Talking Art and Science with Botaniq Founder Adelle Rodda
A qualified hair stylist with a bachelor of science and a diploma in formulation chemistry, Adelle Rodda - founder of hair care brand, Botaniq - is one of those rare talents who has seen and studied the hair industry from every angle.
From her learnings, and with a curious mind that favours the natural and sustainable, the New Zealand based Botaniq founder has built a hair care brand of purpose and care, sharing Bob’s ethos of natural ingredients and sustainable practices.
A go-to collection of products for Bob’s staff and clients alike, it’s as though Botaniq was created for Bob: natural ingredients that do not forego quality and effectiveness, sustainable, thoughtful packing, and beautiful design. An homage to simple, smart living, Botaniq is about more than just good hair; it’s about cutting through the crap and reducing the unnecessary.
Here, the intelligent and creative hair stylist-turned-science-graduate-turned-business-owner talks to us about her tipping point, why coconut oil is a powerful ingredient, and provides us with the perfect weekend itinerary in her city of Auckland in New Zealand.
After spending some time in conversation with Rodda, we’re pretty sure she doesn’t have a dominant side of the brain. Both right (linked to creativity) and left (linked to logic and science) sides of her brain are in fine form.
You're not only a hair stylist with 15 years' experience, you also have a bachelor of science and a diploma in formulation chemistry. Can you tell us a bit about what came first, and how this all intertwined to create Botaniq?
I started hairdressing when I was 17 and by 23 I was a busy stylist working in one of New Zealand's top salons as well as doing editorial work for magazines, designer look books and fashion shows. I felt like my 20’s was the right time to go to uni, so I did and I was fortunate enough to be able to continue hairdressing while I studied science.
After I finished my degree I took some time out from hairdressing and did some environmental consultancy work for an arts festival and science communication for a local initiative raising awareness about the impact of sea level rise due to climate change.
I found I was missing the creativity and people interaction of hairdressing so I started servicing clients again part-time. It was at this time I began to really look into the ingredients used in haircare. Traditional hair care is made predominantly from synthetic ingredients which are derived from petrochemicals (fossil fuel) and I was curious as to whether it was possible to make products (that worked) from only naturally-derived ingredients that were better for the environment and botaniq evolved from there.
“The hair industry hasn’t had the best environmental track record because of the chemicals and all that tinfoil. There just had to be a shift towards more sustainable alternatives and we are starting to see that happen in the mainstream now, which is fantastic.”
Adelle Rodda, Botaniq
What was your big 'aha' moment when working in the hair industry and realising that there must be a healthier, more sustainable way to looking after, colouring, and styling our hair?
For me, it was more a tipping point than an ‘aha’ moment. The hair industry hasn’t had the best environmental track record because of the chemicals and all that tinfoil. There just had to be a shift towards more sustainable alternatives and we are starting to see that happen in the mainstream now, which is fantastic.
Talk to us a little bit about your natural ingredients. What are your favourites and what are the benefits?
The first thing I look into when I create a product is ingredient efficacy. I spend a lot of time reading scientific literature on ingredients and hair care as well as the chemistry of hair itself. Coconut oil is an amazing example of a natural ingredient with proven benefits for hair. It’s the only natural oil that has been shown to penetrate inside the hair shaft and studies have found it can significantly reduce cuticle damage caused by washing, combing and styling, which is why it is a key ingredient in Elixir Lux.
There are some really innovative natural alternatives being produced through green chemistry that perform to the same high standard - if not better than - the traditional synthetics used in haircare (e.g., silicones, quats, PEGs). Botaniq products contain actives proven to protect against heat (including hot tools) and UV damage as well as enhance and maintain overall hair health, but they are made from only natural raw materials and are completely biodegradable.
Talk to us a little bit about the packaging both from a sustainability and quality control point of view?
Botaniq is packaged in amber glass because it’s infinitely recyclable and is currently the most environmentally friendly packaging option, it also protects our ingredients from UV light.
Unfortunately, there are currently no alternatives for plastic pumps and dispensing lids but our lids are made from recyclable plastic and we are currently working on a reuse initiative, which we are hoping to launch later in the year.
Our boxes are fully recyclable and biodegradable, and the stock has Forest Stewardship Council certification, which means it’s sourced from responsibly managed forests. It is also Heavy Metal and Elemental Chlorine Free. And by screen printing our branding directly onto our bottles, we avoid using labels and adhesives.
You live in New Zealand - where would you recommend our readers eat, drink, explore and shop for a trip to NZ?
My parents live in the Coromandel Peninsula so I’ve spent a lot of time exploring that part of NZ, it has the most beautiful beaches and native bush. It’s definitely worth a visit.
I live in Auckland and some great local places to eat are Little Bird for plant-based dishes, & Sushi for the prettiest and most delicious sushi and Gemmayze Street is incredible for dinner. For an amazing cocktail experience head to The Caretaker or for casual drinks Madame George is perfect. Ponsonby is a great area to shop for NZ designers.
Any books, podcasts, or businesses you are loving for health and sustainability?
What would be your number one tip for someone just starting to make more natural and sustainable changes at home?
Vote with your dollar, support businesses that share your environmental values.