Conscious Founders - The Leaveli Interview

Bhavna Suri
Founder of Terra Tonics


Bhavna, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Your parents are healers. Tell us about them and how they impacted the evolution of your career.

Growing up the importance of nature and what it teaches us was intertwined into my daily life, whether it be the decision of what I put on my skin, the food I eat or how I interact with others and all that surrounds us.

My father loved to share with me his incredible knowledge of ayurvedic practices and the wisdoms of our Indian heritage. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient form of natural medicine that aims to cleanse, and to restore balance to, the body, mind, and spirit.

My mum was an aromatherapist. Instead of chemicals, essential oils were our first aid kit and pharmacy at home. If I scratched my knee, she’d use tea tree oil, or, if I couldn’t sleep she’d pop a few drops of lavender on my pillow.

I believe subconsciously this was all affecting me on a much deeper level than I knew. Understanding the connection between our mind and body and us and nature has been and is very important to me.


Wellness was something natural in your upbringing. Can you tell us what does wellbeing and having a healthy life mean to you TODAY?

For me it’s more about what gives long term health and happiness. Instead of quick fixes, what things do I do daily for my mind, body and spirit. Over the years as I’ve learned to incorporate certain rituals and routines into my day, I can really tell when I don’t take care of all 3 of those areas.

Connection plays a big role in wellbeing which in turn leads to a healthy life, connection to self, to others and to nature.

When did your interest in natural skincare begin? How can skincare the most outer care of our being (the body/skin) impact our most core internal wellbeing  (emotional/soul)?

I’ve always had somewhat sensitive skin, then when I started modelling around 20, the constant use of different products on my skin, and the constant travel, only impacted my skin further. This taught me to look after my skin, and just how important it is. I started to take a real interest in what does or doesn’t work—and slowly, I began to look at what the products contained to find a solution.

Being in India taught me a lot about nature being a great source for skin care and health. I began to make my own natural skin products, I kept the combinations simple, playing with rose water for a natural toner, turmeric and various clays for cleansing, and aloe vera for soothing and dryness.

The skin is key to the interactions we have everyday, it’s the barrier between us and the outside world. This is so important to our wellbeing, more than just the way we appear visually, but to be able to touch, the feeling of hot or cold, feeling if something is soft, it’s a part of all our connections.

By nourishing our skin, we in turn nourish our body, thus nourishing our minds, and vice versa. I believe a holistic approach is the best way to take care of our inner and outer wellbeing. Each choice we make has an effect.

Terra Tonics comes from the world Terra - Earth. Tell us more about how you develop your brand name.

The name Terra Tonics came quite easily, it actually started with tonics as this was a word we used when creating these formulations, meaning - a medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigour or well-being. Which was exactly what we were creating for the skin. It then felt right that Mother Earth was at the front of our name, being that it is the source of all our ingredients.

All your products have a small amount of ingredients but at a high dosage. Could you please tell us how therefore Terra Tonics is different from many other brands out there?

Terra Tonics was born from my dissatisfaction with the skincare products on the market. They were made from watered-down ingredients, fillers, synthetically synthesised (not pure) natural ingredients and animal products that were not just cruel—but dramatically less beneficial than plant-based sources. And, when products did contain bio-active ingredients, they made up less than 1% of the total components.

One of the many problems I found and still find with skincare products, even food products is the marketing of a said ingredient, only to look at the ingredient list and see it has 20, 30, 40 + ingredients. I would then find the ingredient itself would be somewhere far down the list or watered down, meaning minimal benefit, generally with an added in synthetic to offer a quick fix, yet still have such high price tag,

So with Terra Tonics I wanted to offer the customer a better experience, one that was truthful, simple and effective. Ingredients you could understand, in percentages that worked, with honest results.

We choose to use less ingredients but in high percentages to offer you the real benefits of each ingredient, because that’s why we use them right.

You talk about Plant Based Collagen even though you mean you are using ingredients to regulate our own collagen production. Can you tell us more about this process and the misconceptions in having to intake animal sourced collagen? How do botanical ingredients impact this?

Plant-based ingredients are far more efficacious at building, hydrating, and protecting collagen because they support our body’s natural functions.

Animal sources of collagen are not necessary, or effective for plump, radiant skin. The main problem with animal based collagen is it doesn’t confront the root cause of collagen loss. It’s like trying to fill a bucket with water that has a hole rather than fixing the bucket.

Most collagen sources are derived from ground up bones, hides, hooves, horns, fish scales and other parts of animals unnecessarily. Contaminants are normally found in animal sources of collagen as they are generally a by-product of factory farming.

To keep producing collagen effectively it needs support. Collagen is made from Vitamin C, amino acids & minerals. Vitamin C is inextricably necessary for collagen, without it your body just can not produce it. Which is why among many reasons we use Kakadu plum, the world's richest source of Vitamin C in a natural and stable form.

You´ve mentioned - a person uses up to 500 + synthetic chemicals on their body everyday without realising and 60% of the chemicals we put on our skin care are absorbed into our bodies. Do you think part of this responsibility relies on big corporations? How can individuals make a difference?

Yes, I believe it is up to businesses to choose better options, these chemical products are so unnecessary and can cause terrible  long term health problems. With many big corporations it comes down to profit over the health of the customer, which is why we see people moving towards smaller/local brands that are built on honesty and starting their business with the customer in mind first.

I think through education, through taking the time to tune in to your skin and body. Trying to slowly switchover products to better clean, natural options, looking for local businesses that can offer you real ingredients and are transparent, there’s a lot of information out there but some wonderful platforms and businesses that are cutting through all the misinformation to really help people become more aware.

The vitamin C used in your products is pretty different to the rest in the market. Tell us about it.

Up until very recently, it was impossible to apply natural vitamin c topically to your skin. Natural vitamin c is notoriously unstable. The antioxidants it in would perish within a very short period rendering a product useless. That's if they survived the extraction process to begin with.

Unfortunately, synthetic vitamin c is nothing like natural vitamin c. Synthetic vitamin c contains no antioxidant properties (you read that correctly) because it’s missing the molecule that makes natural vitamin c active and an antioxidant.

Due to an innovation in the extraction process (really an innovation in skincare) for the first time we are able to extract natural vitamin c that is shelf stable and 100% ACTIVE with the antioxidant properties intact.

40% of Clean Collagen is comprised of Kakadu Plum

Kakadu Plum contains 100 times more vitamin c than an orange. Clean Collagen also contain Finger Lime which is incredibly high in vitamin c.

There is nothing more effective for your collagen production than the power of natural vitamin c.

Sustainability is a key value in your business.  Could you tell us about your upcoming packaging?

With Terra Tonics I want you to feel good about the investment in your skin but also your impact on the planet. Sustainability has always been at the top of every decision made for Terra Tonics, it is something we as a business and as individuals will continuously work hard on to create a better impact.

Which is why I am so excited to be launching new 100% home compostable packaging, making it better for the planet and easy for the customer. It is a blend of hemp & mycelium mushroom, a bio-composite, offering incredible durability without the negative impact on the environment, it will also be removing CO2 from the environment during its production. You can pop this packaging into your garden and it will be able to decompose with ZERO toxicity.

All your products are Australian resources and produced. Can you tell us about your partnership with Sendle in order to ensure a Carbon neutral Delivery Service to Continents all around the world?

We chose to use Sendle as it is a 100% carbon neutral delivery service, whatever CO2e you emit is cancelled out by a process known as 'offsetting' – that is, supporting projects that reduce emissions, like regenerating precious forest, replacing old equipment with more efficient technology, or even training communities in beekeeping!