were times when I erroneously did not follow what my gut was telling me was right. When you are trying to do things differently, you come up against a lot of barriers and a lack of imagination. What I have learned along the way is that unused paths can lead to amazing discoveries and Freya + Bailey are still on that journey,” Oguntade said.

Even though Freya + Bailey are a successful, award-winning brand, every day is still day 1 for Oguntade and that’s what keeps her driven, grounded and inspired. If she could give some advice to anyone who wants to launch their own beauty brand, it would be to find mentors, absorb everything, listen to what others have to say (friends, family, experts, consumers) but remember that as a founder, you need to determine what carries through. “I would also recommend surrounding yourself with people who give you energy and inspiration. Network, share insights and don’t be afraid to push through closed doors,” she said. Freya + Bailey will be launching a SkinElixir menopause range soon. The range has been formulated with the best science-led and plant-based ingredients that work to relieve the symptoms associated with the menopause. “Our team of female scientists and botanists worked really hard to create this collection. We want to celebrate what was previously taboo,” Oguntade said.

Freya + Bailey believe that every person deserves to feel beautiful. The brand has redefined the traditional skincare journey on their own terms by offering customers a transformative and supportive approach through storytelling, representation and joy.

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