If you’d expect anyone to know a thing or two about fragrance, it would be a former beauty editor of one of the world’s most recognised brands.
Little wonder I was beside myself when my friend and former colleague, Nedahl Stelio, announced that she was launching her own line of cruelty-free, vegan, all-natural, chemical-free fragrances, Recreation Beauty.
Nedahl and I have been great friends for longer than either of us care to admit and between the two of us, we’ve attended more fragrance launches and sniffed more scents than anyone has a right to in one lifetime, let alone two. So, it’s safe to say, Nedahl knows her stuff.
An impressive career in mags gave Nedahl the nous she needed to get this launch off the ground in the very best way. She cut her teeth as Junior Writer on Girlfriend magazine, when fresh out of university.
“Talk about a dream job,” she marvels at landing what was probably the most coveted position a girl of her age with a keen interest in fashion, beauty and lifestyle could get. “I moved on to being Beauty Editor for a few years, then I became Beauty Editor at Cosmo for a few more years after that.”
It didn’t take long before management recognised Nedahl’s smarts and promoted her to Features Editor and then Deputy Editor before moving her over to Cosmo’s sister publication, Cleo, as editor.
After five years at the helm of Australia’s fashion and beauty bible, Nedahl left and launched her own fashion e-commerce and content website. However, the lure of journalism was ever-present and when she sold her website, she found herself at a leading newspaper, covering fashion and food, before leaving a few years ago for freelance life. It was then that she had the time to follow her true passion – fragrance!
I had a chat with Nedahl and uncovered everything there is to know about Recreation Beauty.
SW: How did your vast experience in magazine and newspaper publishing prepare you to become a perfumer?
NS: It supported me the entire way. It gave me guidance on everything, from knowing what a good fragrance smells like to having the visual skills to create and direct a brand that was essentially born from a spark in my head.
Recreation started as a black dot of an idea and then I added layers to it until the picture became clearer and clearer and things started to take shape and have a proper form.
Being able to communicate my vision to everyone around me came from magazines. Almost everything I do has come from magazines. It’s such a good training ground because you get every aspect of business from the creative to the management.
SW: What sparked the idea of Recreation Beauty?
NS: I gave up chemicals about nine years ago when I was struggling to get pregnant. I started researching and one of the first things you read is that people who’ve ditched chemicals in their beauty products and home products have more luck conceiving.
Once you start researching what is actually in those products, it’s very difficult to use them again. I literally gave away boxes of product (I was in magazines, I had a lot of beauty products!) and started from scratch. It’s not what got me pregnant (I was doing so many other things at the same time), but I’ve never gone back to using products with chemicals.
Fragrances can be particularly toxic, but it was the one product that I couldn’t find a beautiful, natural substitute for. I would spray it in my hair and on my clothes so it wouldn’t get on my skin, which just seemed ridiculous. And I really thought there should be a beautiful, natural fragrance brand out there. So, I started investigating the idea of creating one.
SW: What are the trials and tribulations of creating a fragrance line from scratch?
NS: Oh Gawd – this could go on forever! It was a much bigger venture than I thought it would be. I would get to one stage, then everything would go wrong, then I’d fix those problems and think, ‘well, I’m a step further now, I should keep going.’
Then everything would go wrong again, and this would just continue time after time. It’s a very involved, very detailed process that takes a lot of patience, attention to detail and finesse and I knew that if I did every tiny part right, then I could create something beautiful at the end. So, I just focused on every little piece of it. It’s product development. It needs to be right.
SW: How do you go from concept to creation to beauty counter?
NS: It starts as an idea and then you keep adding to it. The thing with a beauty brand is that there are so many small details that you don’t think about at the beginning, and it becomes apparent that they’re actually vital, so you’re constantly adding to the brand.
Things just kept coming up! It really grew a life of its own and I knew it would be worth it if I followed the journey and created something that I could be proud of. I celebrated every milestone and really was just thankful that I was getting to do this.
SW: Why did you opt to make the collection vegan?
NS: I don’t think we should be harvesting animals’ body parts to make ourselves look or smell beautiful. It’s 2019. I’m pretty sure we don’t need to do that anymore. Aren’t we further along with technology than that?
It just didn’t make sense to me to use animal products in any part of my product and it was always a non-negotiable for me. I wanted something I could be proud of, totally and absolutely.
SW: What processes do you need to go through in order to make it vegan?
NS: You basically have to make sure that each of the products is wholly vegan and cruelty-free, which means none of the products contain any ingredients made from animals and none of those ingredients have been tested on animals.
It was tricky with perfume because it’s such an old tradition. For example, traditional musk actually comes from a male musk deer and you have to kill the animal to get it. However, they do use synthetic musk now and the industry is moving forward with more natural ingredients being used all the time.
SW: Are your products palm oil free?
NS: Yes! This was also very important to me. I didn’t want to use anything that hurt the environment, or the planet and I wanted it to make the wearer feel as good as they smell while wearing it. No guilt whatsoever.
SW: Can you tell me a little about each product?
NS: There are three fragrances at the moment with two more coming soon.
SUN-KISSED: A fresh, zesty fig. This feels like sunlight dancing on your skin with notes of fig, pear, jasmine, lemon myrtle, cedarwood and musk. Like sunshine in a bottle, spray this fragrance and watch yourself shine from within.
CALL ME VENUS: A crisp twist on sublime rose. For girls who believe in romance but know they can buy their own flowers. With notes of cassis, peach, rose, neroli, orris. Tap into that inner pot of chutzpah and pour it out like a multi-coloured-glitter-slide that spreads love all around.
STARDUST: A citrus, woody blend. This cosmic potion starts wild and light, like you’re eating peaches on the beach, and ends in a big smoky bang. With notes of peach, thyme, petitgrain, lavender, vetiver and musk. Bask in the hazy glow.
I also have body and hair oils. They are incredibly rich, luxurious treatment oils, which come in the matching fragrances. They really deliver on their promise. We used all organic coconut, macadamia, rosehip and Shea oils and blended them with ocean extracts Golden Seaweed and Blue Sea Kale, known for their skin rejuvenating and smoothing properties.
The result is advanced skin care for the body. Delightfully scented, they have a non-oily finish and are perfect for stretch marks, super dry and cracked skin, skin conditions, spotty bottoms, sagging and/or wrinkled skin, parched hair, frizzy hair and sun-beaten skin and hair.
SW: Tell me about your sampling?
NS: For $25 and free shipping, you can receive a sample trio of the eau de parfum, so you can try before you buy the big bottles. We also do travel sizes in either a perfume oil or a spray.
SW: Where can our readers buy them?
NS: Currently online at Recreation Beauty.
About the Author
After 30 years of working in Australian media, Shonagh is one of Australia’s busiest and most in-demand beauty, health, travel and lifestyle writers.
As a health and lifestyle journalist and consultant, Shonagh has worked closely with international wellness experts and icons, including Dr. Sandra Cabot, Therese Kerr and Miranda Kerr.
In other aspects of her work, she has travelled the world reviewing wellness retreats and luxe holiday destinations, and she has interviewed and written feature articles on some of the world’s best love celebrities, including Sting, Elle McPherson, Pamela Anderson, Simon Baker, Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Tina Arena, Heather Graham and many more.
She currently lives in the NSW Southern Highlands with her four dogs (three Siberian Huskies and one Maltese Cross), where she grows her own veggies and advocates ending Factory Farming and animal cruelty.
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