Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style
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INTU Wellness Founders Anna Robards And Christie Whitehill On Entrepreneurship, Burnout And The ‘Mum-Juggle’

We chatted to Anna and Christie about their inspiration for INTU WELLNESS, stance against 'hustle culture', and synergistic partnership.

Anna Robards and Christie Whitehill know first-hand how challenging it can be to juggle work and motherhood. They noticed that good quality sleep was something multitasking women were sacrificing and it was wreaking havoc on their bodies, so they came up with the idea for INTU WELLNESS – a range of wellness powders that ‘do it all’.

“The inspiration for INTU WELLNESS sparked after a stroll one day,” Anna and Christie tell THE INARRA. “We found ourselves talking about the countless restless nights, lack of sleep, and the dull-looking skin that comes with trying to ‘juggle it all’. We wanted that power (and glow) back!”

Anna is well-known in the Australian media landscape. The ex-lawyer won the first season of The Bachelor, where she met her husband Tim Robards. The pair have a three-year-old daughter, Elle, and are pregnant with their second child.

Christie is an award-winning tech entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience and a mentor in the Australian tech space. She is married to Getaway and Channel 9 presenter David Whitehill, and they have two kids, Zac, 7, and Ava, 3.

A couple of years after their initial conversation, Anna and Christie launched their first product, Sleep & Skin Renewal –which supports a deep restful sleep, skin hydration and regeneration for a glowing complexion. “We wanted to create an effective, transformative product that offered multiple benefits,” they said.

In just 18 months, Sleep & Skin Renewal has become an award-winning hero product for women and mothers because it does what it says on the tub: supports a deep restful nights sleep.

Sleep is the foundation of good health,” says Christie. “When you get good quality sleep it helps reset your body, mind and skin, plus so many more benefits. When formulating this product we worked with our formulator to source the best ingredients that would be the most effective to get to a deep restful sleep.

“The feedback we get from our community has been so amazing. People who have had sleeplessness issues for years are now sleeping through the night. It is so rewarding to hear these kinds of stories.”

“Motherhood really puts things into perspective, especially when it comes to your health. As a mother, you need optimal health to get through the day, and we ensure that anything we create is multitasking, just like us.”
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Becoming a business owner wasn’t something Anna envisioned for herself, but after having Elle she decided not to renew her law licence and take the leap into entrepreneurship. “I always say that I fell into law, and it wasn’t something I was passionate about. It was more to prove to people and myself that I was capable of doing it.

“I only knew a few entrepreneurs, and they weren’t the sort of people I came across very often. It was when I ventured into the media world that I became more aware of entrepreneurship. I never had the confidence to do something on my own, so it was great to partner up with someone with the expertise in starting a business.”

While entrepreneurship was new to Anna, her passion for health and wellness was long-lasting and deepened when she was pregnant with Elle. “Health and wellness has always been integral to my life,” she says. “However, it wasn’t until I became pregnant that my perspective truly shifted. I became deeply in tune with my body and its needs for the first time. Although my husband had been an avid supplement user, I hadn’t fully grasped the importance of that world until my body demanded it.

“I began taking magnesium powder during my pregnancy and have been a firm believer ever since. Powders are more bioavailable, and you can pack more nutrients than tiny capsules. It’s a multitasking brand for multitasking women.”

When Elle was just 10 months old, Anna went on SAS Australia where she demonstrated immense determination and courage and stunned the nation by outlasting many other team members including athletes and former Olympians. The experience changed how Anna perceived herself, both personally and professionally.

On a personal level, my entire mindset shifted from being someone who doubted every action and never felt good enough,” she says. “This experience underscored my belief in myself and what I was capable of achieving, mainly to myself.

“Professionally, the experience served as a huge motivator and made me realise that you can achieve things you may not think are possible. I apply this mindset to everything I do now, ensuring that I recognise my worth and that success is attainable if I put in the effort.”

Unlike Anna, Christie was not new to entrepreneurship. She has more than 15 years of experience building businesses from scratch, but the move from the tech space to health and wellness was one she was inspired to make when she experienced burnout as a consequence of embracing the ‘hustle culture’.

“Before experiencing burnout, I was one of those people who really bought into the hustle culture and wore it like a badge of honour, but burnout is no joke,” Christie says. “It ended with me experiencing all types of symptoms including leaky gut, fatigue, brain fog etc…and a three-year recovery.

“The silver lining from having burnout was that it really helped me to love my body and most importantly look after it,” she says. “Over the last four years, I have worked with so many doctors and health practitioners to heal from burnout. Supplements were a key tool to my healing journey and I really got to know many ingredients and their benefits.

“It helped me have a good first-hand understanding of what ingredients really work and so when formulating with our team it has been a collaborative approach using our personal experience, market research and of course our team’s 20+ years of experience in the industry to come up with products that are effective.”

Christie knows that starting a new business always has challenges, and she and Anna experienced their fair share when launching INTU WELLNESS. “Just as you overcome one obstacle, another presents itself,” says Anna. “It’s essential to double the time and money you initially think will be necessary to bring a product to market.”

They recall one particularly tough challenge right before the launch. “A week before we were due to launch, we discovered that the wrong-sized scoop had been inserted into one of the tubs,” says Anna. “The fix wasn’t as simple as replacing the scoop. We had to reprint and remove thousands of labels to re-label them with the correct information, indicating ‘two scoops’ instead of one.”

For Christie, one of the greatest challenges in launching INTU was a personal one. When she was pregnant with Ava, she had pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP aka Pupps), which is an itchy rash that she says was “the most challenging thing I ever experienced in my life…itching 24/7 for five months while pregnant – I was a broken mess!”

Christie found that changing her diet and lifestyle helped. “From what I know now is that if I had detoxed my body and looked after my gut health before getting pregnant, I would have most likely not experienced Pupps. There was so much about this that inspired my mission for INTU, the education we want to share and our range of products.”

The huge success of INTU can be attributed to the mix of strengths, qualities and experiences Anna and Christie bring to the table. Anna has been in media for over ten years, and in that time she has worked with some of the biggest health and beauty brands. When it comes to INTU, Anna acts as the creative director who focuses on media and advertising, tapping into the network she has built throughout her career.

Christie is more business-minded and takes care of strategy, marketing and growth. “Christie has created many brands from scratch and has her own business, teaching women how to start a business,” Anna says. “You can see where this would come in handy!”

“We draw on each other’s strengths, and INTU Wellness is a collaboration that couldn’t have been achieved by just one of us,” she says.

The health and wellness industry is noisy, but Anna and Christie have figured out how to cut through a saturated market.

We focus on our lane and not get caught up in what others are doing. This is evident in our packaging – when everyone opted for beige, we wanted to stand out and ensure we weren’t just like the other brands.

“This approach extends to our formulations as well. When formulating our products, we wanted known and on-trend ingredients but also incorporated new and upcoming ingredients to stand out and not just follow the trends.

“To remain innovative and competitive, we closely collaborate with a team of leaders in formulating and manufacturing complementary medicines. Additionally, we work closely with an award-winning naturopath with over 24 years of experience. This ensures that our products meet and exceed industry standards while providing our customers with the highest quality wellness solutions.”

Following the success of Sleep & Skin Renewal, Anna and Christie have recently launched two new products: Energy & Skin Radiance (a morning supplement that relieves symptoms of stress, supports cognitive function, energy production and skin hydration, for a radiant complexion) and Gut & Skin Rejuvenation (a daily supplement that supports healthy digestion and liver health, relieves digestive discomfort, supports hair health and skin rejuvenation). But they didn’t rush the development process; they took the time and care to ensure the products were something their customers wanted.

Before we started developing the next two products we went out to our community to ask them what they needed support with most. Improving gut health, boosting energy and managing stress were at the top of the list along with improving skin hydration and elasticity.

“We already knew gut health and managing stress are two important factors in supporting your overall health so it made our decision really easy on what to focus on after sleep. The process from the initial formulation to flavour trials then manufacturing and testing before we brought them into market took around 18 months.”

While Anna and Christie have developed ‘super powders’ that encourage better sleep, gut health and skin, balancing the ‘mum-juggle’ is still a challenge. “Balance is about understanding your limits and recognising when to step back,” says Anna. “I’ve always prided myself on maintaining a sense of balance, and despite being busier than ever, I can still manage a level of sanity because I know the importance of pausing when necessary. Exercise and self-care are part of my weekly routine, and sometimes, it’s more important to take time out for yourself than to write another email.

Christie agrees. “Knowing when to pull back is key,” she says. “I know when my body is starting to tense up or I’m feeling more stressed and out of balance that I need to pause and take time out for myself, which is hard with kids! I try to maintain balance by getting in exercise a few times a week, eating really healthy, going for walks and having magnesium baths.”

Now that Anna is pregnant with her second child, she is more passionate than ever about creating good quality products. “From the beginning, it has always been about creating something purposeful that is high-quality and effective. I will not settle for anything less, and I genuinely believe that’s why our products perform so well.

“Motherhood really puts things into perspective, especially when it comes to your health. As a mother, you need optimal health to get through the day, and we ensure that anything we create is multitasking, just like us.”

Anna and Christie have big plans for INTU WELLNESS. “We are continually evolving, and that won’t change. We are thrilled to announce that MECCA has just taken on INTU WELLNESS in 80 of their stores. We are the first Australian ingestible beauty brand to land an in-store spot with them, which is huge as we have only been around for two years.

“Additionally, new products are always on the horizon, and we plan to launch several more this year that target all your concerns!”

 

Words by Ellie Wiseman

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