Eha Urbsalu has seamlessly blended her Scandinavian heritage with her reverence for natural beauty solutions, forming a brand narrative that resonates deeply with consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. As the founder of Viking Beauty Secrets, she has single-handedly brought the ancient wisdom of the Vikings into the 21st century, creating a brand that is as fascinating as it is effective.
Eha’s journey as a beauty entrepreneur is a story of passion, resilience, and a deep-seated belief in the power of nature. Our exclusive interview with this visionary delves into the heart of Viking Beauty Secrets, exploring its origins, ethos, and what sets it apart in an industry often criticized for its lack of transparency and sustainability.
Stay tuned as we embark on this enlightening journey with Eha Urbsalu, unlocking secrets from the past to redefine the future of beauty. Prepare to be captivated by her inspiring narrative, her commitment to organic and ethical beauty solutions, and her dedication to preserving the environment while delivering products that truly work. Whether you’re a skincare enthusiast or simply curious about alternative beauty philosophies, this is an interview you won’t want to miss.
1.Eha, you’ve successfully established Viking Beauty Secrets in both the European and American markets. Can you share some of the challenges and triumphs you experienced while navigating these diverse consumer landscapes?
It is true that American and European, especially Northern European, markets are very different. Each has its own positive and negative aspects from an indie brand perspective.
For one, Northern Europe is very familiar with natural and certified organic products. It is not viewed as anything special, as it is expected that you have a natural product- that is viewed as normal. In America on the other hand, most people don’t know why natural is better for you. For example, the European Union has banned about 1,300 harmful chemicals from skincare, while America has only banned about 30. However, most people do not know that, so the American consumer doesn’t know enough to value 100% natural products over non-natural products.
2. The regulations for organic products differ significantly between the EU and the US. How have you managed to navigate these differences and ensure transparency in your product labeling across both markets?
Anyone following the “green” industry knows that there is a lot of “greenwashing” in the beauty industry. Many products claim to be “green” and “green”, however, how would the consumer really know? That is where the COSMOS international organic standard helps to verify that the product and the ingredients used are indeed certified organic or allowed under the certification. There are two main companies that give the COSMOS certification in the world: the USDA in the US and Greenlife Ecocert in Europe, which has been monitoring beauty products and ingredients for over 50 years.
Having the COSMOS certification gives buyers reassurance that all of the ingredients and their origin has been verified and approved. The certification also requires all of the ingredients to be written out on the product box, no matter how small. The regular products in America can choose to show only the ingredients that they want you to know about… I believe transparency with our customers will pay off in the long term.
3. Your brand narrative beautifully blends your Scandinavian heritage with natural beauty solutions. How has this fusion resonated with consumers on both sides of the Atlantic, and how do you maintain this connection as your brand evolves?
As a Nordic brand, this blending comes very natural to us as this is the essence of the people and the beauty of the Nordic region, where I am from.
The customers in Estonia and Scandinavia love our products as it resonates with their own lifestyle.
In America it is a bit different. Most people here are not used to natural Scandinavian products and ingredients. Also, the American consumer is often looking for a quick fix rather than an ongoing solution to a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, it is up to us to educate the consumers and show also the scientific data of why natural products are better in the long term.
4. Your journey from conceptualization to realization is truly inspiring. Could you share some key moments or decisions that were pivotal in your cross-continental expansion and strategic brand-building?
Thank you. Some of the biggest decisions were made right at the start of the creation of the brand, such as the decision to have all our products COSMOS organic certified from the start.
Even though there are a lot of natural products in northern Europe, almost none of them go the extra step to have the products actually certified by an independent verifier.
While it might not be as important to have in Europe, where the European Union has already banned many of the harmful chemicals from skincare, it is very important to have in the US, where most of the harmful chemicals that are banned in Europe are still allowed in skincare. Because there is a lack of regulation in America, the consumers are not aware of them.
We are staying true to using only the best Nordic ingredients, like the Nordic berries, together with other amazing natural ingredients, like aloe and chamomile. I really view our creams like “feeding your skin” with the best possible ingredients there are.
5. Sustainability is a core value of Viking Beauty Secrets. How have you integrated this commitment into your business model, and how has it been received by your customers?
We are one of the few indie brands with a Head of Sustainability. We are lucky to have the Worldcleanupday.org global ambassador, swim champion, and international Mermaid, Merle Liivand, in charge of our sustainability.
We manufacture using 100% Green Energy and 100% recycled materials for our paper packaging. Our creams are in glass bottles, not plastic, and our Face Scrub and Eye Cream tubes are made with post-consumer used materials. Our Face Cleanser bottle is made from 100% Ocean Waste Plastic (OWP) certified material.
We also give 5% from our revenue to ocean cleanups, led by our Head of Sustainability and co-owner Merle Liivand, who just swam her 5th Guinness World Record to bring awareness to the plastic and pollution in the oceans.
I believe the consumer, especially younger consumers pay more and more attention to saving the world, not only saving their face.
6. As a trailblazer in the DTC market, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in the industry?
I believe that the most valuable aspect of being able to sell directly to the consumer is the opportunity to also communicate directly with them. Most importantly is to always listen to the consumer. These days consumers are very expressive about their likes and non likes on social media, for example. As an indie brand we are able to quickly respond to consumer’s wishes. I would recommend any brand to pay attention to the blogs and group events of “real consumers”, not just industry organized polls and trends that big companies themselves are pushing on consumers and industry.
7. Finally, could you share some insights into your future plans for Viking Beauty Secrets? Are there any new initiatives or expansions on the horizon that our readers can look forward to?
Absolutely, we are always looking into the future and looking to bring out a new sustainable yet effective and innovative skincare product.
Currently we are finalizing a new serum with Nordic peptides. I also believe in harmony between inner and outer beauty and as the main ingredients in our products are the Nordic Berries, we are also developing a product that can be consumed internally.