Talking Ora with Founder & CEO Gabriel Perera
As Ora's founder and creator, Gabriel Perera is on a mission to help people live empowered, naturally healthy lives.
Originally a lawyer by training, even his law school dissertation focused on Regulation of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. He has witnessed our modern-day approach to health, struggled with his own, studied the ancient roots of Ayurveda and from this combination brings a fresh approach to natural wellness with the creation of Ora.
Based on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Ora is nestled between the local breweries, furniture makers, art studios and smash repairers of quirky Brookvale. he’s gathered a team and network around him, all of whom are who are intensely passionate about honing the intelligence of nature to create a pure, potent approach to wellness.
We recently caught up with Gabriel to hear his thoughts on wellness today and the vision behind Ora.
Where does Ora draw its inspiration from?
The word Ora comes from the Māori language and the phrase “kia ora”, a greeting used in New Zealand. But the meaning goes much deeper than hello. Ora in in the Māori language means almost like prana or chi.
It's that sense of energy, vital life force, or health that permeates the natural world around us.
How did Ora start?
All of us on the team have been focused on wellness a really long time. A lot of us are practitioners. We’d all just reached this stage where we really questioned our options. For instance, I'm by no means a vegan but I have embarked on a journey with my consumption and was asking, can I be more ecologically conscious about my purchases? What if I try out more plant-based meals each week? How do I take better supplements but less of them?
As we created Ora, we essentially tried to answer many of these questions by making the range 100% plant-based and sustainably-sourced. We offer full transparency on the ingredients, and we tell you where we manufacture the products.
Every single ingredient is practitioner-grade and stack up against any high potency formulation in the Australian market. We've also focused on making these available through health food stores because we want people to have the experience of a conversation about the product. We don't want people to buy natural medicines without thought or without advice.
What is your vision for Ora?
Our vision for Ora comes back to first principles of natural medicine. By that, I mean the idea of giving someone agency over their health. I believe people get the best results with natural medicines when they take ownership of their wellness journey.
Through Ora, we want to offer the tools, knowledge, and the latest information, alongside practitioners, for people to look after their health.
The concentric circles of our logo convey this dynamic interplay between the individual, the central circle, and the surrounding circles. These represent the context within which a person lives their life and manages their health.
One circle, for example, might be the content you read on the internet. Another might be the practitioner conversation you have when you’ve got an issue with your health. Another might be the conversations you have with friends about a common lifestyle issue.
None of this exists statically, and that's the point. The co-creation of wellness occurs with the circles around us.
What is different about Ora?
Honestly, everything we've done is just trying to solve our own problem!
The first one was palatability. The reality is natural products take time to work. They're not a quick fix. You need to take them for ten, twenty, thirty days before you start to see the benefits. But if a product tastes horrible, you're not going to last the distance, and we see this clinically all the time.
You come in with a health problem and start off with all the enthusiasm in the world. You start taking a natural solution day in, day out, but a lot of these products taste terrible, and you fall off the wagon. I can respect that because I'm exactly the same. So, we made it a point to have create our products to be as easy-to-take as possible, or so tasty that it doesn't feel like a chore! Basically, we want to help people get palatable, evidence-based doses for the lifestyle issue they're trying to solve.
The other is about doing right by our wider communities and our planet. We push ourselves to be as transparent as possible with our sourcing and supply chain, ensuring our ingredients and manufacturing processes and share everything we know with our consumers. We want to know where the herbs and ingredients in our supplements come from. We want to know about the evidence available for ingredients, how best to take them, and know the dose is right.
What is 1% of the Planet?
Our very strong view is an individual cannot be well if the planet is not well. So we dedicate 1% of our revenues to 1% for the Planet, an organisation who helps fund diverse environmental organisations. Through them, we’ve chosen to support a well-reviewed, independent, transparent and high-impact reforestation charity called Greenfleet, which is committed to restoring forests and protect native life.
Where and how is Ora made?
We design Ora products in-house here on Sydney's Northern Beaches. We are very proud of the formulations, and we've demanded a lot from our manufactureres, who are TGA approved, ACO certified and based in Australia. We're probably their worst customers because we've insisted on controlling the quality to the fullest extent we can, including using certified organic ingredients, getting the taste right, and so on.
Do you really use organic ingredients?
Absolutely. I hope we're going to see more products come to the market with organic ingredients, but at the moment Ora is one of the very few supplement brands in Australia with organic ingredients - shocking I know, but just look closely at the supplement shelves!
You see certified organic products popping up increasingly in the US, I think. In Australia, up till now, it's been pretty rare, the main reason being its taken decades to reach a point where organic ingredients are not totally cost prohibitive.
Ten years ago, you couldn't make an organic formula on a large scale. The ingredients were too expensive, not readily available, and hampered by seasonal variability. The result was not enough organic farms out there growing medicinal herbs to make it a viable proposition.
Today, enough people are growing them, both in Australia and further afield, that we can access viable, ongoing supplies.
Tell us about Ora’s products.
Most of us live a pretty urban lifestyle. We have nutritional gaps, you know. I certainly don't eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, and I don't know many people who do.
We want to help people bridge that nutritional gap first and foremost with products like Ora Greens Superpowder+.
Hormonal stress right now is also a massive issue for many of us - especially for women. How do we manage this stress of always being on against a background of constant, underlying uncertainty? Cortisol levels are at unbelievably high levels for many of us these days. Many of our products have an emphasis on adaptogens, the tonic herbs that help people manage stress. Why wouldn't we give ourselves additional adaptogenic support throughout our day?
We’re even using new ingredients that haven't been seen in the market before like Shilajit, a Himalayan rock, which believe it or not, is high in Fulvic Acid, giving real nutritional support missing from a lot of our diets.
Where can I buy Ora?
We made a conscious choice to do two things with Ora. The first is to have it available directly from us through our online store, so you can access the product while being supported by a wealth of educational content around the product as well as your health and wellbeing.
The second is, in the retail space, to have Ora exclusively available through the health food stores. Ora products are therapeutic tools, so we felt it was only right for our consumers to be receiving the right advice from the in-store practitioners in health food stores - someone who is super-passionate about natural medicine.