Forerunner of the vegan beauty boom Antipodes company director and founder Elizabeth Barbalich shares her five favourite things with Viva magazine. Pictures / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas
Peek inside the bathroom cabinets of conscious beauty devotees in New Zealand — and some across the globe — and you will find the green labels of Antipodes.
The Wellington-based skincare and makeup is cruelty-free (that means no animal testing), is largely organic, vegetarian (no animal products), and now much of it is certified vegan (no animal by-products).
The move towards veganism is an exciting new step for its trailblazing founder, Elizabeth Barbalich, who says it was largely driven by clued-up millennials.
Those avoiding meat, dairy and leather are also keen to steer clear of slathering their skin with non-vegan products, she says. For example, products like red lipsticks pigmented by crushed cochineal beetles and foundations that contain silk powder lurking on the market.
The mother of three has recently taken after her teenage daughter, embracing a fully vegan diet, which was surprisingly easy, she says.
“I feel very healthy and on top of my huge work demands. I can now understand the demand for vegan products.”
Elizabeth launched Antipodes 11 years ago after being stumped to find products free of synthetic ingredients for her own use.
Drawing on her extensive background in science, she embarked on her green beauty crusade by mixing lotions and potions at home — tested on her own skin first — before stepping into the familiar lab environment.
Antipodes is now sold in 14 countries and will celebrate its 12 birthday later this year, a milestone achieved because Elizabeth simply set out to succeed.
“I knew that I could take the Antipodes brand to a global level,” she says.
“Good things take time and effort. If you want to play in life, then you need to work hard and take risks. You need strong self-belief to start a business in such a competitive category.” Elizabeth has no intention of selling or slowing down either.
Next year the team of 46 staff will move into sleek new premises in Ghuznee St in central Wellington, another hands-on project worked on alongside her husband and business partner Zoran Barbalich, a property developer in charge of Antipodes’ previous offices too.
Somehow, during her jam-packed work day, Elizabeth has been squeezing in time to hunt down materials for the glass and marble interior.
It’s the little things that help keep her sane, she says. Family time, a cuddle with the family’s beloved bulldog Molly, and an essential morning coffee stop at local favourite, Prefab. “Then I’m ready for the day and its challenges. I’m not a person to dwell on things, and the mantra ‘just do it’ is one I follow religiously.”
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
1 Rocket espresso machine
Coffee is a crucial part of life for most Wellingtonians and I love to drink a perfect ristretto. Good coffee is key, also, for the Antipodes team and at the office we have two Rocket espresso machines.
2 Flying dog painting by Dean Proudfoot
Dean is a Wellington-based artist whose work I love and admire for its rich use of colour and contemporary approach to the ideal New Zealand lifestyle. I have three of Dean’s paintings around the house and they add colour and style. This one is my favourite.
3 Crucifix from Buenos Aires
This is the most beautiful item we own. I brought it back to New Zealand in my carry-on luggage, wrapped in my son’s clothing to keep it protected. Thankfully it survived the journey.
4. French antique chandelier
We bought this several years ago when we were lucky enough to be in the South of France with our children. We were staying at a B&B whose owner had a shed full of antiques that she sold “when someone turned up”.3
5 1970s ceramic pottery jug and cups
I found this lovingly handmade ceramic set at a marvellous second-hand shop in Pio Pio. I adore its design and the way the cups hold the ideal amount of tea.