10 pioneers to watch in health, fitness and beauty

Written by Nina Tovey | 11 April, 2013

Wellspring has handpicked ten entrepreneurs from the health, fitness and beauty industries who connected with their vision and took it to soaring heights.

Every so often we come across a career journey which strikes a profound chord because the person in question was bold enough to tackle a completely new idea and follow through with the conviction to make it a success.

Wellspringhas handpicked ten such dreamers, risk takers and entrepreneurs from the health, fitness and beauty industries who connected with their vision and took it to soaring heights.

While we would love to bottle their formulas for success, we tackled the next best thing by taking an inside look into the ups and downs of their adventures to provide a healthy dose of inspiration. 

Australian legend Matthew Mitcham has earned millions of fans globally for delivering the most perfect dive in Olympic history preventing China from claiming a clean sweep of all diving gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Matthew’s support base has grown even stronger since he released his candid autobiography Twists and Turnsdetailing his past struggles.

When combined with his commitment to turning his life around and comments about the need for athletes to take a more holistic approach to sport, his popularity at home and abroad has soared. Named the most influential Australian Olympian on twitter at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Matthew has effortlessly attracted an army of social media followers who hang on every update and playful photo he uploads.

Matthew is walking the talk when it comes to greater balance by giving himself time to recover from the enormous emotional and physical pressure he put himself under during the London Olympics, and will resume diving at a national level in November this year.

“Instead of committing myself solely to training, making more time for fun and other interests this year is actually invigorating my love for diving and I know my performance will benefit,” Matthew said.

“I’m taking the deadlines away and am giving myself the ability to train at a more sustainable rate.”

“Whenever elite sports people get into a position where their sport is all consuming in their life and absolutely everything is riding on their performance, that is when things can become unhinged,” Matthew said.

“That’s why there needs to be more support for professional athletes to take a more balanced approached to life.”

Following the release of his enormously successful autobiography, another door has opened for the diving star. Matthew recently announced his decision to enter the fitness education industry, with the champion recently inking a deal with training provider FIAFitnation.

This has seen Matthew become the face of FIAFitnation’s premium health and fitness training package, the Gold Standard Trainer, through a national print, radio, outdoor and online campaign. The partnership will involve Matthew achieving his childhood dream of helping others by becoming a qualified personal trainer through FIAFitnation to complement his diving career.

“First and foremost, I’m eager to use the insights I learn to further refine my diving technique and help me hit the goals I’ve set for myself for the next phase of my career.”

“I’ve also found study helps me achieve greater balance in my life, because without having something external to diving your life becomes very focussed on one thing. Studying for me is a mental break from diving and I’ve found it refreshing to exercise both my mind and body,” he said.

“I’m also looking forward to learning how to develop dynamic personal training programs to help others boost their health and fitness. I want to inject lots of fun into my programs to encourage people to get excited about exercise.”

In the spirit of greater balance, Matthew is also spending more time these days singing along to the tunes of his ukulele. Fans can catch his popular performances on YouTube or at a series of live gigs throughout Sydney. A more holistic approach to life indeed.

Prof Kerryn Phelps AM has earned countless accolades and a firm place in the heart of the Australian public over the past few decades through her countless contributions to public health and human rights.

Prof Phelps’ passion for raising awareness of health issues in the community started in the early 1980s when she began work as a medical journalist in an era before specialist health reporters had emerged or the term ‘health literacy’ coined.

Phelps went on to secure the position of Australian Medical Association (AMA) President NSW in 2009. The following year she was elected Federal President of the AMA, where she served the maximum term of three years and her public profile grew rapidly through her brave and fierce approach to improving the state of Australian healthcare.

During this period, Prof Phelps led an ambitious public health agenda spanning Indigenous health, anti-tobacco strategies, the organisation’s first position statement on complementary medicine and the health effects of climate change.

Prof Phelps remains one of Australia’s highest profile champions for an integrated, holistic approach to health matters. Indeed, one of her current projects is the development of an integrative support program for people undergoing cancer treatment and recovery.

“We need to develop a common healthcare language between different disciplines and overcome the calcified thinking of unhealthy skepticism. There are ultra-conservative forces which even seek to block research into complementary medicine and I believe this is counter-intellectual, counter-cultural and counter-productive.”

It was Phelps’ own health journey which inspired her most recent project, the launch of her book Ultimate Wellness: The 3 Step Plan. During her term as AMA President – a period where she worked 18-hour days – Phelps was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood clot in the lung. Throughout her recovery Phelps scrutinized her own lifestyle, and was driven to share her learnings with others through her latest book.

“I want to raise people’s expectations of what normal health should feel like - in essence, to create their ‘new normal’ – specifically to improve energy levels, reduce stress and foster a sense of physical, emotional and spiritual sense of being well,” said Prof Phelps.

“My driving force in writing the book is that people who take control of their health can achieve a sense of wellness they can hardly imagine.”


What started as a small market stall has grown to an international natural products company with busy stores across Australia and Asia, thanks to the vision of Perfect Potion Co-Founder Carolyn Stubbin.

Along with business partner Salvatore Battaglia, Carolyn has spent the last 22 years leveraging her experience as a herbalist, aromatherapist and beauty therapist to form a thriving retail chain.

“We offer our customers everything from aromatherapy-based hair care, face care and bath and shower products to essential oils, blends and perfumes, with all our products made locally in Brisbane,” said Carolyn.

“Our point of difference lies with our unique merchandise and the integrity of the range, from the environmentally-conscious manufacturing processes right down to the certified organic ingredients we use. What you get with us is the real thing.”

Perfect Potion is proud to be the only company of its type to offer products which meet a very strict European guidelines called the BDIH certified natural standard.

Carolyn and Salvatore opened their first Perfect Potion store in Elizabeth Arcade, Brisbane and over time have built a solid network of eight stores, including three in Brisbane and Sydney, and two in Melbourne. Perfect Potion has also expanded overseas, boasting nine Australian-owned stores in Japan and distributors in China, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea.

“We chose to focus on Japan as the gateway to our international business due to the Japanese consumers’ interest in natural products,” Carolyn said.

An alumnus of both Endeavour College of Natural Health and the College of Natural Beauty, Carolyn credits her studies as central to the success of Perfect Potion.

“These courses were the starting point for understanding how Perfect Potion could enhance the health and wellbeing of others. This knowledge underpinned everything from choosing the products we make, sourcing the ingredients we use and educating our team,” she said.

Carolyn also drew on her studies to write her book to expand the awareness of aromatherapy and natural skincare called  Do It Yourself Pure Plant Skin Care.

As part of Perfect Potion’s mission to ‘naturally enhance people’s lives’, Carolyn and team have a 100% natural sunscreen with organic ingredients in the works to launch later this year together with new aromatherapy and skin care products.

“We’ve designed our products to be a sanctuary for the senses – we want to help sooth and heal as many people around the world as possible.”


Lola Berry has packed an impressive amount into her 27 years. She’s released two best seller recipe and nutrition books, built a thriving online community and carved a niche as one of Australia's highest profile health experts for her ability to make healthy food sexy and fun.

Three months into her nutritional medicine studies Lola decided she wanted to be the ‘Steve Irwin of fruit and veg’. This led to her buying a video camera and taping herself talking about her breakfast each morning.

The interesting concept was a combination of Lola’s two loves, her childhood desire to be an actor and her love of good food.

Today the chirpy media personality and Endeavour alumnus is taking her fresh food message to the masses and the world is listening.

Her latest book The 20/20 Dietwas inspired by her own journey of losing 20 kilograms in 20 weeks through following a diet heavily influenced by the Paleo movement. It quickly hit the number one spot for best selling diet book in Australia in late 2012.

“Think real foods, nothing from a packet, all fresh, clean and pretty much in their most natural state,” Berry says.

Already developing recipes for her third book, Lola is also using her star power to encourage Australians to make wiser and more responsible choices.

“We have consumer power and can choose to lead a more ethical existence and have a positive impact on the world.” “At the end of the day, so long as I’m inspiring people to live healthy lives and be the best versions of themselves, then I’m rapt,” said Lola.

Sounds pretty ‘yummo’ to us.


Go2Human Performance co-owner and Endeavour College acupuncture alumnus Rod Martin is breaking new ground in Brisbane with his brave approach to integrative healthcare.

Rod has built two successful multi-modality clinics under the Go2Human Performance banner which give his clients access to whichever form of expertise they require from both the conventional and complementary sides of medicine in the one appointment.

Rod’s approach has earned the loyalty of some of Brisbane’s top CEOs and elite athletes, which has given his business the boost needed to open his biggest clinic to date in Brisbane’s Everton Park in the coming months, which will encompass the best of Western and Eastern treatment.

“We are building a new style of clinic which will bring Brisbane’s best doctors, psychiatrists, dieticians and psychologists to work with our naturopaths, acupuncturists, massage therapists to offer patients the best possible care,” said Rod.

Rod attributes part of his success to a collaborative business approach and putting the needs of his patients first.

“My strengths lie in integrating ideas and bringing people together. People need what they need and that isn’t necessarily me, but if I can create an environment where the best professionals can come together to care for our patients this would make me very proud indeed,” said Rod.

“By daring to grow, having the courage to take a shot, learning the language of allopathic medicine, accepting our strengths as well as our weaknesses and taking a team mentality, I know we can take Go2Human Performance to a new level of care.”


Melbourne nutritionist and naturopath Lindy Cook is on a mission to champion the cause of ‘nude food’ by minimising disposable packaging in Australian schools through her new business ‘My Green Lunch Box’.

A mother of two, the Endeavour alumnus was no stranger to the daily challenge of packing a healthy, tasty and environmentally responsible lunch box for her kids. After spending 14 years as a nutritionist encouraging others to eat well, taking up the nude food cause felt like the logical next step.

“I feel very strongly about helping families lay the foundations for lifelong, healthy eating in children, and caring for the environment through reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill is also something incredibly important to me. This led me to launch My Green Lunch Box to offer parents a one-stop shop for their ‘green lunch box’ needs,” said Lindy.

“We are bringing Australian parents the best lunch boxes on the market designed to make it easy to pack lunches with no extra plastic bags or cling wraps. I’ve handpicked each product not only for their environmental credentials but also because they are functional, durable and stylish.”

Cook is also playing her part to get schools, workplaces, parents and kids on board the nude food movement through fundraisers and public nutrition presentations.

“So many common diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, are avoidable by simply consuming a nutritionally balanced diet from childhood. When combined with the fact that 25 per cent of children are currently overweight or obese (according to National Dietary Guidelines), it makes getting this message through to parents and kids extremely important,” said Lindy.

“The environmental message is equally important. Australia is the second highest producer of waste per person in the Western World and it is estimated that each average lunch-toting child generates 30 kilos of rubbish every year. It goes to show that sending our kids to school with a rubbish free lunch can make a significant difference to our landfill.”

With a ‘My Green Lunch Box’ book full of nutrition tips and recipes for families and her own line of drink bottles, re-usable sandwich wraps and lunch boxes in the works, it seems Lindy’s nude food revolution is just getting started.


The Australian Organic Market Report 2012 confirmed sales of organic food and products are becoming more mainstream, with 92% of sales occurring through store-based retailing.

Director of the award-winning Flannerys franchise, Tino Van Nieuwburg, is one man at the forefront of the organic products movement.

Tino oversees 10 retail outlets across Queensland which bring its customers fresh organic food and chemical-free produce.

Flannerys was founded more than 30 years ago in NSW to meet increasing demand for natural and holistic lifestyle products. Tino purchased Flannerys in 2008 and has taken the business from strength to strength by looking beyond sales alone to helping educate the community through providing sound advice on health matters.

“Selling natural organic food is only a small part of it. We teach people how to lead a more holistic lifestyle and protect the planet. For example, we give demonstrations in our stores where people can learn about composting as well as how to cook nutritious food for the whole family”, said Tino.

Tino walks the talk, with his stores encouraged to compost produce that is past its use-by date. The company also gives customers who participate in their demonstrations the chance to win products which help them live more holistically at home.

It is a personal mission for Tino, who experienced the benefits of following a more natural lifestyle for himself which instilled in him a strong drive to share this with others.

“Through Flannerys we have the ideal vehicle to offer consumers healthy alternatives and instill a sense of responsibility by protecting the environment for generations to come.”

Flannerys is also keen to smash the myth that organic food is always more expensive, and offers a Flannerys-branded line of products which are often cheaper than those available through the major supermarkets.

Tino also favours a local approach, and refuses to offer frozen imported products where he cannot be sure organic certification is as rigorous as in Australia.

“We believe it is best to work with the seasons, and the fact is not all foods are available year-round. This is the way nature intended it to be.”

When questioned about his proudest achievement since taking over the reins, it was the series of industry endorsements that first came to mind.

“Flannerys being awarded ‘Best National Organic Retailer’ and ‘Best Queensland Organic Retailer’ by the National Organic Week Retail Awards in 2010 and ‘Consumers Choice’ during National Organic Week in 2012 was certainly a career high,” Tino said.

“It is a fantastic endorsement of our passion for the organic industry as well as our commitment to never compromise on quality or substitute for anything but the best certified organic products,” said Tino.

Tino names Swiss naturopath Alfred Vogel as his inspiration in opening up his eyes to the healing power of nature and pursuing a career in the natural health industry.

“I have certainly found his words to be true when he says that nature gives us everything we need to protect and maintain our health.”


A quest to tackle the world of food as medicine after beating an eating disorder led Adelaide’s Hayley Richards towards a blooming raw food business.

During her nutritional medicine degree at Endeavour College of Natural Health, Hayley developed an obsession with organic, plant-based, raw foods and came across a recipe for raw cheesecake that turned her head.

“I decided to give the recipe a go and was amazed by how good it tasted, with my friends having the same reaction. I started doing further research and before I knew it, I was making raw cakes for friends and family,” said Richards.

“I loved opening up people’s minds to plant-based foods with no synthetic colours or additives to show them they aren’t missing out on anything by giving conventional desserts the flick.”

Hayley went on to complete a short small business course and immediately launched her raw foods business, Raw Karma.

Hayley’s first break came after approaching her two favourite Adelaide organic cafes with samples of her layered cakes, with both businesses signing up immediately.

Hayley quickly developed a range of super food balls in six different flavours which were also instantly picked up.

With Hayley’s cakes costing $75 or more due to the quality of ingredients, it became evident there was a growing market of people happy to invest in a healthier dessert alternative.

“It is gratifying to see people open up their minds to other food choices. Rather than spend a few dollars on a dessert with no nutritional benefit, spending a bit more will buy you an equally delicious and nourishing option.”

Hayley went on to partner with nutritionist Nadine-Lee to launch recipe eBook Raw and Morein late 2012 which earned the praise of a series of celebrities and influential health professionals.

2013 looks to be just as busy for Hayley, with a series of raw food cooking classes in the pipeline, an online cooking show devoted to wholefoods and public talks to support young girls with eating disorders.

Ultimately, these projects are all building blocks towards Hayley’s dream of opening Adelaide’s first raw food café.

“Nothing would make me happier than to share all the types of energizing raw food I’ve created to show people it can provide all the nourishment our bodies yearn for.”


While most fresh graduates would visit the Carribean for the sun and surf, nutritionist Samantha Ward had the wellbeing of those less fortunate on her mind when she visited this beautiful region of the world in 2012.

Armed with the task of transforming the eating habits of nutritionally deficient communities in Belize on a volunteer basis, Endeavour alumnus Samantha made a lasting impact on the families she worked with.

Her focus was supporting local efforts to prevent Type II Diabetes Mellitus through educating adults and children. She achieved this through writing and distributing cookbooks which provided simple variations of traditional meals, helping develop a sustainable school garden program, amending the curricula of San Antonio Pentecostal Primary School and helping train the teachers.

“Over this period I helped set up mobile clinics to record information for local residents including height, weight, waist-hip ratio, blood glucose levels and blood pressure. From this, our team was able to give dietary and lifestyle advice appropriate to their financial situation and culinary set up, along with a referral to a local GP for those with the appropriate ‘red flags’.”

“Since returning I continue to provide support to the principal of the school and assist through continuing education to his teachers. The most rewarding part of this project was finding out the students now request fresh vegetables from the school garden for lunch instead of their previous lunch of rice, fried beans, fried chicken and tortillas – just incredible!”

In between her private consultations and lecture tours through East Gippsland and metropolitan Melbourne, Samantha is planning her next trip to help a second resource-poor country and is in talks to support the ‘Naturopaths Without Borders’ program in Haiti.

“The chance to provide alternative healthcare to people who cannot afford it but so desperately need it is my fuel. I’d also like to help implement community health worker schemes in poorer countries to allow them better access to healthcare information and to make better choices,” said Samantha. 

When it comes to inspiring entrepreneurs changing the face of the Australian beauty industry, no list is complete without eco-model Amanda Rootsey.

After a glamorous yet exhausting 10 year career as a sought after model in Australia and overseas for the likes of Salvatore Ferragamo and Versace, Amanda was suddenly diagnosed with life threatening cancer in 2009.

Faced with an aggressive cancer treatment program, Amanda re-evaluated her entire lifestyle, which led her to become a vegan and move to a solar powered caravan on a Sunshine Coast property with no access to electricity, power or phone lines.

She also found great solace and inspiration through sharing her journey and learnings through her blog A Modern Girl’s Life and online vegan portal Vegan Era.

On her recovery, Amanda caused a stir by re-entering the modeling industry as Australia’s first eco-model, working exclusively with eco-friendly and ethical companies which share her values. There has been no shortage of sustainable brands clamouring to sign Amanda to represent their products and services, with her partners including beauty training provider College of Natural Beauty, fashion lines Bestowed, Sinerji and One Colour, beauty brand Montville Organic Skincare and jewellery company Sanctus Stones.

“I’m determined to raise awareness of how important sustainable and ethical consumerism is and to use my work to shine a light on the growing number of companies choosing to produce their products in a more compassionate and environmentally friendly manner,” said Amanda.

Amanda’s unique and brave journey has attracted substantial media attention, with her being described as an ‘eco-activist’ by Cleo Magazine and an ‘all round advocate for Mother Earth’ by sustainability bible Peppermint Magazine.

Amanda’s latest project is a holistic self-development course aimed at young girls called Shine From Within, which brings together a team of holistic industry leaders to inspire the next generation of women in the areas of nutrition, deportment, styling, photography, makeup, yoga and wellness.

With her classes already selling out only a few months after the initial launch, Amanda’s fresh and inspiring take on personal development training is striking a chord with Australian families due to her focus on self-love, compassion for others and messages around healthy living.

“Every young woman is beautiful, but many don’t see that within themselves. True beauty shines not only through how someone holds and presents themselves, but also how they nourish their bodies and treat others,” said Amanda.

“We encourage our students to develop their own unique beauty and style, find the special qualities they have to give to the world and grab the tools to shine bright as responsible, compassionate and confident young women.”


Nina Tovey

Nina Tovey is a public relations expert who has supported a wide range of clients throughout her career, including world leading brands, Government Departments and small-to-medium enterprises. Nina is the founder of public relations consultancy Yoke Communications.

Read more by Nina Tovey