- Diagnosed with cancer, Annee De Mamiel develops a range of oils and balms to offset the effects of her treatment.
- Multiple qualifications in Chinese traditional medicine, combined with a desire to treat her illness as naturally as possible, result in a beauty product with the highest levels of purity she can find.
- Intent, meaning and ritual have become part of the supply chain.
- Luxury hotels use her oils and high-end online stores, such as Net-a-Porter, sell the beauty range to discerning buyers.
- Overcoming her illness has made her realize that you can’t separate mental wellbeing from physical wellbeing.
When Annee De Mamiel was diagnosed with cancer in 1998 she began an uncertain journey with an uncertain outcome. She had been a top triathlete in her twenties while growing up in Australia and already had built-in respect for her body, with a matching strength of mind. She wanted to fight off her disease in a way that was both holistic and natural. She also knew that chemotherapy was inevitable if she was to survive. While enduring the nausea, hair-loss and physical trauma that goes with this type of treatment she decided to create a product to help her cope, something that was the exact opposite of the artificial, toxic chemicals doctors were using to fight her cancer. De Mamiel became an aromatherapist and developed a range of oils and balms from the purest sources she could find.
“I create things that work on a physical, chemical and emotional level, because that’s everything of what we are,” says De Mamiel. Her cancer has been in remission for 10 years now so she must be doing something right. Many cancer patients endure the horrors of treatment and then quietly thank God when it’s all over. De Mamiel decided to look further, at the underlying causes of her illness and came to the conclusion that we cannot separate our mental wellbeing from our physical wellbeing.
It’s nothing new; ancient Chinese medicine acknowledged this centuries ago. De Mamiel holds a degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, a degree in Anatomy and Physiology and a diploma in Aromatherapy, all of which have helped her create a range of beauty products that she believes contribute to healing and wellbeing.
Richard Bransons’ exclusive island resort, Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands, believe this too. Staff give De Mamiel’s jet lag oil to departing guests to aid recovery in their long flight ahead. Rubbed onto hands and inhaled, the ingredients have an uplifting and energizing effect.
“Many people deny that our emotions affect our wellness,” she says. “My brand is not just about how to apply the products to your skin, but how to reduce stress in your life. We’ve cut ourselves off from what mother nature is doing,” says De Mamiel. “All the people I treat live in an artificial environment – artificial heat, cold and light. Many people are stressed from this and there’s no sense of belonging to natural environments. I create small rituals to help us through that process.”
De Mamiel is often asked where she fits within her industry: wellness or beauty? She seems to fall somewhere between an alchemist, perfumer and therapist. “I’m more about creating change and making a difference in someone’s life than putting a cream on your face,” she says. “I fall into a category that doesn’t see wellness and beauty as being mutually exclusive.”
Her secret is in the source. The lavender is from a high altitude area of New Zealand, where the soil is rich in nutrients and the air is extremely clean. The lavender found here is potent because it grows at its maximum potential, a quality De Mamiel wants to infuse into her customers. Ritual and meaning has also become a key ingredient – every bottle is dispatched with an invisible element that couldn’t be further from a mass-produced product – intent.
The manufacturing process involves giving thanks to the supply chain that has brought the ingredients to the factory. The oil sits in a jar with three words of intent written on its label for two months, like a fine wine developing a unique character. Music is played in the storeroom to enhance the vitality of the product. As esoteric as this may sound, De Mamiel believes that vibrations from music make a difference. “If you don’t believe it, there’s no harm done,” she says “If you do, it can only add to your experience when using the product.”
In 2013 De Mamiel and her husband created a website and began selling online. Within a month, high-fashion online retailer Net-a-Porter came calling, and the business has grown ever since. The award-winning oils are now found in shops in the U.K., Spain, Sweden, Japan, the U.S. and the Netherlands.
“If we weren’t profitable, we wouldn’t still be in business,” says De Mamiel. “A myth exists that you can’t be ethical and sustainable while still being profitable, yet I’m proof that it’s possible,” she says. “Our company mission is to make a difference every day, and if I can’t do that, there’s no point in me doing what I’m doing.
One of her biggest inspirations happened during a yacht race in the middle of the Southern Ocean. “It was the purest, most magical place I’ve ever seen,” she says. “The sensation of being in a place no one else has been, knowing that if something happened we wouldn’t be rescued in time, was awe-inspiring. I experienced the power, rawness and beauty of mother nature. We are given incredible gifts on this planet that we need to care for. I reflect on that moment regularly. It’s a motivator for keeping my promise of purity to my customers and also how I run my business.”
Her vision for the future is a simple one: “I’d like to see households growing their own vegetables and getting in touch with the source of our nourishment,” she says. “Finding stillness within us creates ease and happiness. That might sound hippyish but I believe it’s real. I have friends who run big banks and hedge funds who are also trying to adopt this way of living.”
De Mamiel has explored the science behind her oils and built a successful commercial venture on some esoteric principles. She doesn’t expect everyone to understand why her products work, just that they do. “Look at people like Richard Branson. You either love him or hate him, but his drive in what he believes in is extraordinary. What he’s giving back to the environment, especially the oceans, is incredible. People who’ve overcome adversity are true leaders because they’ve shown others what can be overcome. I have overcome cancer, traveled the world and formulated a deep insight into people’s wellbeing. Now it’s my turn to make a difference.”
De Mamiel is a recent winner of an IE Award for Sustainability (Premium and Luxury Sectors) www.ie.edu/ie–luxury–awards