The accidental entrepreneur on the challenges of innovating with natural ingredients, staying fit when time is tight - and trying not to talk shop when you work with your husband
Here at Get The Gloss, we’re huge fans of pioneering luxury natural skincare company Omorovicza , which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The brand was founded on the healing properties of Hungary’s thermal spa waters - but really, it’s a love story.
In the 1800s, Omorovicza family built the beautiful Rácz spa in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, on the site of a medieval healing spring. Two hundred years later, Margaret Dickerson was a 27-year-old American diplomat posted in Budapest and was introduced to the dashing Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza by Georg von Habsburg, son of the last crown prince of Austria-Hungary (as you do. She can even remember what she was wearing that night - Valentino fyi). Stephen took Margaret on a date to the family spa Budapest and their love affair - not only with each other but with the healing and anti-ageing powers of the mineral-rich thermal waters - began.
They married in 2005 and in 2006 launched Omorovicza, deploying a Nobel-prize winning laboratory to develop a patented skincare delivery system (known as Hydro Mineral Transference™) to deliver the unique combination of minerals from the thermal waters directly into the epidermis. Previously, this type of absorption was only possible from bathing in the waters themselves. Four children and a thriving global business later, Stephen and Margaret live in London travelling frequently to Budapest.
Omorovicza is still a family company and continues to innovate, while staying true to its principles of using only natural ingredients. We caught up with Margaret, to find out how her life, work and her skin have changed in the past ten years and what the next decade holds.
Q: Omorovicza is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, how has life changed for you in the last decade?
A: When we launched Omorovicza, Stephen and I were newly married, working together in a basement office in the middle of Budapest. When Stephen and I met, each of us was on a solid path in our respective fields. I was a diplomat and he worked for the family's biometrics company. We would have long conversations about our dream life and it always revolved around doing something we loved and the notion of creating a family company - a lifelong adventure around which we could build our lives. This sense of independence is at the heart of Omorovicza, not to mention the pride which comes from being a family company. Today, there are 60 ‘Omoros’ around the world with an office in Budapest, London and Chicago. There is a lot of travel. Stephen is in NYC today as we are opening in the Four Seasons Hotel there and I was in Germany earlier this week opening up a few spots in Hamburg and meeting with journalists.
Q: How have your skin and your skincare regime changed in that time?
A: My skin has changed a lot these past 10 years, mainly because of the children and travel. I find that I need more hydration – that is one reason I love facial oils. Also, I love using different masks as I have seen that with the right one, you can target specific concerns with great success, quickly…breakouts, dryness, hyper pigmentation, wrinkles, etc.
Q: Do you have a mentor? Who gives you advice?
A: I have had some wonderful bosses who remain great friends today and are the source of invaluable advice. One motto a former boss shared was ‘it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’, meaning, if you don’t like the way things are, it is in your power to change them.
Q: Which innovations in skincare are you excited about?
A: There are so many. One thing I am super excited about is something we use in our brand new Oxygen Booster (£85) – it is an ingenious mechanism that delivers oxygen to the skin to plump and smooth wrinkles, relax facial muscles and restore youthful radiance.
Q: Tell us about your morning routine.
A: I’m up every morning around 6am. On a good day, this gives me about 45 minutes to get a cup of coffee, get ready and maybe steal a few minutes looking at a newspaper. I am not a huge breakfast person during the week, so I usually just have a bit of fruit. I’m off with the children around 8am – we usually all scoot to together to school (except Stephen who is not a huge fan of scooters and who walks). As far as products go, I use our Cleansing Foam (£44) followed by our Elemental Emulsion (£90) mixed with our Oxygen Booster (£85). I finish with our Intensive Hydralifting Cream (£130), BB Cream (£80) and Mineral Touch Concealer (£35).
Q: How do compartmentalise work and home being in business with your husband?
A: We make a point to wake up early and read the newspapers over coffee. In the evening, we always make sure any business talk ends once we sit down to dinner.
Q: How do you stay healthy?
A: I don’t have loads of time to spare these days, so I try to do something small daily such as the 7 Minute Workout app, which I first read about in the New York Times. When I have more time, I love taking a class at Core Collective in Kensington, where you can pay by class. I get frustrated when I have an expensive gym membership and only go once a month. Also, they have classes super early or super late which suits my schedule well. Eating healthily is also very important to us and I have fresh fruit, vegetables and meats sourced locally delivered throughout the week – it is a big treat but worth it.
Q: What’s your beauty SOS on a bad skin day?
A: My skin has never been super dooper. My issues these days are sensitivity (redness) and occasional breakouts. Lots of things can trigger a bad skin day for me from stress, lack of sleep, to travel. I find that using our Moor Mud products such as our Thermal Cleansing Balm (£48) Refining Facial Polisher (£65) and Deep Cleansing Mask (£60) work wonders at detoxifying my skin and correcting any skin issues.
Q: What’s your bedtime routine?
A: This changes constantly as I am always trying new products but currently, I am using our Thermal Cleansing Balm (£48) to remove make up, followed by our Miracle Facial Oil (£75) mixed with our Rejuvenating Night Cream (£110). On evenings in, we are usually in bed around 11pm. I typically am so tired by this point that I can barely keep both eyes open. That said, I am maniacal about cleansing and bedtime is often when I test out new formulations. I still love racing to the mirror in the morning to check out what effects new products have on my skin.
Q: What kind of boss are you?
A: I am demanding but fair. We have a fantastic team and everyone works extremely hard. We are at a point where there is so much going on, so much growth, new people, exciting goals that it feels very much like a family – like we are all in this mad journey together. Our business is all about people and product, employing the best people to work with us and developing the best products to share with our customers. We have to work hard at both of these things. We have just hired an HR Director to help us recruit and retain amazing colleagues. It is a big investment for a company our size but one which is well worth making great people not only make the business more successful, but a lot more fun. We also we recently hired someone amazing in Budapest and another in London to ensure our new product development continues to be world class and keeps pace with our growth.
Q: What skills do you find useful from your previous career?
A: I used to be a diplomat – which really is all about people. Building relationships, assessing what others need. Our business is actually quite similar.
Q: How have you stayed true to the history of the brand and yet still managed to innovate?
A: I really have to give my husband Stephen credit for this. We both continue to be excited about excluding synthetic ingredients, however, he has always had amazing instincts not just what other ingredients to use but how to improve them. The Hungarian thermal waters are the perfect example of this - not just including them but developing and patenting a process which makes them highly anti-ageing.
Q: What are the challenges you face in keeping the brand natural?
A: One challenge is posed by the actual thermal waters themselves – as they are so active, they are difficult to stabilise without the synthetic ingredients. That said, there are so many powerful natural ingredients being developed these days. Our vision is that not too long from now, people will not be discussing natural or not natural - excluding synthetics will simply be the new normal.
Q: Plans for the next ten years?
A: We are currently we are redoing our shop in Budapest and expanding in Australia, Germany and Japan.
Q: Which products do you always take with you when you travel?
A: I definitely mix it up but always in my bag is our Copper Peel (£55), Rejuvenating Night Cream (£110) and Thermal Cleansing Balm (£48).
Q: How do you relax?
A: With a glass of wine, chocolate chip cookie and something great on iTunes.
Images: Instagram @omorovicza
For regular news, career inspiration and interviews delivered twice-weekly to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter.
Follow Get The Gloss and Victoria on Twitter