The art and science of feeling confident in your own skin
Interview with Lili Giglia , Founder of ESSENTIALLY LILI
After much persuasion from her husband that life in Switzerland was great and much safer for young families, Lili left her job in the UK, took their daughter out of British school and join her husband in Zurich in 2012.
Lili, a very successful financial analyst who worked for major corporations for almost two decades, little did she know that a new life in Switzerland’s fresh air, mountains and natural beauty was the be – ginning of her new found freedom. Originally from Australia, charismatic and compassionate, Lili had to find a solution to develop her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit while being the ‘Hausfrau’. This is her story, the story of the Magic Pot!
How did you end up emigrating to Switzerland?
In 1990, I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) Degree. I spent my 20s and 30s working for an Oil company in various departments from Card Services, Aviation, Gas, Exploration to Finance and Shipping. My roles were mainly focused on the finance and performance analysis, as well as maintaining thorough Customer Service for my clients, team leaders and business partners.
Whilst based in the UK, I met my husband, and together we began the relocation expedition with and for his employment. After marrying in 2004, we moved to Dubai where I joined a Logistics company. It was great being in Dubai when the ideas and plans for the Palms were merely drawings and model mock-ups.
We eventually moved for a short time to Basel Switzerland before I was offered an analysis role for a Shipping business based in Sunbury on Thames (UK), where we stayed for almost 2 years. Afterwards, we returned to Melbourne with the intention of being based there after having our first child, as I wanted to have family and friends around to support us. However, my husband wanted to return to the UK, so we departed in 2007 with our 9-month old daughter some 3 days after my sister got married. Whilst based in the UK, I returned to full time work in Exploration and Shipping. We also began renovating our home and recreating our garden.
We had our son in 2010 and I lived in the UK with the kids for a total of 5 years. My husband had moved to Zurich for a 3-year IT project, returning every other weekend. It was hard working full time and raising 2 young children without any family support.
What was the original inspiration behind Essentially Lili?
The inspiration for the commencement of my business was based on personal experience suffering with Eczema from 9 years of age. I spent every month being taken by my Dad to see the dermatologists in Melbourne, to find a varying strength of cortisone to help suppress the skin condition. After 10 years of attending specialist appointments, I frustratingly told my Dad I wasn’t going anymore! I felt like they were experimenting on me, taking photos of my hands and skin, guessing what was going to happen next.
In my teens, I took my share of antibiotics and the drug Roaccutane to help my skin, only to have a worse outcome. After several months of using these, I had a severe reaction from within which left me swollen, itching, weeping, bleeding and covered from head to thighs in Eczema. My insides were inflamed from the antibiotics, causing other issues with my body and skin. I stopped going to university for 2 months due to the hideous state I was in. I cried so much from the pain I was in and began my quest to find another solution to this terrible condition. When I was well enough, I returned to complete my Bachelor of Business (Accounting) Degree in 1990.
Someone suffering with skin conditions like Eczema can become self-conscious and often paranoid, that people are looking, criticising and judging their appearance. I know it happened to me as a child, and I was often isolated or left out, without friends. I believed those kids hadn’t seen it before, and thought I was contagious. Losing my self-confidence caused me to internalise and suppress my feelings, and I became quiet and shy around others, trying to hide behind loads of make-up and long hair. For me, it was horrible going through this during my youthful years, and I totally understand the emotional anguish when someone explains how Acne, Psoriasis, Rosacea and Eczema makes them feel.
What finally led you to start your business?
There’s nothing wrong with being a housewife and taking care of your children. But what I missed the most was having my own income and being independent. I had been working and travelling for over 17 years before arriving in Switzerland. For me, who wasn’t used to being at home all the time, this was the hardest thing to get used to, especially with my employment history and experience.
When I was looking for ‘what to do with myself whilst living in Zurich’ options, I considered becoming a Brand representative, selling another company’s skincare products. Unfortunately, there was the ‘conflict of interest’ clause which I fell into when looking at the small print of their contract. I didn’t want to be dishonest with myself or my customers, selling products that I would never personally use myself.
As I had already found a combination of solutions for healthy looking skin, I wanted to share this with others. Perhaps many people can use the products purchased over the Beauty counter, or from the supermarket and chemists. However, there were lots of people like me who would react badly to the unnaturally sourced ingredients contained in these products, making us unable to use them without some sort of discomfort.
At the end of March 2015, I attended the Women’s Expo in Zurich and spent my time being inspired, making enquiries, and collecting information. A week later I decided to ditch the idea of being a brand ambassador for someone else and make my own brand instead; with the promise it would only contain 100% natural ingredients. I had been making my own face balm for years, which had kept my skin not only nourished but Eczema free.
I created a small sample batch of this product, I went to a Women’s breakfast group and distributed them with my little handmade information sheets and business cards. I awaited patiently for feedback to see what they thought of the sample.
About a month later, a lady who had been suffering with Rosacea for years messaged and asked to meet me, saying ‘Where can I get more of that pot of magic?’ She told me her story, how much money she had spent buying varying kinds of cosmetics, commercial and pharmaceutical products to help resolve her skin issues. Frustratingly, nothing seemed to work for her until she tried my Nourishing Face Balm.
She had used the sample and needed to get more, the first product in years which had calmed, soothed, and help restore that dry, itchy redness that was hiding underneath her make-up. Here was another woman like me, who had tried to hide under thick foundation, looking for the solution in products that only made the skin condition worse. She also told that all these years, she was getting up at 5am to start her makeup routine of hiding her face which was covered in Rosacea.
Now with my product, she was applying much less to her skin. I decided to stop wearing foundation altogether as I could confidently apply my skincare products directly to my face and I haven’t worn any again since 2015! I found all my commercial brand makeup, foundations, lipsticks, some of which hadn’t been opened but were expired and containing parabens, and I threw the whole lot out. It was worth a lot of money, but my skin felt wonderful without it.
I believed this was my new path, a quest to help others feel confident about themselves within their own beauty, whilst being able to take care of themselves in a holistic way.
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