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EPISODE #24

Half’n’half: the Welsh founder of a world-leading luxury skincare brand

Georgie Cleeve
  • Born and bred in Monmouthshire
  • London & Monmouth
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Georgie Cleeve grew up in Raglan, Monmouthshire, and went to school in Newport, daughter of a successful entrepreneur and professional skier. Like many young people in Wales, Georgie left at 18 first in pursuit of education and then career opportunities. In Georgie’s case a career in journalism meant one thing, a move to London.

Despite being away for almost 20 years, Georgie’s roots remained firmly back home in Wales, and her journey to become founder and CEO of one of the world’s (and Wales’) most high-end beauty brands lead her back home…

I absolutely adored my childhood in Wales but it was almost the norm that you would leave at 18 and possibly never return. Fortunately for me I’ve been able to have the best of both worlds…

My journey with Oskia, really, started as a teenager. Like many 15-year-olds I suffered with acne and rosacea. Not like many teenagers though, I also had a skiing accident which resulted in irreparable damage to the cartilage in my knee.

Doctors told me that there was no quick fix for me. I was doomed to a long journey of physio and surgery which could take years, or so I thought.

Down in the dumps, one day my father who owned and ran Natural Animal Feeds, a company  specialising in nutritional animal supplements, suggested to me that I tried one of his horse supplements containing MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) for my knee. He’d seen the transformational effects these drugs had had on animals, so why not try it on me?

"I absolutely adored my childhood in Wales but it was almost the norm that you would leave at 18 and possibly never return. Fortunately for me I’ve been able to have the best of both worlds."

Some gentle persuasion, coupled with my morbid curiosity, convinced me to give it a go. Within months my skin had cleared up and my knee was on the mend. This miracle sparked something in me, something I knew I would come back to later.

So at 18, I headed off to Edinburgh to study and then onto London. After a career travelling the world and writing for Conde Naste, in 2009, it was time for me to move onto something new. It was time to go back to the start.

Inspired by my father’s entrepreneurial spirit, the places I’d been and my faith in the people and science behind our MSM discovery all those years ago, myself and my husband George (an English-Scot, that’s never been to Scotland!), look the plunge and founded Oskia, London.

"Oskia was born in London but I always knew I’d want to return to Wales somehow, someday. So, of course, we set up our laboratory and factory back home in Monmouth and myself, George and our family shortly followed."

Georgie Cleeve [credit: Space NK]

I believe there’s definitely something in us Welsh that makes us hungry entrepreneurs. Perhaps it’s the passion or the ability to give things a go, and take risks, that seems to be innate within us. My Dad is one and I am too.

I was utterly determined to create a high-end luxury beauty brand that was led purely by science and nutrition with myself as a walking case study for its effects – so we did and we were one of the first companies to do this.

Oskia was born in London but I always knew I’d want to return to Wales someday, somehow. So, of course, we set up our laboratory and factory back home in Monmouth and myself, George and our family shortly followed.

The Oskia brand has always been about quality, innovative products with strong family values at the centre of what we do so having a presence in Wales and creating jobs there is key to this.

"I believe there’s definitely something in us Welsh that makes us hungry entrepreneurs. Perhaps it’s the passion or the ability to give things a go, and take risks, that seems to be innate within us. My Dad is one and I am one too."

Fast forward to today and you can find our products on shelves all over the world, available through leading retailers (Space NK, Cult Beauty, Barney’s, Selfridge’s) in 14 countries including Japan, the United States, France, Denmark, Sweden, France and Spain.

We now employ over 20 people across the London and Wales offices. Recruiting the talent we needed in Wales was easy and we have some of the best people working for us - all with the added bonus of living and working in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.

Though not so much lately (for obvious reasons) I now split my time between Wales and London – the ‘half’n’half’ life suits us and the business really well and I love my time back in Wales creating incredible products with incredible people and making real differences to people’s skin health.

"Fast forward to today and you can find our products on shelves all over the world, available through leading retailers in 14 countries including Japan, the United States, France, Denmark, Sweden, France and Spain."

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