The Interview: Enis Anteplioglu, Founder, HAOMA
HAOMA is a certified-organic skincare brand, handcrafted by founder Enis Anteplioglu, that champions total transparency when it comes to the ingredients used within each product.
As consumers become increasingly conscious about the ingredients present in their skincare products as well as wanting clarity, reassurance and results, Enis decided to launch his own organic skincare brand after discovering the vast amounts of synthetic and carcinogenic ingredients present in skin and bodycare products.
Starting the brand from his university accommodation, Enis began making deodorants only using organic and non-processed ingredients for himself. Now Haoma offers an ever-growing range of products using the same principles. Founder of HAOMA, Enis Anteplioglu tells TheIndustry.fashion's The Beauty Edit more:
Could you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born in Istanbul and I am half Persian and half Turkish. After studying three years of chemical engineering in Turkey, I realised I was not happy and decided to change my focus of study. So I came to England and did International Business followed by a Masters in Innovation and Technology Management.
When did you launch and what was the response like?
The brand launched a year ago in August 2019. The sales weren’t incredible in the first few months and I did not have any budget to dedicate to marketing or PR activities. Over time, many individuals started to get in touch about the products and showed great interest.
Haoma was building a loyal customer base as well and that was a big encouragement. I think the key challenge for me was to tell Haoma’s story, and the more people learned, the greater the response has become.
What brought HAOMA to life?
I never thought of launching my own skincare brand. Instead, I wanted to become self-sustaining. It all started when I went to the doctor for a condition called hyperhydrosis and I was prescribed with very strong antiperspirants and deodorants which contained all kinds of chemicals.
Upon realising that these deodorants completely stopped my sweating, I decided to investigate their ingredients. To my surprise they were full of ingredients, which I later found out, were very toxic for my body. This caused me to look into every single cosmetics product that I was using. Soon enough I took notice that I couldn’t even pronounce the quarter of the ingredients that I was putting on my body every day.
Firstly, I had no idea what the long-term effects of these ingredients to my body would be. Secondly, the manufacturing processes involved in obtaining those materials were unknown to me. Lastly, which is what bothered me the most, why did we have to depend on such complex materials for every day essentials? Soaps, deodorants, face creams … why can’t we be self-sustaining in making these really basic products?
I’m a bit of a DIY person. Doing all this research, I got to learn that there are thousand year-old recipes for all these products. But my formulations would have to be modern, scientifically formulated and completely holistic in terms of our relationship with nature.
So, I began making all of my own products and I got myself a small notebook called ‘Enis, Handmade Organics’, and put down all my formulations. Over the years, this small notebook has been replace by carefully formulated products leading to Haoma.
What is your brand DNA?
Purity — as close to nature as possible with minimal processing and zero emulsifiers and preservatives
Organic — this is our main passion, treating ecosystems in the way that is true to nature
Progressive — we always listen, improve and value research
Who is your target audience?
Whilst I realise that certain demographics buy our products more regularly - women aged 25-65. What I want to create is a community around Haoma that includes all ages that are interested in gender neutral products. I would say people that have a passion for certified organic, natural products as well as cruelty free and certified vegan products are our biggest audience.
What is your current route to market?
We have an online website where our full range can be purchased and customers there can receive offers and promotions. We also sell in independent health stores across the country and the EU. We also sell our products in all Planet Organic stores in London.
What sets you apart from other organic skincare and personal care brands?
Our commitment to certified organic and certified vegan beauty.
Our commitment to trying to directly source ingredients from farms to enable a fairer system for producers and better quality ingredients for users.
Our commitment to not use any preservatives, emulsifiers and highly processed plant-derived ingredients.
Our commitment to creating simpler and more holistic formulations.
Our commitment to using glass and sustainable materials.
Our commitment to not follow trends for the sake of following them but really committing to research based facts.
I sometimes receive emails from customers to say how much they love using the products and how our simple and pure formulations have created a shift in their understanding and daily habits of using cosmetics.
What I really want to do the most is change perceptions and set customers free of marketing gimmicks. You do not need to use fifteen different products for your daily facial regimen.
Neither do you need products that contain ingredients that are unpronounceable, that are filled mostly with emulsifiers, preservatives and plant-derived ingredients that are so highly processed, nothing of the original plant remains. For instance, a customer reached out to me to say that Haoma’s Radiance Oil has replaced three products for her. Nothing could have made me happier, and this is what I’m proud of.
How do you come up with new ideas for your products?
I never created a product for the sake of creating it. All products in Haoma range have been a result of a direct need where I felt there was no offering on the market. I had tried dozens of deodorants which have not worked for myself or for people around me that only had certified ingredients in the formulation in a glass bottle. That was how Haoma deodorants were developed.
Likewise I was having serious health problems whilst doing my masters and would wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks so I developed a formula which really calmed me down and helped me get a better sleep so that is how our organic Night Mist was developed. In short all Haoma products were born out of necessity.
Why is the organic and natural beauty so important to you, and what are the skincare benefits (immediate or long-term)?
Natural is very important because we ourselves are nature. So we shouldn’t seek to find solutions for our skin outside of it. Everything that a living being needs is already provided for by our planet. It’s our greed, marketing tactics, as well as our wrong use of technological developments that have caused a great shift towards cheap and synthetic products.
They are much quicker to make, suitable for mass-production and make people dependent. These products, in turn, have consequences on our health and environment, as well as shifting the paradigm around what cosmetics should actually be.
Organic has always been my passion and there are so many reasons for that. However, my most important concern is the lack of knowledge in natural products. When you use natural products, you are most likely mainly using essential oils and plant extracts. For example, in order to make two pounds of lemon essential oil, you need three thousand lemons.
Now, imagine using a non-organic products that uses the equivalent of the extracts of three thousand lemons. This product will also contain herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and petroleum wax used in growing and treating those lemons. Not only are you getting an intensified shot, but also putting an immense burden on the environment.
Once you use true organic skincare, you will see that your body doesn’t depend on conventional products and you’ll get longer term benefits to your skin that works with your body symbiotically.
Have consumers become more conscious about the ingredients in skincare products and has this led to an increasing demand in organic skincare products?
I do believe so. Organic is no longer a niche category. This is also evident when you enter the supermarket to shop for groceries. Consumers are increasingly aware of ingredients and what they are willing to put on their skin, thus are far more discerning in their approach. As a result the category has grown exponentially, and organic has in essence become much more a part of our daily conversation.
What are your top 3 product recommendations?
It’s a hard one. We have fans for almost every product. However, our deodorants, soaps and hand-sanitisers have won ‘best’ in category awards this year. Our No.1 perfume is also a great hit, along with our Radiance Oil.
Where is the current skin and personal care market heading?
Since there is now great interest in natural products, all big names have joined the game in creating natural alternatives to their offerings. This has really created the concept of ‘Greenwashing’, so I really urge people to actually look at the ingredients list and try and understand every single ingredient before they decide to put them on their body.
There are also a lot of very small incredible companies that are trying to great things. I think we will see lots of emerging niche brands that focus on their areas of passion, which is a great progress for the industry.
What have been the biggest skincare trends of 2020 so far?
There is clear evidence of demand towards sustainable and natural products. In fact we have been featured in Soil Association’s Market report this year with our soaps being completely packaging free. I think customers are now definitely becoming more savvy and getting into the habit of looking at ingredients list before making their purchase decisions. There is unfortunately a lot of ‘Greenwashing’ now that every company is trying to reap the benefits of this trend.
Sustainability is becoming a crucial focus for the beauty industry, in what ways is HAOMA incorporating sustainability into its business model and brand identity?
I really love to research before I do anything! I never want Haoma to follow trends for the sake of following them. I really look into every matter that concerns our eco-systems and do it justice by thoroughly researching them, then make business decisions to the best of my knowledge at that time.
For example, one of our policies is on processed and plant-derived ingredients. We refuse to use any ingredient that has been processed more than twice physically or once chemically. For example we use hemp oil in our soaps. This hemp oil is only obtained through physical cold-pressing of hemp seeds. This is just one physical processing. You will find a myriad of products on the market claiming to be obtained through plants.
However, what they don’t talk about is how these are obtained. They treat plants countless of times through physical and chemical processes. This again puts a burden on the environment and in the end nothing of the original plant remains after all these processes. What remains is just the toxic remnants of these processes.
Similar things can be said around plastics. There are now vegetable based plastics but research shows that these do not biodegrade in the way they are supposed to and nobody really talks about how they are produced. That is why we are committed to glass.
We have an exhaustive list of commitments to sustainability practices which readers can access on our website.
Is the Coronavirus pandemic one of the biggest challenges the beauty and skincare market is facing today?
We always had a hand-sanitiser in our range since launching. One day when I woke up, I saw thousands of orders coming through our website and I was just shocked! Our hand-sanitiser had been featured in the Daily Mail along with other magazines and these sales were the results of those exposures.
While it’s good to be appreciated for just one product, what made me happy was seeing people turning to more natural and healthier options for their skincare needs during these times of crisis. I think it is a great opportunity for the ‘natural’ beauty and skincare market to raise awareness and prove that holistic solutions are the way forward for our planet and all humankind.
How has the HAOMA direct-to-consumer website been performing throughout this uncertain period?
Connected to the previous point, I think there is now much greater interest in simpler, more sustainable and natural products that deliver better results than the majority of conventional products on the market. Haoma’s own website has seen an increased interest during this period.
In what ways has HAOMA been adapting to such challenging times?
We are a strictly handmade business, actually most people send e-mails to check if products are genuinely made by hand, I try to give them assurance that they indeed all are made by hand. At a certain point when the pandemic was at its peak, I was unable to produce enough products to bottle and label the products by hand.
At that time I had to invest in a large 1000 litre tank and made the products in that and mixed with a long stainless steel rod. I then had to get a company to label and apply the caps to the products. It was quite a stressful time because I was conscious that people really were in need for products that were out of stocks and I had to work non-stop with little sleep for a few weeks to meet the demand.
What advice would you give to anyone starting a skincare or beauty brand?
I would really recommend that they do a lot of research and get all the necessary training. My biggest aim is to create a community across the globe that is self-sustainable. I strongly believe that everyone should be able to know how to make their own essentials such as soaps etc.
We are unnecessarily dependent on big corporations for the simplest needs. This however means for people who want to start their skincare brand that they have to really set themselves apart. They need to really create a unique and much better offering.
I would say never develop a product for the sake of developing it, make sure you are actually providing a solution to a problem. Another quality that is needed is questioning everything. There won’t be any progress or breakthrough by following trends.