Interview with Joanna Ryglewicz – Oio Lab Brand Creator
What is the name of your business?
Our brand’s name is Oio Lab.
What is your website?
Where are you based?
We are based in Poland, in Puszczykowo – a small town on the outskirts of Poznań.
What do you sell?
We sell facial treatments – oils, elixirs and serums.
What makes your products special?
We combine a scientific approach with natural ingredients. Oio Lab is where nature meets science. We create products basing mostly on natural ingredients. In our treatments you will find organic, cold-pressed oils of the highest quality as well as plant extracts obtained using innovative methods e.g. beech, chicory and hemp seed oils obtained by enzymatic extraction or turmeric root extract produced by supercritical fluid extraction with natural carbon dioxide (CO2) – both methods are characterised by high quality extracts and are environmentally-friendly.
We also enrich our natural base with highly selected active ingredients of proven effectiveness. Selected Oio Lab treatments contain hydrogenated H-10 retinol, proven to counteract sign of aging or a highly stable vitamin C derivative – maintaining its brightening and antioxidant properties for longer. We do not use synthetic additives and preservatives. In our compositions we use minimum ingredients that deliver maximum results.
We work with Laboratories and Universities in Poland – this is a very important part of our work.
I do not look at Oio as a brand that can be unambiguously classified: “natural”, “organic” etc. – despite the fact that these elements are important to us and we take them into account when creating Oio. I am guided by the creation of effective cosmetics, consistent with the values that we confess. I see no sense in creating something that is not authentic – I know that only this will give me energy to act and develop further. I really wanted to combine nature with the scientific element, from the methods of selecting ingredients to the final product. We are very meticulous in this matter. We check literally everything: how plants grown, whether they come from organic crops, and if so, what standard do they meet, how are they extracted, whether preservatives are used in the extraction process, at what temperature, by which method the raw materials are extracted – each of these elements matters to us. In a way, there is a natural selection of companies with whom we cooperate, because those that meet our high, often subjective standards, ultimately there is not much left. The aspect of respecting our environment is also very important when creating Oio treatments. During production, we not only choose clean extraction methods, but also avoid the use of plastic.
How did you start this business?
Already during my studies I was interested in the beauty industry market. I studied law in London, then returned to Poland and began another University course – this time Polish law in our Polish system, so I had to study for another 8 years. I began to feel the pressure to earn some extra money. I started to look for companies I could distribute in Poland. For as long as I can remember I was particularly interested in the pharmacy / dermatology products market. I made an appointment with Embryolisse – a French beauty, pharmacy brand owners. Everything started with this brand. I remember when I went to Paris with my 2-page business plan: arrow here, arrow there (laughs). My husband, who works as an architect helped me with the process. First, we imported very small quantities of cosmetics, about 50 pieces to Poland. We went to Warsaw to see the press, visited contractors and slowly developed the sale. It took a while, but thanks to that I could go through every stage of business development – from legal side, sending parcels, to negotiating and signing contracts with the Clients.
So the journey with selling beauty products started in 2011, however, I have been growing and experimenting with my own brand since 2015.
What were you doing before you started this business?
I was working as a lawyer. After the business started to grow I came to the point when after coming back from word in the Law office, we has another job in the beauty industry and wrote the emails and packed parcels, sometimes up to 3-4 in the morning. At some point I had to determine which career path to take and start to expand the structure of the company. Today I look at these experiences as a process, my way to create my own brand. I am also grateful for the people who surround me, starting with our graphic designers, PR, scientific department, co-workers from the office, as well as our contractors – all appeared on our way at the perfect moment.
All the time I was analysing the possibility of creating my own products. I shaped my thoughts for a long time – what I really want to create, and this process happened gradually through trial and error. At first, I mixed oils for friends, then I started a company named Ollio, offering one serum for sale. I felt like still it wasn’t “it”. I knew that I had to fall in love with the brand I created for it to make sense. Now I am the biggest Oio Lab fan. I appreciate every aspect of the brand: the ingredients, packaging and philosophy. It gives me energy to act. Despite this, I look at Oio as a fluid concept that is constantly evolving – it is very important that the brand develops with us, even if it involves major changes.
What is your vision for this brand?
Integrity is very important to us. I see Oio Lab in those places in the world that are consistent with our philosophy. We have interest in our products from outside Poland. I am going to Oslo for business talks and the first testers have already been sent to selected points in the USA and England. Sustainability is important is also important to us – we will definitely develop in this directions.
We are happy to cooperate with smaller stores, because we want to reach a specific type of customer. However, I do not want to create barriers that would prevent us from development.
I look idealistically at Oio Lab. I am following the market trends, unless something specific catches my attention. My assumption is simple: I would like our products to be effective above all, created with respect for our environment, visually aesthetic, and sold in places that think the same way.
What is your most exciting recent success?
We just appeared in Vogue Poland! And get more and more interest from the press.
What advice do you give to people wanting to start their own business?
Never compromise on authenticity, do what you think is the best for the brand, even it this is against the market standards. If you do something from your heart, it can be felt and if this is truly yours it will be appreciated eventually.