My name is Lea-Anne Crawford and I first founded my brand, Vanilla Mozi, back in 2006. I live in Noosa Heads, QLD, with my husband and four children. My business started out like many other beauty products disrupting the market – in a home kitchen.
I have had a long love affair with nature and science. At University I studied a Bachelor of Applied Science in Human Movement and I unearthed a passion for creating my own bespoke beauty formulations when my second baby was around one (back in 2000). I couldn’t remedy a rash he had with the normal go-to creams from the pharmacy so I took it upon myself to find a solution.
I headed to the library and borrowed books on chemicals in our products, soapmaking and essential oils. I devoured these and it sparked something in me, sending me on a new path.
At night I would tuck my kids into bed then head into the kitchen for a night of experimenting. I started making soap. Stirring away for hours perfecting my brew and it was therapeutic and a way for me to channel my creativity. I’ve always been a good cook and this felt like a new and exciting extension of that. Instead of using flour, sugar and eggs, I was experimenting with almond oil, shea butter and rose petals. It nourished my soul and gave me purpose.
I had a few successes in the kitchen and then got really excited. I decided to try making literally everything our family might need: toothpowders, deodorants, face scrubs, shampoo and bubble bath. You name it. I made it. I have been living a clean beauty life for many, many years. Way before Gwyneth.
It wasn’t until we relocated to a coastal area in Ocean Grove, VIC where the mosquitoes would quite literally mob you, that I was faced with a new challenge: preventing these nasty, painful bites. Why would I use chemical repellents on my family when I could make something better? And so I did and Vanilla Mozi was born.
How I created Vanilla Mozi
My first attempt at creating this important product was with a body butter that had all the standard repellant essential oils in it. It had a powerful scent. Unfortunately, this timing coincided with my fourth pregnancy and my sense of smell was heightened and I was feeling generally quite ill so I needed to park this product development until I felt better.
A few months later I started again with my two favourite scents: Vanilla and Spearmint. I researched and started experimenting in my home kitchen. I would add a spoonful of this, a dollop of that. Then slather it on my husband (Dave), aka Mr Mozi Magnet, and send him out into our garden to test. It wasn’t long until I had unlocked the secrets to protecting our skin from biting insects. The result? It was beautiful. I didn’t know it at the time but really, I was creating a new beauty product that didn’t exist because it isn’t a repellent — never was, never will be — instead, it masks your scent and makes you invisible to biting insects. Genius? My customer’s words, not mine!
During this product development phase I had a six month old baby, a toddler, as well as a 6 and 8 year old to help me test its efficacy too. It needed to be gentle enough on the newborn skin and resilient enough on the busy, outdoorsy ones. I was beyond thrilled to have successfully created a natural product that protected my kids while they played outside (and slept at night) that also made them smell divine. Win-win!
Since then, I’ve introduced many people to the product. The school drop off was my first marketplace and my car boot worked as my storefront. Then I quickly started going to local markets around Victoria, selling all my luxurious handmade creations. Vanilla Mozi was the clear standout and earned cult status amongst the in-the-know and highly scrutinous locals.
So, that’s where I now focus all my attention. People know me as the Vanilla Mozi Lady! And perhaps the thing that I’m most proud of is that after many years, we’ve built a loving, conscious community who care about the products and ingredients they put on their skin.
Awareness around this special cream and its benefits has grown organically and we’re now stocked in many stores around Australia and we have recently launched in the USA. I’m at a point now where I am scaling the business and so this precious body cream is now made by a manufacturer in order to meet demand. It’s an exciting time and I hope you’ll join me on the journey.
The team at Nest Nappies, and their families, live and work on the lands of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, traditional custodians of the lands and waters of the Meanjin area. We pay our deep respects to their elders past, present and emerging.