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Sam Leetham of BEAR

The co-founder on how he likes his daily supplements, his and his wife’s (and co-founder) conscious diet and how BEAR is taking the vitamin industry forward.

Just over a year old and already the proudly Australian supplement brand, BEAR has cemented its status as a wellness label that rivals its much older and more established counterparts. Started by husband and wife team, Saasha Burns and Sam Leetham, BEAR was the first ingestible brand to be stocked at the beauty juggernaut down under, Mecca Cosmetica. In this short period of time, the company has also gone global, retailing in Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter and Free People.

So what’s all the fuss about? Firstly, BEAR has four types of vitamins — PROTECT (for immunity), PERFORM (for clarity), RESTORE (for energy) and EXPLORE (for balance) — corresponding to four different lifestyles. Gender neutral in its composition, both Saasha and Sam each pop one pill of EXPLORE a day. The supplements are also crafted with vitamins A, B12, K2 and C — each of which make up the most of the formulation in each of the four variations — and followed closely by wholesome plant-based botanicals including echinacea, bacopa, ginkgo and rhodiola.

Secondly, BEAR makes use of a manufacturing process called ‘standardisation’ that basically ensures that every healthful ingredient in each pill is offered at the highest level possible — as opposed to other vitamins that claim to offer this amazing component and that wonderful element but neglect to tell you that their levels are so low, it’s practically redundant.

Thirdly, BEAR’s tablets are stored in amber recyclable glass bottles that fit perfectly in your palm, and feature serif and sans serif fonts alongside the brand’s signature “Good Day” stamp of recognition. In other words, the product looks pharma-cool.

And last but not least, the line-up is certified organic, cruelty- and GMO-free, and vegan. There’s really not much more we need to add to this point, and rightly so, other than to add a related note that a portion of the profits go towards WildArk, a conservation company dedicated to preserving the world’s wild lands.

Conscious at every touchpoint, BEAR is the kind of brand we like to get behind. Make space in your beauty shelf!

Tell us about BEAR’s ‘standardisation’ process of using only therapeutic components of herbs or plant-based ingredients.

When we first started to research supplement brands and products, we were concerned with a concept most companies use called bulking. It’s a process where layers of sub-therapeutic ingredients are included in a tablet so a customer thinks they are consuming everything they need; but they are at such low levels, there’s no benefit to the customer taking them. BEAR’s fascination has always been ingredients — considered, quality, simple — and every ingredient in each of our products has a very specific and vital role to the person taking them.

All of our ingredients are at therapeutic levels, which gives our customers the confidence that they are absorbing the benefits of BEAR’s ingredients. Standardisation is a manufacturing process within this philosophy which separates the therapeutic portion of the plant from the non-therapeutic portion; ensuring the customer is only consuming the medicinal quality of the ingredient.

How about your laboratory-made ingredients and how they are safe to consume and efficacious?

Our philosophy as a brand has always been to merge the best of nature and botanical-based ingredients with the very best of modern medicine and laboratory-made ingredients. This philosophy is really important because there are many laboratory-made ingredients which are actually safer, more stable and more effective than any botanical equivalent.

We undertook an extensive research project on all of our ingredients — both plant-based and laboratory-made — canvassing clinical and academic trials across many countries with our product team to bring together only the highest quality and most bio-available ingredients. They are all proven in their safety, stability and efficacy.

What supplement do you take, and what is your favourite way to take it?

Saasha and I take BEAR EXPLORE Essential Daily Vitamin every morning. We designed BEAR to be a once-daily tablet which could be taken with or without food. The tablets also come with a break-bar so they can also be split in half to make swallowing as easy as possible. EXPLORE was designed for the traveller, wanderer and adventurer; and supports immune function, energy production and muscuo-skeletal performance and recovery. It is a great all-rounder when you’re in environments which are demanding on the body, including planes, hotels and taxis.

What is the importance of vitamins A, C and B12?

Vitamin A in its purest form is an extremely powerful antioxidant proven to support immune function and general health. It also plays a critical role in healthy eyes, normal collagen formation for healthy skin and reducing inflammation in the body.

Vitamin C is well known for its immunity benefits but it is another powerful antioxidant which assists in energy production, bone and muscle health and normal heart function.

Vitamin B12 is incredible for its positive impacts on the central nervous system including red blood cell formation, nerve function and DNA production. It also plays a vital role in cognitive functioning including memory, while also alleviating mild stress and anxiety. BEAR uses the most bio-available form of B12 which ensures its benefits are more readily absorbed by the body.

What does a day on your plate look like.

It varies! If we are at home in Byron Bay, we like to rise early with the sun and have a glass of water with fresh lemon juice before taking our Siberian husky, Minnesota for a long walk along the beach. We usually stop for a takeaway espresso for the walk home.

For breakfast, we’ll have granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt. We’re usually between meetings over lunch time so it’s hard to lock down just one meal but we love fresh salads with local produce. We don’t really snack throughout the day but if we are hungry mid-afternoon, we’ll usually have a punnet of blueberries or blackberries with some slightly salted cashews.

For dinner, we will usually make a pasta dish with fresh vegetables and organically farmed meat from our local Bangalow Market.

Tell us about your daily grooming routine.

I like to keep my morning routine as simple as possible as we’re often travelling so much. After a hot shower, I’ll use a small amount of Rodin Olio’s face oil, take my BEAR EXPLORE Essential Daily Vitamin and use Kevin Murphy’s Easy Rider in my hair. I am also loving Comme De Garçons Wonderoud fragrance.

“There are many laboratory-made ingredients which are actually safer, more stable and more effective than any botanical equivalent.”

What’s next for BEAR?

It’s been an incredible first year for BEAR with retail partnerships with Mecca Cosmetica, Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter and Free People. We are about to announce a few new retail partnerships which is really exciting, along with launching a number of new products throughout the rest of 2018. I think people will be surprised but really love where BEAR goes next. Stay tuned.

What does conscious living mean to you?

Conscious living for me has always been about common sense — taking a longer-term view of our place within the world and trying, in small and sustainable ways, to limit our impact along the way. It could be as simple as turning the lights off, having a shorter shower and properly using a recycling bin at home. It’s about investing in brands who have taken the time to work with local craftsmen and women who are motivated by building a great product and who are, in their own ways, contributing the environment and those which inhabit it.

At BEAR, we are proud to be working with a wildlife conservation organisation, WildArk since our launch. They are protecting endangered land belts in key areas of environmental significance throughout the world and in doing so, protecting the species which inhabit these areas. For every customer who invests in BEAR, we are investing in WildArk and we’re really excited about the projects we are contributing to.

Images courtesy of Amanda Shadforth (Oracle Fox’s creative director)