Greenhouse Pioneer: Anna Brightman, UpCircle Beauty

No good stuff should go to waste. We spoke to Anna Brightman, one half of the pioneering beauty company UpCircle, who take natural ingredients and give them a new lease of life in their organic skincare range. As they say, good for the world, good for you.

1. Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about UpCircle Beauty – what’s your mission? 

At UpCircle, we elevate leftover natural ingredients, bringing them back to life as beauty products your skin will love.

2. What drives you? 

We’re determined to make products that leave the planet better than we found it. We’ve made a name for ourselves as the skincare brand bringing the circular economy to the beauty industry.

3. What is your greatest achievement to date? 

Back in 2015, we had a thought: if we’re throwing away a cafetière of coffee grounds every morning, how much is wasted from coffee shops across London? A lot, as it turns out. So we decided to do something about it. Since launching we have saved more than 30 tonnes of coffee waste from landfill.

 4. What are the challenges you face?

We are changing people’s perceptions of what they consider as waste, which is a particularly challenging mission in the beauty industry. The zero-waste movement is really picking up momentum and people are eager to minimise their impact on the environment. However, convincing people to use unloved ingredients in their skincare regime can be tough. Fortunately, once we can communicate that the ingredients retain their quality, any resistance quickly falls away.

5. What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?

Saving used coffee grounds was a great starting point for our brand, but we’ve got a lot more than just coffee in our sights! At Christmas, we released a range of soaps made from residual chai spices used to brew chai tea, which are doing extremely well. We’re also working with hemp seed husks which are a by-product of hemp manufacture – so there’s lots going on!

6. Where do you want to take UpCircle Beauty next? 

Our intention is to keep on innovating. We’re in the exciting early development stages of looking into re-using of apricot stones and flowers left over from wedding venues. We believe people are looking to be more sustainable consumers and our vision is to be the trusted skincare brand known for circular economy in the beauty industry.

7. What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

Every little helps. Don’t feel like you need to singlehandedly turn the global plastic tap off in order to make an impact. Just being conscious and making small changes to your day-to-day life can make a big difference in the long run. 

8. How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?

Our idea came about after receiving a cafetière for Christmas. Fast forward two years and we’ve saved nearly 30 tonnes of coffee waste from landfill – and we are just a brother-sister duo! We do things differently and love sharing our ideas for making things better. We use our blog to share everything from DIY beauty recipes, waste-fighting tips, UpCircle guides and interviews with people and brands who inspire us.

9. Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers? 

15 pages into Sir Alan Sugar’s autobiography “What You See Is What You Get” he told the following story:

“As a young boy I watched road-maintenance men digging up the roads and re-laying them, discarding the tar-soaked timber beams that had formed the roads before. I took the beams, chopped them up and sold them to my local corner shop as firelighters.”

It was the concept of taking a product that would otherwise be discarded and transforming it into something valuable that stuck. Definitely a game-changer for us!

10. What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?

Massively into Tom Misch at the moment, perfect to sing along to in the kitchen in the evenings!

11. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Don’t feel obliged to take onboard everyone’s advice. No one knows your business, your personality or your life like you do, so trust your instinct. There’s no harm in listening, but you don’t have to take everyone’s advice and run with it!

12. Can you leave us with your Eco Hero? 

Far too many to choose from! We recently met Kresse Wesling, her brand Elvis & Kresse rescue raw materials, transforming them into luxury lifestyle accessories and donating 50% of profits back to charities. Definitely a worthy eco hero!

If you represent a consumer brand that is helping to build a more sustainable future and looking to increase its impact, get in touch and let’s team up in the fight against waste.