Formula Botanica Conference Attendees, 2016. Photo courtesy of Formula Botanica.
Formula Botanica Community: The School’s Greatest Asset?
If you have been following my blog or social media, you may know that I am a student at Formula Botanica, the world’s leading organic cosmetic formulation school. Formula Botanica is accredited, award-winning, and 100% online. They train people all over the world—nearly 4,000 in 124+ countries–who want to launch or grow their own natural or organic skincare (or haircare) business. As a blogger who wants to be better educated about ingredients, product safety, and formulation science, I knew this would be the ideal place to bolster my knowledge the instant I discovered that Oyéta Kokoroko of Okoko Cosmétiques–one of the most talented, inspiring, and innovative formulators working today–is a proud Formula Botanica graduate. Formula Botanica’s training has an outstanding reputation for good reason. In addition to training world-class formulators like Ms. Kokoroko, Formula Botanica won the gold in Excellence in the design of learning content at the 2016 Learning Technologies Awards and was also shortlisted as a finalist for the prestigious UK National Business Awards in the category of Digital Business of the Year. Clearly, this is not a lightweight program designed by and for casual hobbyists; rather, Formula Botanica delivers rigorous training–complete with frequent learning assessments–designed by scientists (School Director Lorraine Dallmeier is a Full Member of the UK’s Society of Cosmetic Scientists and the Royal Society of Biology, as well as a Chartered Environmentalist; Instructor Dr. Elham Eghbali is a Cosmetic Chemist with 20 years of experience in academia and industry). for hard-working innovators. Thus, it comes as no surprise to me that the foundational course, the Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation, offers an outstanding information-packed curriculum and excellent, thorough, well-rounded training. That being said, what has surprised me is that the driving force and heart of Formula Botanica—and the most remarkable thing about the school–is not the curriculum (stellar as it is), but rather the student and graduate community. In my mind, the Formula Botanica community is the school’s greatest asset of all, and considering how top-notch the curriculum and instruction are, this is saying something.
Forging a Global Community
I had assumed that distance learning would be somewhat lonely and impersonal, but Formula Botanica provides a vibrant and active community—ripe for friendships, business partnerships, and networking. In addition to the excellent curriculum and expert staff, Formula Botanica also introduces each student to like-minded peers and hundreds of graduates, many of whom now run thriving natural skincare businesses. In addition to learning so much, I feel a part of something bigger than myself: an elite global community of skilled organic cosmetic formulators. I can tap into the collective wisdom of literally thousands well-trained formulators who are passionate about education and excellence.
Better yet, the Formula Botanica community is supportive and generous, starting at the very top with its Director Lorraine Dallmeier, spilling over to all the staff, and deeply infusing peer relations. Ms. Dallmeier one of the fastest rising stars on the 25 Top Personalities of the Who’s Who in Natural Beauty and a HuffPost contributor, is a force of nature; she does all Formula Botanica’s social media herself, knows and loves her students, and takes true pride in our accomplishments. She not only supports student success but also does everything she can to give students remarkable opportunities, such as adeptly quoting Formula Botanica students–and highlighting their businesses–in her HuffPost columns and media appearances. She makes herself exceptionally accessible as well. For example, she has generously contributed to my blog twice, see here and here.
As I have become acquainted with Formula Botanica and its culture, it has become clear that Ms. Dallmeier and other warm and talented staff have a great, genuine passion for natural formulation and deep and true affection for those of us whose aspirations center on it. They enthusiastically recognize and nurture this interest in all the students who enroll in Formula Botanica courses. There is a lot of encouragement and support, all without micromanaging or any undue pressure; students are treated with respect and get to experience Formula Botanica’s award-winning curriculum in the comfort of our own homes, proceeding through study modules as our individual schedules allow. As someone whose interest in formulation is more theoretical than hands-on, I have had the freedom to learn in my own way and have never felt pressured to launch my own brand. However, if I did want to launch a business, I would be well-prepared and well-connected; the school offers great training in marketing and branding as part of the training, and most of the connections you make within the community are more than willing to lend a hand. When a Formula Botanica student succeeds–whether said achievement is an award, a launch, or even a successful formulation attempt after several tries–it is celebrated in the community as a shared success.
Formula Botanica offers all sorts of supports beyond the stellar curriculum; as just one example, the school hosts a private Facebook group in which students from across the globe easily and freely connect with and help one another. What stands out in the group is the almost universal generosity amongst peers. Countless times each day, students provide one another practical advice and emotional support. Posts requesting encouragement or advice virtually never go unanswered, generally receiving numerous earnest, helpful replies (both from other students and also the staff, who actively participate as well). Peers celebrate each other’s successes and encourage each other not to give up when challenges arise. I have also witnessed deep mutual respect and loyalty between staff and students, enduring far after completing students have completed their diplomas.
The support Formula Botanica provides students is both emotional and instrumental. Indeed, the school has a huge e-mail list and a vibrant social media presence, and they utilize both to broadcast and celebrate the exciting endeavors and successes of students and graduates. What makes this even better—and even more impressive—is that this kind of enthusiastic public support is not reserved for a select few. Formula Botanica offers all students and graduates a free Business Promotion Package, in which they help get even fledgling businesses in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The opportunity is there for any student who wants it. When you think about extras like this that Formula Botanica courses include on top of an award-winning curriculum, the tuition is an incredible value.
Okay, so the school itself is stellar, but why is the community so supportive, and specifically why are Formula Botanica students so helpful to one another? For one thing, a huge majority of students love their Formula Botanica experience and are happy to be a part of the school. Of nearly 300 Student Reviews of Formula Botanica on Trust Pilot, a whopping 94% rate Formula Botanica 5-stars, and the remaining 6% rate it 4-stars! Why does this matter? Research has documented a positive feedback loop between happiness and kindness, in which one encourages the other. Not only does altruism deliver a boost to happiness, but happiness increases the likelihood and instances of altruism. Thus, a happy student body like Formula Botanica’s is likely to be a more supportive one. Moreover, although Formula Botanica’s diverse community spans the globe, we have come together because of what we have in common. The result is a student body that is largely united around a common purpose and passion: organic cosmetic science. All these factors come together to create a welcoming social environment. When you enroll at Formula Botanica, you join a very special community of people with a shared passion who build up and empower each other at nearly every opportunity.
Formula Botanica is an amazing community, above all. You don’t have to simply take my word for it. Before you go, I hope you will take a moment to read my next post, in which other students and graduates share their thoughts about Formula Botanica as a school and community.