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Natural Selection

Celebrating 30 years in 2015, Jurlique is recognised as one of Australia’s top beauty successes. MiNDFOOD talks to co-founder Ulrike Klein about the journey getting here.

Natural Selection

It’s probably the rosewater mist that moves me the most – that scent of pure petal; fresh yet intense and unmistakably Jurlique. While the Adelaide Hills-based company certainly does not own the monopoly on rose spritzes, it undoubtedly has the most recognisable fragrance.

And then there’s the rose-scented hand cream. I remember buying my first tube some 15 years ago. I loved it so much that I would ration it out, scared of going through it too fast. I’d allow myself a drop in the morning when leaving the house, and one in the evening before bed. I’d dread every time that I’d have to roll the metal tube over as the contents began to diminish.

There’s something about Jurlique products that makes you want to savour them – there’s a luxurious quality about them that makes them seem special. Perhaps it’s the dedication to organic and biodynamic farming; maybe the care that goes into producing each bottle and tube; undoubtedly the fact that the vast majority of Jurlique’s herbs, flowers and plants come from a single source in South Australia. But it hasn’t always been this way.

In fact, when the company launched, Klein – a botanist by trade – found that she was begging Australian customers to purchase her products.

A transplant from Germany, Klein and her biochemist husband Jurgen launched their company Life Force in 1972. “We did a lot of research into the healing forces of nature. We created skincare and plant-dyed materials,” she says. “Life Scent Creams was first batch of skincare products we made. We knew how important essential oils were in them because they have such a deep impact – they bring us back to memories and connect us deeply to ourselves. Essential oils are the soul of the plant. We knew this in the 1970s, but could we market the concept? No, we had no idea.

“The dream became stronger and stronger. How and where could we do it? Where could we find unpolluted land to grow pure botanicals? We found it in Adelaide. So we landed in 1983 with four kids and it became home for all of us.”

“We designed everything about the brand ourselves, and were finally inaugurated in 1985. It was a two-person operation – Ulrike grew and picked the herbs and botanicals, Jurgen formulated and manufactured the products.

“We were so excited, but the Australian market was not.”

For five years, Jurlique exported some 95 per cent of its products. It was only when Australians saw how well the products were doing internationally that they began to show interest in the brand. “There’s now a huge acceptance for natural and biodynamic products,” says Klein. “It’s no longer spooky or mystical. People realize it adds purity and potency, because the soil is alive. I think we’re trendsetters now.” Indeed, Jurlique has become one of the most popular natural skincare brands Down Under, as well as being sold in more than 20 countries across the globe.

Although the Klein’s no longer own the company, Ulrike is still an active supporter and spokesperson, and the 62-hectare Jurlique farm remains in the Adelaide Hills where it was established three decades ago.

Thinking back all those years, Klein still remembers the first seed she planted: for an Alchemist rose. “The first range was quite comprehensive. There was a hydrating essence, to cleanse the skin and clear the mind as you inhale all the natural oils. It was quite an achievement, chemically: the essence penetrates the water. It was the Herbal recovery gel that skyrocked Jurlique to where it is now, along with the rosewater mist, of course.”

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