Tell us the backstory to Nala. We know there’s a history that matters personally to you. Nala comes from a place of big love. When we lost our beloved Alan, husband and father, to cancer we were inspired to create a product that would make him proud. From that moment our focus became creating non-carcinogenic options for everyday products that don’t feel like a trade-off between efficacy and safety. In fact, you might notice how Alan’s name shows up in our brand name, Nala, itself—he’s a part of everything we do and he is our driving force.
Do you make your own products or outsource to a contract manufacturer? Currently all of our products are freshly made in house in small batches by Mila herself. Mila is a biotech engineer and has hands-on experience in new product development, manufacturing and quality control.
How did you get to your first product? And, how did it feel to have the actual packaged product in your hand? Before we even had our final product, we took our time on branding Nala to ensure what we really stand for comes across through our products. Understanding the Nala brand for ourselves made the product formulation and the packing design much easier. We followed the same approach when it came to hand picking Nala’s free-from deodorant ingredients and fine tuning our formulations. All our ingredients had to meet Nala’s high standards of quality and purity, while not only being free from any known carcinogens but also aluminum, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, heavy metals, pesticides, GMO and cruelty! Each formulation had been through hundreds of iterations before we arrived at formulations we loved. We wanted to ensure that each formulation was easy to apply, didn’t leave any residue, had a smooth application, was effective and smelled wonderful. Seeing and holding Nala’s final products in our hands was like welcoming a child into the world. We truly loved the results of our work and felt all the love and effort we put into this project was reflected in the final product.
What has been your biggest challenge? Manufacturing and scaling up. It has been challenging finding manufacturers with the experience and capabilities to create deodorants made entirely out of natural and naturally-derived ingredients.
The deo category has been shaken up by indie brands, and there are many new choices. How does Nala stand apart? Yes, we love that natural deodorant is gaining mainstream attention! A unique differentiator to Nala is that in addition to different scents, all of our deodorants are different strengths as well. We believe that in order to be an effective, body care brand, much like medicine, the product needs to be customized to the individual. We have created a product that is made for your complex and evolving needs.
Zach Dishinger of Formula Z Cosmetics asks how you balance self-care with a 24/7 entrepreneurial/work-focused lifestyle? Self-care most often shines through in the moments between the appointments that fill up our day. It’s the self-talk we feed ourselves when we’re feeling down. It’s the walk we remember to take after long stretches of screen time. It’s the forgiveness we allow ourselves when we inevitably slip up. Most importantly, self-care is an evolving work in progress. We remind ourselves to be kind to ourselves and one another.
How do you balance the mother-daughter relationship while at work, and how do you keep work out of your mom-daughter relationship? Truthfully, it has expanded our relationship. Beyond spending quality time together, we’ve been able to see one another outside of the parent-child relationship and really learn from the other’s skills. It’s also taught us boundaries! At work we do touch relatively different aspects of the business and while Mila is in the lab many days, Ada will be working in the office. We do split responsibilities such as meeting with retailers or answering e-mails, but it’s nice to be able to do it on our own watch.
Do you see Nala as more than a single product brand? Absolutely—perhaps sooner than you may think. Stay tuned!