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Warpaint Interview: Daniel Collins, Forest Spa Finland

February 20th, 2023

February 20th, 2023

Daniel Collins is the founder of Forest Spa Finland, a super-natural, sustainable, holistic skin-wellness brand powered by Nordic forest plant extracts, designed to both counteract and protect against the effects of stress on the skin.  Having spent 30 years within the global beauty industry, working across leading brands and international markets, he felt repeatedly disenchanted by the disconnect between inner wellness and outer beauty, and after time spent working on a Finnish health brand, he began seeking ways to bridge that gap.

Daniel created his super-natural line of products, formulated to counteract the stark contrast in our busy modern lives from pollution and radiation, lack of sleep and the daily commute to the peace, purity and restorative power of the Nordic forests.    All the products feature sustainably sourced, highest grade forest plant extracts that work to internally immunise the skin – promoting a feeling of holistic wellness that vitalises the body, soothes the mind and, in turn, radiates outward into skin that looks noticeably healthier.

We chat to Daniel about his inspirations for creating his brand and his fabulous products.

 

What’s your background and what brought you into beauty?

I started my career working for a skincare brand in store 30 years ago; I was really drawn to the industry as it was so much fun, I worked with some amazing people who really inspired me, and I made some great friends. I really loved the relationship building with clients and once I realised that this is how to really sell products; I guess it made me feel like I was both helping people with their skin and achieving sales goals, so it was quite gratifying!

I followed the sales and training path and found that inspiring people was what really drove me, and I have been lucky to have been able to make a career out of it, working across the globe with so many cultures and people.

What’s your first beauty or make up memory?

I think for me it was actually in my first days working I store, I was very young and inexperienced and a client asked me to apply an eyeshadow on her. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a natural skill, and my colleagues got a really good laugh that day. She did buy it though; I think she felt sorry for me.

 

What’s the first product you remember using and how has this influenced your later choices?

Honestly it was Clinique Clarifying Lotion, and it totally changed my skin for the better. It’s one of those products that people love or hate but it totally works, and we sold so much of it. I think for me even today it shows that sometimes clients need a little educating which is something I am focused on with my brand. Adaptogens, supplements, stress and skin are not things that a lot of us are used to considering in our daily routines, so we are very much about helping our clients understand that we need to take a more holistic approach.

What is it about Finland that you love – when did your love affair with the Nordic nation start?

I met my Finnish husband about 25 years ago, and visited Finland for the first time soon after. Coming from Australia I had never been so far North, so you can imagine it felt so different for me, the extremes in temperature, the endless daylight and sometimes lack of, and Nordic culture were so fascinating. Our family have a summer cottage (most do up there) by a lake with a 100 year old wooden sauna by the water, with wild bilberries growing everywhere. It’s in the middle of the forest and it has always been a stress absorbing place for us, swimming naked in the lake, the midnight sun, total silence around you… it really has a lasting effect. I want to bring a tiny slice of that into people’s daily lives; it’s core to our brand mission.

How important is the Finnish concept of Sisu to the brand’s development and identity?

If you have SISU you can do anything, it’s a real underdog’s approach, and originates from the wartimes when Finland had to face up to their much bigger enemies and prevailed! Everyone has ‘sisu’, you just must believe it and it can get you through anything. For us as a startup we had to embrace sisu from day one! From investors turning us down to the complexities of starting a business in lockdown, we faced everything, but we have sisu in buckets and it has helped get to where we are today. Our clients fuel our sisu because we get such amazing stories and feedback about how our products have helped people and how much they love using them; it really keeps us going, even on the tough days.

 

What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating Forest Spa Finland?

Honestly it has been a combination of how much time things take and having enough money to do everything. We knew our products were great and our concept was strong, but the patience required to get everything in place is immense and sometimes overwhelming. We have so many plans for products and customer experience and are so ready for everything, but we need to build the brand and test things along the way. Its honestly the best and worst thing you could ever do, and you take it all so personally, but that’s the journey so embracing each learn and every win is all a part of it.

What’s the achievement you’re most proud of?

Hands down it’s the customer feedback. I took the development of the products very seriously and it was years in the making. I want to deliver products that genuinely help people feel better about themselves and their skin, so when they tell us how it has totally changed their redness, acne or energy levels I feel like I have nailed it.

It’s so easy to get distracted out there by the gimmicks, the latest trends, people think you need to completely innovate to be relevant, but all we want to do is to improve skin and wellbeing using homeopathic ingredients and methods that been used in the Nordic region for many years delivered in modern formulas.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you were given and what advice would you give to entrepreneurs starting out?

I have been given a lot of advice on this journey and thankfully have an amazing partner in the business so we can make choices together. We soon realised that advice is not always helpful and sometimes very distracting, so we have a policy now of only taking advice where we need it. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do, sometimes there are great tips and sometimes not so, so we make sure we always stick to our plan and our concept. It’s the only way to make something work and when you feel as strongly as we do about our brand, we can be confident in our choices.

I would tell any budding entrepreneur to really stick your idea and put everything behind it, block out the noise that comes with it all, sometimes switch off LinkedIn and all of the other distractions that might make you feel like you need to a hundred other things. Give yourself time to think and breath because you really need it to succeed.

The company is based in the UK but you source your botanicals from Finland.  How easy is it to balance accessing the most effective ingredients with keeping a low carbon footprint?

We actually make all of the products in Finland with Finnish developers and partners. It was always so important to us to be a Finnish brand and it has certainly made it more of a challenge, but we have a branch of the company situated there now so we can source ingredients, make the product, and operate out of Finland. We have two centres for distribution right now, one in the EU and one in the UK, and this enables us to service customers internationally. We are a sustainable brand so logistics are super important to ensure we deliver on that promise.

 

What are the next additions that we’ll be seeing from you?

We have our next two products developed and ready to launch and we are looking at the second half of this year, expect to see more Nordic delights, interesting innovations, forest bathing in your bathroom, forest microbiome… there is plenty to come! We aim to develop more products using unique Nordic natural ingredients and we are discovering new things all the time.

 

Follow Forest Spa Finland on instagram.  Shop the product range exclusively online at forestspafinland.

 

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