Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Wojciech Piasecki, founder and non-executive director of Polish skincare brand Tolpa, which just launched in the UK this summer.
What is Tolpa and how did it come to life?
The story of Tolpa is fascinating. It all started in the 1960s with Professor Tolpa, a biologist working at the University of Wrocław, a city in south Poland. He dedicated his life to researching the amazing properties of peat. Not everybody may be aware that there are medical and therapeutic peats that display amazing properties for our health and wellbeing. Professor Tolpa discovered a very special reservoir of peat in south Poland, now called Tolpa peat, that displayed extraordinary properties. The effect it had on the cells made Professor Tolpa believe that this peat could play a critical role as a cancer cure. Tolpa peat did not prove to combat cancer but it was used successfully in other medical therapies such as recurrent respiratory illnesses, in the treatment of varicose veins or even as an aid in the treatment of MS.
Tolpa peat skin properties were discovered much later. This special ingredient, of which we harvest only a tiny amount each year so as to create minimal environmental impact, shows anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, bacteriostatic and regenerative properties. Moreover, it is very safe to use for sensitive skin. This makes it ideal as a skincare treatment.
What 3 words would you use to describe Tolpa?
Efficacy, nature and safety.
Who is the Tolpa customer?
We are naturally chosen by young women, often 18-34 years old. Our consumers love to spend time online – they relax and unwind on social media. When it comes to their skincare regime, they enjoy experimenting with new product types. As a brand team we spend a lot of time talking to them and listening to them. They provide a vital inspiration for new product development. We offer peels, toners, masks and some very funky formulations such as mists and sorbets!
What’s the development process for new products?
We are very lucky to have a very experienced research and development laboratory that developed over many years. We use various sources of inspiration. The most important one is our consumer. We find out so much by talking to Tolpa enthusiasts. They are very innovative and we enjoy exchanging our ideas with them. Another source of inspiration is quite visionary: we identify key global trends such as caring for the environment – and we envision how this trend might look a few years from now and we try to bring it to life now.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up early and check my emails first thing. I then go for a run and have a light breakfast, often with fruit – and always with coffee! I read the international newspaper headlines, focusing on the business pages, before touching base with colleagues, often with a call or, more recently since the pandemic, a Zoom meeting to check how things are going and plan my agenda for the day ahead.
What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?
The best and most challenging thing is to deliver a meaningful improvement to consumer’s life.
The most memorable moment so far?
The biggest moment for us when our hero product, Tolpa Sebio 3 Enzyme Peel, became number 1 in acne care in the Polish market. This is the ultimate sign that our products are sought after by the consumers and the fantastic effects our products offer are valued by our consumers. This is why we are so excited to be bringing Tolpa to the UK market. We launched Tolpa over here this summer, exclusively in LloydsPharmacy stores and online. The response from the UK consumer has been amazing! The Tolpa Sebio 3 Enzyme Peel sold out in just six weeks!
Which product is your current favourite?
The cult Tolpa product is our Sebio 3 Enzyme Peel. This product delivers enzymatic renewal which results in the reduction of sebum secretion, removal of blackheads and renewed, mattified, beautiful-looking skin. But my personal favourite is Sebio Cica+ Correcting Cream. This cream is for advanced and inflamed acne. It works overnight delivering a significant reduction of inflamed and bad acne lesions. It has a very pleasant subtle scent and gives an almost immediate improvement in terms of comfort.
Anything exciting in the pipeline for Tolpa?
We have a lot of exciting products and initiatives at Tolpa! One very interesting area is to help young consumers retain their beautiful healthy looks for years to come. But more about this to come soon…
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