You’ve got alllll the vitamins, but do you remember to take them every day? If not, it’s probably because they’re tucked away in a cupboard, rather than proudly displayed next to your Aesop handwash. That’s one thing Melbourne couple Saasha Burns (pictured above) and Sam Leetham realised when they set out to create their BEAR vitamins range – they made sure their product was good looking enough to sit on your vanity or dressing table. The amber recyclable glass bottles with matte black lids and minimal labels printed on natural uncoated stock are as high quality as the ingredients that make up the tablets inside. So it’s no wonder that BEAR has just become the first ingestible brand to be stocked at MECCA.
We chat to BEAR’s co-founder Saasha, 28, a former ballerina, about staying on top of her own wellness while working around the clock to establish a brand that's helping others stay on top of theirs. Plus she shares some biz lessons she’s learnt along the way...
What gave you and Sam the idea to create BEAR?
It stemmed from a gap we identified when my husband Sam and I went to purchase vitamins a number of years ago. Standing in a chemist, we were overwhelmed by choice and didn’t know which brand we could trust to deliver real benefits. So we founded BEAR to solve the underlying fog that surrounds the current vitamin landscape. We spent the past two-and-a-half years working closely with a team of Australian compounding pharmacists, naturopaths and other medical professionals to develop a bespoke range of essential daily vitamins that offer simple utility and clarity of choice, and contain the highest quality, simplified ingredients proven in efficacy, safety and stability.
Has health always been a priority for you?
Throughout childhood I was into sport, I competed in athletics, cross-country, diving and swimming. From age three to eighteen I trained as a classical ballet dancer. I still live an active, healthy lifestyle, I especially love reformer pilates and yoga. Working in the fashion industry, I’ve seen young girls have varying perspectives on what it means to be healthy, but I think we’re fortunate that in Australia there’s an emphasis on strong, healthy bodies and minds. I believe it’s important to have a positive relationship with food and I try to nourish my body with natural, wholesome ingredients as much as possible – without denying myself the simple pleasures in life!
You’re busy with the new business – how do you keep on top of your own wellness and energy levels?
I love walking everywhere, I usually walk over 20,000 steps a day when travelling – it’s the best way to get my bearings, combat jet lag, soak up some sun and discover the city like a local. I love being outdoors, immersed in nature, each day I go for an ocean swim, hike, long walk or yoga class, and I find those are times when I feel most creative, inspired and relaxed. Staying hydrated is also key, so I drink plenty of water – but also lots of coffee!
What were you and Sam doing before starting BEAR?
For the past five years, Sam’s been leading the strategy team at Mercedes-Benz Australia […] I’ve worked as a model with Chadwick for the past 11 years. I also have a background in advertising and worked as a copywriter after completing a Bachelor of Communication at RMIT followed by Award School. My love of travel and writing led me to start my website straatstories.com. Sam’s grandparents where both compounding pharmacists and it felt only natural to create a health brand that could drive the supplement category forward.
Can you share business lessons that have helped you and Sam along the way?
1. We had a clear vision from the start, and we were always very confident in our insights, ideas and this vision for the brand.
2. From the beginning we built a strong network of mentors who helped guide us across all facets of our business, from our legal foundation to our operational processes. We were really fortunate that we could draw on such an amazing, well-credentialed group of people early on in the BEAR journey who helped challenge our thinking and bring our ideas to life. This would be our recommendation to any new entrepreneur – find and surround yourself with thought leaders.
3. We only worked with experts and suppliers who aligned with our vision, values, and commitment to quality and sustainability. This has helped us create strong brand presence and build a loyal and engaged community.
SAASHA ON HER FAVOURITE…
Activewear brands: P.E Nation and The Upside
Sneaker brand: Lacoste
Oz travel destination: Byron Bay, NSW; and Robe, SA
O/S destination: Positano, Italy
Outdoor activity: Swimming in the ocean. And walking everywhere!
Sport to watch: Tennis
Food: Summer fruits (especially berries) and seafood
Melbourne eatery: Supernormal – their lobster rolls are amazing!
Fragrance: Le Labo Santal
Inspirational human: My husband Sammy, he’s so incredibly hard-working, thoughtful and kind to everyone he meets
Mantra: Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain