An interview with UpCircle co-founder Anna Brightman
Check out our interview with Anna Brightman, Co-Founder of UpCircle Beauty. We chatted about her inspiration, wellness routine and of course the fantastic candle featured in the Flourish Box!
We hope you enjoy our conversation as much as we did.
Hi Anna, it is such a pleasure to be with you today. To kick things off, can you tell us more about your background and how did you start with your brand?
The idea came to us six years ago. I asked a local coffee shop what they did with their waste coffee and was shocked to hear that they were producing so much that they had to pay the council to have it removed and disposed of on landfill sites. Throughout my teenage years I wanted to be a makeup artist so always had a keen interest in beauty and skincare. I knew that coffee had loads of great skincare benefits, so…that was my lightbulb moment! Why not repurpose the coffee into sustainable circular skincare products? Our repurposed ingredient porNolio now includes twenty would-be waste ingredients from varied industries, including the argan, tea, juice, date, olive and wood industries. We’ve collected and transformed 450 tonnes of used coffee alone into our sustainable skincare products.
Can you share more about your brand mission. For those who may not be familiar with the brand yet, what can you tell us about your ethos?
The very existence of our brand, given our brand model, is a demonstra6on of taking the lead with regards to sustainability within our industry. No other beauty brand is doing what we do. We’re the only brand to scale up repurposing ingredients into skincare and offer those products to consumers worldwide. We’re cer6fied Plas6c Nega6ve, Leaping Bunny approved Cruelty-Free, The Vegan Society Accredited, COSMOS & Soil Associa6on approved Organic, B Corp cer6fied & our packaging is refillable & completely recyclable. Our brand ethos is built into everything we do and every decision we make. For example, each decision we make has to pass what we call the “win-win-win test”. Is it a win for the skin? Is it a win for UpCircle as a business (cost, availability, supply)? Is it a win for the grower (fair trade, adding value to a plant already being harvested for another purpose)? Every ingredient we upcycle answers these ques6ons with “yes”, making them sustainable from ideation to creation. Our brand name encapsulates our core purpose: sustainability and promoting the power of the circular economy. UpCircle also hints at ‘upcycling’, the process of making something better from things that already exist. Sustainability isn’t a part of our business; it IS our business.
What is/are the products from your line that you always carry with you?
Our Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil & Rosehip is a must for me, I use it morning & night. I always carry a travel size version with me so that I am never without! I also make sure to keep my Toner to hand for a refreshing mid-day spritz, and our newly launched Hand Cream with upcycled Hibiscus Acids is always in my bag. I love the fresh scent & how it keeps my hands soi & supple.
Can you share more about the product featured in the Ambrosia box?
We’re so pleased to have been able to share our Espresso Martini candle with the Ambrosia customers, it’s my personal favourite of our Vegan Soy Candles. Each candle is lovingly made with vegan soy wax, hand-poured in Yorkshire and housed in a frosted glass jar. The Espresso Martini Candle is infused with coffee grounds repurposed from artisan cafes across London. Caffeine-rich notes of roasted beans are combined with warm vanilla oils to create a scent that’s both elegant and enveloping – transpor6ng you from your home & straight into your favourite cocktail bar!
What is your inspiration and creative process when you come up with new products?
UpCircle is uniquely placed with our upcycled ingredient focus, and so our NPD process might be a little different to some companies. We start with the ingredient, like the coffee we collect from coffee shops, and then we look at the different skin concerns this can support. Caffeine is great for dark circles, dull skin, hyperpigmentation & more – so once we had the ingredient we could decide the type of product we wanted to make. So for us that’s usually how it starts, but we also oien get product requests from customers – so we work our way backwards too!
The theme of our fall box is Flourish – What makes you Flourish?
When customers take the time to email or even send letters, showing before and after of their skin and letting us know how much they love UpCircle – those sorts of things help show us how much UpCircle is flourishing! Knowing that I create products that make people feel good about themselves is the best and most inspiring feeling in the world.
Do you have any wellness rituals you would like to share with us?
My sister and I always do Face Mask Sundays as we live together, so that’s a little tradition that I love. Our Face Mask is made using upcycled olive stones & kaolin clay, so it’s great for the skin as well as being soothing on the soul.
What small habit makes you feel good?
Lots of time spent with friends and family! That’s the best way for me to recharge my batteries so I can be the best I can be at work.
What is next for your brand? What are you working on?
Over the next few years, we’re eager to be able to offer a full skincare line, to cater to whatever skincare concern you may have, so new product development is a big focus for us. We’re highly mo6vated to continue sourcing varied ingredients that are ending up being thrown away prematurely. Some by-product ingredients that we’re currently experimenting with include flower petals from the floristry industry, which we’d like to use in bath products and gin distillery by-products that we’d like to use in a Hand Sanitizer. Lots to look forward to!