“Take care of yourself”. It’s a phrase we often use when we see our loved ones stressed out, stretched thin in their careers, or living an unhealthy lifestyle. Nala’s Founders, mother and daughter duo Mila and Ada, have formulated a product with the goal of helping everyone take better care of their bodies - a natural deodorant made without parabens, phthalates and aluminum.
The inspiration for Nala came from the passing of Mila’s husband and Ada’s father Alan Juristovski. He had passed from cancer in 2013, and Nala is the family’s way of celebrating his passion for life and business and to create something positive out of their grief.
“Quite literally, Nala is Alan spelt backwards - he’s the spark and the life force behind everything we do. His character was larger than life and his sheer excitement for business, innovation, and life carries us through the journey. The pain of losing Alan to cancer and the feeling of failing to help him, compounded with the disappointment in the cancer industry was overwhelming. We wanted to channel our pain on our grief into something creative, something that would help other people avoid the pain we were feeling. We realised it is really up to all of us to start taking better care of our bodies and do our share in mitigating that sense of pain and loss.”
They knew they wanted to help people take better care of their bodies, so they took it upon themselves to test every single deodorant on the market, and saw there there was room to add value in the natural deodorant market. The product is challenging to formulate because it is tough to manufacture without chemical ingredients such as parabens, phthalates and aluminum, ingredients typically found in deodorants. Users have also become increasingly concerned with the chemicals used in deodorants, which have been said to cause developmental and reproductive issues as well as cancer.
This was the challenge Mila and Ada decided to take on.
“No one seems to have been able to ‘crack the code’ and make a 100% natural deodorant that is high quality, effective, and gentle for the skin at the same time.
We saw an opportunity to modernize the natural organic skincare industry by offering the products that are not only organic and clean of any harmful chemicals but also potent and effective.”
As with all businesses in its early stages, there’s a huge learning curve, and there were a few key lessons with product development and marketing that the team picked up through their journey.
If you want men to adopt, it’s got to be a stick. Our original formula was a cream formula that required applying the deodorant with your fingers. While most women were open to it, an equal amount of men were not. We knew if we wanted widespread adoption it had to appeal to the masses.
Brand matters. We spent a lot of time thinking about our values and our “why”. We knew it was going to be critical in setting us apart, but also in guiding every single decision we make. We have lofty goals to really shake up the cancer industry, but unless we are really clear on our guiding principles it becomes too easy to resort to a reactive vs proactive mode.
Design matters. In as much as we focused on brand, we knew enough to know that design wasn’t a skill in either of our repertoires. Investing in a great team of designers to help us signal to the world our mission and our quality via our packaging was instrumental to early adoption. Our initial logo was created via 99designs and our agency found it so offensive (the design, but also they said it looked a bit phallic!) they insisted they build us a new one.
While the deodorant industry was something entirely new to the team, their fresh perspective took them on an innovative path for product development, packaging design through to distribution - and they absorbed every lesson in stride.
As the business has grown, the mother and daughter team continues to keep their brand standards a high priority, dedicated to delivering products that serve a purpose and address pain points. The question they use as a litmus test is: “Are our products fulfilling a need or a gap in the market, or are we creating “just another product” to sit in your bathroom cabinet?”
Mila’s training as a biotech engineer with over 20 years of experience in new drug development is a key component in product development to add to Nala’s value proposition. The team spends lots of time handpicking and sourcing worldwide for every single ingredient that goes into Nala’s formulation. A lengthy list of must-haves for every single ingredient helps to ensure Nala products truly contribute to a healthier you.
“Every single ingredient has to be free-from all known carcinogens, aluminum, phthalates, parabens, petroleum, and cruelty. We source organic where possible and natural or naturally derived using green technologies, such as supercritical fluid extraction by carbon dioxide (CO2) . We also ensured that every single ingredient is from reputable suppliers who test their products to high quality standards and provide relevant quality and regulatory documentation.”
Shaking up any industry with a new product usually comes with an extensive educational period, and the team is fully prepared to take this on, with a dedicated section on their website and blog to educate their users and prospective users on how to transition from chemical deodorants to natural deodorants. Nala sees their offerings as self-care tools that embody the airplane safety tip to “put on your own oxygen mask on first”, and their explanation for this is “if you’re not taking the energy to care of yourself, you will be depleted long before you go to help those around you. Conversely, by taking care of yourself, you are doing your part in ensuring you will be around for your loved ones.”
The Nala brand wants you to realize that investing in yourself is an important way to show our love for our loved ones, by leading a healthier, and hopefully longer life with more time to spend with each other.
In closing, the Nala team shared their 6 essential elements to launching a successful business.
Trust your intuition. On when to start, on when to go full in, and on when to pull out (if necessary).
Trust your partner and people you closely work with.
When it gets too stressful, remember why you’re doing it and that it’s your business. You get to conduct it how you want to. You get to decide how much fun you’re having. When it stops being fun it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the kind of environment you want to create.
Take care of the people that help you. Dinners, perks, immense gratitude, and of course, fair wages.
Don’t be afraid to write your own rules. We’ve been known to start our meetings with a quick Goddess card pull as a fun way to set an intention and remind us of the big picture.
Don’t be afraid to say no. We say it a lot.
We want to thank the Nala team for sharing their business story with us and our readers to inspire us to create products and brands that are both profitable and do good for each and every user. To learn more about Nala Care, visit their website here.