Founder Profile: Radmila Juristovski Bosnic + Ada Juristovski, Creators of Nala - Vancouver
Hi Mila and Ada! Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
We are Radmila Juristovski Bosnic (Mila) and Ada Juristovski, the mother & daughter duo behind Nala.
Nala is a Vancouver-based skincare company creating innovative products free from any known carcinogens.
By providing education around ingredients in our everyday products and creating beautiful, safe, and effective solutions we hope to tackle our mission question: how can we shift our consumer choices to eliminate the absorption of carcinogens?
What are your backgrounds (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
Mila: I’m a biotech engineer, entrepreneur, and a mother of two. For most of my career I worked in local biotech companies (e.g. QLT) focusing on new drug development, quality and regulatory affairs. I got my MBA in management of technology in Biotech from SFU and a Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Pharmaceutical Engineering from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia.
I’ve served as an executive (VP of Sales and Marketing) and a key member of the Vancouver startup Metroleap Media Inc. (known as metrolyrics.com, and co-founded by Alan Juristovski).
Ada: I’m a business graduate from UBC Sauder School of Business specializing in Marketing. My career has revolved around building customer-centric teams at startups of various stages including the aforementioned metrolyrics and Hootsuite, two Vancouver companies. I’m currently at SAP leading a Customer Success team during the day, and fulfilling my Nala responsibilities at night.
What led you to begin Nala?
Nala started from a personal story which is unfortunate but not uncommon. In 2013 we lost Alan - Mila’s husband & Ada’s father - to cancer. The pain, grief and disappointment in cancer industry was overwhelming and left us feeling helpless and wondering if there was something we could do to prevent this suffering on anyone else.
The number of cancer incidents has skyrocketed over the past 100 years from the incident rate of one in twelve to the current estimated rate of one in two/three. As per the National Cancer Institute (NCI), cancer affects 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in the United States, and the number of new cases of cancer at the current rate are set to nearly double by the year 2050. This means that every single of us is if not directly than indirectly affected by cancer.
We say this without wanting to scare - in fact we’re conscious of not using any scare tactics in our communication. Rather, we realised that we needed to take charge of our own health, advocate deep self care, and promote cancer prevention.
It is our right to protect ourselves and those we love and deeply care about.
Why did you want to create natural deodorant?
There is growing concern, supported by scientific evidence, that certain compounds in deodorants are potential endocrine disruptors that could cause developmental and reproductive issues as well as cancer. Key ingredients of concern include parabens, phthalates, and aluminum.
Research shows that some of the compounds used in antiperspirants can make their way past the epidermis directly into the bloodstream or get stored in fat cells in the underarm areas.
Aluminum, typically found in antiperspirants, can cause ‘gene instability’ and thus the changes that promote the growth of cancer cells in breast tissue.
While regulatory bodies (such as the FDA and National Cancer Institute) and the pharmaceutical industry argue that more evidence is needed to link chemicals to the rise of cancer, the existing evidence suggests that the long-term low-dose exposure of environmental chemicals such as parabens does in fact cause cancer.
We saw an opportunity to modernize the natural organic skincare industry by offering the products that are not only organic and clean of any harmful chemicals but also tested to a high quality standards.
What was your process of formulating your Nala products?
We spent lots of time carefully selecting and handpicking each single ingredient as well as formulating and developing an optimum manufacturing process. We made sure that every single ingredient is safe and free of harmful chemicals and sourced from reliable suppliers who follow high quality standards and good manufacturing practice.
All our products combine the best available ingredients, sourced worldwide, and manufactured by cutting-edge green technology, such as supercritical fluid extraction by carbon dioxide (CO2). We are collaborating with many local and international experts and organizations (such as SFU 4D Labs) in an effort to innovate and modernise a rapidly growing natural products industry and expedite the development of safe and potent skincare products consumers can trust.
To ensure our products really work, Nala’s products have been tested on family and friends (never on animals!) who continue to provide invaluable feedback.
To this day, our customer’s feedback shapes both current and future products, so please do share with entrepreneurs - it helps make the products you love.
Do you plan on making other natural products within your brand?
Definitely! Stay tuned ;)
As a newer brand, how did you go about getting collaborations and wholesale accounts?
Funnily enough, the most critical step in finding partners happened before our physical product was even complete. By spending so much time focused on our values, it became easier to identify brands with similar values. It also makes it easier to say no when a fit wasn’t just right. Initially we reached out to a few companies we had hoped to work with, and soon we found amazing companies reaching out to us.
How do you connect with your customers and community?
We engage in daily conversation with our customers whether through social media, via e-mail, or in person. We deeply care about every single customer and we will go above and beyond to create products that people truly love.
Why do you think it's important to shop small and support local?
It’s the one easiest thing you could do to build a community of creativity, diversity, and prosperity. By shopping local we know where it comes from and it is made in small batches and fresh. Plus, when you buy a local you know that a real person is doing a happy dance.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
The feeling that we are doing something for the greater good combined with the challenge of doing something innovative disrupting the mainstream cosmetic industry.
When we get a great review or feedback from our customers it’s what fuels us and makes us do what we do.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with your work?
Natural deodorants are very challenging to make since as many people expect the same performance as the performance they see with antiperspirant. There’s a large education component in that natural deodorants are not antiperspirant and as such will not, and should not , prevent one from sweating. They will however neutralize the smell, keep you fresh, and help your body to self-regulate sweating.
Because of this belief there is a misperception that natural deodorants don’t work. The challenge then becomes how do we make a product that is potent and efficacious without using any chemicals given a limited supply of good quality organic/natural ingredients that fully meet Nala’s free from quality standards.
That being said, we love a good challenge ;)
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
We are more powerful than we often realise. There is power in our natural instinct to love and create harmony. There is power in how we carry ourselves. There is power in our sheer strength and resilience but also in our softness and sensitivity. Sometimes we need to remind each other that our power is there because when we tap into it, beautiful things can happen.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in physics followed by another in chemistry, Arianna Huffington who has built a media empire after immigrating from Greece, and the unsung genius of Mileva Einstein. To this day, scholars debate how much of Einstein’s work could be contributed to Mileva’s brilliance in math, in physics, and in their intellectual relationship.
What have you learned from your experiences that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
Opportunities take shape in unexpected forms and the best thing you can do is keep an open mind as to where your next opportunity will come from.
Similarly, it’s okay to say no to opportunities that don’t feel right. You don’t need to say yes to everything.
Remember to enjoy yourself. When we get too caught up in our own stress we remind ourselves why we do what we do and that we are the main determinants into the energy that brings us
How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?
Ada: I’ll post a fire selfie and let the hits of dopamine soothe my troubled soul.
Jokes aside, I’m a big reflector and my outlet of choice is journaling. When I’m feeling particularly broody I’ll take pen to paper and let my stream of conscious guide me to the root of my woes. It helps me dig past the surface emotion and self evaluate, but also be honest with myself. Usually this means to be kinder to myself.
Then I’ll be conscious to remember to write when I’m happy as well, perhaps even more importantly so.
Mila: I remind myself of one of my favorite quotes by Nelson Mandela : “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …. And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
Mila: I’m fascinated by bioenergy healing and am constantly exploring various modules of healing. I would love to learn another language (Italian or Spanish) and to ballroom dance.
Ada: I’m a big believer in forever learning. For me right now it’s Google Analytics, forearm stand, and to echo the language desires, I’m in a drawn out but determined pursuit to learn Spanish.
What are some of your favorite places in Vancouver?
For books new and loved - Massy Books
For a mean americano and an underrated croissant - Gene Coffee
For a sweat session - Lagree West, All City Athletics, and One Hour Hot Yoga Yaletown.
And always the trials and the mountains and the ocean.