Age-defying supermodel-turned-entrepreneur Elle Macpherson started WelleCo in 2014 as a natural evolution of her own wellness journey. ‘The Body’ sits down with Michelle Ruzzene to reflect on the challenges and benefits of building a business when you are your own boss and brand.

You have been described as an “accidental” entrepreneur – is this true?

I wouldn’t describe myself an accidental entrepreneur – there are no accidents in life. I’ve always had an interest in business, and I was motivated in the beginning to be financially independent and free. I tend to use my heart as a compass and have a ‘give-it-a-go’ philosophy. This has always enabled me to recognise opportunities that come to me and benefit from their potential.

How did you go from supermodel to super business mogul?

I started licensing my name and image in 1989 to enrich my brand and it became my business model – excuse the pun. I started off modelling as a job. It became a career, and with that career, I built a brand. And with that brand, I applied that to other people’s businesses and brands through licensing. Today, I’ve evolved, and I no longer license my name, preferring to create my own business, as I did with WelleCo. I’m a shareholder, Creative Director and I sit on the board. WelleCo is a business created as a result of my own personal wellness journey.

You trademarked your name in 1994, founding Elle Macpherson Inc. Tell us about that?

In 1989, I was approached by a New Zealand-based company to promote their lingerie. I chose an unconventional strategy — a licensing arrangement bearing my name with designs that I could co-create with them. Elle Macpherson Intimates was born and became a great success. While commonplace today, this idea was unorthodox at the time. In 2005, I again expanded my brand with the creation of Elle Macpherson The Body products, partnering with Boots Alliance. The bath and body line was distributed through Boots in the UK generating £10 (AUD$17.5) million in retail in its first year.

How did the idea for WelleCo come about?

WelleCo was born in 2014 as a natural evolution of my own wellness journey. I had begun to notice how run down I felt, and my usual host of vitamins and supplements were no longer effective. I was struggling with my sleep, my skin was dry and dull, my hair was brittle, and I felt unmotivated. I didn’t feel like myself that way. I wanted answers, so I sought the advice of Dr Simone Laubscher PhD, a clinical nutritionist and naturopath, at her Harley Street clinic in London. She helped me to better understand my body which, it turned out, was severely inflamed. She blended a custom anti-inflammatory super greens formula for me which later became The Super Elixir. Within weeks, my energy surged back, I felt lighter and leaner, and my skin and digestion improved. It was great!

Why is WelleCo so successful?

WelleCo is successful because it is based on my real-life personal experience and deep, long-term passion in the subject. A global purpose underpins WelleCo, with strong core values that reflect my own and implementing a meaning and benefit that is bigger than the brand or collection themselves.  It also is formulated with extremely high integrity ingredients and the business has a will to deliver the highest quality and most effective benefits without compromise.  WelleCo recognised the power that lies in wellness, as well as the link between natural beauty and its expression into the world through being well, a strong benefit which we convey in our beauty-through-wellness message.

What advice would you give to budding brand makers?

Identify what you love and give it a purpose bigger than yourself, bigger than just your business aims.

Where is your favourite place to be?

Be here. Be now. My favourite place to be is wherever I am. It’s not a destination, it’s how you feel in your heart.

What are three words to describe yourself?

I would say passionate, purposeful, and precise.

How do you wind down after a busy day?

I love family time to relax and get re-centred in love and laughter. When the day is done, my first priority is to reconnect with loved ones. A real treat for me is when the boys are visiting home in Miami (they are both off on their own adventures now), we love having dinner together and catching up. I relish evening relaxation when I quietly sip my nightly cup of Sleep Welle Calming Tea. That really helps the mind, emotions and body to rest, recover and rejuvenate. It’s a non-negotiable, especially after a full-on day.

What business challenges have you encountered along the way?

Many. Thankfully, I always find that it’s the challenges that bring growth and innovation. Business is seldom a smooth road, but if I had to name one challenge, I would have to say it’s been when the outside world around me becomes demanding and intense. That’s when I focus on staying relaxed yet alert so I can follow my own heart as my compass, rather than reacting to what is being demanded of me. It’s those times that I find difficult to stay in touch with my inner self, my values, my truth and self-faith. Stabilising that inner connection means finding stillness in amongst the general fracas and there is the real challenge. I’ve found the best cure is to just focus on one day at a time.

What are some of your career highlights?

My career highlight is the present. It’s the now. Working with WelleCo. Being in a business where the purpose is greater than ourselves. It’s about helping people rediscover the beauty within themselves. Beauty is soul deep.

Other highlights include:

  • Six Sports Illustrated covers
  • Merchandising my own calendars
  • Being coined, The Body by Time magazine
  • Hosting Saturday Night Live in 1996
  • Playing Joey’s girlfriend, Janine Lacroix on Friends in 1999
  • Closing the Olympics in 2000
  • Entrepreneurial ground-breaking choices such as licensing
  • Starting WelleCo in 2014

What is one thing on your bucket list?

I actually don’t have a bucket list because I do things as they come up. I don’t save them all up and think ‘one day I will do all of this’. I do things in the flow as opportunities arise. If they resonate with me, I do them in the present.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Trust your inner sense. And create something, destroy nothing – that way you are always in alignment with your own natural creation power.

What is something that you can’t live without?


This article was first published in the Spring 2022 issue of Retail Beauty. Read it below:

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