We had the pleasure of sitting down with Hilary Metcalfe and Anna Cave-Bigley, the dynamic duo behind SABI, a transformative health and wellness brand. Their journey to success began nearly two decades ago in Zurich, Switzerland, where fate brought them together, and their shared passion for health and wellness ignited an unbreakable bond.

1. How did you two meet? 

Anna: Hilary and I met in our early 20’s in Zurich, Switzerland in a chance encounter at a gym, of all places. I approached her to borrow gym kit because I’d been locked out of my then boyfriend’s apartment in the pouring rain. She didn’t have any to spare but felt I could use a friend. She left her number at reception and after a few hours of chatting over juices and tea, we became fast friends and this wonderfully random meet led to us creating The SABI years later! 

2. What is the story behind the brand?  When and why did you create the brand? How did you get all the knowledge about starting a skincare brand?

Hilary: We came together to form The SABI sharing the experience of our own hormonal crises together, namely hormonal migraines and Endometriosis for me and Postpartum Depression for Anna. Though very different, the signature of our experiences were similar. We noticed self care was one of the first things to fall away, despite it being an essential pathway to recovery and wellbeing. We missed an understanding of what was happening in our bodies, felt lonely at times and wanted natural, and empowering solutions. So, we went digging.  

Anna: We discovered that 80% of women experience a disruptive hormonal imbalance in their lifetimes yet only 10% understand the root of their issues. When we started The SABI blog and social, the comments and DMs came pouring in, women felt the same as we did. Hormonal imbalance is a complex health issue that touches our mental and physical health. 

Hilary: We wanted a holistic yet trustworthy offering from a brand that spoke to us as WOMEN not just as mummies or someone with a problem to solve (like hormonal acne). We wanted products that were fully medically vetted, all natural and branded in a clean, sensual and modern way. 

This is why we created The SABI, to provide what we wish we’d been able to access: a safe space with guidance, recipes, all natural skincare and herbal remedies for hormonal balance. 

3. How did you get all the knowledge about the ingredients and their characteristics?

Anna: Hilary is responsible for the Product Development, as a Holistic Chef that studied Herbalism and Natural Remedies it came naturally to her and refined with study and practice.

Hilary: I grew up surrounded by women who experimented in their own skincare from mango masks and seaweed peels to homemade cleaning products and loads more in the kitchen. They gave me this drive to experiment and make. But, making something for a brand and public use is very different.

Anna: It took over 2 years. We took Hilary’s original recipes through a rigorous process of product development: testing and vetting with Chemists, Microbiologists, Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and a Master Herbalist and Naturopathic Doctor. We refined the formulas and found the highest quality Eco-certified producers in Europe to work with on creating the precious SABI goods we offer today.

4. What is your favorite item and why?

Hilary: For skincare, it’s the cream for me! I love gifting it to people and getting them hooked. It’s labeled for body but I have dry, sensitive skin (and I’m over 35, so need nourishing ageing support) and me and a group of our clients use it on our faces. It gives this amazing soft, blurred glow effect that looks like you just had a facial. Fab. We’re developing a small pot for travel and the handbag, coming soon!

I can’t leave out the Herbatas of course, these herbal infusions are the heart of where it all began with The SABI products as I created the blend based on my own need for relief from period pain, migraines and a form of Endometriosis that crippled me some cycles. I also experienced a burnout a few years ago so I swear by the infusions, The MAMA Recover I use for cycle balancing and pain relief, the CALMING blend for deep, sound sleep and soothing my nerves. 

Anna: Given that I struggled so intensely with Postpartum Depression, MAMA Recover is top of my list. I know how rough it can be, and with my second baby, I had my infusions in hand and it smoothed me out during the worst, “the big drop” when a woman experiences the biggest hormonal shift in the shortest time that anyone can, after birth. NOURISH Breastfeeding blend also saved me when I struggled with flow issues. I went from under production and desperation to almost over production! A happy problem for me. 

For skincare, the mist is my saviour after sleepless nights with two kids under 3. It perks me up, plumps the skin and gives me an instant refresh. I use it several times a day for a pick-me-up and little moment of aromatherapy to gather myself for the day ahead.

5. What can you tell about the way the products are organic? 

Anna: We produce our all-natural skincare in Europe and source sustainable ingredients like powerful seaweed compounds for skin brightening and balancing skin tone. We use organic oils and extracts as much as possible (75-85% of our ingredients are certified organic). However with Hilary’s experience as a Chef serving and growing farm to table food, and my Colombian coffee and trout farming experience, we are conscious that 'certified organic’ is a label. You can be doing amazing, regenerative farming and restoring an ecosystem but not be ‘certified’ so we look to individual suppliers to understand their practices and decide on the best quality ingredients. 

Hilary: Our Herbata infusions are mostly comprised of European super herbs, many of which are adaptogenic meaning they support the body in a variety of functions and help the body adapt to a health challenge, like Oat Straw and Stinging Nettles. Lady’s Mantle and Red Clover are herbs that have been used for centuries in women’s traditional medicine and healing for cycle support, uterine toning after birth, menstrual flow, for hot flushes and more. They are mostly of local, European origin with the exception of the spices used in our Breastfeeding blend with Indian origins. We source our herbs exclusively via a certified social enterprise that actively improves the lives of the poorest people in the tea-growing regions of the world.

6. What should we all know about your brand or about a specific product? 

Anna: We often get asked what is holistic skincare and why did you choose this in combination with herbal remedies. We wanted to take an inside and out approach for truly empowered wellness. For us, holistic skincare is more than skin deep. Our skin is one of the first places to show a hormonal imbalance and endocrine balance can also be affected by what we absorb through the skin. 

Hilary: What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on your skin. So if you are experiencing an imbalance (like fertility struggles!), going all natural with your skincare is an important step, avoiding endocrine disrupting chemicals which may be lurking in home and self care products that are now confirmed to affect fertility, sperm count, motility, PCOS and interfere with other hormonal functions. 

For us, it’s about connecting women with their bodies and what may be going on under the surface. Beyond our product offering, we explore what common skin issues may identify and ways to help in our content including remedies and tips for hormone balance, including healthy recipes developed by Hilary, our Co-founder and resident Holistic Nutritionist, our SABI Aesthetician Sophia and medical contributors. 

7. You've mentioned your Herbata infusions, can you explain what it is?

Hilary: Our Herbata infusions are what we call nourishing herbal infusions, their term in herbal and traditional medicine, which is a real mouthful. Herbata, actually the Polish word for tea, reflected the cosy, potion-like vibe of these herbal infusions. We took a page from traditional medicine and wise women’s traditions that utilise plants as medicine. They are intensive infusions traditionally used to support the body naturally during a hormonal crisis, or the first 1,000 days postpartum. 

Herbatas can ease these moments with adaptogenic and nervine herbs, meaning they support the nervous system and help the body adapt. Burnout is another intense moment, which may not be hormonal at first but rather behavioural, it becomes a hormonal crisis as cortisol is continually raised and sleep hormones are impacted. Our Calming blend contains those nervine herbs like Oat Straw, Passionflower and Lavender  traditionally used to support the body in easing tension and for sound sleep, the building blocks for recovery. 

8. What inspired your plant-based approach? 

Neither of us are vegan (anymore), but we believe in the power of plants. For us, it is about understanding what you put in and on your body. Unfortunately, this has become an overly complex and difficult task to navigate. After all, high fructose corn syrup is plant-based, can be certified organic, vegan and gluten free! Yet it can lead to insulin resistance and wreak havoc in the body if consumed regularly. We feel simplicity and transparency are essential and reach for whole foods without chemicals, additives or synthetic preservatives. The same is true for our approach to skincare and remedies: powerful plant-based ingredients from origins we can trace and understand.

9. What does sustainability mean to you? How has this guided your brand? 

Sustainability is more than something we do, it’s how we operate fundamentally and what we consider at every step of the way, from how and where we produce and sell our products (Europe) to how we package them. We opted for no outer plastic on our skincare or Herbatas, the maximum recycled content for our coloured glass packaging and utilise compostable FSC paper for packaging and tea bags which are commercially compostable. Our plant-based ingredients are often sourced from small, local producers, and mostly organic. We also support soil regeneration practices and research in Europe and donate 1% of profits to the cause. Next up, we want to offer product refills for even less packaging requirements.