Hearts & Crosses Vitamin Ritual – an online service that allows customers to purchase tailor made vitamin blends following the completion of a lifestyle survey created by a pharmacist and dietitian has launched in Australia. Owned and produced by Melbourne pharmacists Johnson Zhou and Helen Lee, Hearts & Crosses is the only completely customised vitamin service available in Australia, with each premium vitamin compound selected to address the customers’ individual lifestyle requirements and for maximum efficacy. We caught up with Johnson to find out a bit more about Hearts and Crosses.
How did you come up with such a unique idea to completely customise vitamins to address a customers’ individual lifestyle requirements and maximise efficacy?
Helen and I have been practising as registered Pharmacists for over 12 years and have owned and operated our own retail pharmacy for over 6 years. Our philosophy has always been to empower our customers with the same type of knowledge and understanding that we were trained with so people have the confidence to tackle and achieve their own wellness goals, whatever they may be. We embrace the fact that everyone is different, everyone’s lives are different and everyone’s wellness goals are different and the advice we provide or the products we recommend need to be most relevant to our customers as individuals, and how they live their life. Hearts and Crosses was founded on the idea that as individuals, we should use products and services that are most relevant to us, we should not have to change how we live to suit the products. So we want people to think less “I wish my product was like this…” and more “I want my product to be this way because it suits me better.”.
The Vitamin Ritual service offering was developed on the above philosophy and the observation that many, many Australians take vitamins and supplements. We notice that there are a great variety of vitamin offerings in the market place, lots of marketing surrounding these offerings and not enough consumer understanding of what these vitamins and supplements are and why someone should or should not take these supplements.
What makes it different from just going out to buy vitamins from the chemist or supermarket?
The answer to this is two part. Firstly, is a case of understanding and empowerment. We encourage people to look beyond the marketing and try to understand and look at vitamins and supplements as a collection of ingredients that each need to serve a purpose. We try to provide some guidance through the survey suggestion process (more of that below) and we actively encourage customers to talk to their Doctor, Pharmacist or Dietitian about their specific requirements as well.
Secondly, every Vitamin Ritual order is handmade from scratch in our lab in Richmond. Ingredients are weighed out and added one by one, even the fillers, so customers have full control over what is in the product they are taking. The entire process can take well over an hour for each order. This also eliminates accidental double-ups which can be quite common if you are not on top of all the ingredients in the supplements you pick off the shelf. We curate only the best ingredients and source them only from the most reputable suppliers. That is one of the reasons why you won’t find every supplement on Vitamin Rituals – we need to be happy with them before we make it available to you. Before any production actually occurs, your order, is reviewed by our Pharmacists and assessed against your survey answers and personal details to make sure everything actually makes sense and we haven’t missed anything. Production doesn’t actually occur until we are happy the supplement is suitable for you.
The Vitamin Ritual survey was developed collaboratively between us and an Accredited Dietitian, Jo Guy. The questions on the survey consider the most common factors that may be relevant in someone choosing a vitamin supplement. Depending on how you answer the questions, our system will provide suggestions of potential ingredients that may be relevant to you, and in some cases it will remove ingredients based on known incompatibilities. We designed the process to closely resemble what goes through our mind if we are having a discussion face to face with you. We designed and built the system completely in-house, and it is constantly improved as new information is available to make it as current and relevant as possible. It doesn’t just stop there, once you receive your suggested set of ingredients, you can add or remove ingredients as you wish, and we even encourage you to take the list and talk to your Doctor, Dietitian or Pharmacist. We also provide a convenient way to book an appointment with a Dietitian directly on the portal for your convenience.
Why should people take vitamins?
Interestingly this is the question I ask all my customers when we talk about vitamins and supplements. If you normally eat a well balanced diet, lead an active lifestyle, have good balance between the stressors in our modern lives, then frankly you don’t need to take a vitamin supplement. But, sometimes, despite our best intentions, life just isn’t the way we imagine them to be. Jo sums this up quite well in that, “In this modern world, unfortunately we cannot rely on our food supply to reach our nutritional needs. Not only are there decreased levels of nutrients in our food, but we have increased demands through poor food choices, stress, medications, physical exercise, pollutants in the air and chemicals in our environment.” The question is why do you feel you need to take a vitamin supplement? What are your goals? What is your individual lifestyle and medical background? Vitamins, like medications, are tools in which we use to reach our goals.
How do customers measure the efficacy of the vitamins?
That will depend on their individual goals. Some specific cases, like iron deficiency or vitamin D deficiency, can be tracked through a blood test. Other goals that are more difficult to put a number to, like feeling more energetic, can be due to a vast variety of factors – that’s why it’s important to have discussions with us, or your preferred Health Professional, before so you have a clear plan and what constitutes as milestones in your journey to reaching your goals. Our service is designed in a way that it can change as you change, and we prefer for you to engage with us as the more you know about yourself the better we can help you.
Is there any meaning behind the name?
Hearts is universally recognised as a symbol for people, love and respect. The Greek Cross is universally recognised for health and wellbeing. Beyond that, we thought it would be a cool, fun and catchy name!
Visit www.heartsandcross.com.au for more information on creating your own bespoke vitamins.