By Bridget Brady
MICHELLE Vogrinec’s son was just eight weeks old when he developed severe eczema.
Unimpressed with her doctor’s recommendation of cortisone to treat the rash, Mrs Vogrinec was inspired to create her own natural, organic product.
Mrs Vogrinec began producing her own herbal concoctions on her stove top to ease and soothe her son’s eczema naturally.
Five years later this concoction is now known as GAIA Natural Baby, and is available nationally through Coles supermarkets, Priceline, baby stores, chemists and health food shops.
GAIA Natural Baby is the first product to emerge from the now multi-national company GAIA Skin Naturals, which is achieving export success in more than 13 countries across Europe, Asia and the US.
Mrs Vogrinec’s husband, Simon, has joined the team as CEO of the company, which opened its international headquarters in Hallam earlier this year.
Mrs Vogrinec studied aromatherapy and completed a skin care blending course to be better informed and discover more possibilities for business.
“Through my study I was very shocked to learn that well-known products were using ingredients that are known to cause irritations,” she said.
Mrs Vogrinec’s aim is to produce products which are free from these ingredients.
Mrs Vogrinec explains one of the benefits of using organic products: “Simply put they are compatible with your body because they are natural,” she said.
“There are numerous products that are not safe, and some are in fact known skin irritants. That just doesn’t offer me a lot of comfort.”
Mrs Vogrinec said people are suffering from so many illnesses, and the use of chemicals in products is increasing.
“You look at that and say there has to be some sort of correlation.”
Mrs Vogrinec, former Australian Micro Business Woman of the Year, admits a product can take many months to tweak and perfect, but she said receiving feedback and witnessing good results makes the hard work worth while.
“I’m amazed at phone calls I receive from parents saying ‘thank you so much’.”
“They call in tears because previously they haven’t been able to find anything natural for their children’s skin.”
Mrs Vogrinec has even heard from three different parents that have named their babies Gaia.
Mrs Vogrinec has used practical means to create and advertise her products.
When GAIA Natural Baby was in its early stages, Mrs Vogrinec was pregnant with her second child, and visited around 90 pharmacies to seek any interested buyers.
She attends the Parents Baby and Children’s Expo each year to get feedback, but also to get talking to mums about their children’s skin, and what products they are using.
“I’m very active out there,” she said.
Local pharmacies were the first to get on board and support Mrs Vogrinec’s products, and she is proud to have set her business up locally, and wishes to remain in Hallam if she can.
“My children go to school in Emerald, they are very important to me and I want to be close to them when they need me.”
Mrs Vogrinec said her motivation is that there are so many people who are in need of her products.
“The passion drives you…and I’m glad that we’ve been able to help.”
By Bridget Brady