By Katy Herman.
At just 22, Annabelle Delir has survived loss and self-doubt and turned her love of nature into an inspiring, sustainable new company. Her cruelty-free skincare and home fragrance line, Umoya Botanics, plants a tree for every product sold and is dedicated to their sustainable ethos. Mission talked to Annabelle about the power inside all of us and how she became empowered to save the world.
First, introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are outside of your business.
I’m a 22-year old, introverted, and highly sensitive being with a huge passion for holistic living, life sciences, and animal welfare.
How did you come to find your passion? What were your stepping stones on the way to starting Umoya Botanics? What path led you here?
I was bullied in school all my life, and the only time it stopped was when my brother died. I was a very creative child and all I wanted was to become a fashion designer, but after my brother’s passing I lost all of my creative ability. I even forgot how to draw. I got into psychology as means to understand myself and those who hurt me, and to equip myself with the knowledge to help others in pain. When I was 18, I found veganism and my whole focus shifted onto animal welfare. Every fiber of my being wanted to end the cruelty to all sentient life. I was stuck for a very long time, not knowing what to do, feeling hopeless. Then the idea of Umoya Botanics was born. It’s really just my way of combining my creative talent with my desire to help people and advocate for animals and the planet.
One of your early (and unique) activist endeavors was volunteering at a fox sanctuary. Tell us about that, and what it is about animals and nature that fuels your passion.
I volunteered with the amazing Sydney Fox Rescue. They work tirelessly to save countless animals including foxes, dingoes, cats, and everything in between. They are a truly selfless group and it was wonderful to be a part of their mission. It was especially great because I had hands on experience working with the gorgeous animals as well as behind the scenes work. It’s extremely rewarding, so I always say don’t hesitate to get out there and volunteer!
My passion began when studying the biopsychosocial similarities between humans and animals, which then led me to watch the documentary Earthlings. I could only get through twenty minutes of it, but from the first few seconds on I was bawling. I couldn’t believe that this is how we treat animals. Anything that makes me cry that much needs to be changed. I’ve been vegan since that day. My dogs have been the biggest inspiration for this change because (even though my partner likes to make fun of me for thinking this) my dog, Rocky, reminds me of a cow and my other dog, Missy, acts like a pig in every way possible. My love and respect for nature has always been with me, but it has been greatly amplified since going vegan.
Tell us more about Umoya Botanics--what you do, how you started it, what your mission is.
Umoya Botanics originally began as a creative outlet for dealing with my trauma and anxiety, but it very quickly grew into a passion. At the moment, I run pretty much everything. As the company grows, I’d like to mainly focus on the creative aspects of it and let others take care of the logistics. My mission is to take this brand to the very top so that I can offer people the best skincare and home fragrance nature has to offer, and to use the brand as a platform for change.
Where does the name come from?
“Umoya” is the Zulu word for soul or spirit. My partner suggested that part of the name. And “Botanics” is to signify the relationship between nature and the products.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced personally? Professionally? How did you overcome those struggles?
My biggest challenge personally has been dealing with the death of my older brother, Eden. He was attacked at a Halloween party, leaving him in a coma for six days. I sat by his bedside every day, holding his hand while watching him slowly slip away. It’s not exactly an experience you can come back from and it has affected me in every aspect of my life, from relationships to work to academics. Thankfully, I was able to work with an amazing psychologist who helped me break out of my chains. It has been seven years since his death and I’m still picking up the pieces. I realize it’s going to be a lifelong journey, but I’m finally able to put myself out there and show the world what I have to offer. Professionally, my biggest challenge has been finding a position with a company that shares my morals and ethics. Life is short and the planet is quickly deteriorating. I don’t want to spend any of my time and effort contributing to the chaos of the world. The solution to that problem was becoming my own boss.
What has been your proudest moment as you've started your own company? What's something that has surprised you during the process?
My proudest moment was actually just launching the company. I often spend so much time overthinking that I end up overwhelming myself, and acting on my plans becomes very hard to do. I’ve had so many business ideas that went nowhere because I spent too much time thinking and not enough time doing. What has surprised me in this journey so far is the excitement and willingness of others to help. It’s so easy to lose your faith in humanity once you’ve seen the things that I’ve seen, but the love and support of the people around me has definitely helped mend that wound. I’m so grateful for those people because without them Umoya would still just be an idea.
Can you talk a bit about the difference that you're making, both with Umoya's commitment to funding reforestation and the impact that choosing sustainable, cruelty-free products can have?
The first thing I thought about after the idea of Umoya came to me was how I could use the company to make a positive impact on the world. I chose to focus on reforestation because it covers everything from providing natural habitats for billions of animals, combating climate change, purifying our air and water, and providing jobs and medicine to people. Global consciousness is shifting to holistic and ethical approaches. Having a great product is crucial, but it’s not enough. Businesses need to adopt a sustainable approach or they will be left behind. By choosing sustainable products, you’re contributing to a healthier world. We need to make a change, and the easiest way to do that is to be conscious of the companies we choose to give our money to.
How do you view the relationship between humans, animals, and the earth?
My research into quantum mechanics and metaphysics led me to the realization that we are everything. The whole universe is inside us and we are the universe experiencing itself in human form. I know it sounds crazy to a lot of people, but once you start doing your own research from a neutral and non-judgmental stance, the secrets of the universe reveal themselves to you. Everything is connected.
What do you do to take care of yourself?
Lately, I’ve been doing lots of yoga and meditation and practicing detachment from my thoughts. A lot of my problems wouldn’t exist if I didn’t identify with my thoughts and attach emotions to them. I also nourish my body with a whole food, vegan diet. I’ve learned the hard way that being gentle with yourself is the best way through any obstacle.
What are your ultimate goals for Umoya Botanics, and what do you still want to do?
Right now, we’re only just scraping the surface. I want Umoya Botanics to be the brand people look to when they want effective, holistic skincare and natural home fragrance. We have lots of new and exciting products in the making which will help us get there but, most of all, I want Umoya to be a platform for change--for animals, people, and the planet.
What advice do you have for other young women seeking their passion, who want to make a difference, or want to start their own company?
You have everything you need within yourself and the only thing that can stop you is you.
What is your mission?
My mission is to honour the divine light within myself and others, contribute to the healing of Mother Earth and the collective consciousness, and to honour the memory of my beloved brother, Eden.