Q & A with Therese Kerr on Why Non-Toxic And Certified Organic Personal Care Products Are So Important

Q & A with Therese Kerr on The Minimalist Vegan

When I first met Therese back in April at an educational talk she was gave at Mura Pathway to Wellness, I was blown away by her passion and dedication to exposing the truth behind the personal care industry and always choosing certified organic. I sat there for 2 hours listening to her speak and even though I knew a lot of what she said already, there were some amazing pieces of research that she shared with us that totally blew my mind.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to share some of what she talks about in her presentations travelling Australia and spreading this message. I saw her speak again just last month and asked her if she would be interested in answering some questions that we thought would be useful for our readers.

She is so open and down to earth that we knew she would be more than delighted to take the time to send this through to us.

If you don’t know who Therese Kerr is, she is an Author, Visionary, Public Speaker, The Health and Wellness Ambassador of Australian Organic, a Wellness Ambassador for Mindd Foundation, animal rights activist, advocate for holistic family health and an Ambassador for Endometriosis Australia. She is also the mother of the amazingly beautiful supermodel Miranda Kerr. They have both been advocates for a healthy lifestyle for some time now and inspire many people around the world to do the same.

She’s also also the founder of The Divine Company, a premium Australian beauty and personal care collection.

Here’s our Q & A with Therese Kerr.

When you meet someone for the first time and they ask you what you do for a living, what do you say?

When I meet someone for the first time and they ask me what I do, I share that I am now blessed to live my passion daily and life is too short not to.

I share that for many years I worked in accountancy and was the Chief Financial Controller for a large international company and that it wasn’t until I had tumours in my spleen that I started researching the chemicals in our everyday products and discovered that chemicals are used in our everyday skin, hair, beauty, personal, baby and just about every product in our home on the basis they are safe until proven otherwise which is in my mind a little bit stupid! We take so much for granted that the products have been safety tested and sadly the majority have not been tested at all.

What motivated you to start a personal care company?

As stated above I had tumours in my spleen in 2001 and had to have my spleen removed in 2002. During this time I started researching the chemicals in our everyday products and I was shocked. I started working with Bill Statham (the author of The Chemical Maze which is now been translated into nine languages around the world) and to this day often present with Bill at events.

During this time I looked for certified organic products and could not find ones that had the efficacy I personally wanted and knew the market would demand in certified organic. KORA Organics was our first step into certified organic products as a family and as the CEO of KORA I took the company through certification and then I said to Miranda that we can’t stop at skincare for young people, we need to create certified organic personal, baby, men’s, hair care, anti-aging and cosmetic products. Miranda didn’t wish to create personal care products like healthy toothpaste, mouth wash, deodorant as it did not align with her brand and he contractual agreements prohibited her from doing hair care etc and that is why we started Divine.

Why was this important to me in particular? Each day we place a chemical burden on our body and each day, sadly people don’t realise that on average, 60 – 65% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream and into our organs, in fact, research is showing (EWG) that our skin can absorb chemicals up to ten times faster than by way of ingestion and that is because our skin doesn’t have the digestive enzymes that our digestive system has to break the chemicals down, nor does our skin have the purification process of the liver which breaks chemicals down further. In some instances research is also showing that in certain areas of the body (under the arms and in the genitalia area), 100% of what is being put on will be absorbed by the body and this also applies to products that are fragranced.

Fragrance alone is what is called a “cluster” ingredient which simply means a company can put any chemical under this one heading and list it simply as “fragrance” on the label. Dr Carole Hungerford states that “Fragrance is the number one gender bender” and contains potent endocrine disrupting chemicals and as our endocrine system (ovaries, testes, adrenals, pancreas, thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus) is like the “tuning fork” for the body (sends signals out to almost all of the cells within our body, controls hormone development and regulates hormones as well as our metabolism) it is vitally important not to place endocrine disrupting chemicals that mimic our hormones on our body as a large percentage end up in the body wrecking havoc on our delicate endocrine system.

The 2012 World Health Organisation Report on Endocrine Disrupting chemicals concludes:

  • Semen quality has dropped by 40%
  • Genital malformation in baby boys has increased by 400%
  • Pre-term pregnancy is at an all time high
  • We are at the tip of the iceberg in relation to the incidence of Endocrine Disorders
  • Babies are being born with on average 200+ chemicals in their little bodies as evidenced by the research undertaken by Sarah Lantz of Qld University and many other researchers around the world.

And the reason myself, my husband and business partners started The Divine Company was to hopefully bring awareness to the unregulated use of chemicals in our everyday products and the scientific, evidence-based research that is showcasing the detrimental impacts of those chemicals on ourselves, our children and our planet. It is only through education can we make informed choices and without providing products that actually work as effectively as the conventional ones, education is lost. That is why we do what we do.

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What did you do prior to starting Divine?

I have worked in accountancy for most of my life, being a Chief Financial Controller of a very large international company, I have my own real estate licence, have owned my own businesses and it wasn’t until I had my own health crisis did I actually get to live my passion in doing what I am doing now. It all started though with educating myself and today I am blessed to work hand in hand sharing the wellness message with incredible people like Bill Statham, Dr/Professor Marc Cohen, Dr Sarah Lantz, Nicole Biljsma and many others, all dedicated to sharing the wellness message and to providing information that may assist people to make healthier choices – if they choose.

You regularly mention that you choose health first. Have you always thought this way? If not, at what point in your life did health become your number one priority?

It wasn’t until I started researching the chemicals in our everyday lives that I began to see the importance of choosing health daily. I take a holistic approach to health and wellness, by holistic I mean that I do my best to nurture my body physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am an avid fan of certified organic everything, not just products we put on our skin, but what we put in our mouths as the pesticides, insecticides, etc have, like cosmetics, rarely been tested for safety. As an Ambassador for The Mindd Foundation and Australian Organic, I have educated myself on all areas of healthy living and know that with every choice we make we are either moving away from or moving toward health and yes, there is definitely a balance, I sometimes eat food that is not good for me, have a beer or a wine but for the most part, I realise the importance of choosing health for me personally and that only comes with educating myself as to the why I choose to live the way I do. My “why” is that I know what I know now and I know that my choices, for the most part support my body and my health.

What does the statement “less is more” mean to you and how have you applied it to your life?

I believe we overeat and this statement is so important in relation to that. We fill our body with highly processed, high sugar content, high trans fat foods and in my opinion most of us each too much. The majority of our energy is then expelled in having to digest the garbage we fill our body with. When you go back to nature (certified organic produce and products) and eat foods direct from nature, free from chemicals and toxins or use products free of chemicals, you are supporting not hindering you body. Our certified organic products for example, are super concentrated. Although they may be a little more expensive to start with but certainly more cost effective. Pay now or pay later with your health, it really is that simple.

What frustrates you most about the personal care industry?

The fact that the personal care/cosmetics industry is basically self-regulating, that chemicals are used in personal/cosmetics on the basis they are safe until proven otherwise, that there is no premarket testing required for personal/cosmetics and people unfortunately and sadly believe (and I was one of them until I started researching this subject) the products on the shelves are safe, they are not and one day we will look back and think, what on earth were we thinking… That time, hopefully, with all the work people in wellness are doing will have that shift occur sooner than later. Ultimately, companies will only stop making the products when people stop buying them!

A company can claim something is organic if it has one natural ingredient yet it can contain hundreds of chemicals and still be called organic – this is green washing and many companies, most that are recognised brands in health food stores play on this and create their own “organic” logo. The only true organic is certified organic and the most highly regarded certification bodies are ACO (Australian Certified Organic) and ECO CERT.

It is only certified organic if it doesn’t contain:

  • Everyday chemicals used in conventional products.
  • Pesticides, insecticides, organophosphates, gylphosates.
  • GMO ingredients.
  • Only certified organic products have full traceability from preplanning of the soil through to retail.

Sadly as shown below under the heading “The below are Not Certified Organic” companies create their own “organic” logo’s and consumers looking for healthier alternatives are duped into thinking these products are certified organic when they are not. These products almost always contain:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.06.46 PM[1] Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.07.41 PM[1] Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.07.56 PM[1]

Fragrance more often than not contains:

 Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.09.04 PM[1] Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.10.01 PM[1]

The examples shown on the top section of the below image (Australian Organic, ECO Cert, Cosmos Organic) are recognised Certified organic logo’s:

Certified Organic Logos

Do you have some tips, tools or resources to help people navigate the world of personal care when they’re shopping?

Get yourself a copy of “The Chemical Maze” book by Bill Statham or his app “Chemical Maze”. Switch to Certified organic – ACO and ECO CERT are the best in Australia. Educate yourself so that you understand the difference between “Organic”, “Natural” and Certified Organic”.

Educate yourself! Here is a list of research and documentaries you can start with. This is probably a 10th of what Therese actually sent us. If you want the full list of resources and information, please just send us an email and we would be happy to send it to you. It was just too much for us to post in this article. 

What’s next for you and your company?

Contrary to what the media reports, there is no and has never been a rivalry between Divine and KORA Organics. Divine has been to this date focused on personal care, hair care, mens’ and baby products. KORA Organics is for younger skin and as a family we are dedicated to providing the world with certified organic goodness across all spectrums.

Next year we will be releasing anti-aging skincare and makeup.

We have as a family, opened a “Mostly Organic and Made With Love” Kitchen called Nanna Kerr’s Kitchen in the Hunter Valley showcasing all the local produce.

Our goal as a family is to make a difference and to use our public profile to do so.

We are expanding internationally as well. It all takes time and a whole lot of money to maintain stock levels and to grow the business effectively and we are slowly but surely getting there and ourselves and our business partners have put just about everything we all own into this business. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of fun and the most beautiful thing of all is that we get to connect with people and remove the impact that chemicals are having on a lot of people’s lives.

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