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Gemma Harling on why she quit her successful 9-5 career

This month, in honour of International Womens Day, Cohorted are championing leading #FemaleFounders in the industry. Throughout the month of March, we are bringing you exclusive content from the leading ladies themselves.


Our female founders series will discuss how brands were founded, the personal journeys of these inspirational women and sharing advice that will empower younger woman on their career paths.

Next up in our #FemaleFounders series is Luneia founder Gemma Harling, whos ritual worthy skincare with a conscience is one to add to your wish list.

Don’t worry, we wouldn’t just tease you because featured in our March FemaleFounders Beauty Box is the Luneia Radiance Glow Mask, the perfect at-home mini facial with high performing formulations.

1. What was the reason you decided to create Luneia & and is there a story behind the brand name? 

I’ve always been fascinated by Beauty, resulting in a fantastic career as a Beauty Buyer for over a decade. Despite that, I’ve had problematic skin since my early teens, and always struggled to find a true resolution for it, even into my twenties & thirties. So, I decided to use my knowledge within the beauty industry to develop a targeted solution for adults with blemish-prone skin – and Luneia was born. 

The name Luneia is inspired by the moon, loosely reflecting our focus on remedying adult hormonal acne. 

The name Luneia is inspired by the moon, loosely reflecting our focus on remedying adult hormonal acne.

2. Having launched just over year 1 ago, what is the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far? 

Being prepared for things not to go according to plan, and be open to evolving & pivoting your plans. Luneia launched in February 2020, as we had intended to primarily gain customers through retail stores, and through pop-up events. A month later, covid happened and the country went into lockdown – so we quickly adapted our focus to prioritizing our digital presence & activity instead. 


3. What advice would you give to other women thinking of taking the plunge to start their own brand or business? 

Choose an industry you’re super passionate about as the lines between work & downtime are very blurred when starting out. 

Be kind & courteous to everyone you meet – your network is the most valuable thing which will help you along your journey, and each industry can be small to create bad terms. 

Have a robust financial plan in place & be prepared to work without drawing a salary initially. 

Have fun & go for it! 

We want to focus on a more well-rounded view on wellness, and how we can influence our skin wellbeing from the inside.

4. What was the push that made you leave your corporate career as a Buyer at Superdrug and take the risk to develop your own brand? 

I’d always had the desire to create a brand at some point, but I thoroughly loved my corporate position as a Beauty Buyer, so there was no immediate rush. As I hit my thirties, I thought it was time to satisfy the itch & so left my role to start developing Luneia. 


5. One of your brand values is assuming responsibility. Do you think that this is a flaw within the industry? 

Unfortunately, there are many bad practices at play which are difficult for corporations to change as they are often the easiest, quickest or most cost effective route. Additionally, larger corporations usually have many layers of internal bureaucracy and complicated processes, which make changes more difficult to implement.   

But despite this, there are so many great waves being made from the industry. We’ve seen the rise of indie brands, which are crucial in helping to drive forward a more conscious approach to consumerism. They are more in tune with what their consumers are demanding, and agile enough to respond quickly. Thankfully, this has increased awareness of the desire for better ways of doing things, and so larger businesses are starting to slowly take note & show a desire to improve. 


6. How do you think your experience in the beauty industry has shaped the brand when it comes to sustainability, formulations and brand values? 

Having a behind the scenes perspective on some of the practices which are standard, but not so good – has allowed me to start the brand from a realistic view point & strive to challenge these norms at every opportunity. We are by no means perfect, and there is still a long list of initiatives which form part of our medium-long term plans, as we expand, or as new technologies become available. 

From a product perspective, we’ve been fortunate to have existing connections with the most prestigious labs in the UK, and so have been able to work with the best, most experienced formulators & chemists, despite being such a young brand. 

7. Where do you see Luneia in 5 years’ time & what do you hope to have achieved? 

As we grow & mature, we want to focus on a more well-rounded view on wellness, and how we can influence our skin wellbeing from the inside, to complement topical skincare products. I would love to see Luneia flourish into a brand with a strong community, built on being the skincare brand of choice which consumers look to for guidance and education. 

8. What products do you use on your skin daily? 

I have a reasonably minimalist routine for a skincare obsessive… but it may still sound a lot to some! 

For me, mornings are about a quick, practical routine, whereas evenings are more about indulgence and I see my skincare routine as a moment to unwind from the day & have some downtime to myself. 

This is especially relevant after this year, where there’s never a quiet moment at home with my nearly one year old daughter, and a WFH husband! 

AM  – Cleanse, serum (either Vit C or Niacinamide), moisturize & SPF. 

We’re all guilty in the UK of thinking SPF is mainly applicable for sunny days only, but if there is one thing you can do to help your skin looking young & plump – it’s SPF. 

PM – Double-cleanse (especially when wearing SPF & Make-up), acid tone, mist, serum, moisturiser.

9. What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self? 

Everything happens for a reason. Work hard & help people, and everything will always fall into place. 


10. Who is your ultimate female inspiration and why? 

I have copious amounts of admiration & respect for Michelle Obama; the perfect blend of being highly intelligent, supremely gracious, a consistent champion of other women, all complimented with a great sense of humour.   

Join us in paying tribute to our female trailblazers and head over to the Cohorted Instagram, where you can delve deep into exclusive content and conversation from our founder community.


DISCLAIMER: We always aim to credit the original source of every image we include in our content. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please get in touch at marketing@cohorted.co.uk.

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