Natassia Nicolao wins prestigious award for revolutionising skincare

Natassia Nicolao, Founder and Director of Conserving Beauty

Natassia Nicolao, Founder and Director of waterless beauty brand, Conserving Beauty took out the top honour at the 9th Annual Australian Women’s Weekly Women of the Future Awards presented at a lunch at 12-Micron in Barangaroo. As the winner, Natassia received a prize valued at over $100,000 including $40,000 investment with La Trobe Financial.

Why did Natassia stand out in her category?

A biochemist and entrepreneur, 28-year-old Natassia from Victoria was awarded for revolutionising skincare, creating beautiful products that use no water and leave no waste. Consumers are increasingly aware of the resources going into creating beauty products. The US$700 billion industry is estimated to produce 120 billion units of mostly one-time use containers every year with water being a huge part of the manufacturing process.

Natassia Nicolao said: “It was obvious that water is involved in every stage of a product life cycle. It’s involved when we grow our ingredients, harvest, extract, manufacture, and process. Everything we do has a water footprint – everything we use, buy, sell and make.”

“On top of that, the beauty industry adds water, typically as the main ingredients in its products, despite it not actually having a direct benefit to our skin. With the help of the Women of the Future prize money, I plan to purchase a machine that will streamline fabrication of the wipes and mask fabrics. The publicity, meanwhile, will help spread the message central to Conserving Beauty’s existence: that beauty must do better.”

Commenting on the award, the Editor-in-Chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly, Nicole Byers, said: “Women of the Future celebrates some of the country’s most extraordinary young women every year and we are committed to supporting their ambitions. Congratulations to this year’s winners Natassia – her innovative brand is a game changer.”

Who were the headliners of the event?

The event, hosted by Sunrise co-host Natalie Barr, featured a deep-thought panel discussion, this year for the first time featuring a male champion of change. The panel included Independent politician and businesswoman Allegra Spender, The Man Cave CEO and Young Australian of the Year finalist Hunter Johnson, Co-chair of the Uluru Youth Dialogue Allira Davis and 2021 Women of the Future finalist, writer and disability activist Hannah Diviney.

The panel covered various topics from managing comments on social media to the power of community when it comes to getting a First Nations voice embedded into the Constitution to “comeback culture” as opposed to “cancel culture” and the continued crusade for equality.

Sponsored by La Trobe Financial, the six Women of the Future finalists aged 18-34 were celebrated for their innovation, creativity and business nous. The other worthy 2022 finalists were Sophie Li from SignHow, Gemma Lloyd founder of WORK180, Stephanie Trethewey from Motherland, Brigette McDowell of Cheeditha Energy and Nikita Fernandes of Ally Assist.

In addition, a number of high-profile guests including Julie Bishop, The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce, Lady Lynne Cosgrove, Blanche D’Alpuget, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, David Koch, Narelda Jacobs, Sarah Harris, Melissa Doyle, Natarsha Belling, Kylie Gillies, Mark Berretta, Wendy Harmer, Belinda Russell and Aminata Conteh-Biger attended the luncheon.

The panel of judges tasked with choosing one winner for the awards this year were:

  • Ita Buttrose (AC OBE, Chair of the ABC)
  • Julie Bishop (Australian National University Chancellor and Former Foreign Minister)
  • Narelda Jacobs (Network 10 presenter and journalist)
  • Nicole Byers (Editor-in-Chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly and group Publisher Women’s Lifestyle & Food at Are Media)
  • Sarah Moran (2018 Women of the Future winner and Girl Geek Academy CEO and Co-Founder)
  • Caterina Nesci (Head of La Trobe Financial’s Foundation)

What were the stakeholders’ thoughts on the event?

Disability advocate Hannah Diviney’s tweets prompted mega stars Lizzo and Beyonce to re-record songs that used an ableist slur. Diviney, who was a 2021 Women of the Future finalist said: “I’ve tweeted thousands of times but I’ve never had tweets do that,” she said.

Hannah said she expects her name to be in the headlines after responding to comments by radio’s Kyle Sandilands, who also used the slur. She says she expects him to hit back but, “compared to Beyonce and Lizzo, I mean.” She said she hadn’t expected the response – that was both positive and negative. “I think that if I had known the intense scrutiny.”

“I think I’ve been called every name a woman can be called. Snake. Slut. I have been called the poster child for white privilege. [Laughs] I think there are a few people in front of me.”

“I wouldn’t change it because having these talks is more important than anything anyone can say to me. I take it as a twisted compliment because I think it means you’ve moved outside the echo chamber of people who are always going to tell you that you did a good job.”

Hunter Johnson CEO of The Man Cave spoke of his experience meeting with Prince Harry and Meghan at Buckingham Palace: “We’ve had three meetings with them. They unfollowed everyone on their accounts except for 10 people. “It was like Oprah and Man Cave,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter what you read about them, they were so kind, so thoughtful. (Harry’s) journey, say what you will, losing his mother at a young age… serving in Afghanistan, working on the front line, setting up the Invictus Games. All of that and still being aware that he is part of a system that has caused a lot of pain in the world’s,” Hunter further added.

Allegra Spender MP said: “I’m a mother of girls and they say, ‘What do you mean their has only been one female prime minister?’ They just can’t get their heads around it.”

Allira Davis from Uluru Youth Dialogue said: “We are 3% of the population. We need the 97% to walk with us. At the end of the day, it’s not just our history – it’s your history as well.”

The winner will appear in The Australian Women’s Weekly December issue, on sale Nov 3.