CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed Megan Larsen, Founder and CEO of Australian based beauty brand Sodashi,
Australia is proving to be a fertile ground for innovative beauty companies. What makes Australia such an inspiration?
From Sodashi’s point of view as a pioneer of clean beauty products, Australia has an abundance of pristine natural environments which promotes lifestyles of health and wellness; we therefore have an enthusiastic and willing market in which to develop our skincare. Our extraordinary natural environment also provides a supply of many of the pure plant ingredients that have the regenerative qualities required to formulate skincare that is both chemical-free and highly effective. As such, Australia is very well placed as an incubator for burgeoning beauty brands; Sodashi is testament to this!
Many of the established heritage cosmetics brands are now embracing the chemical-free approach. To what extent do you think this will have a concrete contribution to awareness among consumers? Or it will be rather a marketing technique?
The fact that established heritage cosmetics brands are now embracing the chemical-free approach qualifies the growing consumer-led demand for clean beauty products; people are increasingly making health-centric choices when it comes to personal care products.
However, I do question whether many of the established heritage cosmetics brands, traditionally reliant on biochemistry to formulate products, have the expertise and knowledge to work with pure plant ingredients to create products that are not only chemical-free but also high-performance.
At Sodashi we manage every single step of the manufacturing process to ensure the product is of the highest quality; we want to be certain of what goes into the products, and just as importantly, what stays out. We hold ourselves to very high standards in terms of choosing ingredients and developing formulations that are not harmful to our health and deliver maximum benefit for the skin and over all wellbeing, and we are completely transparent about our formulations. I’m not sure how many other companies are so rigorous in doing this?
Many people mistakenly believe that the personal care industry is highly regulated; it’s not at all. Not every ingredient has to be listed on the label, and I believe we all deserve to know what’s in our products so that we can choose whether to use them or not.
What are the pillars of your company’s success? How would you summarize the DNA of your brand?
Sodashi is a Sanskrit word that translates to Wholeness, Purity and Radiance, the pillars that underpin the success of the company.
In terms of Wholeness, our goal is create products that nurture the whole being and not just the skin. Sixty percent of what is applied to the skin is absorbed into the bloodstream so it’s important that our products are therapeutic on every level.
Also, when it comes to our people, we take a holistic approach; we strive to provide unique challenges and opportunities for our team to help them grow both personally and professionally as well as and providing them with a nurturing culture and practical tools to support their wellbeing.
For example, over the past 14 years Sodashi has financially supported over 40 employees to learn Transcendental Meditation, which helps individuals remove stress from their physiology. This also ensures that the energy going into the manufacturing of our products is the best it can be. The team builds the brand. How they feel and the energy they bring to the office ends up in every one of our hand crafted products and in every interaction we have with our spa partners, suppliers and customers.
Secondly, we don’t compromise on the Purity of our ingredients. To have the regenerative qualities required for Sodashi products, we need to use the purest therapeutic grade ingredients available. For example, Sodashi sources wild-crafted certified organic lavender from a single grower in Haute Provence region of France. There, the organic lavender is grown in optimal climatic conditions ensuring the highest quality therapeutic grade essential oil with highly regenerative properties.
And our products have to deliver Radiance – and nothing less! Since the beginning my vision for Sodashi has been to create high-performance skincare products. There is no point in chemical-free skincare if it doesn’t actually work! Sodashi products have stood the test of time and are favourites amongst beauty editors internationally.
You have an expansive presence at luxury Spa around the world, with several established partnerships with hotel groups, including for instance, Four Seasons. Beyond visibility how do you counter the potential negative perception of being omnipresent?
Whilst it may seem that we are omnipresent in the luxury spa industry, it’s true that no other brand has the global profile that Sodashi has, we are very selective about the spa’s we partner with. It’s important that our spa clients share our philosophy for non-toxic therapies and skincare that really works. The spas that take on Sodashi are very discerning.
And our customised approach ensures that no two spas have the exact same offering. Sodashi is a hand crafted boutique product; we take a very bespoke approach to developing customised spa menus and signature treatments for our spa partners so that each property’s offering is unique. For example, I recently developed a luxurious body oil and treatment for a property in Middle East region, the new Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai using exotic Oud Oil as key ingredient.
One of your product lines is branded ‘’Body and Lifestyle’’. Isn’t Sodashi, as a brand, inherently related to lifestyle?
Absolutely, Sodashi is much more than a product; it is a lifestyle brand. What we find is that when people start to use Sodashi products it sparks their awareness about what they are putting in to their bodies, and how they are supporting their systems.
If you start investing in clean skincare, you then start to think more about the food that you are eating, your stress levels, and your fitness. We’re increasingly seeking to inspire a holistic approach to wellness by giving people the tools, information and skincare to best support their own health and wellbeing.
How do you develop a new product? What is your approach to market research?
I formulate all the Sodashi products drawing on my knowledge of Ayurveda, aromatherapy and naturopathy. Often a new product concept is seeded by client demand. We like to respond to real needs of customers, rather than being trend-led.
Thorough research is conducted into ingredient science, including safety, performance and efficacy. Therapeutic-grade natural ingredient samples are then sourced for evaluation and testing. This is followed by formulation development, stability testing, sensory evaluation of essential oil blends and performance testing. Performance testing is conducted with a consumer panel focus group. Sodashi does not employ animal testing ever.
Which has been your best performing market? Why? Do you have any challenging markets?
To date Sodashi has performed exceptionally well in the European and Australian markets, and more recently in the Middle East where we are seeing huge growth. Key to this success has been partnering with the right distributors in Europe and the Middle East; representatives that know the local market intimately and understand its nuances but also appreciate and maintain the positioning of the Sodashi brand.
The US market has proved more challenging for Sodashi as the brand is not yet well known in the market, but we are making inroads with our US distributor who is working strategically to partner with key spas as well as design-focused boutique retailers to raise awareness for the brand.
Do you consider expanding into other product categories such as fragrances?
We have given much consideration to this and have some ideas on the drawing board. Watch this space!
How has your company performed in 2014? (general evolution) And what are your expectations of 2015?
Sodashi experienced growth in 2014 with a number of prestigious properties coming on board, for example The Arany Spa at the brand new Park Hyatt Vienna, the Sense Spa at the Rosewood London, and The Spa at the Pullman Auckland. We also launch the third product in our ultra-luxe age-defying range with the addition of the Samadara Elixir.
We also have a new general manager on board at Sodashi taking the business from strength to strength. Strategically she has consolidated the team and product offering and is driving some exciting changes that we are looking forward to rolling out in 2015.
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