By Zoe Bradbury
Natural beauty, meaning products that are free from artificial ingredients and chemicals, is a category that reels consumers in. It’s no secret that the market is massive.
A 2019 Ipsos report of global consumer surveys, The Future of Beauty, found that 59% of consumers would be swayed to try a new brand if it was “clean”, while Google reported 90 million searches for natural beauty ingredients.
And it’s not an industry that is dying out by any means. By 2025, estimates suggest the global market is set to be valued at USD $48.04 billion.
It’s a market that siblings-turned-business-partners Alison Goodger and Simon O’Connor, are no stranger to.
They’re the former owners of Australia’s number one natural skincare brand Sukin, which they sold in 2015 for a staggering $53 million.
Now the pair are re-entering the natural beauty landscape with their new venture Alkira, a range offering all-Australian, all organic and natural, facial skincare.
Seeking that competitive edge was something the brand had to work for, says co-founder Alison.
“It’s really challenging nowadays, because the market entry barriers for skincare are quite low, so there’s a constant revolving door of new brands that are coming to market,”
“The word ‘disruptive’ is something people like to use; having that disruptive edge over your competitors, to do something ground-breaking or particular that makes you stand out,” she says.
For Alkira, that disruptive edge is the inclusion of new Australian botanical ingredients that are potent in antioxidants, resulting in incredible benefits for the skin.
Many Australian native ingredients are already present in much of the natural market, such as Kakadu Plum and Macadamia Oil.
Yet what makes Alkira stand out is the inclusion of uncommon botanicals that suppliers are only just beginning to present to the market.
“Our suppliers started to develop ingredients that hadn’t been typically introduced into facial skincare before, which I found really exciting because they’re so high in antioxidants and vitamins,” Alison says.
Unfamiliar with the words Lilly Pilly, Kangaroo Paw, Finger Lime Caviar, Tasmanian Blue Gum, Quandong and Desert Lime?
Add them to your repertoire, because these Australian native botanicals are set to be big in skincare.
It was their enormous antioxidant benefits, and the desire to continue a natural beauty ethos, that led Alison and Simon to ensure they were the calling card of Alkira.
Alkira’s 16 products, which include cleansers, creams, facial oils and moisturizers, all fit into different categories: Hydrating, Hydra+, Brightening, Refining and Detoxing.
“Choosing these five ranges was very ingredient dependent, because all of the botanical extracts we use have their own benefits,” Alison says.
“For example, there’s a lot of native ingredients that are high in vitamin c, such as Finger Lime Caviar, Kakadu plum and Quandong, so that’s why we chose the brightening category.”
Additionally, these extracts are packed with potent antioxidants, as well as citric acids which help unclog pores while encouraging skin rejuvenation.
The Hydrating and Hydra+ ranges are focused on strengthening the skin’s barrier and locking in moisture. The inclusion here of botanical extracts of Lilly pilly, desert lime and kangaroo paw, are rich in essential fatty acids, which help protect the skin and fight the effects of free radicals.
The Refine and Detoxifying categories incorporate natives such as Aniseed Myrtle, Tasmanian Blue Gum and Lemon Myrtle to help reduce free radical damage. These are anti-inflammatory and deep cleansing, making them ideal for balancing oily and blemish prone skin.
As for Alison’s favourite product in the range? She says it has to be the facial oils.
“Rather than use any facial cream or night cream, I use facial oil.”
“It’s my essential beauty weapon in my arsenal, because they’re so rich in vitamins and minerals,” she says.
“They have an amazing combined ingredient profile, which means they pack a powerful punch of hydration or nourishment, for example.”
When Australian brand Sukin first entered the market in 2007, being a natural beauty brand was vastly unheard of.
Products free from toxins and parabens, and a brand ethos that adhered to cruelty free and vegan practices, was slowly developing as a niche that consumers desired.
Founded by Melbourne siblings Alison and Simon, Sukin filled a gap in a lucrative market; that of affordable, natural skincare. The fact that it was Australian made and operated only contributed to their success.
“Australia has this extraordinary reputation of being clean and green, and so anything that sits within that natural category is now really sort after in overseas markets,” Alison, now a mother of three, says.
“Sukin’s success came about because of the perfect timing, where we were offering a natural product in a new and emerging category,”
“Having those fundamentals of a natural and sustainable foundation really helped Sukin both in Australia and in overseas markets.”
It was this notion, of natural products made from powerful Australian ingredients, that lodged firmly in the back of Alison’s mind, a concept to be later explored and developed.
In 2015, as Sukin rose to Australia’s number one selling skincare brand in pharmacies, the siblings-turned-business-partners received interest from multinationals to purchase their business.
The pair saw an opportunity for growth and took it.
“In a competitive space like skin care, the key is to sell when your sales trajectory is on the incline, so it gives the best current and future value for your business,” Alison says.
But the decision to sell to Sukin’s own contract manufacturer, BWX, over foreign companies, was a no brainer.
“Sukin was a brand that was built by a team of us, our amazing staff and our manufacturer, who was pliable enough to help us take advantage of market opportunities,”
“If we had sold to a multinational, then he [BWX] would have lost his business overnight, as manufacturing would have been taken in house,” says Alison.
“It was the best outcome, as it was the right thing to do.”
In June 2015, the O’Connor siblings sold Sukin for $53 million. They were placed on a three-year non-compete period, in which they were unable to produce any competing products to Sukin.
But it was this period that was ultimately needed for personal recovery, as well as to develop the sibling’s newest natural beauty venture, Alkira.
“Just after we sold Sukin [in 2015], I had my third daughter, and when she was four weeks old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Alison.
“As I was going through cancer and having a newborn, it made me even more aware of what’s in our everyday environment,” she says.
Eliminating toxins from skincare, as well as household and everyday products, became an imperative to everyday life, health and recovery for Alison.
“I saw the need to eliminate the cumulative effects of these ingredients and toxins that you’re exposed to every day.”
“I’m a massive rep for not exposing my body to excess chemicals.”
As such, Alkira evolved quite naturally over the three-year non-compete period.
With their existing contacts in the skincare industry, a need to keep producing natural products, and a handful of Australian suppliers producing unique native ingredients that were yet to be included in skincare, Alkira was born.
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