Our skin tells the story of our bodies. And we have the power to shape the story we want to tell.

– Beatriz Durango

In an industry that can so often be diminished and branded as superficial or indulgent, Novellus Skin Care founder Beatriz ‘Betty’ Durango is here to write a very different story. One where taking care of your skin – and taking care of yourself – is a true opportunity for female empowerment. 

Having grown up in Colombia, where the definition of beauty looked like blonde American stereotypes, Betty says that she never felt a sense of empowerment around her own body. Instead, she sought to look like the faces and bodies she saw competing in beauty pageants. In other words, faces and bodies that certainly didn’t reflect her own. But a move to Australia (initially planned to be just a six month trip) changed all of this for Betty. 

“In Colombia, there was always so much pressure around how we looked,” says Betty. “When I came to Australia, I realised that pressure didn’t exist in the same way. Australian women were more relaxed in the way they presented themselves. There was such a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. Everything was acceptable. There was no such thing as only one type of beautiful. It attracted me straight away, and I loved that about Australia from the first moment.”

Not that her arrival in Australia was all smooth sailing and celebrations. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Despite having a strong education and a Bachelor’s degree, the only work Betty was able to secure when she arrived was as a cleaner. “This was a really big adjustment and a shock to me,” says Betty. “But I knew that I’d been handed my destiny in this new country. I had been given an opportunity and I felt a big responsibility to make it great.” Which is exactly what she did. Moving up to the role of supervisor within just a year, Betty soon turned her focus to entrepreneurism.   

“I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs,” says Betty. “But I saw how hard they worked and juggled life, and I didn’t want that to be my reality! So it’s quite funny to see where I am now.” Not that there’s much funny about being a female entrepreneur in the famously competitive beauty industry. 

“Nothing was going to stop me,” says Betty. “My mum taught me from when I was a very young girl that even if I married a millionaire, I needed to be financially independent and I needed to have my own career. I knew that if there was something I wanted to achieve, I should go for it.” 

Which is exactly what Betty did when she realised that her love of skincare could be more than just a personal passion. “Novellus is the result of a range of changes I made in my life nearly 13 years ago,” she says. “My mum was diagnosed with cancer – joining many of my other family members with cancer – and so I started to make lifestyle changes. I was more careful with my diet, my lifestyle, my sports, my stress levels. I became obsessed with antioxidants. And I started to realise that when you nurture your body, that’s when your natural beauty is able to shine.”

Stumbling upon native Australian ingredients, and watching how they impacted her own skin, Betty began to wonder – with a small prompt from her partner – whether she might have the makings of a brand. “Novellus is about rediscovering the way we look at natural skincare, and the way we think about skin health,” she says. “It provides maximum results, with minimal daily commitment.”

Best of all, Betty’s passion and vision is paying off. “I get so much joy from connecting with women and helping them to solve a problem,” she says. But she is not content to stop there. “I hope to open a salon, and to continue expanding our range and our impact. I really believe that natural beauty comes from the soul. I hope through with Novellus, people learn to love themselves and to love their skin. They’re doing things today that will help themselves tomorrow. It’s really about nurturing and loving yourself.”

If these words of wisdom aren’t enough inspiration, Betty has one piece of advice for migrant women thinking about business. “Build a community around you,” she says. “Connect with other women. Connection, connection, connection.”

That’s a community we’re here for.

Published by Amy Malpass-Hahn, Freelance writer