As part of our 10th anniversary celebrations we thought we’d offer you a little peek ‘behind the scenes’ of our organization with a fun Q&A session!

We’re a small, global team, with our HQ in the south-west of the UK; a beautiful region called Devon.  

You’re probably familiar with the founders and Directors of the School of Natural Skincare, Gail and Gareth Després, and if you’re studying with us then you’ll know Tina Svetek, our Formulation Tutor. 

You might have emailed us, and contacted Liz Shepperd or Loisa Després in customer services, or perhaps you’ve joined our online communities and enjoyed one of Geraldine Quinlan’s online challenges. 

You may be totally new to the School of Natural Skincare and have no idea who any of these people are! If that’s the case, it’s ok! 

We’re going to introduce everyone, including some staff who you probably won’t have heard of: Jon Heavens (our Graphic Designer), Lisa Kaufenstein (our Marketing and Communications Coordinator), Ria Gane (our Publications Manager and Editor), Emilia Macari (our brand-new Formulation Tutor) and Jemima Brash (our Social Media Coordinator). 

They work on our courses, on our social media, on the articles we send you and the videos we share, and much more. 

But we’re not going to ask ordinary questions; we aimed for something a little different here, things you may not already know (or could have guessed) about our wonderful team!

(If you are looking for our professional bios instead, you can find those here: Our tutors and team).

Gail

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Next let’s speak to Gareth, co-founder and Director of the School of Natural Skincare.

Gail, what do you like most about working for the School of Natural Skincare? 

I love being able to create and run a company our way! We put our values front and centre. For example, we support charities that align with our values and we have a weekly yoga lesson in our office. Our team is brilliant, and collectively we can bring the dreams of the School into reality.

What are you passionate about? What are the values that drive you? 

Connection to, and respect for, the natural world is really important to me; it’s why I started the School of Natural Skincare in the first place! I’m also passionate about creativity in all its forms, including creating a life you love.

What are two things people wouldn’t know about you? 

I was once in a TV commercial, and I lived in Japan and China for a year each. 

Lasty, Gail, what’s your favorite quote? 

“If you can dream it, you can do it” 

Thanks Gail! I’d like to see that TV commercial one day…

Gareth

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Next let’s speak to Gareth, co-founder and Director of the School of Natural Skincare.

Gareth, who or what inspires you?

The great outdoors! There is nothing like the fresh air, the sun on your face and the wind in your sails. A wild, wet and windy day to blow the cobwebs away. A beautiful walk along a dramatic coastline. The peace and tranquility of the mountains, trickling streams, high mountain vistas, fresh green grass, rivers meandering through the valleys and the peace among the trees. 

I get my inspiration from the feeling I get of being alive when I am in the great outdoors.

What is your favorite skincare product? 

Bought: Probably Neal’s Yard frankincense face wash.

Made: Either a lemongrass, lime and lavender scrub I made a few years back, or an aftersun oil I made using (among other things) coconut oil, sandalwood, lemongrass and lavender. I literally wanted to eat myself!

What are two things people wouldn’t know about you?

I played international hockey for Wales. I walked 177 miles in a week along the Offa’s Dyke Path on my own and raised money for Oxfam.

Finally, Gareth, if you could choose one hobby that is currently out of your reach, what would it be?

I would like to build an eco-house.

Thanks Gareth! Good luck with your future eco-house!

Liz

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Now we’ll move on to Liz. Liz is our amazing Operations Coordinator and has worked as part of the team for several years, in many different roles. You may have emailed the School and heard back from Liz, as she’s in our customer services team. Liz is also Gail’s aunt!

Liz, who or what inspires you?  

I’m inspired by enthusiasm! When someone is enthusiastic and loves what they do, I’m inspired by the drive and determination that brings.

What is your favorite place in the world? 

Skopelos, one of the Greek Islands.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?  

Understanding animals, like Dr Doolittle! Although most people who know me know I think my little dog can already understand me! 

What are two things people wouldn’t know about you? 

I once cycled the London to Brighton challenge. I baked Gail and Gareth’s wedding cake!

(I saw that cake, and it was AMAZING!!)

Geraldine

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Up next is Geraldine. Geraldine is a Community Manager and runs our online challenges through our student support forums and our free Facebook community. In addition she supports students on our Certificate in Making Natural Skincare Products. Geraldine is also a former student of the School of Natural Skincare!

What is your favorite skincare product? 

My favorite skincare product has to be the moisturizer I created for myself for my skin as it is at the moment. I love being able to create different products when I need them.

What are two things people wouldn’t know about you? 

I have struggled with depression a lot in the past. I have six siblings who provide me with a really solid foundation for life.

Who or what inspires you?  

At the moment, a woman called Gabrielle Bernstein inspires me. She has written some amazing spiritual/self-help books that blow me away.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

My favorite thing is to go for walks in the countryside. 

Thanks Geraldine!

Jon

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Now we’ll introduce Jon Heavens, our Graphic Designer. Jon takes all of the edited course materials and creates design documents, infographics, video content, illustrations and motion graphics. 

Jon, what do you like most about working for the School of Natural Skincare? 

There is a mutual respect and honesty between staff, with everyone trusting in each other’s abilities and drive. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

I play guitar in a band. I also watch a lot of documentaries, films and podcasts (history, crime, filmmaking, science), illustration and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Who or what inspires you? 

Person: Joe Rogan. He has always been someone who wants to explore new ideas, people and their counterpoints, regardless of their beliefs. 

What: Anyone, from any background, who takes responsibility for themselves and their actions, who then – despite great struggle – pushes forward in life.

Favorite quote 

“If you are not willing to be a fool, you can’t become a master.”

Thanks Jon!

Lisa

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Next we are introducing Lisa Kaufenstein, our Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Lisa organises our blogs and social media posts, leads on our email marketing and is generally incredibly organised and efficient! 

Lisa, what are you passionate about? What are the values that drive you? 

I am very passionate about the marine environment and its protection, about animal welfare and also LGBTQI+ rights.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” Brad Meltzer

What are two things people wouldn’t know about you? 

  1. My partner and I have a bleeding heart, which is why I can’t say no to animals (in need) and we have somehow ended up with 15 pets. That number seems to only grow!
  2. I am quite small and have short arms, so I struggle with carrying surfboards, especially longboards. Which is why I shaped my own extra skinny 9’1 longboard a few years back – and it’s the best decision I ever made!

Lastly Lisa, what do you like to do when you’re not working?  

I love to go bouldering, surfing, wake- or snowboarding with good friends, organizing games night and getting very competitive, and I also love to spend time with and grow my personal zoo.

Thanks Lisa! Your personal zoo sounds amazing!

Tina

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Now it’s Tina Svetek’s turn. Tina is one of our Formulation Tutors and if you’re enrolled on one of our courses you’re sure to have heard from her in one of our student community forums. Tina supports our students, writes lots of our course material and also co-wrote (with Gail) the School of Natural Skincare’s book, the A-Z of Natural Cosmetic Formulation

So Tina, what’s your favorite skincare/haircare product?

The moisturizing serum I created for our Advanced Certificate in High-Performance Serum Formulation!

What’s your favorite quote

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” Robin Williams

Who or what inspires you? 

The people I work with. I have the luck of knowing amazing people that all share the passion for natural skincare and cosmetics. It is inspiring to see what passion and hard work can achieve.

What is your favorite place in the world? 

I haven’t travelled all over the world. I always feel good in Paris. But if I am being completely honest, my living room, on the couch is where I feel the best 🙂

Thanks Tina. We love your favorite quote!

Loisa

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Next up is Loisa Després. Loisa is our Student Services Officer, and focuses on customer service and administrative support. She is also Gareth’s sister-in-law!

Loisa, what do you like most about working for the School of Natural Skincare? 

I am learning so much! Some things are out of my comfort zone and I have never done them before. Everyone is friendly, supportive and most of all, they make you feel valued.

Who or what inspires you? 

My family and becoming a mother. I would do anything for them. 

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? 

Teleportation. That will allow me to travel and see the world in a much easier way!

What are you passionate about? What are the values that drive you? 

Commitment, open-mindedness, and positivity. I want to always be open to new ideas and always be positive no matter how difficult circumstances can be. 

Thanks Loisa!

Ria

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Now it’s Ria Gane’s turn. Ria is our Publications Manager and Editor, and has worked for the School of Natural Skincare for several years – Ria even attended one of Gail’s early live workshops! Ria edits all of the course materials and also helps to write some blog posts.

Ria, what’s your favorite quote? 

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” C.S. Lewis.

What are you passionate about? 

I am passionate about people living their joy, and bringing it to the world. It’s one reason I like working for the School of Natural Skincare so much!

What is your favorite skincare product? 

The Natural Cleansing Balm by Cut Le Crap has been a revelation. I always hated how water dried out my skin but didn’t feel properly clean without a wash-off cleanser. Now I have the best of both worlds!

What are two things people wouldn’t know about you? 

  1. I like really long hugs. I hold back because everyone else seems to like short hugs, but for me, the longer the better. 
  2. I believe in the power of intention. 

Thanks Ria!

Emilia

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Finally, we have Emilia Macari. Emilia is a brand-new member of our team and we’re very happy to welcome her. Emilia is a Cosmetic Formulator. She will be creating some wonderful formulations for us, writing our course materials, filming video tutorials and supporting students with their studies.

Hi Emilia, we’re so glad to have you on our team! So, your first question is: who or what inspires you? 

Mahatma Gandhi for making a lasting contribution in creating a better world by teaching a philosophy of non-violence.  

What are you passionate about? 

I’m passionate about life, learning about different cultures, beliefs and the diversity across the world, and having an open mind and respect for everything and anyone in the world that surrounds me.

What is your favourite skincare product?  

Evolve’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum; it’s 99.3% natural and great for thirsty skin.

If you could choose one hobby that now seems out of your reach either financially or time-wise, what hobby would you take up and why?

Because I find playing and listening to music relaxing, I would love to learn how to play the guitar.

Thanks Emilia! We can’t wait to see what amazing formulations you will be creating for us!

Jemima

Meet the team Behind the scenes

Finally, we have Jemima Brash. Jemima is our Social Media Coordinator and focuses on helping us to create and share content across our social media channels.

So Jemima, what’s your favorite quote?
“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.” 

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
Healing hands.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about living from the heart, living a life full of love, kindness and compassion towards all beings everywhere. I am also passionate about nature and wildlife, and preserving and conserving our precious planet earth.

What are two things people wouldn’t know about you?
1. I was a singer/songwriter for years – one of my videos on YouTube has over 15k views!
2. When I drive in my car, I am always on the lookout for a basket of abandoned kittens to rescue. It is my dream to discover a box of kittens that need rescuing!

So that’s a little insight into the main members of our team, who all work really hard to create amazing content for you. We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out a few things you probably didn’t know before!

We’d also like to give a quick shout out to two people who have made big contributions in the past, but don’t play such a major role at the moment, Hils and Chandni. We also work with Anja and other very valued members of our wider team, on a less regular basis. We love you all!

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