Catherine Cervasio

Catherine Cervasio
Catherine Cervasio is an inspiring and dedicated business woman and mother. In 1994 Catherine was pregnant and began her business 'Aromababy' which has now succeeded into an international business. 'Aromababy' produces a gentle natural organic and Aroma-Free skin care for babies, the idea arising while Catherine was pregnant with her first son; she was the first to develop such an idea, but others have soon followed, not having the same multi-million dollar achievement as her. Catherine Cervasio has balanced her family and business for over 13 years and most recently developed 'PureSpa'.

All 'Aromababy' and 'PureSpa' products are developed by Catherine Cervasio who is not only a mother but an aroma-therapist and infant massage instructor who has been working in the skincare industry for a long time. 'Aromababy' skin care contains no petro-chemicals, added colour (artificial or otherwise), artificial fragrance, animal ingredients, alcohol and many more unnatural products that are not suitable for baby care. However natural vegetable oils have also been left out of products as they have been linked to skin irritation. The products are all created for the user and developed to cleanse, moisturise and protect while pampering a babies skin and the mothers changing body through pregnancy and also afterwards.

'Aromababy' is sold in all states of Australia as well as Belgium, Dubai, Finland, Holland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Taiwan, UK and the USA. 'Aromababy' products are being used in hospitals as well as in homes.

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Catherine Cervasio Interview

Did you know that skin care and beauty was your thing from a young age or did it develop over time?

Catherine Cervasio:Absolutely I knew from a young age - I was mixing natural, fresh ingredients in the kitchen for face masks at twelve! In my twenties I talked my then-employer (I was working for an upmarket lifestyle magazine/publisher) into allowing me to compile the beauty pages for Tempo magazine. This was great experience in handling and reviewing all aspects of the beauty products that were submitted for inclusion - how did the product perform, how was it packaged, what were the key selling points and so on. I was interested in health & nutrition in a big way - I remember buying a book called The Vitamin Bible and reading it cover to cover many times. Later in my twenties I worked for another organisation and was developing product for Australian fashion retailers. Here I worked on the first Sportsgirl bodycare range. I recall watching a batch of natural soap being mixed in huge vat and telling the manufacturer exactly how much lavender flowers to put in, so that the soap's consistency looked absolutely perfect. These soaps were made into mini bars and wrapped with gorgeous cotton fabrics, handpicked to match the latest fashion trends. I still find the entire research, formulation and manufacturing side fascinating, which is why I guess, there is so much detail and thus, point of difference, in the products we produce.

What do PureSpa and Aromababy do?

Catherine Cervasio: Pure Spa provides a small range of high quality, natural & organic-rich products for baby, with 99% organic content in our massage oil. That's more 'certified organic' content than any similarly priced baby oil. We are in the process of developing a womens @ home spa line and a small men's collection. We actually formulated our Pure Spa Men's Organic Face Crème early so it could be provided to the likes of George Clooney & Leonardo DiCaprio at an exclusive LA function last year.

Aromababy was a world-first in the field of research-based, natural & organic-focused mum & baby care. Uniquely it was launched into hospitals as well as the retail sector more than twelve years ago. It is a comprehensive range of luxurious, yet affordable products which offers peace of mind and a more 'clinical' or 'serious' approach which infiltrate all aspects of the business - from ingredients chosen to the production and marketing strategies (for example, as responsible manufacturers and based on research, we promote the use of water *first *for newborns).

Aromababy enjoys positioning at the top end of the market and offers diverse appeal - whilst fitting nicely into a number of more regular markets - maternity hospitals, pharmacy, baby boutique, department store (we were recently part of the Myer goes to New York promo), yet also to select resorts around the world which cost up to US$5000 per night. As a highly 'organic' and natural brand, Aromababy also is proud to be sold through leading organic stores including for example, the Macro Wholefoods chain in Australia.

The Aromababy concept also includes pure, certified organic cotton babywear and gorgeous gifts.

Why do you recommend your brand to mothers and mothers-to-be for them and their children?

Catherine Cervasio: As a mother myself, and with a long history of experience in my industry - spent both researching as well as formulating, I believe the products we produce are both ethically responsible and importantly they deliver what they promise. At ALUXE (our Company) it's not about selling actual product at any cost, it has more to do with creating a brand that is recognised and trusted around the world as a leader in its field.

How long have you been in the skin care industry?

Catherine Cervasio: Close to twenty years.

How do you run a successful business and still have time for your children?

Catherine Cervasio: With great difficulty. I actually have always worked some of the time from a home-office, have kept my two beautiful boys close during their pre-school years (even breastfeeding my youngest for two years including in between overseas trips without him). My sons are very much a part of my business and I take the time to involve them in what's going on. They celebrate the successes and understand when there are challenges, particularly my oldest son who has just turned 14. They both understand that if "mummy works hard", we all get the rewards. We always take time out together - whether it's a vacation overseas or a night in at home with a movie and popcorn.

You have two boys? One aged 14 and the other aged?

Catherine Cervasio: My little guy Jacob is 7. Parenting is full-on. I don't have family living close by so it can be really difficult working around the children. My older son Beau has training for footy or athletics six days a week; both boys compete in athletics and their father lives overseas most of the time - it's not easy!

What lessons have you learnt through developing your own world-wide business and starting a family?

Catherine Cervasio: Family comes first - but you CAN do both; have a successful business and a great relationship with your children. I've just completed an 8 week certificate course on Parent Effectiveness Training - it's a way of focusing on and contribution to my family. It also demonstrates to my children that it's great to continue learning throughout your life. They deserve me to be the best parent I can be.

What education do you have? Do you believe it helped get you to where you are today?

Catherine Cervasio: Actually I left school far too early - at around fifteen. I was keen to get into the workforce and did well at school so had no difficulty being employed. I quickly became involved in fashion & beauty and never looked back. I believe I have definitely had challenges that, had I stayed on at school beyond year ten, I may have otherwise avoided - but on the other hand I gained fabulous life skills that you cannot learn at uni. Infact, I was invited to present on Export to MBA students at Melbourne University last year - not bad!

Did you know that your idea was going to be huge?

Catherine Cervasio: Yes .. I had a global vision from the beginning. I was determined to research the market globally and focus on the benefits for the end user - the babies. I have a keen interest in neonatal health and dermatology in particular. I chose TGA manufacturing facilities from the beginning which is rather unusual in our industry. This adds to the manufacturing cost but ensures the highest level of quality control and testing is followed throughout the manufacturing process. I believe it's a far more professional environment if you want to play on a world scale.

Catherine Cervasio: I have become very particular about which overseas trips I do. I try to keep my trips short. I choose only the trips that will add the most value to my business or which I can leverage off easily and are most relevant to where the business is heading. When I'm able, I take the children along with me.

You in such demand, to speak at functions etc; how do you stay grounded?

Catherine Cervasio: The engaging with others who value your experience and want to learn from you IS grounding! There is a wonderful feeling of "giving back" when you are asked to present to others in business, uni students, women in business and so forth. Sometimes there are queues of people waiting to speak to me after an event. It's very humbling that they only want to 'thank' you for being so inspirational. I find it very rewarding. I've taken my children to some of the presentations too - it's a great experience for your children to see how much your contribution is valued.

You have trained as an Infant Massage Instructor and this is offered through your companies, explain what it is and why it is important to Infants?

Catherine Cervasio: Touch is fundamental to our lives. Touch is nurturing and can support bonding. It is a wonderful tool to use when babies have been born premature and can help to aid digestion, encourage weight gain and induce better quality of sleep. But most importantly it's something we're all capable of. It's not so much the 'technique' but the 'touch' itself. I'm very passionate about babies and children. I found the Infant Massage Instructor training really amazing and a great addition to my work in this important field.

What is the most important thing for you in regards to beauty?

Catherine Cervasio: Keeping it simple. Natural. I mean really natural. In my view, many companies concoct products for babies that contain dozens of ingredients that are simply unnecessary. As with our babycare, I like to keep my own skincare & beauty routine simple - beautiful, organic ingredients (fresh where possible) and use my own products because I know exactly what's in them. Our Nappy Cream is my make up remover. Our Hair Cleanse is my shampoo and so on.

What is the worst product in mainstream skin care?

Catherine Cervasio: Hmmm there are too many to mention but one big gripe I have is the promotion of mineral oil/paraffin oil as baby massage oil. Another would be the misleading promotion of products that contain what appears to be a long list of organic ingredients - usually only the essential oils or herbal extracts which in total commonly amount to one or two percent (or, in the case of essential oils in a baby product, less than .5% or half a percent) of the total product yet the product is promoted as 'organic'. If only the essential oils in a product are organic, in a baby product this would mean that 99.75% of the product is NOT organic. Herbal extracts are commonly in a base of alcohol or propylene glycol, neither of which needs to be disclosed on the product label, so we avoid herbal extracts.

When you do get some spare time what do you enjoy doing to relax?

Catherine Cervasio: I love cooking, so having friends over for an intimate dinner party is a great way to unwind for me. I have a beautiful new partner. He has two children so together we have four. We spend about 50% of the time all together now and although it can be a little chaotic at times, this is probably when I feel most relaxed. And if I'm really lucky, an overnight business trip includes a manicure, pedicure, hour-long bath and a couple of overseas fashion magazines all squeezed in!

What's next for you?

Catherine Cervasio: Late 2008 sees the launch of another brand for us. Our penetration into USA is going well and all other markets are growing steadily. We are about to launch in Malaysia and Macau. We have more celebrity events coming up which are always fun. All very exciting. I'm at the end of a three-year long, messy divorce. It has reinforced my commitment to ensuring a work/life balance.