Christine Pausewang grew up in southern Germany, a country that adopted ambitious environmental policies way before much of Europe, and a leaded in organic farming techniques as well. Such social and geographic conditioning undoubtedly shaped her inspiration and vocation. At 19 she moved to London to pursue a career in fashion, met her match - also Chris - moved to Shanghai and then back to London. At which point she felt a need to reevaluate her life in order to better align with her passions.
Realizing that she was spending all of her free time studying the science of health and nutrition - to the point of obsession - her new direction became obvious. And then the feasibility appeared when, in 2015, her fiancé suggested they move to Portugal and work together for his family’s business: a lab producing organic, plant-based food supplements. So began the Biocol Labs adventure.
- By Chloé Stückelschweiger
I/O: So, you and Chris, your partner, took over Biocol Labs, a natural pharmaceutical company, created in Portugal in the late 70s, with the aim of offering a healthy alternative to chemical abuse in the industry. What is your mission? How has the company evolved in recent years?
Christine Pausewang: Biocol Labs was founded by Chris’ grandparents about 40 years ago. They already realized that processed foods had no nutritional value and that the pharmaceutical industry was extremely lacking. Biocol Labs launched with a range of organic food supplements, with a particular emphasis on oligoelements. Their children then took over the business and it grew around the world.
When Chris and I arrived, we quickly realized that there was real know-how and that the products were fantastic, but that they did not necessarily correspond to the needs of our generation. In addition, sales channels were limited to pharmacies and doctors' offices. We felt it was time to recalibrate and rebrand to make it more appropriate for today’s lifestyle needs.
I/O: What do you consider to be the needs of your new generation of customers?
CP: We identified 2 main issues. First, the systematic use of chemicals in case of headaches and stomach aches: so many people want quick solutions without really being aware of the negative effects that frequent use of medication can cause to the body. Secondly, chronic problems like stress, emotional turmoil, burnout and similar types of exhaustion.
We try to tackle these problems by proposing natural, plant-based solutions. We have recipes that have been developed based on ancient alternative remedies: Ayurveda, Chinese medicine... These are things that worked for ages, but only recently becoming recognized in the West. Our daily mission is to create a benevolent, post-chemical society.
I/O: What does Biocol offer to help with these chronic problems that concern so many of us us all in this stimulating, over-saturated and demanding world?
CP: I am convinced that societal expectations are unrealistic. So many people live in fear: of losing their jobs, of letting others down, ...We must constantly perform, to the point of exhaustion. We no longer know how to listen to our bodies, nor do we know our limits. At Biocol Labs, we humbly try to bring an answer to this constant pressure by helping people better equip themselves for daily live, thanks to the power of nature.
For example, we have a product called “Something for Happiness.” It’s like an antidepressant, but all-natural, of course. Safran is one of the principal active ingredients, something that ayurvedic medicine has been using for thousands of years. There is also vitamin D, vitamin B and 5-Hydroxytryptophan (a type of amino acid) to boost serotonin production. “Something for Happiness” works as a mood stabilizer, so it’s also great for women to take for PMS.
We also just put out a product for digestive disorders, called “Something for Bloated Tums.” Our gut is intricately linked to our brains, so stress and tension end up directly influencing our stomachs and digestion. And the fact that so many people these days don’t slow down to nourish themselves, barely even taking the time to chew - well, this just makes matters worse. It’s all disastrous for the stomach and gut. In this case, we are using probiotics, acacia gum, to rebuild intestinal flora; and fennel extract to boost digestion.
I/O: Tell us about the creation and fabrication of your products?
CS: Our products are developed by an eclectic team of scientists: biochemists, nutritionists, pharmacists, etc. Naturally, all of them are experts in natural and alternative medicine. Then comes the test phase. This is the most fun time because we also test the products ourselves.
I/O: You recently launched a line with Design Hotels, targeting frequent travelers. What else can you tell us about this collaboration?
CP: So many people these days are living between 2 planes and are not aware of the impact that these geographical and climate changes can have on their immune systems, the brain and digestion. We therefore created a line for Design Hotels that consists of a survival kit for travellers in order to encourage optimal health. We even developed a liver detox for hangovers, made of artichoke, rosemary and thistle extracts.
I/O: How do you predict the beauty and health industries will evolve in the coming years?
CP: There are lot of similarities between the pharmaceutical industry and the cosmetic industry in the sense that they are both using highly chemical components, illegible product names, endless lists of ingredients... Fortunately, that is beginning to change. I believe that we are heading towards something more natural. Also, people are realizing that a healthy diet is the key to radiant and healthy skin. Everything is connected.
People want to understand and learn. In fact, it is very important for me to steer them towards the path of knowledge and not just sell them pretty and effective products. In a way, we are also here on an educational mission.
I/O: Nobody’s perfect. Do you ever fall off the wellness wagon? And if so, how do you get back on track?
CP: Of course! I have a very deep love for cheese - it’s awful, I just can’t go without it. But I don’t get caught up in feeling guilty. I know that 90% of the time I eat very healthily. And also, when I do derail a bit, it’s for things that make me happy. So why be terribly strict?
I/O: You have lived in Germany, London and Shanghai and now Lisbon for the past 3 years. How has this affected your lifestyle and your views on wellness?
CP: Lisbon is the 1st city where I have really been able to relax. The quality of life is exceptional. And even though the pace is slower, I feel like I can still advance professionally and accomplish the goals I have set for myself. On the weekend I go to the beach, walk in nature. The sun plays a crucial role, too. No lack of vitamin D here. I stopped my winter cod liver oil treatment ages ago.
I/O: What are your thoughts on female empowerment and feminism?
CP: When talking about feminism and empowerment, I think it's important to start with women. We tend to think that the problem comes from men, but the competition that can be between women is often much more dangerous. Let's be there for each other!
I/O: A mantra or motto?
CP: Never stop. If you fall down, get up!
I/O: Quel outil, app, magazine, livre, vidéo ou blog recommanderais-tu à more communauté?
CP: I would say:
- The health and nutrition bible The China Study is a must read.
- Bod Edit: a great online magazine about the body and wellness. It’s well written and the images make one want to take care of one’s self.
- Mindbodygreen: a goldmine for info on nutrition, health and wellness.
- B, a magazine that exists in Korean and English. Each issue is devoted to one brand, its universe, values, philosophy, strategy... It’s a really useful working tool for me.
- The site We are moody. Amy Thomson, the founder of Seen and Future Girl Corp, just launched a wonderful site about hormones and women’s cycles. It’s very informative. A great interview candidate for Inside/Out.
- Content Beauty a boutique in London founded by Imeda Burke and in which she showcases beauty brands that have a true story and vision. She is an inspiration to me.
I/O: Future projects?
CP: That Biocol will become known as the first pharmacy that truly wants the best for people. I would also like to develop the next generation of pharmacies, aiming to educate the general public in order to prevent rather than heal. Finally, I work to ensure that Biocol is deeply involved in giving back. We have a lot of responsibility!
I/O: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
CP: I hope that Biocol will be a globally successful business! Other than that, I like to let life surprise me.
I/O: Where can we find you?
CP: In one of my favorite coffee shops. I love to go feel the atmosphere, meet people, feel a part of whatever place I am in.
Some of my favorites:
About the author: After living in Berlin for 10 years, Paris native Chloé Stückelschweiger decided to pack up her life and realize her dream of living in Portugal. Currently based in Lisbon, the global trendcaster shares her favorite lifestyle spots in this booming European city.