“I think up new products in the shower!”

It's been argued that some of the best ideas are conjured up whilst showering, mainly due to the relaxed state the body falls into and the lack of distractions, and that certainly seems to be the case for Micaela Nisbet, the founder of skincare brand Neighbourhood Botanicals.

“I don’t follow hype or fad ingredients," shares Michaela "because everyone’s doing that and it’s just so boring.  I like to think about what gives true benefits, and what’s natural too.” This motto has been what's made the beauty brand a favourite of consumers and retailers alike, having perfected the balance of having an engaged audience via their direct-to-consumer website as well as being constantly restocked by the likes of Beauty Bay and Feel Unique. Along with their uniquely illustrated, eco-friendly packaging that lends itself to multiple shelfie opportunities, Neighbourhood Botanical taps into what every millennial wants to see in their bathrooms: sustainably-made beauty products that really works.

This ability comes from, unsurprisingly, having a founder that makes products that she wants to use herself. As we're sipping kombucha in the NB laboratory in Leyton, Micaela tells me about how she started blending oils whilst she was still touring as a sound engineer, back “when the business was still a side hustle”, which inevitably planted a seed to learn more about skincare formulations. “In my downtime between tours, I moved to Berlin because I wanted a change from London, and I studied for a diploma and advanced diploma in cosmetics science and skincare formulation, which took me two and half years. It took me so long because I was also still touring during that time,” explains Micaela. “That course taught me really basic stuff – how to make a cream etc. – but from there I was just learning all the time; looking at different ingredients lists, getting loads of samples and trying different things. I started in 2015 making facial oils, and then in 2016 it became a company.” You'd think that jumping from one industry to another wouldn't be easy, but Micaela took it in her stride. “Coming from an engineering background I really enjoy how things go together and how processes can change things,” she says, mentioning how this also relates to the way she creates her beauty products. “You can have such a different product by using the same ingredient but by using a different process, or even the same ingredients but by using different amounts, it’s really interesting to me.”

This inquisitive nature still continues to drive Micaela's product creation, she's continually fascinated with how different, household ingredients can be so beneficial for your skin. Oats, rice bran and wheat are her new current obsession. “They give your skin ceramides, which are the building blocks of the cells, so it’s like you’re regrouting the skin surface,” she explains.  “I put those three grain ceramides into our body oil, which is why it’s so good at smoothing your skin.” Despite having climbed a completely unrelated career trajectory, Micaela is as ahead of the curve as many other dermatological veterans. How? By knowing what's trending and doing it in her own natural way. She proves this by explaining what she wants to develop next. “Our oat supplier has this new product which are fermented oats, which sounds gross but it’s in the vein of kombucha and acid toners. It has loads of prebiotics, which are great for getting your bacteria on the outside skin layer in check, so I wanted to make something with this,” she shares. “I was thinking a water-based bioferment serum – I think the bioferment sector will be quite big in beauty. Quite a few brands are creating a cosmetic bioferment serum, but I haven’t seen anybody use an oat ferment.”

Her latest product to hit the digital shelves is the
Loyalties Natural Roll-On Deodorant, which is dubbed as a strong and dependable natural deodorant to keep you fresh all day”. During my visit, Micaela demonstrates why “if someone were to buy [Neighbourhood Botanicals], [she] would have to stay on as the product developer,” by knocking up a batch of the deodorant there and then. Keeping it as a liquid formulation was extremely important to her, as she explains, “texture is a big thing for me, because it’ll turn you off if it’s something slimy – unless it’s a lube, then you want it slimy!” The formula consists of a cocktail of magnesium, bitter hops, zinc, witch hazel, sage and eucalyptus, all of which manage to work together as an effective pit protector without having aluminium, alcohol or baking soda included. Having tried it myself, it's definitely up there with some of my favourite natural deodorants. As well as simply doing its job well, I love the bold illustration that covers the bottle – it's just one of the many London-based artists that Micaela will commission for her various product labels. “I wanted it look strong and dependable, which I feel like the black and the bold blocky fonts do,” says Micaela, when explaining why she went with this particular design. “But then the hops, the minerals and the silver gives that feminine edge.” Patrick Savile, the illustrator for Loyalties, was discovered in the same way that many of her collaborators are found: through Instagram. “I always have an idea for the product, and then I search for an artist that gives across that feeling.” 

Is the brand an insight into what fills Micaela's brain? In short, yes. “The whole thing is me: it’s my taste, my flair and my products,” she says. Cheers to that!

Shop Loyalties here, and other Neighbourhood Botanical products below:

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