Catch up with a Chemical-Free beauty expert

Lavinia is a proud Thirlmere local with a passion for natural and healing beauty products. Over 15 years ago Lavinia left the corporate world and embraced her creative side to start her own business. Find out what inspired her career change and how she grew the business from a small market stall offering 4 soaps to an online and farm gate retail space offering over 100 products. 

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Let’s start off with a little bit about you...

By trade I’m an Administrator Manager and worked in Sydney within the shipping industry for many years. I also have about 10 years’ experience in the retail health industry and have spent time studying art at TAFE and private college to fulfil my creative mind.

I enjoy travelling, reading, watching TV, painting and cooking.  I am currently the Secretary of the Wollondilly Tourist Association and also spend time hosting students from Japan, Singapore, Korea and China.

What about your business?

When I moved to the area 15 years ago I found it difficult to find work because I was always over qualified for a position and to have a break from everyday life problems I took up a soap making course. From here Lavinia Botanica started as a small market stall with 4 different soaps. Today I now produce close to 100 products with ingredients grown on my farm and operate an online business and farmgate shop.

I’ve recently opened an Airbnb on the farm so families can stay the night and experience all the different plants grown and the wild life that visit the area.

Who has been a great influence on your business?

I have read so many health books that was written by authors around the world that have influenced my products.  But the pinnacle was 25 years ago when my husband had a panic attack and was advised by a doctor to just live with it. I was horrified with this advice so I purchased a book called ‘The Fragrant Pharmacy’ by Valerie Ann Wormwood.

This book influenced my way of thinking and I created a massage oil to try out on my Husband. Alongside the oil I placed him on a diet of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. It took 1 year but we managed to break the panic attack cycle. 

Have you ever had a celebrity visit your business?

Yes, politicians, famous tv chefs and actresses!

Do you have a favourite Dilly town?

Well, it has to be Thirlmere of course!  Everyone knows each other and I am privileged that I live on acreage and have a lot of native animals visiting and living on the farm. 

What are your top things to see and do in Wollondilly?

Burragorang Lookout, The Heritage Listed Thirlmere Lakes, Thirlmere Railway Museum, George IV Pub and all the small farms that grow produce in the area … and of course a visit to see me at Lavinia Botanica in Thirlmere!

Where do you pick up your favourite takeaway in Wollondilly?

I always shop locally, so if I feel like chicken it’s Off The Rail, for a pie or sweet treat I’ll head to Loop Line Pies.  Fresh vegetables are always from Mowbray Park Produce and I pick up my wine from Razorback Ridge Winery.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?

Starting the business, juggling life and recently receiving an award being the best soap maker in Australia.

Are there any other interesting facts about you or your business you would like to share?

All my products are made from essential oils and not fragrance.  Fragrances are made in a laboratory with chemicals and essential oils are made from the essence of a plant.  My products are individually designed by me and made with ingredients direct from the farm. I am very proud of my products as they are so unique and unlike anything else on the market.

Find out more about Lavinia Botanica