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Andrea Horwood on motherhood, business, beauty and balance

Meet the inspiring woman behind cult wellness brand WelleCo

By Jenny Ringland

Entrepreneur, business owner, fine art devotee and mother of two teenage girls, Andrea Horwood is one of the most intriguing women you’re likely to meet. The CEO of WelleCo, the cult wellness brand known for its Superelixir Alkalising Greens, she co-founded with her famous friend and supermodel Elle MacPherson, has always been ahead of the curve. In 1999 – while her peers were still at uni – she launched Australian Style, an iconic fashion magazine (which she later sold to Lachlan Murdoch). She founded Invisible Zinc in 2004, which, as a natural sunscreen was years ahead of its time, is a contributing Vogue editor and sits on the board of The Art Gallery of Western Australia. As a businesswoman she’s quiet but firm (her childhood nickname is Mouse!), is fiercely private and always puts her family first. Here’s an insight into the world of Andrea Horwood.

You recently opened your first store in Soho, New York, what was that like?

It was actually an incredible, very moving experience for all of us. On our first day we had a customer day where we invited all of our customers in the New York local area and so many made the effort to come in. We had mothers bringing in children, we had women coming in telling us their stories about how the product has changed their health and their lives, and it was an incredibly moving and uplifting day, one I’ll remember for a long time.

I love how connected you are to Western Australia and your home town of Perth. Did you ever imagine that one day you would have a global business that has a store and an office on the opposite side of the world in New York?

That was one of my favorite things actually, on opening day we had these big screens up in store and we played vision of the West Australian coast as a way of saying, ‘this is where we’re from,’ I loved that. To be in a store in New York City and showing that contrast of the two locations. I think they’re the farthest points we could have chosen; Cottesloe to NYC!

You and Elle first met when she was on the cover of your magazine Australian Style, what’s your work dynamic like?

Elle’s a shareholder, a director and she’s a wonderful spokesperson and living example of the lifestyle we believe in. I think we both bring different attributes to the table that are valuable. Elle has the benefit of getting an overview from not being involved in the day to day business. She can see from our customers point of view, from a communications point of view and from that position of distance, she has a sense of clarity. Elle has a great commercial sense, so to have her input in that way is really valuable.

Andrea Horwood and her WelleCo co-founder Elle Macpherson in their Soho store

As a mother of young girls, I have always looked up to how you approach parenting and work life balance, what’s your secret?

Well, I’m not going to paint it as a picture of perfection, because I think sometimes we build up an image of our lives that makes it very difficult for a lot of women to feel adequate, and to feel like they’re coping. There’s usually some event or some drama that’s happened, like yesterday the dog escaped, the electrician arrived because a fuse had blown, the kids weren’t ready for school, lunches weren’t made and I had an early work call with the US. It felt like chaos! As far as the balance goes I get help when I need it on the things that I don’t feel are important – say if the garden is full of weeds, I’d rather be home and cooking dinner, and talking to my kids than worrying about the weeds. That applies on a larger scale too.

Do you keep work and home life separate? Is it possible?!

I try to manage my work time so when I’m with the kids it doesn’t cross over into their time. For example, I don’t have emails sent to my phone. I will check them during work hours and maybe if we have a lot going on I’ll check them at night after the kids have gone to bed on my laptop. You have to have strict boundaries and routine helps me keep creating that balance. But it’s ever changing and as I said, you learn and you have to self-correct all the time.

You talk about Welleco having a lifestyle that people believe in, what sets you apart as a wellness company?

Our whole philosophy is the body is designed to recognise nutrients from whole foods and to reject synthetics. All of our ingredients are plant based. We believe that even if you don’t have a balance where you perhaps are 90 per cent vegetarian supplementation should come from plant based-based sources. We source the best botanicals ethically and sustainably from around the world. For example, our turmeric with the highest percentage of curcumin comes from one source in India and wild seaweed from the pristine southern oceans of Australia.

What’s your beauty philosophy?

For me the number one thing is stress and avoiding stress. I think it affects your skin and hair can be an outward sign of how your body is coping with day to day life. From my personal experience, I always think that if I’ve got a crease in the middle of my forehead, rather than go and get Botox, I think, why am I frowning a lot? Why am I angry? Am I stressed? What am I? And I think those outward warning signs are quite valuable. Again it’s about finding that right balance, building that strength that you need to be a rational, reasonable, thoughtful person in the world, whether that’s in your professional life, as a mother, friend or daughter.

I know that you are a mentor to many people, and you’re very generous with your time. Do you have people you look to for advice and inspiration?

Working in my 20s and 30s and then into my 40s I wish I’d had a mentor, which is why I’m conscious of giving my time to others when I’m asked. I learned from making mistakes really. I don’t normally like to quote people, but one of my favorites that I always remind myself of, is Gore Vidal’s: ”The unfed mind devours itself.” For me, this is vital for growth and creativity – I feed myself through many different areas that are not related to business. So, whether it’s design, art, architecture or literature. I’m really interested in design and I’m inspired by a beautiful environment. I love my books, having fresh flowers in our home, cooking on weekends, gardening, fresh linen dried in the sun, whatever it may be. They’re usually quite simple things, but for me bigger ideas come from the world I like to be really connected to.

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