Sustainable living, being kinder to our planet and the correlation with living a plant-based life. In this relaxed chat we find out about Niomi Smart’s journey as a YouTuber and influencer. Talking in detail about:
Eco-influencer, author and wellness entrepreneur Niomi Smart has won over millions of fans on YouTube – now she’s launched her own vegan beauty brand, Smart Skin, available at Holland & Barrett
‘I started out on YouTube years ago, when it was a very different platform – purely a place to be creative and have fun. A few of my friends were launching channels, and we fell in love with filming and speaking about what we were passionate about. My niche was cooking in a healthy way and providing plant-based alternatives, as well as fashion and beauty. It somehow grew into what it is today. There’s something amazing about accidentally falling into something.’
‘I’m quite an all-or-nothing person. I didn’t even think: “This going to be for a week or month thing, or forever”. But I suddenly had this buzz of new-found energy in my body. I got really into running, I felt lighter and just generally healthier, and I fell in love with the lifestyle. And it reinforced my passion for sustainability as well – learning more about the environment, being kinder to our planet and the correlation with living a plant-based life.’
‘For a few years, I was an unbelievably strict vegan, purist in every sense. I do think there can be this initial excitement period where you can become a perfectionist. It can almost get to a place where it defines you as a person.
‘Now I have this mind-set of progress, not perfection. People around you may not notice what’s going on internally, but perfectionism can cause a lot of stress. So it’s a case of not putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect 100% of time. Also, one thing I’ve realised is – no-one around you cares. Your friends and family won’t call you out if you’re not doing everything perfectly. It’s important to celebrate your achievements, instead of always thinking about next time and how you’ll do it better.’
‘There’s a big misconception that being plant-based and living sustainably comes at a higher price point. It can be true of certain brands, but it’s absolutely not a necessity to live more sustainably. Even little things, like switching your supermarket shop to local markets to buy fresh produce, can help reduce plastic waste, for example. If it’s Saturday morning and you’re going for a stroll, take a tote bag with you. It’s a small obvious thing, but once it’s ingrained it becomes so much easier. In terms of fashion, you don’t have to constantly buy new clothes. Open up your mind to vintage and preloved, make do with what you have. You don’t have to be sucked into consumerist culture.’
‘Smart Skin is my natural, vegan, organic skincare brand. As a beauty junkie, I was buying lovely products that aligned with my ethos but often came at a premium price that wasn’t accessible. So, I created my own personal favourite skincare regime. I thought, “I’d love a cleanser that removes make-up and impurities but doesn’t strip skin of good oils.” We originally launched with five products, including the Golden Jelly Cleanser.
I have quite problematic skin and find layering too many products can cause more problems, so we’ve taken it back to basics. The feedback has been amazing – people say they didn’t realise natural skincare could be this effective. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.’
‘I wake up at 6.30am every morning, purely to give myself time to settle into the day ahead. It gives me a head start, compared to before, when I’d wake up at the latest possible opportunity, then jump up and rush around. Now having that extra bit of time means I can go out for a nice walk then maybe come and do some yoga and not feel like I’m losing the day. I’m working by 8.30am. It’s a really nice balance. But if you’ve had a late night or are exhausted, it doesn’t have to be waking an hour earlier, it could be little reminders throughout your day to just sit down for a couple of minutes and breathe.’
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A doctor for over 17 years, Gemma Newman has worked in many specialities as a doctor including elderly care, endocrinology, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, psychiatry, general surgery, urology, vascular surgery, rehabilitation medicine and General Practice.
Dr Newman's specialist interests are in holistic health and plant-based nutrition as well as lifestyle medicine. In her practice she has come to understand that body, mind and soul are not separate, and that it is only in addressing the root causes of stress and disconnection that we can truly heal, from the inside out.