Katherine Douglas on founding BraveFace & adding to our mental health ‘toolkit’

4 August 2022
Hemma Vara

Meet the entrepreneur with a passion for evidence-based wellbeing.

Produced in partnership with BraveFace. 
Katherine Douglas.

While travelling in her early 20s, Katherine Douglas, founder of Brave Face, witnessed how different cultures turned to plants and herbal medicine to support their health. “I was used to seeing people turn to a pharmaceutical solution when they were sick. I started to ask why we don’t do more to prevent them from getting sick in the first place”, Douglas explains.

Douglas grew up in the healthcare industry; her mother is a pharmacist, and her father is the managing director of Douglas Pharmaceuticals, founded by his father, Sir Graeme Douglas. Following in her family’s footsteps, Douglas has grown passionate about developing brands that positively impact the health and lives of others.

The idea for BraveFace came as Douglas became increasingly aware of how many people around her were talking about experiencing anxious feelings. “I texted a group chat with my girlfriends and asked if any of them were suffering. All six of them replied back and said yes. That was the watershed moment.”

BraveFace 'LiveCalm' daily capsules (RRP $40), 'CoolHead' day spray (RRP $45), and 'HeadRest' night drops (RRP $45).

Around one in four New Zealanders report suffering from anxiety — the insidious condition causing intense and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations. As Douglas puts it, “it’s one of the fastest-growing mental health conditions around the world”. This realisation set her off a “rabbit hole of research,” looking for evidence-based natural solutions to the issue.

Two years in the making, BraveFace’s products are highly intentional, designed as a three-part system to “tackle stress and worry from every angle”.

The first product, BraveFace ‘CoolHead’ day spray, is formulated with Passionflower and Mānuka honey to calm the mind, alongside Gotu kola to support focus. It’s best utilised during heightened moments or before challenging situations (which inevitably arise in the workplace or social situations). “We were determined to get it [CoolHead] into a spray format so people could have it in their bags or on their desk and use it easily throughout the day”, explains Douglas.

For those searching for a deep slumber, BraveFace’s ‘HeadRest’ night drops are a popular choice, formulated with Passionflower to calm the mind and Chamomile for a sedative effect. As Douglas puts it, HeadRest is designed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. And on choosing a dropper, Douglas says, “we wanted it to feel like a luxury part of your nighttime routine”.

Finally, the ‘LiveCalm’ daily capsules are natural supplements for stress and anxiety to help you remain calm throughout your day. The soft, gel-like vegan capsules contain adaptogenic herbs (natural substances that help the body adapt to stress), including Ashwagandha, Holy Basil and Rosemary — to soothe the nervous system and manage long-term stress.

BraveFace 'CoolHead' day spray, RRP $45.

If you’re curious about the BraveFace range, the website reviews are potentially enough on their own to tempt you into hitting ‘add to cart’. But beyond these positive appraisals, the products harness evidence-based formulations and liquid herbs at therapeutic quantities, “which means the dose matches the research”, says Douglas.

“Unfortunately, in our industry, you can make claims on a product without having enough of the active ingredient in the formulation to achieve the desired result. Our research team dove into the evidence behind each ingredient and calculated exactly how much we needed there,” explains Douglas. She adds that BraveFace formulations are of a propriety nature. “We developed our liquids in a top-secret way which allows us to provide high potency without using alcohol to distil the herbs.”

Douglas takes her holistic approach to Braveface seriously — the brand’s advisory board includes naturopaths and psychologists specialising in mental health. Douglas emphasises that the BraveFace range provides just some of the many “tools” for dealing with the stresses of life. She says it’s up to the user whether they want to use the range alongside prescription medicines, although it’s best to first check with a healthcare professional.

Furthering BraveFace’s preventative approach to wellness is its partnership with Sir John Kirwan’s ‘Mitey’ programme. Douglas explains, “I’m so inspired by Sir John Kirwan’s vision for his initiative Mitey, which provides a fresh approach to teaching mental health as part of the New Zealand curriculum. Like us, he has identified that it’s all about getting to the root cause of the problem and creating a toolkit to manage it better.” BraveFace has donated $25,000 to the cause this year and encourages anyone who may want to help out to donate $3 by texting MITEY to 2449.

Ultimately, as Douglas says, it’s up to you how you incorporate BraveFace into your everyday routine. “We get lots of people getting in touch to say that they’re sleeping for the first time in months and that they feel so much calmer in themselves”. In other words, precisely the sort of positive impact she initially set out to achieve.

Discover the BraveFace range at BraveFace.com, in selected Unichem and Life Pharmacies nationwide, and Farro Auckland-wide.

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