Champïone by Mileva brings tree resins and their benefits to the U.S.
By Srianthi Perera
Champïone by Mileva’s Salve It All Beauty Balm assails the senses with its compound of organic tree resins enhanced with violet and rose extracts. Fragrance is one of the biggest selling points of the line with walk-in customers to the store.
“Because the botanical cosmetic business is heavily reliant on the sensory experience, the online sales process seemed challenging,” said Champïone founder Violet Mileva.
Mileva, creator of the now California-based beauty products derived mainly from tree resins, learned about online marketing in a hurry to keep her business afloat.
She moved from Florida to California in 2019 and set up shop at Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Mileva had barely unpacked her inventory when COVID-19 upended her California dream.
“The pandemic hit strong in April 2020 and the city closed the entire strip,” Mileva said. “I was never prepared to be full-time online. How could I? I was used to traditional brick-and-mortar-type retail shopping. With in-person shopping, I knew I would see 10 to 20 people per minute walking past my shop.”
Mileva didn’t panic; she gathered experienced people and strategized on expanding in the online marketplace. Terms such as Social Engine Optimization,
Facebook advertising and user experience research A/B testing became part of her daily vocabulary.
“Now things are starting to pivot,” Mileva said.
The first-generation immigrant from Bulgaria, who has been in the U.S. for 15 years, wanted to create a line of beauty products that would draw on her heritage and was safe, effective and science based. Eastern European cultures link beauty treatments with tree resins, roots and botanicals. Botany, harvesting and nature’s resources are incorporated in every aspect of their lives.
“Western medicine is just discovering the power of tree resins and the numerous scientific and medical journals, such as PubMed, are backing up these findings,” Mileva said. “People from my country and other parts of the world have been using it for centuries.”
Mileva was particularly alerted to harmful ingredients in cosmetics when she volunteered during a summer with terminally ill children.
“I was tired of seeing kids that were sick using products that could potentially make them sicker,” Mileva said. “I noticed the makeup that was provided to me had harmful ingredients that are banned in many countries, which are out of alignment with my core beliefs. So I asked myself as I looked in this child’s eyes, ‘How can I put something on them that might hurt them even more? Like an explosion in my heart, the idea for my company, Champïone, was born.”
Armed with a master’s degree in human science and a diploma in organic skincare formulation, Mileva set to work in a lab. She created the Skin Saver and Panacea Potion, which became her top sellers.
“Research began back in 2012, and we are still improving ourselves every single day,” Mileva said. “Back in university, I was able to use the lab space at my school to start and had assistance from my professors and other students. We were able to test and do case studies. Ultimately, to see the results of my hard work pay off was, and still is, an extremely satisfying feeling.”
According to Mileva, Champïone is the first company to bring tree resins and their benefits to the American consumer. The resins and saps are sourced from Siberia, Russia and Bulgaria using Good Manufacturing Practices, and they are cold-pressed, sustainable and transported in an eco-friendly manner.
“Resins are nature’s healing mechanism for the tree,” Mileva pointed out. “That is why it works so well to help people’s skin. If you think about it, the different layers of our skin and a tree are very similar.”
Mileva wants people to pause and meditate on trees. There are 400 billion trees on the planet, which are one of the most resilient creations on earth.
“Have you ever stopped and asked yourself how these trees can benefit us?” Mileva said.
“Other than being a fundamental source of our breath, which equals life, they also are revolutionary for our health and health of our organs, such as our largest organ: the skin. But how do they help us, you may ask? They have been around since the beginning of time. They can be injured, struck by lightning, go through the worst weather conditions yet still have the power to heal themselves.”
The same can be said of Mileva. Her marketing strategies have resulted in an 86% increase in website visitors, sales and visibility since the pandemic started, causing her to close her pop-up store last March.
Champïone products are available in Santa Monica at Number One Beauty Center, and Luna Body and Mind Acupuncture.
“Getting discovered and gaining trust from online consumers was the hardest to overcome,” Mileva said. “But now, our online business is rivaling what we used to do in our retail store.”