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Secrets to transforming a market niche into a thriving eco-luxury brand

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Just a decade ago, natural beauty was a niche market, barely registering a blip on our radars. Today, the eco-movement has exploded with a plethora of green cosmetics companies sweeping across an industry projected to be worth US$54 billion (A$83.9 billion) by 2027 – and Mukti is at the Australian helm.

In the heart of Queensland’s southern hinterland, mononymous Mukti brought her eponymous label Mukti Organics to life in 2000, becoming one of the organic beauty industry’s earliest pioneers.

The multi-award-winning company was founded by the green cosmetic chemistry innovator who set the tone for natural products with a mission to reconnect people with nature.

With a background in complementary medicine, Mukti struggled to find organic products for her beauty therapy clients, recognising the niche in the late 90s.

"It was always a goal of mine to use products that delivered results and were as clean as possible under the guise of what is now the clean beauty movement," she explains. "We were definitely a pioneer in the industry without meaning to be – it was just the nature of things."

Two decades later, the sustainable eco-luxury brand has flourished globally with suppliers in the US, Vietnam, Korea and Hong Kong.

"We were definitely a pioneer in the industry without meaning to be – it was just the nature of things." – Mukti

It is also COSMOS certified and was the first Australian brand to use native extracts in formulations and products, plus Mukti has published a book, Truth in Beauty. "I didn’t have any startup capital, so it’s been bootstrapping all the way," she says.

"I’ve definitely been through challenges, but that’s part of the entrepreneurial journey." Mukti, whose name originates from Sanskrit, sat down with us to share the biggest lessons she’s learned during her business venture.

How Mukti built her natural beauty empire

  1. Be a disrupter
  2. When I was looking to launch my business, most cosmetic chemists were very negative so there were few people to turn to for advice. I had to teach myself techniques, formulations and methodology – having a scientific background and knowledge definitely helped.

    It was difficult and time consuming, and there were limited ingredients. Green chemistry was very much in its infancy. Companies like goop and WelleCo are now bucking the status quo. It’s a much easier process now – there’s almost too much to choose from. Disrupting the status quo is really important.

  3. Embrace tenacity
  4. I’ve definitely been through challenge and it’s about passion, tenacity and really believing in something, and sticking to your guns. Take risks, be persistent and be prepared to lose everything, knowing that you’ve given it your best shot and you’ve been tenacious throughout.

  5. Don't give up
  6. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and look for solutions. There’s always a solution. Even as we live through this challenging time, I’m searching for solutions to keep all my staff employed and looking at what opportunities there are.

  7. Constantly evolve
  8. Everything is very fluid right now and we have to keep adapting to a changing landscape. To me, transparency is very important. Authenticity is a word that is thrown around a lot but now, more than ever, it is important.

    Make sure you are presenting yourself in a coherent fashion or you will be called out, and that’s the double-edged sword with the rise of social media. There are a lot of heritage brands that are having to reinvent themselves and jump on the bandwagon.

  9. Broaden your business horizons
  10. The market in Australia is very small because of the population size. There are great opportunities to be had in the US, Korea and Vietnam. Hong Kong has been quite good too, and we’ve been growing the business quite rapidly there.

    We’ve got a distributor in Hong Kong who sends products across the border into China via ecommerce, as opposed to going through local regulations. There are massive opportunities in the US as far as green, clean, beauty space is concerned.

  11. Be inquisitive
  12. We need to ask questions and drill down the numbers. Regulation in Australia is unfortunately a little bit lax – there’s no formal submission process to go through if you want to launch a range. We’ve really got to become wiser and more educated as far as reading labels is concerned, then make up our own minds as to what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

    If a product is available for purchase, people assume it must be safe to use, and that’s not actually correct. The food and beauty industries are very much aligned and, in that regard, we all have to clean up our acts.

  13. Perfection over mass production
  14. Developing new products is an art as much as it is a science. It’s taken a long time to perfect all of those formulations as well. Choosing to be COSMOS certified also means we’re aligned with a globally recognised standard and we are reviewed and audited on a basis compliant with a third party. There’s a lot of red tape to get through, but I’d rather make really good formulations that cost a bit more and deliver results.

  15. Find true authenticity
  16. Right now, it’s a pinnacle of the health and wellness movement. Now more than ever in business we need to be honest and truthful. People are supporting smaller brands rather than big industries and because of that, they have more trust and want to support people who are doing the right thing.

    The brand’s name is about becoming self-empowered and self-aware, and asking questions. We have to do that now in every area of our life, especially with what’s happening in the world at the moment.

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