Grace Culhaci | Who's Your

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Grace Culhaci

Founder of Zk’in Organic Skincare
Facing life-changing health challenges during both her pregnancies - firstly, a skin condition, and then an inoperable tumor on her optic nerve - led Grace to examine her diet and beauty regime, and overcome these hurdles by adopting a healthy organic lifestyle. She concluded that whilst we all face challenges, deciding which skincare products to trust should not be one of them. Grace developed the zk’in Organic Skincare range to be COSMOS certified organic, 100 per cent vegan and dermatologically tested – while harnessing the best of ‘green’ science to produce results for women of all ages.

Grace Culhaci

Home is…
Ermington, NSW

What do you do?
Organic skincare formulator, founder of Zk’in Organic Skincare and beauty writer

What can’t you live without?
Green juice, every day – this has been part of my life for over seven years and I truly see the benefit in my ability to keep going despite a very busy lifestyle.

What is your ideal work/life balance and how do you manage this?
As mother to two beautiful girls, one in high school and one in primary school, I like to be able to drop the girls off at school and then arrive at the office just after 9am.
I found I was wasting so much time travelling to the office, sitting in traffic, so two years ago we moved our factory to Rydalmere. It’s now a five-minute journey from home, and this has brought us better work life balance. We converted our house to incorporate a self-contained suite for my grandparents. They moved in with us in 2010 and this has meant I can work through until 5.30pm each day without worrying about the girls. Granddad collects them from school and Nanna makes afternoon tea. Once I arrive home I spend time with the girls, make dinner and have some family time. I have to admit I start to work again via my laptop once the girls are asleep! Cutting down on those extra hours I work from home would be the final step to true work/life balance – I’m getting there!

What was the catalyst for you to start the zk’in skincare brand?
I started creating skincare to aid in my recovery from a tumour growing on my optic nerve. I observed that while many women make healthy food choices they are willing to compromise on their skincare and use synthetic ingredients – the equivalent to a junk food diet for our skin – because they feel organic skincare while safer might not deliver the results they are looking for. I wanted to develop a range that would offer genuine safety but that was also results based.

How do you make sure zk’in delivers results women are after while still being a truly natural and organic product?
Every zk’in product is dermatologically tested and approved non-irritant by a qualified dermatologist so you can trust zk’in to naturally care for your skin without irritation. These trials were done using the patch test method on human volunteers, proving there really is no place for animal testing in the beauty world! We also had the entire range independently reviewed by a toxicologist, to ensure that repeated use of the products over time would also cause no harm to the consumer or to the environment.

We want zk’in products to be your mainstay for the years to come, so these tests were essential to ensure consumer safety – as with most things in the environment it’s the accumulative effect that poses the risk.

In addition to these safety tests, we have also included clinically proven actives to showcase the results that can be obtained. Importantly these results are based on human trial (in vivo) not theoretical test tube trials (in vitro), making them all the more powerful.

While most natural and organic brands rely on petrochemical preservatives, our preservative system is 100 per cent natural. We use a synergistic blend of five unique ingredients that earned us an R&D grant in 2014 from the Australian Government for contributing new knowledge to Science.

A total bathroom cabinet overhaul can be daunting. What are your top tips for women wanting to make the switch to natural skincare and makeup?
1. Start with your staples – cleanser / toner / moisturiser
2. Next, find a good cruelty free mineral makeup with no fillers or nasties. TIP: By combining a pinch of mineral makeup to your moisturiser you can create your own foundation.
3. Add other makeup items as your budget allows (such as mascara and eyeliner)

What are the challenges you have faced in creating an effective yet natural and vegan product range?
I have absolutely no interest in using animal based ingredients as I view that practice as unsustainable and completely unnecessary in a cosmetic context. I think the industry understands the need to provide ethical options so for the most part it’s not a struggle. Some suppliers don’t like it when I drill down into the components of their materials but I won’t proceed with a material unless I see proof it’s vegan, so I’ve had to enter into a lot of confidentiality agreements to be given open access to their component origins. Vegan formulation is extra work from that perspective, but well worth it!

What’s the best business advice you have been given?
Speak from the heart and be passionate about your work – I’ve definitely followed that advice!

Where was the best beauty treatment you have ever had?
A beauty salon in Mullumbimby owned by Keoeni Kinross Rowe. Keonei has over 20 years experience and her facial was the best I’ve ever had. Keonei believes in connection with the client and her acupressure massage was amazing.

Favourite holiday destination?
My own bed – because a sleep in is just as good if not better than a holiday

On the weekends you’ll find me..
Pursuing my spiritual side and engaging in a volunteer Christian ministry, with Sunday afternoons devoted to family time.

  • Natural living is very important to you. Who’s your Chinese medicine doctor?
  • I visit Dr Wu to help me keep my inflammation under control authentic TCM with a heritage dating back to 1669 and clinic fees are just $25! Dr Wu is amazing - very little English spoken but there are interpreters available.