Cover Photo: Elemis

From starting her first health store at only 20 to becoming the co-founder of the world-famous skincare brand, Elemis, here's how Noella Gabriel does it all

How I’m Making It is a weekly series in which Tatler speaks to influential individuals about their unique journeys and what keeps them going.

Noella Gabriel was only 20 years old when she opened a health store in Ireland with her sister and began her journey into the wellness industry.

Since then, this #girlboss has trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist, nutritionist and, most significantly, co-founded Elemis, an established British skincare brand that has been at the forefront of the industry for over 30 years now.

With the exciting expansion of Elemis into Singapore recently, we took a closer look at Gabriel's rise to the top of her career.

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Gabriel co-founded Elemis in 1990 after spending years operating a health food store she opened and serving as the manager of a beauty spa at Harvey Nichols.

"I created the idea of skin wellness over 40 years ago. The world of whole foods, vitamins and supplements were not as well known then, and even considered a gimmick, certainly not a trend. I learned that I love people, that I have a passion for aromatics and textures and that I have an undying longing to understand how the skin and the body function," Gabriel said.

Using this philosophy of treating the skin from the inside out, Gabriel decided to create Elemis alongside other like-minded entrepreneurs who believed in the philosophy.

The brand was co-founded in London by Linda Steiner, an entrepreneur and investor who wanted to create a skincare line that was as close to nature as possible.

Gabriel's vision clearly aligned with Steiner's and with the contributions of Sean Harrington and Oriele Frank, the group created a presence in the skincare industry which has steadily grown from a simple storefront in the United Kingdom to the huge international brand it is today. 

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When it comes to charting a course for their brand, Gabriel was pretty firm that they should not be following trends that tend to come and go frequently. Rather, she believed in creating trends and educating her clients while also remaining aware of evolving consumer needs. 

"As consumers’ skin needs change as a result of everchanging lifestyle choices, this, in turn, drives innovation in order to meet these new needs. For example, skin needs in Miami are different that skin needs in the UK and New York; these everchanging needs are key drivers behind our innovation," she said.

Today, Elemis has begun expanding its range into different parts of the world with a new focus on Asia.

"We have a brand new global strategy that will see Elemis launching around the world. Sean Harrington, our chief executive officer, is now based in Asia and focused with his team on rapidly building the brand, whilst my role is to ensure we are continually growing and scaling across all our other new and existing markets," shared Gabriel proudly.

Keep reading to find out how Gabrial manages it all while, in her own words, "keeping sane".

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What is a typical morning like for you?

I swim five times a week at 6.30 am—I’m an early bird! Along with fitness, there’s definitely a sense of calm I get from being in the water, it really helps me to re-connect with my breath and clear my head. It's also how I achieve a work-life balance because it helps me unwind and focus before the day starts. After my swim, I usually have a simple porridge and herbal tea for breakfast.

How would you describe your working style?

I’m very decisive. If I have a gut instinct, I go for it.

If you were not working on Elemis, what would you be doing instead?

I’d be a singer. Singing and music are true passions of mine. Singing is my stress release and is something that I could not live without. 

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What is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten?

To listen and to be open to learning.

What does your personal skincare routine look like?

My approach to skincare has always been holistic. My daily skincare routine is very simple—I double cleanse with an oil-based cleanser and then a treatment cleanser, I replenish my skin with a lightweight facial oil, I moisturise with a hydrating, nutrient-rich cream and I always apply SPF, even on those cloudy London days.

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

Easy. Nothing has made me prouder than when I became a mum to my lovely daughter, Kate.

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