What would you do if you had no fear? When Jenni Baum-Minkus was asked this question a few years ago, only one thing sprang to her mind: glittery nail polish. At the time, she didn’t have the courage to say it out loud. But she couldn’t get the idea out of her head. She spent nights researching nail polish and was shocked when she discovered what harmful ingredients could be in conventional products. She saw an opportunity to revolutionise the market. “I wanted to develop a product that our customers feel good about and wouldn’t leave them wondering whether they were harming themselves or the planet,” the Berliner says today.
So she listened to her gut feeling and left her fulltime job at a large corporation. She refined her vision at the Grace Accelerator Summer Camp, sponsored by She’s Mercedes. She found support and a network of experienced female mentors and founders there. Taking part in it paid dividends: in the same year, Jenni Baum-Minkus officially founded her company – gitti Conscious Beauty. She pulled together a team of experts to work on solutions for a responsible beauty industry.
Her first product is still the brand’s centrepiece today: a water-based nail colour. A plant-based version was added later, which promises to last up to seven days. She finds an enthusiastic clientele for both that appreciates responsible and sustainable solutions every step of the way. This is not just about ingredients, but also about packaging solutions, production and logistics. “When we launched the first collection from my living room table and it sold out within two hours, I knew for certain that we were on the right track. The stock was meant to last the whole year.”
Much has happened since then. The company is growing rapidly, forming a lively community, and the product range now includes make-up, face and skin care as well as nail colours. Jenni Baum-Minkus has lost none of her courage and ambition: “We want to become the biggest conscious beauty brand. A brand that is better for people and the planet.” A new beginning for which trusting her own gut feeling fully paid off.
Jenni Baum-Minkus creates new standards for sustainable and responsible beauty products with gitti Conscious Beauty.
Christof Tremp (left) and his co-founder Janick Planzer stand for conscious drinking pleasure with alcohol-free spirits from REBELS 0.0%.
“The last gin and tonic is always the one you regret the next morning,” says Christof Tremp. Having worked in the corporate sector for a long time, including for food companies, there came a point when the Swiss man realised that he wanted to be his own boss. Instead of waiting for the bright idea to come to him, he actively researched developments in the food and beverage industry. And that was how he came across the megatrend of alcohol-free aperitif alternatives. “It already existed in the UK, and was just taking off in Germany too. I knew: it’s now or never. You don’t have to be a first mover, but it’s important to be an early mover.”
He first heard about alcohol without alcohol during his sabbatical on the Camino de Santiago. To begin with, he found the idea irritating. But the more he thought about it, the more the trend seemed to make sense to him. According to market research company Nielsen, sales of products in the no/low-alcohol sector have increased by over 500 per cent since 2015. A new health consciousness, especially in Generation Z, and the lack of alternative delicious alcohol-free drinks on the market provided the ideal environment for Tremp to found his start-up REBELS 0.0%. Together with co-founder Janick Planzer, he developed equivalents for amaretto, gin, rum, spritz and vermouth.
Founding their company right at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the duo needed plenty of stamina, for example when production was delayed due to faltering supply chains. But the two were lucky in some ways; because clubs and bars remained closed, home consumption went through something of a boom. Since then, REBELS 0.0% products have won several industry awards.
The secret to making their drinks special is a double distillation process based on water, which ensures an intense flavour. “We tried different methods in our quest to get as close as possible to the classics. Distilling away the alcohol was not an option for us because we set ourselves the goal of zero per cent,” says Christof Tremp. They are not against alcohol, but rather in favour of a new social drinking culture in which everyone is free to choose. No moralising fingers being wagged, but with the fun of healthy and impressive drinks. Which one does the founder himself prefer to toast with? “With the nogroni.”
The Belgian media hail Morgan Wirtz as the next Steve Jobs. The young entrepreneur, although flattered by these comparisons, says himself that he is still at the beginning of the road. And yet there are certain parallels.
Just like the Apple founder, Wirtz dropped out of his studies – too theoretical. He already had the germ of an idea for his dream of owning his own business. He rented a co-working space, met his future co-founders there and together they developed RISE, an account specifically for children aged ten and over. The principle is very simple: parents open an account, invite their children to order their payment card and can track how they use their pocket money via an app. At the same time, the young account holders can independently set savings goals and track their budget. All this in a protected space that is modern in design and easy to use. Parents have individual setting options, such as spending limits.
“Teenagers today talk about bitcoin and investments during school breaks. Money is becoming more and more digital, children get their pocket money by direct transfer. But you don’t learn this at school, you learn it by trying it out,” says the 23-year-old. Learning by doing is one of the guiding principles of RISE. The CEO needs no further convincing. “If the children make a mistake – no problem, because they learn from it and become better able to handle money as adults.”
Morgan Wirtz does not come from a banking background himself. But he is driven by an aspiration to develop a perfect product to solve social problems. Even as a teenager, he strived for top performance when training in professional sailing. “The metrics for success are no different in sailing than for start-ups: ambition, creativity, teamwork. Looking back, I would say that sport was my first entrepreneurial journey.”
RISE launched on the Belgian market this summer and has ambitions to enter other European countries next year. The mission is to give children confidence in their own abilities. Morgan Wirtz leads by example.
Morgan Wirtz wants RISE to make dealing with finances attractive for a young target group – risk-free.