A-Beauty Interview With Váhy’s Fragrance Founders – a-beauty
The Edit / Editorial
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Known nasties have no business being in our beauty products, and yet, they sadly continue to sneak their way into many of our favourite formulas. Especially when it comes to fragrances. Clean beauty may be on the rise, but the perfume industry has a long way to go. Did you know that companies don’t have to disclose every individual ingredient in their fragrances, and that more than 3,500 fragrance chemicals are in use today? That’s a lot of unknown toxins you could be exposing yourself to daily and not even know it.

When Váhy’s founders Anna Weatherlake and Kate Macdonald found this out, they set out to create a fragrance range that not only smells incredible, but is clean, natural and good for the environment, too.  

Váhy is a 100% natural fine fragrance house based in Melbourne, Australia which creates clean fragrances that are free from nasties and made without compromise.

Now available on a-beauty, we sat down with Váhy’s co-founders to get to know the brand better.

From friends to founders, here’s an insight into Váhy’s beginnings and how this Australian fragrance house is making a virtuous difference in the clean fragrances space.

How did you two meet? 

Anna: “We have been the best of friends for a really long time and lived together all through our university years.”

What made you decide to launch a range of fragrances together? 

Anna: “There were a couple of pivotal moments that led to the creation of Váhy. Early on in Kate’s career as a corporate lawyer, she discovered that perfumes did not need to disclose their ingredients in most jurisdictions. That then set her on a wormhole of investigation as to why this was, and what was in commercial perfumes. What she discovered was not pretty, with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducting research on this point and finding on average 14 ‘secret’ ingredients are used in fragrances and sometimes more than double that number (read more about it here). These secret ingredients have been associated with allergies, irritation, hormone disruption, cancer and have not been tested for safety in personal care products.”    

Kate: “Armed with this information, and Anna’s background in marketing, and cruelty-free, clean living, we made it our priority to find a natural fragrance alternative which was transparent about what was in its products and used premium quality clean ingredients. We searched high and low and when we couldn’t find anything we could happily substitute for our commercial fragrances without compromising on ingredient quality, sophistication of scent and style, Váhy was born.”

“Our fragrances are 100% natural, genuinely green, we disclose all our ingredients and do not hide behind ambiguous terms like ‘fragrance’ or ‘denatured alcohol’.

Anna Weatherlake, Váhy co-founder

What is one of your most memorable fragrance memories?

Anna: “The smell of my horse growing up. I love the smell of horses and that scent is tied to so many fond memories for me. In my later years, definitely Capri, which has this light, citrusy energy to the island, which was the inspiration behind our Neon Neroli fragrance.”

Kate: “Growing up in Tasmania, I was always out in nature, so the smell of the forest is very nostalgic for me. My dad is an avid bushwalker, so we spent a lot of time out in the Tasmanian wilderness. Our Tarkine scent was inspired by the Tasmanian Tarkine Rainforest and is my favourite Váhy scent as it is tied to so many incredible childhood memories.”

What makes Váhy unique?

Anna: “Our fragrances are 100% natural, genuinely green, we disclose all our ingredients and do not hide behind ambiguous terms like ‘fragrance’ or ‘denatured alcohol’. Ingredient disclosure is incredibly important to us. In the fragrance industry, you don’t have to disclose the often nasty, unsafe ingredients behind the word ‘fragrance’, which can be thousands of different chemicals that are often harmful for health. If your perfume does not disclose its full list of ingredients, you should really ask questions and steer away from using it. On average, there is over 25 ingredients contained within the term ‘fragrance’ alone (and this can be more then 50 in some cases). If you only see a couple of ingredients on the ingredient list of your fragrance products, then it is very likely you are not receiving full ingredient disclosure. In a perfect world the laws would be there to protect consumers, however until this happens, we hope that it becomes common practice that consumers demand to know what’s in the products they apply on their self and sensitive areas.”

Kate: "Further, we go above and beyond when it comes to procuring our ingredients, packaging, and products. We are female founded, certified plastic neutral, genuinely green, cruelty-free and vegan, and live and breathe our ethos when it comes to our products.”

What was the first fragrance you released? 

Anna: “We released a collection of six fragrances when we launched in March 2020, which all had a story behind them and were nostalgic in some way for either of us. These have since evolved at the hands of one of the leading natural perfumers in the world and have really developed into sophisticated fine fragrance products. It wasn’t the first fragrance we released, but the biggest scent release along the journey has been Ember Haze. This has gone on to win four international awards and is an absolute showstopper, loved by both men and women equally.”

Why is making fragrances that are natural important to you?

Kate: “We were sick and tired of the loopholes in the fragrance industry and wanted to set a new standard of luxury. Once we discovered the truth behind what is in most synthetic fragrances, there was no going back. We really encourage people to do their research into the fragrances they use and refer to The Environmental Working Group article, as mentioned above. It’s a great place to start. Once you know, you know, and if you care about your health, your hormones, and the environment, it’s really hard to look passed it.”

Sandalwood is one of your hero ingredients - can you tell us about why you love this note in fragrances and also where you source your sandalwood from? 

Anna: “We love sandalwood! It provides such a striking woody base and is such a genderless note to include in fragrances, but sandalwood is a high-risk ingredient due to the devastating impact of over-harvesting. Our sandalwood comes from a local Australian Aboriginal co-op who sustainably farm, planting 30% more trees than they harvest every year with 16 years of mixed generation trees currently growing. Further, the farm relies on green energy practices and 75% of the water used is recycle. But the best part? Goats are used (ethically, of course!) to maintain the weeds and overgrowth on the plantation to ensure it can remain pesticide free.”

If you had to pick a favourite fragrance in your range, what would it be?

Anna: “This is tough! I am really loving our latest scent Isle of Blanc. It’s summery and fresh and the perfect daytime scent. I’ve also always been a Midnight Ruze fan as well. I love the unexpected evolution of notes it journeys through on the skin.”

Kate: “Tarkine is a favourite for me. It’s beautiful and woody and was inspired by the Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania, where I am from.”

Vahy is all about inspiring a better balance in life. How do you personally ensure you maintain balance in your own lives?

Kate: “With great difficulty. I am a mum of two young boys so the juggle to find balance between work and life is real. At the same time, Anna has four rescue dogs and is very passionate about animals, so balancing her time between work, and her passion can be challenging at times as well. We really strive to find balance between giving to our friends and family with self-care, or balancing making consumption decisions against making ones that are as good as possible for self and the environment, but with a new and growing business, it can be challenging at times.”

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