The Hunter Lab Story
Hear from Co-founders Susie and Elliot Waldron on how they combined their passion for natural skincare and brand expertise to establish Hunter Lab in 2014
What is Hunter Lab?
Hunter Lab is a modern skin health brand which focuses on crafting the very best skin and hair care formulas using natural ingredients to help improve the health of the skin and the evolution of the skins appearance. We source the highest quality natural ingredients from all over the globe, whilst avoiding synthetic fillers and nasties, to create formulas of superior efficacy and pleasure of use. A daily skin health ritual is vital to overall health, wellbeing and self-confidence, so Hunter Lab’s modern approach of effective, enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing tools is the perfect way to start any day
Why the name, Hunter Lab?
The name Hunter Lab was inspired by the idea of the primitive hunter and gatherer and their connection with, and emphasis and reliance on, Mother Nature. We love the idea that the hunter must out-smart, out-muscle and out-maneuverer their pray just to get food on the table, and believe that idea still exists today – men and women must constantly seek that extra 1% advantage that will get them ahead of the chasing pack
We also love the romance around old fashioned craftsmanship and construction, it was precise and painstaking, and that is an ongoing motivation to develop beautifully made products with the utmost efficacy and pleasure of use. We hope to provide the highest quality tools that build self-belief and confidence and inspire the modern hunter to go out and achieve their full potential
Tell us a bit about your background and what motivated you to launch the brand?
We are the combination of many years of experience in marketing, product development and health and wellness. We started out with a vision, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a collective of great people; mentors, experts, and armchair experts, family members and general well wishes/knockers. And without the knowledge of this handful of people we wouldn’t be where we now are; with incredible natural products, and a brand that’s redefining the daily skin health ritual for men and women
The ‘why’ was born from our lack of inspiration when it came to our personal skin care. As a guy (Elliot), I knew we knew we should be using skincare on a daily basis, and it seemed logical to choose non-synthetic skincare, but that’s as far as we ever got. There simply wasn’t a single brand on the market that was relatable to an Aussie bloke looking to be inspired into a daily skincare routine. And as luck would have it we had access to the very best green chemistry guru in Australia. So we decided to take it upon ourselves to create a grooming brand that inspires and effects action and change in this incredibly underutilised everyday necessity in men’s health
Why natural skincare, and why is it important to create products free from synthetic ingredients?
We share an incredible biocompatibility with the plant world, which is why natural skincare is so effective in healing, protecting and nourishing our skin. Whilst synthetic ingredients may try to mimic nature they miss out on the many added benefits a natural ingredient will give you – natural oils, extracts, vitamins and minerals the body craves to stay healthy and happy. And as new research uncovers some very concerning findings about a number of synthetic ingredients causing serious health issues over time, we’re firmly set of developing the very best natural skin health tools
But, are they as good as synthetic formulas?
Absolutely! The way natural ingredients are harvested and formulated has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Whilst natural ingredients have been used to treat the skin since the beginning of humankind, only recently have we unlocked precise ways to keep the integrity and purity of the ingredient whilst harnessing the benefits
Natural formulations take some getting used to, simply because we have ingrained expectations from the experience of using formulas with synthetic fillers, the only option available to us for a long time. Products like Shampoo and Conditioner for instance; we’re used to the feeling of beautifully soft hair and a vibrant shine, but in most cases that feeling and look is faked by silicone fillers, which do more harm than good to the health of our hair. So, as consumers we need to be open to new experiences, and make a decision on what’s important – short term results and cheaper products, or long term skin and hair health
Did this raise any challenges with the formulation?
Nothing worth doing is easy, but we are lucky enough to have partnered with very best green chemists in Australia who work with us to unite the traditional skincare experience with the high quality, natural, scientifically formulated and environmentally sustainable expectation of today’s market. Our ongoing focus is in the development of natural skin and hair care which utilise cutting edge green-science to deliver the most biologically compatible, sustainable, conscious and effective health tools. And that takes time, but luckily we’re in no hurry; it took us 5 years to perfect our latest skincare tool; SPF50+ Facial Sunscreen. The wait was worth it!
How has business changed since you first started?
When Hunter Lab first launched it was just my wife and I managing the business upstairs at her parents’ house. We sold our apartment and car to get started with four products in the range, and would spend our nights on the floor packing orders. We now have a beautiful team of 10, 25 products in the range, with a rich innovation pipeline and over 150 retail partners. The first four years were focused on establishment in Australia and New Zealand, and as of April we officially launched Hunter Lab into China
How have you adapted?
Every day poses a new challenge and a new opportunity to learn and adapt, which is why we love having our own business. As an entrepreneur you need to be skilled at wearing many hats, but as any business grows you need to make sure you’re spending more of your time working on the business, rather than in the business. It’s a juggling act, often easier said than done
What has starting a business taught you?
We started Hunter Lab with a passion for skincare, and experience in marketing and sales, which was ideal as a startup. Since then we have become far more commercially minded, understanding which levers to pull and when, which is often at odds with our grandiose marketing ideas! Hunter Lab has certainly rounded out our skill set, and made us much more resilient. You can’t avoid the tough conversations, and quickly learn to face challenges head on. The growth of the team is incredibly important to us; it’s no longer just two people, we are reasonable for others and this is the most rewarding part of the business; watching everyone grow, both professionally and personally, and bringing the same level of passion that we have for Hunter Lab
What is your favourite Hunter Lab skin health tool at the moment?
Hunter Lab just launched our first sunscreen, SPF50+ Facial Sunscreen, and it is as much a work of passion as it is a work of art. We are absolutely thrilled with the outcome, it is unique and innovative in a space which relies on some pretty nasty ingredients, so importantly it is a wonderful nasty-free naturally derived sunscreen. We started working on this as one of our first products in 2014, but we quickly found that the technology wasn’t where we needed it to be. Skin protection is the most important step in any skin health ritual, and we wanted to make sure we got it right. 5 years and many, many formulas later and we have launched a zinc-based sunscreen which absorbs easily, doesn’t leave your skin looking like a cricketer, and offers SPF 50+ broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection with 2 hours water resistance