This is Dr Clara Hurst for Female Startup Club
Hi everyone and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! If you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur listening into this episode - we have an amazing entrepreneur joining us, Dr Clara Hurst, who’s coming on to share the founding story of The Secret Skincare. We’re covering how she accidentally stumbled across a huge opportunity in the Australian market, why it’s rapidly growing across the country and Internationally and some great insight into why they’ve had such success - and we’ve also got some real gems sprinkled in about like R&D tax credits and grants, and a tip on how to make sure you’ve got the best product on the market.
I’m just quickly going to mention the Girl code! If you missed it in our last few episodes I’m bringing in a very casual code that if you love our episodes and you learn something or you feel inspired or you get a smile across your face from hearing these stories, you take a tiny action that helps us in return. Something as small as a podcast review, or a share on social media or sending the episode to a friend. All these tiny actions are so critical to indie podcasters like me because it’s bloody tough out here and I need my hype girls to keep the wheels moving. To everyone who already does this - I see you and appreciate you more than you could possibly know.
Let’s get into today’s episode, this is Dr Clara Hurst for Female Startup Club.
Please note, this transcript has been copy-pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Clara. Welcome to the Female sSartup Club podcast. Thank you for having me. It's such an honor to be here with you today. I'm so excited to be chatting with someone in Perth. Do you have any wins or? Oh shit moments that you wanna share from today from today already? Well, when he's been here with you today and just um challenging myself to do things outside my comfort zone, we're not very happy about that. Um Any losses today. Not yet. It's been a good day so far. It's always a roller coaster. You wanna know what's so funny? Um, a few weeks ago and this is gonna loop back to you and the secret skincare. So a few weeks ago, I did Derma Milan and I had my freckles removed. So my kind of girl group whatsapp chat has just been like firing on the skincare front and we've been talking about all these things, blah, blah, blah. And I used to live in London and I used to go to fire clinic on Harley Street. And so my best friend, she goes there too. And so she was there and we were on the phone while she was um, having an appointment with Sarah. And for some reason, we started talking about skincare and like what Sarah recommended and beck, my best friend had been talking about the fact that I'd remove my freckles and like we were all kind of like chatting at the same time while she's at this appointment. And then Sarah was like, oh my God, the best skincare, you know, that's come out of Australia is this brand called the Secret Skincare. And then we're all chatting about it in the group and Beck's basically like, ok, cool. I'm gonna try, I'm gonna order it whatever. And then I was like, yeah, that brand sounds really familiar. And then I got home and I was looking at my kind of my diary, my calendar and I was like, I'm actually interviewing the founder of the Secret Skincare. This is just such weird timing and it was just such a weird moment of like that is such a small world moment. It really is. But um but I'm very happy to hear that. And yeah, the five clinics, the best clinic in in the UK uh led by the best people is that where you worked when you lived there, I didn't know, but it's actually one of my friends that owns it and he is the leading doctor cosmetic doctor in, in the UK, and one of the leading doctors in the world and Sarah, who your friends spoke to is just a top clinician. She's an aesthetics nurse and she's at the top of her game as well. So I went over there recently and trained the team in the secret skincare and they're all so excited uh because I used to work in the UK. So I kind of know how the industry works over there. And that's kind of what started me off. Uh So I knew what challenges all the clinicians are facing over there and to improve those challenges and find solutions. And that's, yeah, that's why we're here. Oh my gosh. So I used to go to Phi Clinic. I lived in the UK for the last eight years and Sarah was also who I would go and see too. And so all of my group of girlfriends one at a time would be like, so this is who we're going to see. And then the next one would be like, that's who I'm going to go see. And we all started going there, but I didn't know they were the leading clinics great. They are. And doctor Tappan is, is an amazing doctor. So he owns the clinic leads at the clinic. And then also interestingly, one of my nurses at my clinic here used to work at fire clinic. Oh my gosh. Wow. Sam. Lucky she used to be a nurse there. And, and then when she wanted to move to Australia, I found her a job in my clinic. That is so cool. Wow. Well, shout out to five small world out there. It is. I want to go back to kind of the beginning of your story. I mean, you were obviously living in London. I'd love to kind of get to this point of how you decided to come to Australia and start a clinic here. Ok. So I already was running a business and my training in, in the UK prior to that. Um I first trained in injectables almost 17 years ago and have been doing it since and after I had my first child. So I lived in Australia previously for a short time and then I had my first child in 2012 and she was a Micro Prey. Uh She was a £1 baby and she was born uh for five months when I was finally pregnant. And so we had a lot of difficulties with that and challenges with that. And when we came through, we decided that Australia would probably be a better climate and better lifestyle for us and for our baby. So we decided to move here with no expectations and no, I mean, you know, I didn't have a job or anything. Uh I had worked here before and so, yeah, I, I moved here, took some time to be with my baby, had another baby. Uh, and eventually kind of got back to, uh, what do I want to do? Um, and do I want to continue my career in that? Uh, you know, I always worked but I want to do something more. So I kept things going. But then it got to a point where I wanted to do my own thing and launch my own clinic. So actually, what happened is I had a almost a newborn baby and a four year old. And that would be an amazing time to open my own clinic and launch a skincare business at the same time and build a house and build the clinic. So it was a bit of a hectic time. But, you know, I just get it all done at the same time. Why not? It actually worked out fine. Um So the reason why I opened the clinic was because there was no local clinics that I want to go to that, I felt like they were amazing and I was really thrilled to go there and they were offering all the treatments that I thought were the best. And I thought, well, if no one else is doing it, I'll do it. And so what made you think? I'm also gonna launch the product range at the same time. Did you say coincidence? It was not expected. It was not intentional. So what happened is back in the UK, I used to prescribe a lot of prescription skincare uh in my, in my clinic over there uh really successfully for like a and stuff like that. Yeah. So I used to prescribe for, I don't know, 12 years to my patients and had really good success. The results, I don't know if you used it, but the results were incredible and there was nothing better than that. Um But it had its challenges. So when I moved to Australia, I decided, well, I'll use A R and my patients here and as it turns out, the distribution was really difficult here in Australia and I could just, couldn't find a way around it. And I thought, wow, you know, somebody needs to be doing this. So I went to my pharmacist and I said, how do I get around it? How do I get these products here or kind of similar products? And she actually said to me, look, there's actually a doctor that works up the road who's doing really similar things to you prescribing really similar products to her patients and who has an interest in, you know, cosmetic dermatology and women's health. So why don't you meet with her and see where you're both at? So sure enough, I met Deb and she literally works at the end of my street and I never know her. Yeah, she works at the medical center at the end of my street. So we had a coffee and we kind of stayed and chatted for a couple of hours and realized that hey, we are actually doing like solving similar problems slightly differently. Why don't we combine forces and do something really cool? Um And combine your experience and my experience and make something better than what's out there. And again, solving the problem, there is nothing available that we'd want to use. So why don't we make it? And so kind of the secret was born, but it wasn't born. The secret was born like just this one cream. And actually, initially you had to come to either. Well, actually you had to come to my clinic to get it. So you'd come in and then we'd prescribe it for you and then you'd come a week later and pick it up. And that was it. We had one product which we knew worked, which is again, essentially all the combination of really potent, effective ingredients that we knew really worked that we'd use for years and years. But into one jar, because the problem with other systems, as you probably know is that they're multi step. You do four steps in the morning, four steps at night, you have to go to bed 20 minutes early to do your skin care. It's expensive in that routine right now. You don't know how much you have to use. Is it a lazy beauty girl? Oh, I'm too lazy and you know, we're busy and mo most women you've got other things better to do and also your results can vary depending on how much you're using. And it's just too many variables and we wanted to smooth all that out. So we wanted one cream that did everything that you put on and you went to bed and you woke up and you looked amazing. So we made one cream which was our hero product, which is still is our hero product. And yeah, it was literally just available to uh local patients. And so what happened is that people started talking and people started showing up with amazing skin. So their friends would say, hey, you know, you look great. What's your secret? Or you know, they'd say was it called the Secret at this point? No, it wasn't called anything. And then um it was called Dr and Dr Deb Scream. So um then people were saying, well, you know, it's a secret and all those kind of stuff. And then the press wrote an article and it was called The Secret of the western suburbs. And how come women are looking so great and blah, blah, blah. And so we thought, hey, you know, we might have a business here. Why don't we like launch this as the real thing and call it the secret? And so the secret is one that is so cool how it's kind of come about in this really organic, almost accidental way. Did you have to go through a lot of R and D to get to the formula? Yes, we did, we did. What was the kind of time investment and process in that? Ok. So the challenges were around the, the actual ingredients that we use have been proven and clinically proven for decades. They've been around for decades and we know their efficacy, we know the safety profile, We know everything there were, there were hundreds of clinical studies. So the ingredients themselves weren't in question or their efficacy. It was more of how do we combine them and make them stable? The problem and the challenge that no one has solved yet was how do we combine this many ingredients? Not one or two, like several, 56 into one jar and it doesn't break down. So initially we made this cream and like uh usually you make the cream and you know, a doctor can prescribe you this cream, you can take it to your local pharmacy. They make it up after three weeks. I guarantee you it's going to turn to like a runny mushy consistency and it's just not very nice to use and it's not really that um effective. Um So initially we had that problem, then we made a cream that was stable for three months in the fridge. But again, problematic because you can't travel and it's just a bit annoying. You have to remember to go to the fridge and so on. But that's the cream that we saw for a while. Uh Eventually we had a cream that was stable for three months outside the fridge. And then now we've developed and developed and researched and now we have a cream that is stable for 12 months outside the fridge. It's stable for longer than 12 months. But the stability testing that we've got recorded is 12 months. However, the potency because they're fresh ingredients and they're made to order um they're not mass manufactured. Each cream is made for you. Uh The potency will decrease. So we recommend that you throw them out after six months, the jars are meant to last 4 to 5 months. Well, 5 to 6 months really? And then you throw them out. So you shouldn't be keeping it after 12 months anyway, but it is stable. It's just not going to be doing as much good as when it was fresh. And so is that you're still saying that that's made specifically for someone based on their specific needs? So does that mean people still need to come into your studio, your clinic or you know, are we doing this on Zoom or how are you like scaling that part of the business? Ok. So initially they would come in um and then we decided quickly as it grew very, very fast and people would travel from all over the place. Um That what we do is we'd launch a website and we'd assess everybody via the website. So they would essentially fill in the questionnaire and then we'd assess the condition and then recommend a agreement and then ship it to them. Now, we decided to launch this. We had our launch on the Friday. I think it was like February March about three years ago. And then on the Monday COVID hit and everything got shut down. So we, the whole country went into lockdown, which was uh kind of challenging in the short term. We felt quite worried like everyone else. But it was a really important pivotal point for us because it really meant that our business boomed really, really quickly because everyone was at home looking in the mirror doing zooms, not being able to go to their beauty appointments and finding solutions on the internet and we were the solution. So it worked really well. It well, we worked it to our advantage and it was ideal timing for us. So yes. So what we've done is a lot of people can ask sometimes, you know, but do you do, do you offer a zoom consultation? Now, you can see me and I can see you on zoom. There is no way I can assess your skin on the zoom. It's impossible. What information am I getting from doing a video call with you at zero? You know, everybody's kind of the the camera might be blurry, it might be filtered. You might have makeup on. It's impossible to determine it's a pointless, pointless activity. You, what you need to do is really take a really thorough history. We have a really specific questionnaire that will give us a detailed description of your skin. Now of your skin previously, what, what it, how it behaves under different situations. And then we ask you for photos and then we can properly assess your skin. You know, makeup free good quality photo is much better than doing a zoom. It is, it is totally pointless. And you know, there are other companies out there that say, you know, it's really important that we do video calls. We just don't see the benefit. It's wasting your time, it's wasting our time. You can do this in the comfort of your home, your photos and send the form when you're good and ready, send that to us. And there's an open dialogue so we can come back to you and say, you know, we noticed that you've ticked that you've got acne, but actually on examining your photos and your history, you're saying that you're only getting three pimples a month, that's not really, you know, that's not what we would describe as acne. This would be better for you. And we talk to, to the to the patients and make sure that they're getting the right formulation for this skin. So, although we have, I don't know, 13 or so formulas that are regular formulas that we use and that we pull from because we know we trust them, they work well, we know most people will fit into those. That's why we've developed them. There are times when somebody might come in and say we, we might think, well, this cream is perfect for you. But actually, you know, you're allergic to vitamin C or you're, um, you're not getting sufficient result. You've had one round of this, let's double the strength of that. So each formula because they're made for you, each jar we can actually tweak it and, and we do tweak them to suit the customer. It's not the cream fits, you know, it's not the customer fits the cream, the cream fits the customer. Yeah. And does that mean then you, you mentioned that you were, you know, doing training in London? Does that mean that you're kind of the way that you expand is also then to sell into other clinics, you know, in Australia slash around the world? Yes. So that's what we've launched this year. So each year we've done different steps uh for jumping into, sorry. No, no, no, no. It's totally. So the first year I suppose we did the website uh, and develop more products. We did lots of uh more uh prescription products. So we went from one formula to maybe six formulas and, and so on. And, and from there on then the second thing that we did is having worked in a clinic for years and having stocked other products, I knew that there were some things that were necessary for our brand. One of them was that we stopped them in clinics or we provided them or we made them accessible through clinics. And the reason for that for me is each clinic has got a database of say between 6000 patients on the list. These are patients who are already your type of client. Um They're your customer, they already are searching for anesthetic improvement and have an expectation of investing in their skin. Um So they're committed to that already. So who better to promote your product than people who already have a database ready to go? Right. And so the exposure then just expands multiplies uh dramatically dramatically. Uh So I always knew that that was something that we want to do and it's, it's difficult to do. But um but, you know, we, this is something that we've launched this year. Um and those partnerships. Uh and then the second thing was that because our products are prescription only, we couldn't advertise them. Yeah, so you can't advertise schedule four medications or medications in general. So, um we can advertise the range, but we can't advertise particular ingredients or, or products. So, and there are very tight regulations and we do always make sure that we adhere by the regulations, we break the rules that's really important to us, you know, early on. So does that mean you need to lean obviously away from kind of very specific ads and paid media and you need to lean into pr influencers. Are you allowed to work with influencers? Uh We are, but um recently the regulations have changed again this year. Um So T G A regulations mean that uh you can't pay an influencer to endorse your product and medication as such, so they can use it freely and they can speak if they've used it freely and they've bought it themselves, which happens very often, then they can speak freely. That's their experience. We don't have anything to do with that. Anyone who's paid, they're not allowed to speak about the benefits um or promote the product as a medication as such and that includes S P F now as well. So S P F four is under that category, they're not allowed to say this claim, claim benefits or effects from it. So there are ways around it and we work ways around it and that's uh you know, is to protect the public and we understand that. So we have to work within those guidelines and we do work within those guidelines. Um But yeah, just going back to our previous point, then the other thing that we knew that we had to do to grow as a business because of those challenges was to create a non-prescription retail formula or formulas range that we could stock in clinics that people because they were not restricted items, they could pick up off the shelf, purchase it, take something home. And that would be an introduction. It's a lower price point. It's an introduction to the brand, but also provides us with a marketed opportunity because the, the, the products are on the shelves, the products can be advertised and those are such things um that we've always been asked. So our patients always ask us, you know, this is great. You know, I'm using your um face cream and your night cream and your eye product. That's amazing. What do I do? What do I wash my face with? What do I, what S P F should I use? Um You know, what serum should I use? So we thought why we recommending other people's products? Why don't we make something better than what's out there? So we actually collate all the products that we really love and the whole team come in with a bunch of products they love and we talk about why do we love them? What it is that sets them apart? What could we do better? What kind of aspects could we improve on that? And then we come up with dream list and then we get this hit list of products that we and we're all really into skincare, obviously. So we've got some great ideas and we've tried products from all over the world. Um and then we make something better literally, that's, that's how we work. We go, what's the best out there? How do we make it better? How do we combine? This is amazing. This is amazing. This is amazing. How do we combine it all together? Um And that's how our base range was born. And so far we've launched three products within the base range, which is a beautiful oil, nourishing oil. A serum hydrating B three B five and Hyaluronic acid and a uh the most amazing S P F which I think is probably the best or one of the best products we've ever made. Wow, cool. I love that for you. It sounds so exciting. We love to touch on the, like the money piece of building a business, especially in the early days and kind of when you're starting out, you're funding the business before you kind of necessary. Well, maybe you have already decided or maybe you haven't, but before you kind of go down the, the funding path, if you're gonna take that path, what kind of capital did you need to invest in the secret to get started? And what are your thoughts on, you know, how you've been funding the business since then? Ok. So each business is different, of course, and I can speak from both aspects of clinic and a, and a product line is they're both very different. Um Look, luckily for us, we created a product where essentially in a way we were the middle man, the patient was paying for the product and the pharmacy was making the product and we are just the middle person prescribing the product. So we didn't need an investment early on because we made wine cream and you know, then we would sell it to that patient and we made everything to order. If you make everything to order, you don't have any inventory, you don't have any start to purchase, you have very little outgoings. All your outgoings are just going if anything on marketing, but we grew on word of mouth. So we didn't even have to do any marketing initially. Uh the marketing in itself because the results were great. So people walking around with their results on their face and that's their marketing and that's still our most effective marketing. Um to this day, those, those results, those before and afters that simply can't be achieved with any other products. And trust me because I sell lots of other products in my clinic. So I guess there are some businesses where you, you don't really need an investment initially. However, as you grow, you do. So we did set aside pretty much the majority of our funds that were coming in. So we kind of planned to use the revenue for other profits for uh growth and we knew that growth would come and that we would have to expand and grow and that wasn't just in the prescription skincare sector, but uh as I said, launching a base range and partnering with clinics and those things did require an investment. But luckily for us, because we had started with no investment, we made profits really quickly and has always been profitable and we then invested those profits into growth. And when it came to launching the base range, the actual physical product range that you do have to stock and produce and mass produce and the minimum order quantities are very large. Um Yeah, they, they're large minimum like 10,000 plus or of each of each, each product. Yeah, yeah, each that's minimum. Um So because of that, um you need to fund that and the vessels products and, and also the product development costs money and then you're obviously invested into uh into marketing and so on. So that's probably our biggest investment was, was that um and that's the only point actually at which we've taken out a loan, we took a small loan to finance the um to fund the, the packaging. So our packaging is amazing and it wasn't just for packaging. It's um it's actually for um our most successful campaign and probably the most incredible marketing moment we've had in the company is launching last year, we launched a sustainability series. So we made the whole brand fully sustainable and that was a costly exercise, but it's worth it. And we're really pleased that we did it. It took a lot of work from the whole team. They did incredibly well and they brought out a line where everything is fully sustainable. So it's refillable packaging. And we, we were the first prescription skincare line to do uh refillable packaging and one of the first brand skincare brands to do refillable packaging and everything is recyclable, refillable or biodegradable everything in the box. Even the bubble wrap, even the labels. That is so cool. Wow. You know, something that I've been getting a lot of emails slash linkedin messages with people dropping into my inbox asking about R and D tax credits and the R and D kind of um you know, money back that you can get. Is that something that you have leveraged in your development process? Could you speak a little bit about that for anyone listening who might not have heard so much about it or, you know, might be wondering how they can access something like that and if they're eligible, well, look for us, we have done everything through our accountant. So we made sure that we've got specialist accountants on board who, who have done this before and who because it's not that easy to navigate. Uh Not always um our CEO is has experience in it and she, she definitely drove the whole thing. She's worked really, really hard to make it happen. Um It's not something that I'm personally involved in. Um But there are definitely lots and lots of grants out there that you can access uh is possible. Uh The Australian government do fund a lot and help um startups a lot. There are opportunities out there if you do it the right way. So it might seem daunting. So I would, I would actually just advise to um to, to seek the help of somebody who's done it before and can help you navigate this. And that's probably your accountant. It's just taking in the boxes, fill in the forms and making sure that you're, you're doing everything right, so that you can get that funding. So yes, we have, we have done that and it's been really helpful, especially for international expansion. Yes, the E MD G grant. Um Yeah, for anyone listening who, you know, is wondering how to look into grants that are available to business owners like the E MD G grant or R and D tax benefits and credits. If you, even for me, what I personally did was just emailed my accountant and he connected me to the people that he works with and they're specifically grant specialists. And I think that when we went through the process, I was like, I mean, there's no chance I would have done this myself. Like I absolutely would prefer to pay a commission of, you know, what they, what, what I was going to be entitled to get versus doing it myself because there is a lot of paperwork. But I think that if you find people usually and last thing I'll say on this just for anyone listening, usually there's no upfront payment, there's no retainer model, nothing like that. It's all based on performance. So you should never be paying upfront. You're just gonna, you know, give 15 or 20% of what you are entitled to. Which if you're not, someone who loves to be in the weeds with paperwork, I think it's totally worth it. But the other thing is that you have to spend the money to get it back. Yes, you have to spend the money. It's no good. Just getting the money with plans, you have to spend it first and then you claim it back. That's how it works. Yes, absolutely. That's a good one to note. Thank you so much. I was reading about you and I read that in that first six months, you hit a million dollars in sales and then when we look at 2023 you're on track to doing something like $7 million in sales, which is just amazing and I wanna understand kind of what's shifting the needle for you now this year also keeping in mind that you have these kind of, um, T G A restrictions and things like that. What are the kind of main drivers for you? Um, look what's been a game changer for us has been launching into clinics and those partnerships because we've been able to, to grow very quickly. Um, as I said, we've currently, I think, got 18 or 20 clinics on board. Uh, we've got another 20 waiting to on board. Uh, so I guess the hold up for us is we need more B D MS. We need people to support these clinics and that's where the growth can slow down if you don't have the right people in the right jobs or you don't have, you don't have people in the jobs, um, yet. Uh, So the interest is there. Uh We do have just so many clinics in Australia and overseas waiting to on board. Um But that's been huge growth and I would say it's probably closer to 10 or 11 million for this year based on that, if we hit the targets that we are, we are going through at the moment. The other thing was launching the base range. You not having a second line, having a different income stream, it's completely separate. So they essentially two separate businesses and two different income streams. They work very differently. Um So we've added something else. We've kind of started a sideline business, I suppose. Um And they both complement each other. So when you buy one, you buy the other. So it kind of works really, really well for us. Uh And, and, and as I said, it's a lower price point. So it's an entry point for perhaps somebody who might not be too sure or might not be ready for that kind of investment yet. Um However, if you have ever used our brand, you realize that it's very cost effective. So one set which has got everything that you need is between five and $600 depending on what you get and that will last you 5 to 6 months. So for $100 a month, you have everything that you need. That's it. You know, people message but then do I use that serum and that product, the vitamin C and no, that this is, that's it. You don't need anything else. So it's very cost effective. Uh, because you're needing a little drop. Uh So yeah, those are the two things and then for next year it will be continuing with clinics. We've got more products coming with the base range, but one of the big ones is our overseas expansion. We've launched in two clinics, one in uh the Netherlands, uh, one in one in London and we have been holding off doing that because we have been in a little bit of a battle with, um, um, our IP, you know, our, um, trademarks and we've won. So we're very happy. We just had news last week. Yes, a hugely expensive exercise. But, um, yeah, we had a little bit of a fight with Procter and Gamble. But, um, a was it about the name or was it about the, it's about the name because they launched the deodorant back in 1953 called Secret that they don't use. Um But they had it first. Uh many said deodorant. Um So look, we were confident that we would get it and we had a really great IP lawyer. So we've, we've continued and persevered, but because of that, we just didn't, we couldn't do that, but now we've got the, the trademarks. So, so investing in trademarks early on is really important. That's one piece of advice. I'll give everyone, um make sure you secure trademarks early on in the game. Um So you've got actual IP that belongs to you and should you come to a moment where you need to expand or overseas or even in Australia or sell or whatever or get investors, you need to have that locked in and it can take years. Uh And if it's not gonna work, then maybe consider changing your name, but um work it out early. It's so interesting. You say that because we actually, it's, it's quite a hot topic in our private community. Um Magic at the moment around, you know, trademarking and IP and all this kind of thing. It's so important to trademark. But you've also obviously got to have the budget to be able to go into these kind of legal battles. Are you able to share kind of ballpark pricing? How much those legal fees cost you to take on someone like P N G, I don't know off the top of my head, but it's many, many, many tens of thousands of dollars. Do you think in hindsight, it is better to have the secret as the name or do you think in hindsight you wish you had, you know, a more obscure name that potentially you could have avoided? No, I love it. I think it's great. Super catchy. You can create lots of marketing around it. Oh, I mean, I love it too. I mean, more from the point of, you know, is it worth spending 50 grand or 100 grand to fight something like that? No, no. If you can come up with something obscure, that is also memorable and suits your brand, why would you spend money on something? You don't have to. Um No, I guess that's a costly mistake. Uh That is, you know, it's, it's worth it for us, for us. Um When I thought of the name, it was just because again, as I told you the story behind it, but it wasn't, you know, we didn't think it was gonna be as big as it is honestly. So um live in London, we are, we are live and learn and if you're confident then fight and now you've got the amazing story. Yeah. And the amazing name. Yeah, you won. Yeah. And it look, it's an ongoing battle. It's uh we won UK, Europe, Australia and so on, but there's still territories to win. So it's an ongoing cost for you. Just kind of on the same topic of IP. And you know, it's no secret that beauty is such a crowded space and you launched a couple of years ago and you said that at that time, there wasn't really anyone in the market like Obagi or, or those kind of brands doing what you're doing. Have other people since entered the space competitor wise. Yes. So I would say there is very few competitors globally. So it's very, very niche, very unique space uh as a global market, which we're very lucky. And that's why we did enter the market. And also because it's not, not everyone can launch this business. If you don't have a medical background, you're not a doctor, you can't prescribe, then you're kind of stuck, you know, and, and you, you need to have the experience to back it up. But um within Australia at the time, we were the first ones to launch. So we Australia's first prescriptions can get. Then we, there is a couple of other businesses that have launched since uh one of them is um uh a large kind of part of another group and they produce much lower price point, uh lower concentrations, just kind of to the masses you go in and they give you maybe one or two ingredients. There's a market for that. So that's also great. We're very happy to share the space with somebody like that and they do the whole thing online and you, you go on and they, they will, they will send you kind of cheaper looking product and cheaper end product, but it's still gonna have some benefits. It's just not quite the same, it's not as potent. So you probably will end up needing to buy three or four of this to make up for the one that we will put together for you. So you still have to do some kind of multi stepping. But I guess if somebody has a lower budget and wants to try out and, but it's not really that bothered about the results or, or the, or how quickly they get results, then that might be an option for them. And that's great. You know, this market for everyone is the world's a big place and Australia is a big place, then there's another company uh who is much smaller and they have a non medical person behind it and they make again products that lower end one or two ingredients and kind of maybe a little bit more homemade, I suppose formulations feels like it's a very exciting space for you to be in, you know, when you, we talk about this a lot on the show as well, you know, being able to find something that's a true gap in the market where you can truly add a point of difference and be kind of, you know, the leader in the space is just so, um you know, so important, so critical in the success or not only that but of course, like critical and part of the success of building, you know, a huge, huge brand. Yeah. Yeah, one of the best things is just being that we we just love all the detail like as a business, we take care of all the small details. So and that really shows collectively when you then have a product. So we wanted to make the product not just really effective, but then also a luxury product that felt luxury, it didn't maybe cost luxury, but it felt luxury. It was still affordable, it's accessible. Um but it feels luxurious to use. It's not in some cheap packaging with cheap branding and you can see it on your shelf and be beautiful. You can be proud of it and it can be unisex. You know, we thought about the whole sustainability aspect of it. Uh The marketing education is really important to us. So just every, every last thing we just wanted to perfect everything that we knew was on the market with our background and make it better. It wasn't just like, oh this is a product and you know, that's it. And when we went to five clinic recently, when I went to train the staff there, one of the things that came out is that uh you know, all the clinical staff there um actually said, you know, you've, you've thought of everything like it's, we're just blown away by the detail, the forms, the questionnaire the website, the order in the packaging, the product, the texture, the just all the bits and those little bits is what drives me. I just love the detail and I'm really anal with the detail. I'm so pedantic with getting everything exactly how I envisaged and I think I drive everyone crazy, but in the end it's worth it because then you launch something that I don't want to launch something mediocre and I don't want to launch anything that everyone else wants can launch easily. I want to do something that no one else can do. Only we can do it. Yeah. Yeah, you have a very defensible moat around what you're doing and, and what you're building. What do you want to shout about that's coming up. What kind of things are you launching or campaigns that are going live or fun things that you want to tell everyone about? Well, my amazing marketing team have got a huge marketing strategy um lined up for the rest of our base range and it is so amazing. It's so beautiful. They know the brand better than I know the brand myself now and everything that they do just blows me away. So they did a presentation for us the other day and it just had lined up the rest of the products that we've got coming up for the rest of the year. Now, challenges that we face is always manufacturing and things being a bit slower than we expected, but they are lined up to drop later this year and we have got some really, really cool products like every product that we launch. I'm, I'm just like, oh, so good because it's just the best. And I, I always say to the team, I don't want to launch anything that I wouldn't replace my existing skin care for. So like if we, if we launch a cleanser, it has to be better than any cleanser I've ever tried. Because otherwise, why would I switch, you know, if, if price points not my issue, it's just quality and results, then it needs to be amazing. So the next product is going to be dropped in the next month. I hope and I know it will and that's something to look out for. We're really excited. We've got a really cool campaign around it. Um And then we will have another one but in a couple of months as well, I, I don't want to tell you too much. I don't want to it and get told off by the marketing. You know, everyone needs to just tune in, come back in a month and then a couple of months, see what's going on. Just follow the secret skincare online on Instagram and then you'll be up to date and you know what the newsletter is? Amazing. We send these beautiful emails um with heaps of products and information and um exciting news and stuff and we don't kind of overload people either. So if you sign up to the newsletter, you'll be first to know. And usually, you know, there, there's some kind of things that are only available to people who are on their mailing list as well. So amazing, sign up to that laugh at that. We're gonna link it in the show notes for anyone listening. What is your key piece of advice or recommendation to any other business owner, small business owner, entrepreneur founders who are in the early stages of building a business in the beauty industry. Ok? So the main thing I would say is have a plan, have a really clear plan of what you want to do. I mean, you know, you can change your plan as you go, it doesn't have to be set in stone but have a really just like crystal clear vision of what you want, what you want to achieve and then I guess do everything with purpose after that so on purpose so that every action you're not just like, oh, I just go and try this and I'm gonna try that and then see if that works. No, you know, if you have a plan, you can then measure, you know, measure three times before you execute it and just have a clear idea of where you're going and where you're heading. That's not to say you're not going to try things, some things might work, some things might not work, but if you have a really clear picture of where you want to go, this is where you are and this is where you want to end up, then you can sort of work out the steps in between, I guess with that just again, brand, just your brand image and you know, who is your customer and just get to know your customer. What do they want? What are they looking for? What problem are you solving? I know you're really solving a problem because you're not solving a problem, you're not selling products. Um, it needs to be, find out what the best on the market is and then make it better and maybe there isn't anything on the market which is, you know, amazing. You can start small. You don't have to have a huge line of products, whatever it is, whether it's skincare or something else, you don't have to launch with a, uh you know, 10 products, 20 products. You don't have to have a line. You just to have one thing and one thing needs to be amazing for it to take off and to stick. But one thing is enough generally, you know, um people worry that they need to just curate this epic line and then they don't start because then it's overwhelming and it's scary. So just start like just stop thinking about it and just actually do stop thinking and start doing. And I guess the other thing is, do you know what take setbacks and challenges as opportunities because every time you have a setback and a challenge, of course, it's infuriating, it's frustrating and it can put you back and it can cost you money and there's so many things, but that happens to everyone, everyone, there's not anyone I know who's been really successful who hasn't had to setbacks. But if you use that as well, what's my opportunity here, then? That's perfect. right? You know, you're gonna grow, that's, that's how people grow and that's how businesses grow. Um So yeah, I guess stick to your values, stick to your vision and make sure that your team also aware of what your vision and mission is so that they can all stick to it. And maybe, you know, you need to do, do that together. That would be great if you have a team and then just remind people of why you're here. What, what's what you're trying to achieve together so many gems in there. I really love the, you know, figure out what the product and the solution is that you're creating and make sure it's better than anything else on the market. And something that I've heard come up multiple times and I just want to remind anyone listening who's in that early phase. A great tip is to, you know, go to any brand that you're kind of looking at in the same industry and, and read the 12 and three star reviews, read what the problems are with these products on the market that everyday people are struggling with and then improve on those things. That's like step number one to make the best product possible. That is such good advice. That is great advice. Yes, I love that. I might start doing that myself. Yeah, you should. Yeah, that's great advice. Yeah, I hadn't heard that one.
Question number one, what's your, why? Why do you wake up every day and build these two businesses? I guess two things. One is to push myself to be the best version of myself that I can be. That's really important to me. Um Not in competition with anyone else just with myself, you know, and to be a good mother, that's my drive to be a good parent. Um That's actually all I ultimately care about. I love that. So beautiful. Question number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment since you launched the secret, the sustainability series launching that was really successful, went so well, hard work paid off and just seeing all the industry leaders love it and be really supportive. That was amazing for us. Love that for you. Question number three is, what's your go to business resource if you're learning something, be it a book or a podcast or a newsletter? Well, I'm currently listening to Simon Se, I don't know if you're listening to his podcast, but that's really good. And then there are different books, there's a book I'm reading at the moment. Called the Culture Code, the Culture code playbook and that's really good. So just tips on the culture is really important to me running two businesses. I've got 32 employees. I want them all to be happy. I like going to work somewhere that everyone's happy and thrilled to be there. I don't want anyone to come to work and not want to be there and it really matters to keep building that. So I like listening to stuff like that. Have you got any kind of gem out of that that you can share? That's top of mind. Oh my God. Um, not really. I mean, I don't know, the, the last thing I was listening to was um, I guess when you do performance reviews not to tell them how they're doing but to ask them how they're doing, um, you know, so ask someone, you know, instead of going and go. Oh well, I've noticed that da, da, da, da da this and you've been doing this? Well, how do you, how do you, that's usually based on how they've been doing for the last two weeks for starters. Ok, because that's all you remember and then you're telling them the observation of what you think. Whereas actually if you ask them, you know, how do you think you're going and what do you like doing and what do you not like doing? What do you think you could do more of, what do you think? You could better. Do you want to get heaps more information and actually work together to make things better? Oh, yeah, I love that. And I feel like that starts an open conversation versus potentially a closed conversation if you come in with the information first. Well, that's, yeah, that's a good one. Thanks. Question. Number four is how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM? Rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? I don't really have one. Like, I don't have a route. I mean, I'd love to tell you, I love to get up early and go for, I do go, you know, sometimes go to the gym, but I don't enjoy it. Uh For me is actually I'm a really positive person. So I win the day with just positivity. Like I always look at the bright side, I always look at like the upside of things and why we can do things rather than why we can't do it. And sometimes I get a bit carried away. I need stopping. But I'm like, oh my God, and then we're gonna do this and I'm gonna do that and I would just get really excited. I'm just a really positive glass full kind of person and that's how I win the day. Just that in my head all the time. I love that, love positivity driven. It's funny because I did a, I did a podcast last week. And then the lady who was interviewing me asked me something about, it was a negative question. I can't remember what it was. It was like something like challenges or I can't actually remember. But then I didn't even realize this. But I started answering in a way that turned the question into some kind of positive experience. She was like, yeah, I like this is wild. Like everything you just turn into a positive, like you've just started again and I didn't even know I was doing it. But I guess I see, I mean, it's a great way to see the world. The bright side. Yeah, we wanna see the bright side. We want to see the silver linings. I'm sure there'll be a silver lining for this next question. Question number five is what's been your worst money mistake in the business? And how much did it cost you? Yeah. Um I guess not so much for the secret but for my clinic, I did, I, once when I was growing and developing, expanding the clinic and doubling the size and tripping the size. I didn't necessarily pick the best builders, um, pick somebody thought they'd do a great job and then they end up walking out halfway through with all my money. And then on top of that, we had to rip out everything that they'd done. So it cost me to then rip it out and start again and I'd already, my budget was gone. Because he walked off with it and turns out I couldn't sue him because he doesn't have anything. So that was a very, very costly exercise. I wouldn't make that mistake again. I always think, employ the best people you can afford. And those are mistakes that I've learned as I've gone grown that in my business. I just always pay more for literally whatever your business can afford. It might just be a little bit just the best you can afford. That's what you should go for. And how do you like for that specific type of um problem that you encounter? Is it, you know, like how do you know if someone is like, how do you kind of do due diligence on someone like that? Like is it by recommendations and referrals to different kind of people or is it, you know, I don't know. Well, this one was actually a kind of kind of a recommendation but usually, yeah, look at the previous projects and talk to people who work with them and that kind of thing. Uh For me, when I come, when it comes to hiring and investing in people and spending them getting the best people you can afford. I actually go obviously by qualifications and getting the resume and checking the credentials. But then when I interview, I never go on that, I just go vibe like if you give me a good feeling and I feel like you're also equally a positive person and a yes can do kind of attitude that's gonna get you the job I I hire on gut feeling. Yeah. Love that, love vibes, love vibe. People. Question number six. Last question, what is just a crazy story? You can share good or bad from the journey of building your businesses. You've shared a couple already. But I think one, a really wild thing was the first time that we had uh a daily mail story come out. We didn't know it was coming out. And suddenly the daily Mail picked up the story that there was this skincare brand that was getting amazing results. So they went through all our Instagram and took photos of before and afters and posted that and then actually took some really favorable photos of Deb and is both of them and wrote this amazing story about how we were changing women's lives and how women who had gone through the whole life with the most awful pigment and insecurities had transformed their skin, but just transformed their lives. That was wild because the sales skyrocketed. We woke up to a crazy amount of sales online and their spike was just like this. Oh my God, they're thrill. I know we're like, wow, what's going on? And then we realized, oh my gosh, the Daily Mail is big. The story and it was a global Daily Mail story. It wasn't just Australia. It was amazing. And since then we've had I mean, they've picked up heaps of stories and every single time it just drives the business up and creates exposure. And for us look, we're not like selling, I guess our drive is a bit different because of course, we're selling product and we want to grow the business but actually helping people and having and reaching people out there who are so self conscious and going through life hiding their skin because they might have acne or rosacea or pigmentation or melasma anything. And they're really struggling with their confidence and then suddenly, and they're wasting like thousands of dollars on treatments and products that aren't working and they're being sold a dream that is never going to happen, break my heart. So the fact that the, these publications can put you in front of people who really actually need it. Like, you know, for us, it might be a bit of vanity and we might just want our skin to be a little bit better 10%. And it's fantastic, but there are people out there who generally don't have healthy skin and my products just give you healthy skin and to be able to achieve that with just one or two products at home, an affordable way is actually life changing for people. Yeah, absolutely. And we love that and that is what drives us. It's so powerful. I mean, even if I think back to my own, you know, experience doing the peel a couple of weeks ago, I don't usually post anything personal on tiktok, but I posted it because my husband was like, you should post this. Like, people should know what you're kind of going through. And, you know, I've always kind of been not sad about my skin, but I've always dreamed of having beautiful clear skin and my melasma was just, like, starting to group together, like, really badly under my eyes above my lips, like across my nose. Like it was just getting worse and worse and I didn't even know Melasma was a thing until you know, I started going to see someone. And anyway, so video goes viral, whatever the whole series goes crazy, you know, all over the internet, whatever. But the amount of people who are so like quick to judge changing your aesthetic appearance because people think freckles are cute and I'm like, yeah, each of their own but freckles like I've got sun damage, like I've got dark sunspots that are not nice. They're not the cute little freckles that we're drawing on our cheeks and people have a lot to say about each of their own, you know, but look, ultimately, we don't necessarily want to fade freckles if you want to. You can, we have products that you, you don't. But what we want to achieve is healthy skin and the products achieve healthy skin and when your skin is healthy, it doesn't have, it's not overly prevented, it's not overly oily. It doesn't produce um you know, pimples and um it, it just glows because it's healthy, like children's skin glows because it's healthy. So that's what we're trying to achieve for people. We're not trying to achieve anything like crazy. It's just healthy skin and healthy skin, like a healthy body. You should look after your skin, like you look after your body. People focus so much on like I want my hair to be healthy and all in the end, you know, and having a healthy body and healthy mind, I think it's just as important to have healthy skin that reflects how you feel on the inside and it makes you feel like I think that, I mean, and as you know, you treat so many different, you know, men and women, the skin is very tied to self confidence and like self esteem I feel especially when it comes to like wearing makeup or no makeup. You're kind of like, oh like for me personally, I'm I'm talking about but I'm sure you've encountered that as well. It's just such a crazy thing if you have skin that you feel really good in, you know, you're loving life. Oh, that's a yeah, no, 100%. And that's why uh um a business has been driven by real results, real people. We call it real results, real, real people, real results. And essentially all of our content is user generated, all of our before and afters are user generated. We don't, I mean, people are in all over the world. We can't get them in for a photo. So they'll send a picture, they'll actually take a photo before because they have to take it for the form and then they're so blown away by the results that they can't help but take photos and send them to us. We, we don't even ask them. People just say, oh my God. Um I, I just need to share my results with you. They're just amazing and because then they feel so confident, then they're happy to share the story. So then we'll post, we'll do a post and say, you know, this person use this, this is how long it took them and this is their story, this is what they struggle with and this is their comments about it. And you know, it's interesting because obviously then other people can relate and that's really important that people share. But what's interesting is that you will still get people hating on that and saying, oh well, you know, you must have edited that photo. That's not possible. That's not possible with just a cream. And then we have, we have all these people who are like ultra fans who go in and go well, actually, yeah, it is. And I also use it or people go like that's my skin and that's really rude what you've just said and it took a lot for me to share this, it's really personal and for you to just put a negative comment on it, it's, it's it's inappropriate. Um But yeah, we we just use genuine content and that's why it's often it might not be the exact same light. It's close. We do ask that you take it in the same light with no makeup, but sometimes the angle might be just slightly off and that's because they're not professional photos, they're just genuine people. Oh my gosh, so powerful. I, I love it. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story and your journey and how you're impacting women and men, I assume uh at scale around the world. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited for this next journey. Thank you. And we look forward to putting you on the secret. Yes, absolutely.