Shake it up: Phoebe Breckell with husband Aaron in The Happy Shed, their manufacturing base in Maryville. Why did you and your husband Aaron found your natural skincare range in 2010?
We’re health-obsessed, and we love DIY. We laugh and call ourselves mix-a-holics because we became addicted to making skincare products after Aaron whipped up a 100% natural stretch mark cream for my pregnant belly. Aaron’s incredibly sweet and the cream was his way of helping me through my pregnancy. It was the start of an amazing journey.
What careers had you both had prior, and what skills did you both have to make you think it was a viable business?
Between us we have a really odd mix of skills – and surprisingly we work together better than we ever thought we could. Aaron’s an ex-Naval Officer and I’m a Software Engineer.
My technical skills save us so much time and money. Along with a slick website, we’ve got a bunch of systems working in the background that help us punch well above our weight.
Aaron’s navy experience has helped make sure our manufacturing and warehousing run like a tight ship, but it’s his passion for business and entrepreneurship that have really made the difference.
There are many organic skincare products on the market. What is your point of difference?
The number onedifference is our dedication to making sure our customers are treated like a part of the family – their happiness is our purpose. Everything else kind of flows on from there. We give them amazing products that help their skin, and treat them like the fabulous people they are. Most of our customers never actually get to meet us in person since they live all over the world, so we add personal touches everywhere we can.
What were your earliest products and what factors have influenced your range?
Aaron’s stretchmark cream became our first product, and a year later we made our favourite product, the TLC Intensive Repair Oil. It was a custom creation for a lady undergoing chemotherapy who wanted something other than sorbolene cream. We’re humbled by how many people have experienced a better quality of life after using it.
The biggest influence on our creations is our customers. We don’t just make products because of a good idea – we make products that solve our customers’ problems.
Is your product certified organic?
No, we use as many organic ingredients as possible. Even though we could be certified organic it’s incredibly expensive and time consuming, and we don’t want to have to put up our prices.
Where do you test and manufacture your products?
Everything is made locally at the Happy Shed (8 Harris Street Maryville). When we’re working on new products we always ask our customers if they want to be human hamsters (aka product testers). It’s such a fun process. Of course we do “boring” tests too like stability and preservative testing which gets done by an independent lab.
What has been the hardest part of building your business?
Our biggest challenge has been tapping into the constant energy supply that’s needed to stay on top of all of the work we have. There have been a lot of late nights. We need to keep checking in with ourselves and making sure we don’t get stuck working “in” the business and that we make time to work “on” the business to keep it growing and evolving.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Your customers are everything. Listen to them, respect them, treat them like family, and they will see the passion that you have for what you’re doing and keep coming back.
Your deodorant paste has been named as best natural deodorant by an industry health mag. Why is it unique?
It’s our best-selling product right now which is incredibly exciting, and we’re seeing signs that it’s starting to change up the Aussie deodorant industry. There are so many unhealthy deodorant choices in supermarkets, but the majority of people don’t realise that the products they’re using are potentially harmful.
Most antiperspirants contain aluminium which has links to serious health concerns. We’re encouraging everyone to ditch the aluminium, because we’ve created a deodorant that works just as well, if not better. Ourdeodorant paste is 100% natural, vegan and cruelty free.
Are you developing any new products?
Yes, lots. Two new cleansers, a new men’s range, and we keep getting asked for haircare so we’ll try and fit that into 2017 too.
Who leads the product development?
Ideas and requests for new products are constantly coming from our customers. It’s brilliant, and we learn so much that way. Aaron is our formulating genius, so he’s responsible for taking the product from idea to reality.
Your business goals?
We’ve already got over 250 Woohoo stockists Australia-wide but we want to get even bigger. Our mission is to make healthy deodorant choices available to everyone so Aussies can avoid aluminium-filled antiperspirants for good.