A WOMAN who has been making and distributing a range of handmade soaps from her house in Wangi Wangi is now preparing for life as a businesswoman in the global marketplace.
When Jo Middleton displayed her Alistair & Robyn brand of artisan soaps at the China International Beauty Expo earlier this month, she hoped she might entice one distributor to help her introduce her soaps to Asia.
Instead, she won the expo’s award for Outstanding Brand Manager, and the industry couldn’t get enough of her all-natural soaps.
“I got 70 proposals to distribute the soaps throughout Asia,” Ms Middleton said.
“This is massive. I’ve gone from local to global, and now I’ve got to find a warehouse, and to employ a lot more people.”
Ms Middleton is a former hairdresser who makes the soaps by hand in the one-time salon at her house.
The business is now a family affair.
She said her son Jordan was “No 1 foreman and mechanical man”, her son Cameron was head of analysis, daughter Courtney handled media, and husband Bill managed the hardware, and was the financier who critiqued her creations.
Ms Middleton started making soaps in 2014, after illness forced her to walk away from a successful 28-year career as an award-winning hairdresser.
“I’d had enough of using products full of chemicals," she said.
The inspiration to create a chemical-free, handmade beauty range came from decades of handling dyes and peroxides at her hair salon and seeing them wreak havoc on her skin and health.
“So the whole house went organic – our food and everything – and that included our soaps and shampoos,” she said.
Ms Middleton was fastidious in sourcing soap ingredients that were “natural and healthy”.
Those ingredients include natural micas pigmented by metal oxides, magnesium salts, mud from the Dead Sea in Israel, organic kelp powder from the Atlantic Ocean, and shea butter from Africa.
“And one of our largest suppliers is Olio Mio Estate, in Pokolbin. Their organic extra virgin olive oil is our soap's main ingredient. We try to use Australian vegetable oils and essential oils wherever we can,” Ms Middleton said.
What also sets these bars of soap apart is their artistic designs.
Ms Middleton is also a painter, and she’s been able to incorporate designs such as Uluru, and floral insignias, into the bars – and not just on the surface.
A twin box from her Black and Gold range sells for $29.99. Her upcoming Red and Gold range is expected to sell for $100 for a twin box.
Visit alistairandrobyn.com.au for more.