Alanna and Madeleine are the two incredible women behind The Ayu, a range of Ayurvedic inspired perfume, home fragrance and beauty products.
Sourced globally and hand blended locally, Ayu's scented oils are made and measured with the ancient art of perfume, combined with the knowledge of balancing the mind, body and spirit.
In this Q&A we chat to Alanna and Madeleine about the importance of integrity, accepting what is just not meant to be and their passion for travel and the cultures, people and experiences you have along the way.
Q1: In your own words, please tell us what you do and how it came to be…
Alanna: We create Ayurvedic inspired perfume, home fragrance and beauty products, inspired by Madeleine and my own collective studies in Ayurvedic medicine. A few years ago now, on a trip to India together we were talking about how we could incorporate our studies into something other than a traditional practice set up, as it wasn’t such a common place practice for people to refer to for wellness or illness at the time.
We were in awe of all of the beautiful traditional perfume distilleries we came across over in India and had been playing around with mixing our perfumes for a little while. We’d learnt about the importance and affect of scent on the mood and general wellbeing, especially form an Ayurvedic sense and began to explore this further. Souq was our first born scent and we knew we were onto something when people would stop us in the street asking what we were wearing.
Ayu has been built organically from there into the range it is today.
Q2: What inspired the beginning of Ayu? Was your current business always on the cards or did you have other dreams growing up?
Madeleine: Growing up all I wanted to be was an artist. Later in life I became engrossed in Ayurveda. I always wanted to have my own Ayurvedic clinic, I wanted to open it up to other modalities of healing including Yoga and Ayurvedic cooking, Massage and Hydro Colonic Therapy.
I never dreamed that my Ayurvedic journey would land me here. Ayu was inspired by our love of travel, and we always knew Ayurveda would be incorporated. Ayu was a natural evolution and we both never dreamed it would become a full time job.
Q3: Can you share with us how you are creating a point of difference in the perfume game?
Alanna: Our perfume oils are all blended in a base of jojoba oil, which act as an emollient and is super nourishing to the skin. We also blend our perfumes in a base of Ayurvedic herbs that are known to ground and calm.
In place of alcohol, we use sandalwood which acts as a natural fixative and helps to retain the scent on the skin for a longer period of time
Q4: We’re noticing more and more brands and businesses are creating purposefully, including Ayu! Do you believe it is important to have a message behind what you do, and if so, what is this to you?
Madeleine: I believe that it is important to have integrity. Business can be ruthless but if you want to sleep at night and be 100% proud of your product "creating purposefully" is key.
Our beliefs are super important to us and like minded people are drawn to our ethos. It seems that creating in this way is better for the environment, and people can feel your heart and soul has been poured into your product
Q5: Did you study or are you self-taught?
Alanna: Both Madeleine and I have studied Ayurvedic medicine and we’ve dabbled in short perfume courses, but it's mostly been a journey of beautiful mistakes and learning along the way.
Q6: When difficult times arise in business and life, what tools have you gained to help you through these times and what you have learnt from these challenges?
Madeleine: Many times in our experience when we have road blocks etc, we know that it is just not meant to be, so we never worry about these things and know that the universe has another plan. Working with this thought in mind takes the stress out of those kinds of situations.
Q7: We find it so important to have a strong support network in both business and in life. Who is in your support network?
Alanna: Family has always been a support network, believing in what we were doing from the start. Both of our husbands help us out so much as well (we know we push it sometimes).
Our friends are a beautiful bunch and have been supportive from day dot, being the first to order our product when we first went live, getting excited when they see our product in magazines and continuing to support us now.
On another note I do have to mention that, hand on my heart, I can honestly say I couldn’t find a better business partner and close friend in Madeleine. It’s such an easy partnership and we have this incredible synergy I can’t really put into words.
Q8: What or who is inspiring you at the moment?
Madeleine: I'm feeling so inspired by our community especially during the bushfires, and now through this quarantine situation, witnessing so many random acts of kindness and people taking the time to help each other is really inspiring.
Q9: How do you practice self-care? Do you find this essential in running a successful business?
Alanna: Spending time alone really does it for me in terms of refreshing and recharging my body and brain. I love running on the beach, doing yoga and pilates, taking dance classes and getting lost in books.
There’s a few Ayurvedic practices that I like to do daily, including self-massage with a warm oil which is like giving yourself a massive hug!
Q10: It’s safe to say all businesses are going through challenging times right now. Can you share with us what aspects of your business you are needing to pivot and how you are innovating?
Madeleine: It's so heartbreaking to see so many people affected at the moment and we too have taken a hit. We have such loyal customers who are stepping up to support us. We are continuing to work on all the projects we had in place.
We have decided to keep them going so that we can keep our brand fresh and relevant. There's a lot of behind the scenes work going on trying to continually keep our brand awareness up. This has become a big focus for us.
Q11: What are you passionate about?
Alanna: I can confidently speak here for both Madeleine and I that we both love traveling (preferably together). It’s where we find most inspiration for Ayu and nothing compares to the cultures, people and experiences you have along the way.
We’re also very passionate about creating scents and luckily can work on this full time as a job - I still have to remind myself it’s work sometimes!
Q12: What are your top 3 superpowers?
Madeleine: I am good at multitasking, being a mother of 3 children (being a mother automatically gives you superpowers) and synergy with Alanna.
Q13: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
Alanna: Follow your own path, find your own passion and believe in it.
Q14: One last thing... share with us a quirky fact about yourself! Something that people might not know about you?
Madeleine: I can play the ukulele.