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The Bluem skincare founder's fairy tale escape lives in harmony with nature.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

Montana Lower’s Fairy Tale Cottage in Tasmania

The Bluem skincare founder's fairy tale escape lives in harmony with nature.

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we celebrate innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types by taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour founder of natural beauty brand Bluem, Montana Lower's cottagecore home in Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania.

Growing up between the picturesque coral coast of Fiji and far North Queensland, Montana Lower is someone who feels deeply connected to the natural world. Having lived in rural places where "entertainment and education were largely inspired by the natural environment" she was driven to undertake a Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University with the desire to make a change. "I moved away to study Engineering straight out of school in hope of being able to design a more natural world. I soon found myself balancing working in the field, studying at night and modelling in between," she shares with Bed Threads Journal.

Working as a part-time model, Montana also wasn't a stranger to the beauty industry. Her work in this area combined with her Environmental Engineering background made her delve into the different attitudes these industries have. "I realised I was living two completely different lives, where one part of my world was obsessed with the environmental impact of design, and in the fashion and beauty industry, it was considered a mere afterthought."

This ultimately led her to start her own beauty brand Bluem which focuses on creating clean, sustainable skincare products that make us feel good without harming the planet. "From seed to skin, we’ve worked to minimise the impact on our planet by only using pure, potent, and locally sourced ingredients while tracing the supply chain to ensure ethical and sustainable harvest practices are emphasised throughout our entire product line."

Montana's dreamy home 'Seaforest Cottage' further illustrates her desire to connect with and embrace nature. Nestled into the bushland of Tasmania, this cottagecore-style abode is like a fairy tale dream. "When we first arrived the land was covered in knee-deep leaves and parts of the house were literally falling apart. I mean, when we moved in, the stairs didn’t even have a handrail!" After an extensive renovation, casual liveability is now at the forefront of this home which offers a warm, romantic, nature-driven aesthetic decorated with cosy and rustic touches.

The home embraces a materials palette of mudbrick and dark timber. Each room is enlivened with well-loved wood furniture, botanical patterns, textural fabrics, and bespoke pieces that have an heirloom quality about them.

The living room with its green velvet sofas and freestanding fireplace for extra warmth makes for the perfect nook to curl up on one of the green velvet couches to read. In the kitchen, forest green joinery leans into the surrounding landscape and a curved window overlooks the garden's sunflowers. The bathtub also overlooks the garden and makes for another charming spot to get cosy and unwind.

Stained glass windows create special moments and add whimsical old-world charm to the home and can even be found in the bedroom at the top of the home under the gable roof. Here, an alluring combination of Pistachio and Lavender linen plays into the dreamy aesthetic.

We took a tour of Montana's magical home and spoke with her about her beauty line, what self-care means to her, and how she's styled her quaint home.

Shop Montana's edit.

Hi Montana! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

Hey guys, thank you for having me! I make high-integrity, truly natural skincare that actually works. I consider it more a movement than a business, and its name is Bluem.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

For me, creativity is a life force. It has many different expressions - making babies, unique homes, art, and skincare. I do it all with the intention to live closer in alignment with nature. The vessel is the language I use to build that relationship and bring others along on the journey with me.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

I have felt my purpose growing ever since I was a little girl but couldn’t have predicted it would evolve in this way. I grew up between the coral coast of Fiji and far North Queensland. Living in such rural places, entertainment and education were largely inspired by the natural environment. I moved away to study engineering straight out of school in hope of being able to design a more natural world. I soon found myself balancing working in the field, studying at night and modelling in between.

There was one day in particular that I will never forget. I was racing from a photo shoot to make it to class, wiping away the glamorous makeup to morph back into a student, and it hit me. I realised I was living two completely different lives, where one part of my world was obsessed with the environmental impact of design, and in the fashion and beauty industry, it was considered a mere afterthought. This was about 8 years ago before “sustainability” and “greenwashing” became household concepts. I told myself that day that I would try my best to merge the two.

Since then I’ve travelled to rural Ghana to learn the realities of fair trade ingredients, exposed the impact of fast fashion waste in Cambodia, been invited to speak at the United Nations after campaigning in the largest protest against animal testing in history and more. But a lot of this journey involved fighting a system that had no interest in changing. So I made my own.

Through Bluem, I am able to create a world based on transparency and mutual trust. We lead by example to show how profit-for-purpose business has a ripple effect on everyone involved along the way. The high integrity from seed to skin encompasses deep consideration of the land in which the seeds grow, the growers who tend to the plants, how the plants are processed, what they are bottled into and how the receiving person is impacted holistically from the plant.

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

I start with the why. I have no interest in recreating products that already exist. Once I understand my intention, I begin to search for the most effective (performance-wise) native plant with the strongest impact on both protecting the environment and culture. Then I meet the plants and muse with the highest quality extractors to provide them in a respectful, high potency, innovative way that considers all steps of the process from seed to skin. It sounds simple, but the search for the perfect plant can literally take years and that is why we won’t release anything until I can confidently say it is TRULY sustainable and leaves the earth better than we found it. Throughout this, I work with my invaluable team and family (literally) to bring the vision to life while I delicately balance motherhood and work.

What does self-care mean to you and how do you practice it?

It means checking in with myself and accepting responsibility for my journey. It means looking at the bigger picture and searching for the connection between it all. It means having a deep and intimate relationship with my body, listening to Her signs, forgiving myself when I can’t hear Her, and embracing where I’m at every step of the way.. all as much as humanly possible, of course.

Can you walk us through your typical nighttime routine?

In a warmly lit room, take a deep breath in and out, gently cleanse with high-quality water & Konjac Sponge, apply 2-3 drops of Kakadu Plum Radiance Serum under the eyes and entire face. Then add additional oil if needed. While doing this I either close my eyes to listen or look at my skin for signs of my body communicating with me. I.e. A break out on my chin is likely telling me my hormones are imbalanced, on my cheeks makes me think of the food I’ve been eating and on my forehead is likely stress. Deepening the language of my unique body is the ultimate practice of self-care for me.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?

It’s not a competition because it’s not one person’s job to “do it all”. I see the natural beauty industry as a team, contributing to the joint vision of living closer in alignment to nature. Skincare is an expression of creativity. Different plants speak to different people as they all have such unique qualities divinely designed to work in harmony with the human body. When we gatekeep advancements and hold them for ourselves with greed, we move out of alignment with nature and ultimately slow the process of true impact on this world.

What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to further your career?

To connect with my intuition. Skincare has been done a million times before and very rarely is it done differently. My intuition guides originality and uncompromised integrity in creating formulas that actually work and are respectful to everyone involved along the way.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?

Having a baby. Which is a real paradox to the messaging I was raised to believe – raising a family would be the end of it. My daughter connects me deeply to my purpose, the importance of leading from the feminine and creating a workplace that respects this. She is my ultimate muse for authenticity and why protecting our earth truly matters.

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?

We’ve been caretakers of our home and land for two short years.

How did you initially know this was the space for you?

We were travelling around in our bus home when we stumbled across a listing for a fairy tale cottage set amongst the Australian bush overlooking the water. It was all my childhood dreams come true. When we arrived, the stained glass windows of two little blue birds told me we would find home here as I would always call my daughter Blue, my little bluebird.

Which is your favourite room in the house?

The kitchen for sure. Every year I plant sunflowers to grow and peep through the window behind the sink as a living artwork. It definitely makes doing the dishes a little easier.

What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?

Take time to know the heart of your home and pay extra attention to the details here. Write a story about your home – detailing the era, places, smells, colours and more that it’s inspired by. When searching for decor, ask yourself if it aligns with the story and stick to this as much as possible.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?

We’re in the midst of a complete brand refresh for Bluem, including the release of some very long-awaited innovative potions, unlike anything the mainstream beauty industry has seen before. In the background, I’m working on the most ACTUALLY natural sunscreen possible and I won’t stop until it challenges everything we’ve been taught to accept about sun protection. I intend to share that innovation for the entire beauty industry to grow.

For more from Montana follow her @montanalower @bluem_au @seaforest.cottage

Photography by Alisha Gore. Styling by Audrey Won.

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