It has taken me awhile to write this, a whole year in fact, the journey of how CILK came to be, because it is much more than just a product or brand, it is a celebration of life, love, beauty and treasured moments.
Content warning, this letter is long, bear with me if you can…..
My background is in stockbroking (junior treasury analyst at Morgan Stanley in Australia, hedge fund analyst in London, and derivatives analyst at The Bank of New York) I was quickly climbing the corporate ladder from a young age with a flourishing career, until my long-term boyfriend (now husband) Darcy, was hit by a car and our worlds fell apart.
He was returning home on his motorcycle after picking up last minute necessities for his flight that evening to reunite with me in London after a year of long distance, 4 weeks exploring Europe together awaited.
Driving through his quiet neighborhood, around the corner from home, a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road hit him head on, he sustained horrific injuries, he passed away at the scene until a trauma doctor happened to pass the scene and stopped to revive him, saving his life.
I was on the next flight back to Australia to be by his side as he lay in a coma for a month and while he slowly recovered in a brain injury rehab unit for 6 months. I became his full-time carer for almost 2 years as he learnt to walk and talk again and regain basic cognitive function.
After a long challenging road of recovery and piecing our lives back together, we grew to become thankful for this life altering experience, although we wished harm had never come to Darcy, we learnt the true values of vulnerability, strength, patience, compassion and love. We were ready for the next chapter.
Due to Darcy’s traumatic brain injury, he was advised by doctors not to drink alcohol again (as this could cause seizures), once he was relatively recovered, we desperately missed our Friday evening red wine ritual we once had, I began sourcing premium non-alcoholic drink alternatives that had wellness and sensory elements with varying notes on the palate that could emulate what we loved about red wine.
I drank rose tea religiously at the time and was enchanted by how the rose buds slowly open in the warm water, it embodied a soothing and romantic notion, it was this initial experience that sparked something for me. I researched the health benefits of consuming rose and discovered that part of the powerfully healing therapeutic properties of rose have a calming effect on the mind.
I become empowered to create an alcohol replacement that was not only healthy and enjoyable, but could help my partners brain. I began experimenting with rose drink concoctions in our tiny apartment kitchen.
The drink had to reflect the moments we shared over a beautiful red wine, swirling the glass around, the crimson liquid elegantly swaying against the glass, the subtle intoxicating aroma, earthy notes lingering on the palate and the satisfaction you share together when you've discovered a good drop. Each element encountered with that drink transports you back to an evening of indulgence, laughter, music and that warm feeling of a simple yet special memory.
I continually reinvented my own formula to represent these details that were dear to both of us, I refined the recipe to a concentrated rose extract and added it to sparkling water, the carbonation expelled the fragrance and therapeutic rose properties, enhancing all of the elements I envisioned capturing.
Shortly after, I was in the bathroom one morning cleansing and moisturizing and realized my skincare contained rose water, I had that cliche light bulb moment that my creation could be much more than just a drink but an innovative wellness inner beauty product.
I delved deeper into the health and beauty benefits of drinking rose water, analyzed the market and found there was a gap (this was 3 years ago). What began as a simple idea to improve our lifestyle, took shape almost on its own, evolving authentically.
After completing my own development phase, I engaged independent consultation from a qualified Naturopath, a Formulation Chemist and a Food & Beverage Alchemist, enabling the possibilities of turning this into something real.
Initially I struggled to find a manufacturer to make a digestible beauty product and even more so the right manufacturer, it was important to have the product made in a facility with exceptional organic standards, were I could work with their team one on one.
After 8 months of dead ends, I found a manufacturer that believed in my product and had the patience to understand what I wanted to create and keep it as natural as possible.
Being a naturally feminine product, it needed to be balanced with the use of my husband in my mind, hence the understated sleek unisex packaging, also designed to maintain the longevity of the rose properties, preserving the biodynamic energy of the rose plant.
Launching and growing this brand has been surreal, I’m constantly challenged by the commercialization and business strategies behind something that is pure and heartfelt to us. Everyday I remind myself of the origins of the brand and why I started this.
This week marked the 5th anniversary of Darcy’s accident, we’ve spent these years trying to find our purpose. Darcy starts university next month to become a nurse, it’s his way of giving back for the second chance he was given. And this is my chance to put something beautiful into the world and into your lives.