Building resilience through skincare

Mimi Gilmour Buckley’s daily skincare routine has become a resilience ritual which has made her stronger. Now she wants to share it with others.

High-profile business owner Mimi Gilmour Buckley is best known for her successful Burger Burger chain, so you might ask, what on earth is she doing launching a skincare line?

Her new venture, IAMMI – a skincare range and app – is designed to be a beautiful resilience tool and was born from her own experience of using positive mantras while washing her face.

Five years ago, after the birth of her first-born, Olympia, Gilmour Buckley was a mess. Olympia was born with a serious brain injury and diagnosed with quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy and epilepsy. “I didn’t leave home for three months because all I did was cry,” Gilmour Buckley admits.

“A smile that lights up the world” – Mimi Gilmour Buckley with daughter Olympia, the inspiration behind IAMMI.

In the quiet time she spent washing her face each morning and evening, her skincare routine became her moment of peace where she’d let go of worry and focus on gratitude and acceptance.

“I’d be washing away all of that stress and then putting on this layer of positive energy,” she explains. “I would take myself through the same thought pattern when I was washing my face every day.”

Through this ritual, she became more resilient, and as she studied the brain to better understand Olympia, she learned about neuron pathways and the science of repetition; ultimately, about, why this practice was having such a powerful and positive effect on her. The journey has been so transformational for Gilmour Buckley that she wants to help others and she believes skincare is the perfect place to start.

“Over the years, I’ve kept telling myself ‘I should be doing yoga or more meditation. I should be doing all these things’ but for this, I wash my face every day and I just found it really successful because I was repurposing something that I did every day and turning it into something more meaningful. It just feels less daunting,” she explains.

IAMMI co-founders Mimi Gilmour Buckley and Lucinda East Kennedy.

The products

For the past two years, Gilmour Buckley and co-founder Lucinda East Kennedy have worked with skincare veterans Christine Hames and Kate Michaelmore and Gilmour Buckley’s father, Dr Robert Gilmour (a doctor specialising in skin), to create the IAMMI skincare line. It will be manufactured in New Zealand and launched to market in July following a Kickstarter campaign raising $56,000 of start-up capital.

The evidence-based formulas blend the best of science with the latest innovations in green technology and will be ethically made and cruelty-free.

The range includes Gilmour Buckley’s favourite product – Olympia Glow, a nourishing serum with Kakadu plum, sea buckthorn and Reishi mushrooms.

Supporting Starship Hospital, $1 from every bottle of Olympia Glow sold will be given to the Starship Foundation.

One dollar from every Olympia Glow sold will be given to the Starship Foundation, supporting Starship Children’s Hospital where Olympia and her mum spend a lot of time.

There’s also a Hero Balm, Reset Balm, Give Me Clarity Serum, Just Kissed and Sun Kissed tints, and You Dew hydrating gel moisturiser.

The cleansing balms, which contain antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredients, are purposely tactile and have to be removed with a facecloth.

The scent of Olympia Glow has been created by New Zealand-based French perfumer Yves Dombrowksy, who had Gilmour Buckley fill in “a hundred-question questionnaire” before he created the 100 per cent natural fragrance. The result encapsulates “how Olympia makes you feel” which Gilmour Buckley describes as “a smile that lights up the world”. “It’s pure joy, gratitude, comfort, reassurance, love,” she says. “For that reason, we’ve done a handbag size so you can continue to reapply it during the day if you want to go back to that moment.” There are also orange base notes inspired by an oil Gilmour Buckley has used on her daughter for her whole life.

Sisters Octavia, 3, and Olympia, 5.

The app

IAMMI is also an app in development to be used as a support tool to your daily skincare regime and a go-to resource on an as-need basis.

The app will encourage you to complete a daily practice as you move through your skincare routine, creating a habit that gives you both a mindful moment and a thought-starter to take on from it. “The way to change your neuron pathways is through repetition and intentional behaviour that then becomes habitual,” Gilmour Buckley explains.

The app will also track skin health and mood and ultimately connect users with a community. Eventually it will be a library of resources with articles, podcasts and a programme to help people learn through habit-stacking. “We want to build a digital community and platform that then can also transcend into everyday life and hopefully down the track we can collectively help each other human better,” says Gilmour Buckley.

Finding forgiveness

As mum to Olympia, 5, and Octavia, 3, she loves watching the relationship between them and tries to not go down the rabbit hole of worrying that Olympia is wondering why she can’t do the same things as her sister. She’s come to realise that she shouldn’t be inflicting her perspective of quality life on Olympia – especially as Olympia has a happy life surrounded by people who love her. While she can’t move 95 per cent of her body, through neuro-therapy she is learning to communicate via eye movements tracked on an iPad.

A turning point for Gilmour Buckley was when one of Olympia’s therapists said; ‘Mimi, it’s okay that you want to be her mother, you don’t have to be her full-time carer’. “That was so freeing,” she says. “I literally burst into tears.”

A turning point for Gilmour Buckley was when one of Olympia’s therapists said; ‘Mimi, it’s okay that you want to be her mother, you don’t have to be her full-time carer’. “That was so freeing,” she says. “I literally burst into tears.”

She is no stranger to dealing with difficult major life events from divorcing her first husband to facing significant business challenges. It was Olympia, though, that really floored her.

“I’m a very A-type kind of person. I’ve always been able to solve problems and move forward through effort, education and persistence and I just couldn’t fix her. It felt very out of control for me,” she says. “I had to really teach myself that it wasn’t my fault and I had to forgive the notion that I could fix everything for her. I did that by knowing that I was using everything in my power to find the best possible solutions and be present with her and be the best mother to her that I could be. One day I realised the best thing I could do for her was to be the best version of myself and that began the journey to where we are now,” she says.

The biggest thing Olympia has taught her mum is “perspective” and she is undoubtedly the inspiration of IAMMI. “I feel like IAMMI is going to be Olympia’s contribution to the world, through me. It’s what she’s taught me and I’m so grateful for that,” she says. “It’s her teaching us that life is all about perspective. We can’t keep going down this track where we are just all overwhelmed and an anxious mess all the time. The world is a lot and we have access to a lot of information, and it is busy, and we don’t have the mental health resources to support everyone individually, so we need to collectively find a better way to put one foot in front of the other.”

What would she say to people who think she is using her disabled daughter as a marketing tool to push a brand? “They don’t know who I am. I think that this business is going to do a lot of good, whether that’s contributing to Starship, or helping someone find a little bit more strength,” she says. “The reason we put it into a business model is so that we are sustainable. I don’t want to be another charitable organisation that has to spend all their time and energy trying to find money to do all the amazing things that they do. I’ve obviously learned a huge amount around business, and I think this is going to give us the freedom to move in directions that we feel are best.” That will include paying specialists for their contributions to the app.

The biggest thing Olympia has taught her mum is “perspective” and she is undoubtedly the inspiration of IAMMI.

Standing in your power

The name of the brand is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Gilmour Buckley’s name but it’s more, too, she explains. “There’s a lot of literature around the power of ‘I am’. It’s a really powerful statement. Ultimately, we want people to be able to stand up every day and be like, ‘I am me and I’m proud of that and it’s enough today for who I want to be. Our ultimate goal is that they can stand up every day and feel really good about saying that.”

From the range

Olympia Glow

This hydrating and nourishing serum contains Kakadu plum, sea buckthorn and Reishi mushrooms.

Give Me Clarity

A calming and effective pimple potion with niacinamide, centella asiatica and salicylic acid.

Reset Balm

An exfoliating cleansing balm with hydrating camellia seed oil, New Zealand red seaweed and kawakawa.

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