Yelena here, founder and formulator of Lena Wild (former Wild Beauty Apothecary). I wanted to let you in on my journey and the inspiration behind creating our handcrafted natural and organic skincare line.
I was born in one of the greenest countries in Europe – Latvia. A place full of untouched, wild, green forests. With an abundance of stunningly tall trees, berries, mushrooms and many more of nature’s wonders, beauty wasn’t so much on my mind. Instead, these untainted elements were the backdrop to my childhood.
As I began to grow up, I started to experiment with hair and makeup. It was the ’90s, so my tastes were influenced by pop culture of the time. I was one of those kids who was mesmerised by my mum’s hair, that cut and dyed my own and experimented on the locks of my braver friends. Even my grandad came to be a regular Yelena hair model. (He still is to this day when I go to visit!) While not every one of my beauty endeavours was always successful, I certainly learned a lot along the way.
After graduating from high school, I moved to London with my family. I wasn’t sure what to study but I felt the pressure to jump right into university. I chose Accounting & Banking as a degree and worked part-time while I studied. It didn’t come easy, and I ultimately switched gears to take a gap year. Looking back now, I know I needed that time to decide what to do. It freed me up to pursue a couple of makeup artistry courses too, as I seemed to be always looking for a way to keep beauty by my side.
I finished my original degree but it is no surprise that afterwards I gravitated back towards my passion. I worked in retail for some well known beauty brands and enjoyed my time there. Speaking to people seeking makeup advice, colour matching foundations to best suit a skin concern – I discovered I just loved helping people! Being able to immediately see their gratitude was rewarding beyond words. It was when a customer asked me about ingredients that I would often find myself stumped. That I found frustrating.
I did a few 9-5 office jobs after departing from beauty retail – but I never really felt fulfilled. Something was always missing, and I often worried I would never fit in anywhere. My insecurity levels grew heavy on me, and I was ultimately diagnosed with depression. My mental health took a toll on my physical health, mood, relationships with family and friends and my skin. I developed severe adult acne, which I had never experienced before. Red, inflamed and itchy, my spots made me feel very, very insecure.
Before this unprecedented flare up, I already had taken an interest in natural skincare and a holistic approach to beauty. My condition provided me all the more reason to dig deeper. I started to take holidays off work—not to go on holiday, but to attend courses and workshops in skincare-making, nutrition and herbalism. The natural skincare and nutrition course through the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London in particular provided me more structure for further research. I absorbed studies on how important it is to focus on food, supplementation and lifestyle when targeting skin health. I just couldn’t get enough of what I was learning! I eagerly shared my findings with my loved ones. With my spark back, I started to blog about green beauty but I soon realised I wanted more. Just like my days crafting hairstyles as a teen, I started playing with formulating my own products. Once again, friends and family were my willing test subjects – but this time I worked to target their individual skin needs. That’s when I started to receive amazing feedback.
In 2015 I enrolled to study Organic Cosmetic Science with Formula Botanica, one of the world’s industry leading schools for the subject. It was a game-changer. Their courses taught me how to research ingredients, decode skin structure and apply this knowledge to refine my cosmetic formulations. I studied the science of natural skincare and skin anatomy in depth, spending countless hours learning how to formulate face, body and even spa treatment products. Learning from expert formulators shaped my knowledge into expertise. The products I started to make at this time, and a newly adopted organic lifestyle, improved my skin condition.
What I love about green beauty is that I continue to learn every day. But formulating products and advising others on healthier alternatives? That is my true motivation and passion. It feels like a dream, but I could only have found it by going through my journey. That it bloomed into this – it’s an opportunity I am beyond grateful to have.
This is how Lena Wild (former Wild Beauty Apothecary) was born!