We caught up with Nina Skalstad, New Growth and Innovation Manager for EIR Scandanavia, a skincare company that is passionate about natural beauty. Not only are their products packed with super ingredients found in nature, they’re also giving back to the environment by using recycled plastic and recyclable packaging for their bottles and packaging. What’s not to love about a product range that’s gentle on your skin and kind to the environment?
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m Nina. I’m 35 years old and live in Oslo with my boyfriend. I have a master’s degree in business and economics and have worked in marketing and innovation for several years. Most recently I’ve been responsible for launching a new beauty brand, EIR Scandinavia, an internal startup within Orkla Home and Personal Care. I am hugely passionate about my work, but also value balance in my life, and I make sure I find time to enjoy my other passions – spending time outdoors in nature, travelling, skiing and yoga.
What does a day in your life look like?
A normal day starts with a short yoga session or a run (or some days just a large cup of coffee). I then follow my EIR skincare routine (of course) and after that I’m ready to start my workday. One of the things I like about my job is that no day is the same – it’s usually it’s a combination of strategic workshops, deciding on the ingredients or packaging for our next product, creating a marketing plan with our influencers, discussing the impact of bioplastics vs glass with our sustainability innovation manager and making arguments for why EIR deserves more budget investments. Since Corona it’s been a home office and digital meetings vibe (and more Netflix in the evenings than I like to admit).
What does sustainability mean to you?
For EIR, sustainability means we have to make choices that have as little negative impact on the environment as possible, with the goal being a zero or positive impact. This is the focus throughout our value chain and we follow the guidance of The Nordic Swan and EcoCert Cosmos Natural. This is a journey for us and we learn something new all the time.
On a personal level, sustainability has to do with how I live my everyday life and the small choices I make. I try to choose more sustainable products, eat less meat, recycle, fly less, and sell / buy second hand through places like Tise. It’s really scary to imagine what will happen if we don’t change our habits and I’m pretty sure I can do more than I currently do.
What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?
It’s hard to change habits and sometimes it feels like you’re giving up on something you love. I love to travel and to flying has always been the most convenient way but now I’ll rethink flying (also because of Corona) and rather travel by train or explore places in my own neighborhood. It can also be difficult when comparing products or foods and knowing which ones to choose. Even though there are certain certifications or claims to look for I still find it hard. And then there is the challenge with circularity – I am really looking forward to seeing more circular business models being launched that make it easier to live a more sustainable life.
What made you decide to start a sustainable and natural skincare brand?
We saw a great demand, especially from younger women, for a natural and sustainable skincare range that also met their need for effectiveness and simplicity. When we started working on the idea for EIR there were very few other brands delivering on this. When I looked at the combination of my extensive experience working in the beauty industry and my strong personal passion to do something good for the environment, it just made sense.
What measures do you take to ensure that the EIR products are sustainable?
We are following the requirements from both the Nordic Swan and EcoCert Cosmos Natural. Today 8 of our 12 skincare products are certified by the Nordic Swan and 7 by EcoCert Cosmos. We are working towards having them all certified. Being owned by Orkla Home and Personal Care, EIR has the benefit of being part of a larger community working towards a more sustainable future within packaging, ingredients, production and logistics. It is quite complex so we are dependent on our partners and collaborations.
How did you manage to create a skincare range that is both natural and effective?
There are a lot of effective ingredients we use which are derived from nature – blueberries, cloudberries, rosehip and oats. Blueberries are rich in natural antioxidants, polyphenols and fruit acids which moisturise, soothe and protect the skin from external stress. Oats contains active beta-glucan which reduces irritation and redness and calms and nourishes the skin. Oat oil enhances the skin barrier and helps the skin regain its natural texture and softness. Oat oil also contains high levels of various forms of vitamin E which protects against oxidative stress from the environment and the sun’s UV rays (you’ll still need an SPF for full protection). Cloudberries contain a high level of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, which provide extra protection against external stress and premature aging and helps to renew the skin. Rosehip oil is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 which are intensely softening and nourishing for dry and sensitive skin. Rosehip contains Vitamin A which helps renew the skin and strengthen it from damage caused by the sun, helping to make the skin more elastic. All our recipes are between 94 % and 100 % natural.
What advice would you give to someone looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
I’m not an expert, but I do know you have to start somewhere – and a small change is better than none. Try to switch some of your personal care or homecare products to more sustainable ones (in my experience they are just as effective). Try to buy second hand and if there is something you only need once or twice, rent the item. There are several good digital platforms for this. And for travel, I definitely recommend experiencing your own neighbourhood.
What is your advice for someone wanting to start a sustainable brand?
EIR is the result of intrapreneurship within a large Nordic company with a CEO that truly believes in sustainability and is willing to invest. When we started to work on EIR sustainability was still viewed as a niche, but this has changed – now it’s something you almost have to deliver on. With that in mind, you’ll have to build your concept around more than sustainability (that in itself might not be enough to stand out). As with all startups, it takes a lot of energy and persistence and there are ups and downs. If you have a great idea that fulfills a gap in the market, and the team to support you, you should go for it. Intrapreneurship might be a little less scary than entrepreneurship as you have a guaranteed monthly salary, allowing you to focus on the project and not worry that much about the finances.
The Coronavirus has affected every person around the globe in some way. And while we would never say that a pandemic is positive, we have seen some changes in the way businesses and individuals live. How do you think the world will change once things go back to normal?
This is a very interesting and difficult question to answer. When I look at myself, my work and friends and family, I definitely believe that there will be a new normal after Corona. We have been forced to change and I believe some of the changes are for the better (even though as you say, a pandemic is never positive). We have had more time with our close families and are exploring and finding joy in our neighbourhoods. Post Corona I think we will be travelling less. Many people have seen how well a home office and digital meetings work (plus there are the environmental benefits that come from less commuting). Businesses have sped up their digital journey and are offering more convenient solutions and methods of delivery – it seems like everyone is now more digital.