Marion O’Leary had already built a successful career as a veterinarian, scientist and pathologist when a small present sent her hurtling headlong down an entirely different path.
Gifted a piece of handmade soap, the Western Australian mum-of-two was somehow captivated – and immediately dove into researching and making her own natural soaps and skincare products.
Those just-for-fun experiments in her Fremantle kitchen quickly turned into a more serious gig as Marion learned the awful backstory of several ingredients added to supermarket soaps and skincare products, even the so-called natural ones. In 2006, she launched Mokosh to provide a more natural and ethical alternative.
“Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil and cacao butter frequently rely on the labour of women and children, who are paid so poorly their chances of lifting themselves out of poverty are nil,” Marion told us. “I discovered it was possible to buy these ingredients fair trade – so why weren’t all skin care manufacturers doing this?”
Certified organic soaps made without a drop of palm oil
Marion was also shocked to discover many popular soaps contain palm oil, the production of which causes rainforest destruction and species extinction, while contributing to global warming and the displacement of indigenous people.
From day one, she committed to completely palm oil-free soaps made from cruelty free and fair trade ingredients. A whopping 97.5 per cent of her soap ingredients are now also certified organic – a major departure from the way many others make so-called natural soaps.
“The fact that I know we’ve considered every aspect of our product, and chosen the smartest, cleanest, healthiest, most ethical way to make them, makes me proud,” Marion says.
“Plus, making the switch to truly natural will bring about a big change in your skin. It’s like making the switch from refined, processed food to a fresh, wholesome diet.”
Why ‘little revolutions’ could be the answer to our world’s problems
Marion makes Mokosh soaps from a studio in Fremantle, packaging them in paper to reduce toxic plastic waste.
Mokosh also gives back to charities – Marion’s currently supporting One Girl, a Melbourne-based charity that educates girls in Africa, and hopes to increase that philanthropy as the business grows.
“We want to be part of the change that’s urgently needed if we are to turn things around before it’s too late,” she says.
“We believe humanity needs to rethink everything we do that is destroying our climate, polluting our planet, causing both human and animal suffering and increasing the gap between rich and poor.
“Our way of making skincare creates a tiny dent in the huge problems we face, but we think it’s an example of how lots of little revolutions might be part of the answer.”