Half Persian and half Turkish, Enis Anteplioglu delves into what inspired him to start creating his vegan skincare brainchild, Haoma, and how he had certain curiosities inside him from a very young age (spoiler alert: he hid chestnuts under his bed in potions when he was little. How cute is that!?). Over the years with a Chemical Engineering degree in his back pocket, he has managed to cultivate a brand that sets itself apart using the sense of smell as a main driver (though the stunning packaging is something worth mentioning also). Click here to shop Haoma or read on to learn more.
You have been on a bit of a whirlwind since launching Haoma. Tell us how it all started?
It started when I was doing my masters. I had a curiosity spell and began checking the labels of the products that I was using, particularly the deodorants. I realised I couldn’t pronounce even the quarter of the ingredients. The same pattern carried on with any product I looked at: soaps, shampoos etc. I thought to myself, “What happens if there is an apocalypse (seems like we are facing one now!) and we wouldn’t even be able to produce the simplest things that we have been using for millennia?”. I then decided to create a line of products that are as pure and as little processed as possible.
And what made you want to create a fully vegan range?
I felt that animal products do not add anything significant to the cosmetics we use. Most companies use them because they are by-products of other processes and are cheap to obtain. My grandfather gave me a tie when I was little from WWF (World Wildlife Fund) with a beautiful tiger on it, which has always been my favourite tie. Since then I’ve been supporting them and have kept up to date with the environmental impact of human activity and endangered species. It has been a passion of mine to care and learn about the animals, therefore have products that are fully cruelty free.
What challenges did you come up against in the mixing process of your products?
Creating effective formulas that were free of preservative and emulsifiers was the biggest challenge. When I started Haoma, one thing was really clear for me. I did not want any overly-processed ingredients (so-called “plant-derived ingredients”) such as preservatives and emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are often added to water and oil to produce a cream, which are in fact highly detrimental to skin health.
These chemical emulsifiers do not add any value other than removing the requirement to shake a product before using. Ease of use has always been preferred over purity and cleanliness of the formulas in cosmetics. Creating a satisfactory alternative to creams required me to come up with light-weight and highly nourishing oils. So far I have received great feedback and I myself use the same formulas on my own skin, so can see the results for myself.
You have had a super interesting upbringing and have experienced some amazing cultures. Has that had an impact on Haoma?
I think being exposed to lots of different cultures and environments definitely adds to your creative thought process. I am half Persian and half Turkish. I was studying Chemical Engineering in Turkey and was really craving a change, so I decided to move to the UK ten years ago as a student.
Being exposed to lots of different cultures and having friends from all over the world also connects you to your own roots. We used to have a very large painting in our house, back when I was a child that said “Haoma” at the bottom. When I got curious during my teenage years, I decided to look up its meaning. I found out that it is an ancient plant that bestows health and divinity. According to an ancient Persian legend the plant was brought to earth by celestials birds and grows on a paradisiacal mountain. When I started my brand, this was the perfect name for it.
What was the inspiration behind the gorgeous and unusual art direction for the brand?
It’s a funny story. When looking for a designer, I wanted someone who understood the story and shared the same passion as me. I worked with three designers throughout the process and found the most amazing and talented designer to finally collaborate with, Joanna Lisowiec. We worked really closely together at every step, and I think she managed to translate everything I had in mind into her beautiful illustrations. I’m glad you like them!
What is your personal favourite product and why?
It would have to be the Fresh Deodorant (which is my first original product) along with the Night Mist. Maybe it’s an emotional connection, because I remember getting through writing my dissertation (which involved many sleepless nights) using the Night Mist! And I feel quite happy and moved that my first ever formulation, the Fresh Deodorant, won the “Best Natural Deodorant” award this year at the Beauty Shortlist Awards.
Do you believe that smell is the most powerful sense when it comes to evoking memories?
Yes, I do indeed. It is a neuroscientific fact as well. When it comes to the sense of smell, what makes me quite somber is that people are not in touch with natural scents anymore. I have had some people tell me Haoma products smell like medicinal products. These friends have also confessed that they have never used essential oils before. We are so disconnected from true and natural beauty because we have been fed synthetic smells. Essential oils don’t simply provide gorgeous scents, but also have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and have positive physical and neurological effects.
What do you look to for creative inspiration?
The first thing I look for is a challenge. I am currently obsessed with coming up for a formulation for a shampoo that does not contain plant-derived surfactants. I think all my inspiration has always come from products that do not meet my personal requirements or expectations, therefore I have a burning desire to create products that fulfil these needs. However, I think the main inspiration for me is to create products that are pure, holistic and in full harmony with our planet.
Who/what has had an impact on you when it comes to building the brand that may not know the part they played in getting you to where you are?
It would be the chestnut tree at my elementary school! I used to collect the chestnuts, bring them home and put them in different mixtures of salt, sugar, vinegar, water etc. I would label them, observe them, and hide them under my bed. Although over time I had completely forgotten that I had done this in my youth, my mum reminded me of this story after I had launched Haoma. It seems I was a mini-scientist at work even back then
What are you most proud of to date when it comes to Haoma?
I sometimes receive emails from customers to say how much they love using the products and how our simple and pure formulations have created a shift in their understanding and daily habits of using cosmetics. What I really want to do the most is change perceptions and set customers free of marketing gimmicks. You do not need to use fifteen different products for your daily facial regimen. Neither do you need products that contain ingredients that are unpronounceable, that are filled mostly with emulsifiers, preservatives and plant-derived ingredients that are so highly processed, nothing of the original plant remains. For instance, a customer reached out to me to say that Haoma’s Radiance Oil has replaced three products for her. Nothing could have made me happier, and this is what I’m proud of.