Lust for life: Coast mum’s war on toxic cosmetics
By Sunshine Coast Daily Editor Nicky Moffat
BREASTFEEDING a baby while managing staff and replying to customer emails may not be everyone’s dream, but for Stacey Hollands it’s perfect.
Stacey says her company Lust Mineral Cosmetics is growing rapidly as word gets out that its products are helping people improve skin health.
Having had acne as a teen, Stacey knows how crippling a skin condition can be for a person’s confidence.
The idea for her own cosmetics company came when her dad David Cook was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and the role of toxins in bad health became real to her.
“Dad became ill with cancer … and that’s where I really became aware of chemicals, and ingredients, and what we’re putting in our bodies,” she said.
“Health is precious. Life is precious.
“You can’t put dirty fuel in your car and expect it to run.”
Her father ran his own business and helped Stacey plan Lust, but sadly died in 2014 before the company launched.
Stacey said that as a beauty therapist, she used to “constantly” put inorganic make-up, moisturiser and acne treatment products on the skin of customers.
“My job was designed to help us feel beautiful and improve our skin, look after our skin and help with acne, but that’s all based on chemicals,” she said.
She said talc was a carcinogen, and parabens and artificial dyes such as those in conventional lipsticks were all harmful.
“Our skin’s our biggest organ and we absorb everything we put on,” she said.
“Some of these products, they dry out the skin, so your skin makes more oil and that makes the acne worse.
“The most important thing out of this is making people aware of what they are doing, and saying ‘your 60-year-old self will thank you’.”
Stacey said that when she launched Lust Mineral Cosmetics in 2016, there was no affordable, organic-mineral make-up brand on the market. Most mineral-based foundation had cost about $90, whereas Lust’s retailed for $60.
“I needed something that was universal and not just for (the) young — it was for everybody,” she said.
While Lust was in its beginning stages, Stacey and husband James’s first child Tommy arrived. Stacey managed her work day around Tommy’s needs, and with the help of her mum and James’s mum, she had a few hours of uninterrupted work every day.
She enjoyed two months “rest” in her second pregnancy, when Tommy was either in daycare or with one of his grandmothers for most of the work week.
“Then Sophia popped out and I was like, ‘Oh God, here we go again’,” she said.
Life is busy, “hectic” even, but Stacey loves running Lust.
“I envision and get myself where I want to be,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine myself having maternity leave.”
Despite having treated her own acne successfully by taking an oral contraceptive, Stacey says “you shouldn’t have to go on a drug”.
“A lot of our girls, they’ve got acne or breakouts and our products are helping that,” she said.
“They’ve gone from a conventional make-up that’s clogging and keeps causing the breakouts, to something that’s not, and is healing.
“It can change some girls’ lives. Some of them say to me, ‘I’m so much more confident’.
“I have some messages some days where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to cry’ — it’s so touching.
“That’s what drives me.”
Stacey said she always knew she would work for herself.
“I look back and … I envisioned this,” she said. “I wanted a boy, I wanted a girl, I wanted a house with a water view.”
James and Stacey now take turns to be with Tommy on Fridays for treasured “one-on-one time”.
The cheeky, adorable Sophia goes to work with Stacey every day, sleeping on her in a carrier and breastfeeding every couple of hours.
For the first few months after Sophia’s birth, getting a normal day’s work done was out of the question, Stacey admitted.
“I didn’t quite know what I was in for, to be honest,” she said.
“You just think they’ll eat and sleep and go back to sleep and eat, and I’ll get stuff done … but it’s more that I don’t have two hands all the time.”
Stacey realised delegation was key.
“I struggled to let go … to offload that to the girls, but I am slowly learning months later that I need to do that and they will do as good a job, if not better,” she said.
Stacey said she was able to do about half of her work on the phone, which was handy because having two hands available was a thing of the past.
“She (Sophia) sleeps in the cot at night and she sleeps well, only two wake-ups,” she said.
“I think it’s going to get more challenging because she’s going to become mobile, but I make it work.”
While many women would find the constant pull between the worlds of work and motherhood impossible, Stacey said it was against her nature to think negatively.
“What really made me hit the earth was when Dad became sick, and life was so precious,” she said.
When David died in 2014, a rainbow appeared.
While Stacey missed him every day, she said there had been rainbows whenever something significant happened in their family, and she felt his presence.
“He and Mum worked in their business for as long as I can remember,” Stacey said.
“Dad still worked when he was sick — that was just him. He was just a worker.”
Stacey plans to cut back her work hours as the business grows.
“That was one thing I said to him: ‘Dad, I want your passion and I want to be like you, but I do not want to be working at your age. You and Mum should have been travelling for the last 10 years’,” she said.
“My goal is to cut back and spend more time with my kids while they’re young, because at the end of the day, you only get to live it once.”
When David died, Stacey’s brothers Hayden Cook and Gerard Cook took over the family business, Sunshine Coast Mowers in Mooloolaba, and in 2014 opened a second store in Caloundra with James.
With Lust’s rapid growth, James has stepped back from the mower business and joined the cosmetic company full-time.
“We’re growing every month,” Stacey said.
“Every couple of weeks we have to come up with another solution to not outgrow our shed.
“I’ve just had to move Sophia’s couch and rug upstairs because we needed more room for packing.”
She attributes the success of the business to the quality of the products and a unique approach to customer service.
Lust hand-packages all orders, sends handwritten thank you cards and doesn’t “use a template” to communicate to its customers.
Stacey says she and her team also give free colour matchings and consultations online, and have “a constant connection” with customers.
A host of ambassadors, including fitness icon Sophie Guidolin, post photos of Lust products on Instagram and other social media channels, helping to grow its following to 210,000 on the former.
Stacey is approached regularly by people wanting business advice and she tells them the same thing.
“If you’ve got a dream, make a plan,” she said. “Start from the bottom — you need a business name, you need a logo. Just start from the bottom and map it out.”