The award winning Austrian skincare brand vielö was started by Christian Pauzenberger and Alexander Daspersgruber with a mission to simplify skincare. To achieve this, vielö started with the ingredients. Opting out of using complex and disputed ingredients, the brand chose liquid organic whey.
Can you tell us about you and what sparked the idea of your brand?
Honestly it was not part of our life plan to end up as entrepreneurs in the skincare industry that is dominated by the really big corporations and global players with incredible spending powers. But when we heard that our valuable base ingredient organic whey mostly ends up as waste product, we thought there must be a better idea for this valuable natural resource than pouring it away. So when the opportunity arose, we did not shy away from it and that’s how it all started. Me and my co-founder Alex began researching intensively about our main ingredient whey because it was well known to us from Austrian thermal spas where you can enjoy a relaxing whey bath which is a very nourishing treatment and especially people with sensitive skin appreciate this kind of treatment. Of course everybody also knows the stories of Cleopatra and her love for milk baths. So, that’s what sparked the idea together with our entrepreneurial spirit. On top of this we were absolutely convinced that after the food industry and the fashion industry started that also the cosmetics industry would follow and is more than ripe for dramatic change. Inspired by the ideas of the circular economy we became enthusiastic about becoming a skincare brand for people who question the norm and demand the "best of both worlds" which means uncompromising organic quality and a beautiful and timeless design and lifestyle. Products for design lovers who simply demand more from skincare than just a nice label. Products that please the skin and the senses. Products that are locally und sustainably produced based on the principles of simplicity, sustainability and transparency.
How is the manufacturing process involved in getting to the end product?
It was clear from the very beginning that - if we have such a nourishing main ingredient is organic whey - all our products have to be very gentle and also suitable for dry and sensitive skin. It was also clear to us when we offer sustainably-made and organic quality, then it also had to be produced locally to keep the supply chain short and it had to be done with the best and most qualified external partners. Not because we think Austrians are more qualified than others, no, not at all, simply because we believe it’s a more sustainable way of manufacturing even it comes with a higher price tag.
What challenges and difficulties did you encounter in the journey? How did you overcome?
By producing locally we avoid unnecessary shipping costs and we don’t have to use misleading advertising claims such as „designed in Austria“ which brands mostly use when they want to hide that they are acutally producing far away from where they are located. Don’t get us wrong, we are absolutely not against global supply chain, this is a decision every entrepreneur has to decide themselves what is best but we are against misleading information, greenwashing and deceptive advertising. Unfortunately in Europe terms such as natural and organic are still very unregulated. That’s why the widespread greenwashing is all over the place and that’s why we opted for the highest and also legally determined ad transparent quality standard for Organic Cosmetics by the Austrian Bio Guarantee. The Austrian Organic Cosmetics standard is, opposite to the many seals out there, not just a privately regulated quality standard where big corporations agree on a certain convenient quality standard and market it under a beautiful green seal. When we entered the skincare industry, we were so surprised and also shocked to learn how this industry works and this is exactly why we opted for a different approach.
How and where do you get your inspiration from?
There are so many sources of inspiration. I believe it’s just important that you walk through life with open eyes and then I feel one is constantly inspired. I remember many evening walks with my partner through London and I always came back feeling inspired. The same is true if you just go for a run and let your thought wander, so my motto for inspiration is: Get out and enjoy life ;).
Of course I also get inspiration from architects such as the amazing works of Bjarke Ingels and his BIG group and I love almost all the work from Norm Architects in Copenhagen. I also enjoy reading, I read a lot of magazines such as Monocle Magazine (we were even invited to an interview at their radio show ’The Entrepreneurs’), Cereal, Kinfolk, Courier, Nomad and books, from fiction to so called ’Life Hack Books’. I enjoy both such as the one I am currently reading from Atul Gawande, ’The Checklist Manifesto’, a book which I wanted to read for a long time and which contains simple yet extremely useful information.
How does the future look like for your brand?
We believe vielö has a very bright future ahead and the journey and quest for a more sustainable skincare industry just started. Especially after the tragic outbreak of corona, we realized a massive change in customers’ buying behavior. People started questioning the norm, industry standards and sometimes unnecessary and environmentally harmful global supply chains. Customers started to ask questions like where is your product produced, how is it made and what are your values as a company. Since we can openly inform them that vielö stands for sustainably-made, organic and locally produced premium skincare, interest in and demand for our brand have increased constantly, even when the corona shutdowns also hit us pretty hard. The main reason for this being that most of our B2B partners such as premium retail stores, design hotels, restaurants, gyms, cosmetics studios etc. had to keep the doors shut for many months of last year and also since the start of 2021. Nevertheless, as soon as we all live and experience a rather normal life again, we are very optimistic that the development of vielö will continue very positively and we are also hopeful that corona brought about some change - which I mentioned already before - in people’s thinking that will last and that is very positive. I believe it’s not just a trend that customers demand brands to act responsibly and sustainably. I am very optimistic that people maybe buy less yet better quality.
Tips and recommendations:
What is your favourite spot in your favourite city?
It’s pretty hard to just mention one spot and one city as my favourites because I really love to travel and explore cities and there are so many inspiring and unique places and cities that I really enjoyed a lot. When it comes to my favourite city, then I have to decide between my former hometowns Vienna and London as well as the city where I have lived for a few months last year, Copenhagen. They all have so much to offer yet all of them being so different and special. To answer your question I pick my beloved city of London as my favourite city because I feel it has some places which are very extraordinary such as Tate Modern when it comes to museums, The Barbican as my absolute favourite building. I like brutalist architecture and The Barbican is such a special and unique place, it must be wonderful to live there. Finally, I have had some of the best nights and food at Kiln, my favourite restaurant in Soho and I am so thankful to have experienced wonderful days at the casual The Elgin, my favourite cafe/pub and sometimes also work place in Maida Vale. Sorry, I did not manage to name just one ;).
Where and what is your favourite retreat spot?
Generally speaking it’s just getting outdoors and since we have the privilege to live in a location surrounded by beautiful nature in Austria I try to incorporate regular outdoor activities into my daily schedule. When we talk about my favourite retreat spot, then I also need to mention how much I love Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens for a walk or run. It’s magical and so relaxing and I especially love that it’s in the center of town and still it feels so far away from the hustle and bustle. To have Serpentine Lake and Serpentine Gallery inside makes it even more special. Another retreat spot is the sauna and even more so when me and my partner spend time in Finland, this is part of everyday life there and I enjoy it a lot, it’s very simple yet so relaxing.
What is your most favourite interior decoration item at home?
It’s a custom-made dining table which was designed by us and made by a wonderful local carpenter using exclusively local wood. I really love its minimalist design and even though it’s solid timber, you can’t see how heavy it is. Together with our old ZPM Radomski (a former Thonet factoy) chairs they create a very nice atmosphere. The chairs remind me on my former hometown Vienna and its lovely coffee houses.
Who are your top recommended designers?
I like brands that do things differently, brands that stand for premium quality and that cherish an independent and understated lifestyle, craftmanship and beautiful design. Honestly, I try to get rid of as many unnecessary clothes and items as possible and when I buy something, no matter what it is, it has to improve my everyday life somehow and I want to feel good about the purchase. This is also what I expect that our own products do for our customers. Our products are made to please the skin and senses in the best possible and natural way.
But to answer your question, an architect and interior designer whose work I appreciate a lot is Danielle Siggerud from Norway but there are many more out there who should also be mentioned here.
What is your favourite item in your wardrobe or cupboard?
An item which we like a lot from a label we discovered in Copenhagen is a lamp from Tom Rossau. It instantly adds a very cosy environment and it is beautiful craftmanship.
And as you probably already know, I like simplicity and minimalism and a brand that recently caught our attention was KleoCo. We have bought several items from this brand and really love their work. It’s simple, and timeless and of superior quality.