Optima Nutricosmetics is a new standard in ingestible beauty. The brainchild of two industry experts and friends – Cate Lilja and Karissa Mather – the story of Optima began when the pair met three years ago, bonding immediately over their shared passion for gut health, wellness and the occasional glass of wine.
“We are the perfect partners,” Karissa says. “We have such complementary skill sets, are almost always on the same page and can tell with just a glance what the other is thinking. I feel we’re in such alignment; there’s just so much respect and complete trust in one another.”
Having each spent decades working for some of the largest health and beauty companies in the world, Cate and Karissa dreamt of developing their own natural, food-based, ingestible beauty supplement – something that truly reflected their sustainable values and desire to empower people with scientifically backed results.
“Now, two years on, here we are offering the world natural, food-based, scientifically validated solutions to gut and skin health,” says Cate. “It’s so rewarding to be 100 per cent happy with the finished product.”
Natural health has been an integral part of Cate’s personal and professional life for over 15 years.
“My journey started in my early 20s. After a stint of working hard and playing harder, I suffered from adrenal burnout and a seriously depressed immune system,” Cate says.
Cate turned to natural therapies to help restore and rebuild strength and vitality, prompting her to switch from studying a Biomedical Science degree to Applied Science, majoring in Naturopathic Studies.
“This gave me a solid grounding in the importance of gut health (yes, naturopaths have been talking about this for years) and the power of nutrition and herbal medicines to affect real, meaningful change within the gut and body,” Cate says.
She proceeded working in product development, creating supplements and ingestibles within the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and health food sectors for 15 years.
“All the while my personal interest in food as medicine grew,” Cate says. “The link to gut health was obvious – your skin is like a mirror to your internal health. I hope people start to recognise that what’s going on inside is reflected outside.”
With this knowledge, Cate began developing her own original, natural, food-based ingestible supplement, blending the intelligence of nature with scientific innovation.
“There have been so many exciting milestones along the way but more than anything my focus has been on helping people feel well.”
Karissa’s interest in wellness is a lifelong passion. A family history of bowel cancer made gut health a priority from an early age – long before it was a popular wellness topic.
“Mum had bowel cancer when she was just 27,” Karissa says. “I grew up in a house very comfortable talking about poo and gut health – usually at the dinner table – and recognised it was a great indicator of your overall health and wellbeing.”
Karissa’s career in marketing spans more than 20 years. She spent the first chapter working in New York for some of the most famous names in beauty including Estée Lauder and MAC.
While living in NYC, she began researching the connection between gut and skin health, and as her interest in the subject deepened, so too did her passion for wellness and a more holistic approach to feeling good.
Karissa began learning about Eastern healing modalities like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda and became fascinated by the connection they make between gut and skin health.
“Skin health is a long-term goal and it starts in your gut,” Karissa says. “It’s okay to use external skincare and cosmetics, but it’s important to realise whatever we’re trying to mask is an indication of our overall health. That’s why ingestible beauty is really changing the way we think about skincare.”
Her growing interest in wellness saw her gravitate towards brands that focused on vitality and health from within, and ultimately create Optima. “I want people to be the best versions of themselves,” Karissa says. “Everyone is so busy these days, we want to provide quality, effective, natural, food-based ingestible supplements that are easy to use, taste great and really work.”