Interview with Elena Elraie and Inna Orlova, co-founders of Kypwell
Find out how two friends who met at university in London, came to launch wellbeing brand Kypwell in Cyprus.
What are your backgrounds, and where did Kypwell come from?
Inna: I am an experienced entrepreneur, business leader, consultant and coach. I was born in Moscow Russia and have spent most of my life abroad – Canada, US, UK and Cyprus.
I established a successful International business consultancy, an International school and a Charity foundation. I’ve also produced my own radio programs, and created and worked as an editor of a Cyprus based magazine. My career has been a combination of value driven entrepreneurship, consulting and education practices.
After my mother’s recovery from two cancers I dramatically changed my career path and decided to dedicate my life to a mission of inspiring and enabling women to lead natural, healthy lives.
This led to the creation of Kypwell which I founded with my long-time university friend Elena. Kypwell has won multiple international awards and offers a unique approach to wellbeing that is inspired by the Cypriot life philosophy Siga-Siga, for a calm life and slow healthy beauty.
With a team of top specialists in biochemistry, nutrition, oncology, we created a very unique range of Therapeutic Organic Herbal Teas and Natural skincare using only the best organic certified medicinal herbs of Cyprus.
These herbs are considered one of the best quality in the world due to 300 days of sunshine in Cyprus, volcanic soil and absence of any toxic production on the island and with the full control of product production from seed to final package it is ensured that the ingredients and products are safe and highly therapeutic.
With my team we also own and run a Wellness & Spa Club in Cyprus to help people stay healthy. The Wellness & Spa Club, offers a range of unique Mediterranean face and body treatments, as well as personalised programmes for active longevity.
Elena: When I was still in school, I used to work at my parents stationery shop helping in retail sales, orders and promotions. I had to then also learn to work with computers and the very basic systems that existed those times. My dad was an early adopter of technology and tried to teach us anything new he could get his hands on.
These two exposures led me to study information technology and marketing in London, where I was lucky to also meet and make great friends, including by now business partner Inna.
Returning to Cyprus I followed a career in technology, with roles in marketing, operations and management or technology teams involved in software development, internet connectivity and digital marketing.
At the same time I had a strong passion for natural products and remedies which were always part of life growing up in Cyprus. I especially love making herbal teas which were a big part of my night relaxation ritual. A few years ago, I decided to learn more on the healing herbs and plants of Cyprus and took some courses.
At one of my meetings with Inna we were discussing her wish on making clean skincare and that is when we started working on the idea of using these powerful herbs into skincare and other wellbeing products.
What’s your brand’s USP?
Our philosophy is focused around holistic wellness & beauty of Cyprus. We control our products from seed to skin. We grow our medicinal herbs at 700m above sea level in fields certified organic by Lacon Institute. Our formulas are highly concentrated with more than 30 plant bioactives per product on average (60% of the product).
We only use flower and herb distilled water. Each Kypwell product contains Cyprus sunshine and a healthy dose of Mediterranean skin nutrition: Medicinal herbs, Vegetables, Nuts, Oils, Grains and Fruits.
All our products are PETA Certified as Vegan, cruelty-free and not tested on animals. Our products are safe for people and the environment, they do not contain parabens, SLS, mineral oils, GMO, PEGs, or harsh chemicals. We use eco-friendly and sustainable packaging.
Who’s your target audience?
Inna: Woman 25-45 focused on wellbeing, who appreciate slow beauty and healthy lifestyle, those who share their love to natural beauty with their loved ones and like to buy good products for their families. Our products can be used by all family- any age (14+ acne line) any sex.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
Inna: We have two PR agencies working for us – one in Cyprus, one in UK and we have a marketing communications team in Russia. We also participate in charity events connected with sustainability and wellbeing as well as trade events such as NOPE and Intercharm Russia.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
Inna: One of the most successful marketing strategies we’ve focused on is collaboration with bloggers focused on sustainability and wellbeing. We created interesting micro projects with then and this gave us a lot of engagement and sales. But importantly for us these types of collaborations are social cause marketing.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Inna: To convince people to try our products on the bigger scale, we are aiming for international reach but it’s an expensive strategy so trying to find the most cost effective marketing solutions for the higher reach is the biggest challenge we face.
And your proudest moment so far?
Inna: Winning international awards is something so motivating and emotional. This really makes us going. We have won over 17 awards now.
Why is work so important to you?
Inna: This not just a business project for me its my mission to outreach the importance of being kind to ourselves, slow life, focus on most precious things in life like family, friends and own health.
Elena: Being part of something that is so ethical, with products that are good for humans, animals, our planet, but also that is supporting the local community and promoting this goodness of Cyprus is very special and important to me.
Who inspires you?
Inna: My mother after fighting and winning over 2 cancers inspires me the most, even at the times when she couldn’t get out of bed she was optimistic and supporting all of us with great belief and strong will.
Elena: Cyprus, its pure and therapeutic nature, its strong traditions and its kind people are my inspiration.
How do you balance your business with your family?
Inna: I find this being my biggest challenge. I struggle a lot. But the awareness of the importance of such balance is already a great step, so I try and many times stop myself. The secret is to have the ability to pivot fast.
Elena: It is quite difficult especially when working with different time zones and online, but dedicating time just for the family is very important and I try to make that time. Thankfully my family is very understanding especially when I explain to them why Kypwell is so special.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
Inna: I would say that to be entrepreneur one has to have certain characteristics and if they are absent better not to start:
- Very strong passion.
- Optimism at all situations.
- Ability to sell to one person and a huge audience.
- Have a purpose in what you decide to do that means a lot to you.
- Find valuable lessons from the mistakes you will make (and be prepared for many!)
- Be kind to everyone around you and yourself.
You can find out more about Kypwell on their website.