Bondi Wash: Australian, naturally

19 Nov 2015

Author: Georgina Safe

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What began as one mother’s search for a natural washing product to safeguard her family’s health has evolved into a global company specialising in products containing Australian bush oils and extracts. The Bondi Wash range of anti-bacterial, non-toxic products are now sold around the world in markets including Canada, China, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
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Belinda Everingham was using a commercial spray to clean her kitchen bench in 2008 while living in Melbourne when she suffered an immediate headache.

“I thought ‘wow if it’s doing that to me, what is it doing to my children, and the environment’,” says Everingham.

Concerned about the impact of toxic chemicals on her family’s health, the mother of three tried to find more natural alternatives to products used in the home, but was disappointed by the efficacy and scent of what was available.
“I tried a lot of the natural brands but they didn’t smell great and most of them didn’t work very well,” says Everingham.

A friend recommended using diluted eucalyptus oil, which has anti-bacterial properties, but it did not smell great on its own either and needed better packaging to be useful.

“I was looking for a good quality natural product and it was incredibly hard to come by. I thought ‘maybe there’s something in this natural space’.”

That thought remained in the back of Everingham’s mind until she went to Port Douglas on holiday with her family in 2012. For her time in the Daintree rainforest region, Everingham’s holiday read was Perfume by Patrick Suskind. Set in Paris and the South of France, the novel is the story of a man’s quest to create the perfect scent.  Surrounded by Australian native flora, Everingham had an idea for another story.

“I was in Queensland surrounded by all these botanicals and Australian natives that I’d never heard of. And it just struck me ‘why aren’t we making things from our botanicals’? I knew eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil were being exported, but I thought ‘why aren’t we doing more with our botanicals like the French?’”
Everingham returned home to Sydney where she now lives with a vision to create the elusive natural products she desired that would combine anti-bacterial properties with the beautiful scents of Australian bush oils and extracts. 

After 18 months of research and experimentation with native oils, extracts and ingredients in her kitchen, then recruiting a chemist in Melbourne to refine the formulas, Everingham launched the Bondi Wash range of natural washing products in 2013.

“The vision was to harness the anti-bacterial properties of Australian ingredients and put Australian botanicals on the map with products that are effective, smell beautiful and are simply and beautifully packaged.”

Just two years since its launch, Bondi Wash and its message about the power of Australian botanicals are now firmly fixed on the global map. Canada, China, New Zealand, Taiwan, the Caribbean and Hong Kong are among the international markets for Bondi Wash, which has expanded from a hand wash, bench spray and floor wash to comprise a range of 36 products including a body wash, soap bar and a glass spray. A dog range including a wash and kennel spray with a paperbark and lemongrass scent, a yoga mat spray and an anti-bacterial hand spray are part of a lifestyle range and five more products are due out this year, with a baby range in development for 2016.

Despite her business background as a consultant in corporate strategy, Everingham is the first to admit she’s been taken aback by the success of what began as one mother’s search for more natural alternatives in the home.

“It really surprised me how well it’s done so quickly,” she says. “I thought it was a good concept and I was confident it would work, but it’s grown way beyond my expectations.”

Everingham attributes the success of Bondi Wash to innovation across multiple platforms.

“I was on a plane recently reading an article about Steve Jobs and Apple, and while my husband teases me for comparing Bondi Wash to Apple, what the article said about innovation really resonated with me,” Everingham says. “One point the article made about Apple’s success was Jobs’ ability to innovate across multiple areas, so not just with technology, but also with design, speed and ease of use.”

Bondi Wash is different to its competitors in a number of dimensions.

“We think it has a nicer scent than other products, it is more natural, it has naturally anti-bacterial powers that others don’t have and the packaging is simple and beautiful,” says Everingham. “I think the combination of those elements is why Bondi Wash has done well.”

Another key element to success is the brand name itself.
Everingham was driving down Bondi Road to her home at Bondi Beach, when inspiration struck to name her company after one of Australia’s most iconic  locations.

“The reason I chose Bondi Wash is it said ‘Australia’ in a very modern, different way,” she says. “I didn’t want to use a clichéd name like ‘Aussie’ and Bondi Wash said Australia with a really fresh, original message.”

Australia’s reputation as a pristine and naturally beautiful country has also been a boon for the company that manufactures 100 per cent at home.

 “There is no doubt being an Australian brand is a critical element to our success in every market,” says Everingham. “We often get asked where the products are made and people love that they are made in Australia because Australia is known for being clean and green and people trust Australian-made products.”

Wattleseed oil, lilly pilly extract and banksia seed oil are among the active ingredients in Bondi Wash products that are all 99+% plant-derived, non-toxic, bio-degradable and sourced from the best Australian suppliers.

“The approach I took was to bring a real integrity to manufacturing,” says Everingham. “I wanted a premium product so I didn’t think too much about cost, I just thought ‘what is the best possible product I can create?’”

While Bondi Wash costs a little more, it lasts longer and is more pleasant to use.  

“We don’t compromise on quality and the products do last longer,” says Everingham.

“Our trigger sprays and soap pumps only give you what you need – less than other brands – and over time people will realise this and we hope the brand will be around a long time because of it.”
 
The next step for the brand is launching in Japan in 50-100 stores as part of an international growth strategy that has been driven more by luck than design.

“When I first pictured the business I could see it doing well in the US and Europe, but Asia just fell into my lap,” says Everingham.

“Not long after we launched in Australia, I was in Hong Kong shopping for clothes for my son and I came across this little shop that stocked nice brands so I gave them my card and then sent them some product,” she says.

“Six months later the brand launched there and I realised it was not a small company; the man who runs it helped Aesop launch in multiple Asian countries 20 years ago.”

An Asia-focused strategy has made solid business sense for Bondi Wash.
“There is a very high degree of trust in anything Australian in China, I’m sure that’s an element of the success right across Asia in terms of the sense of trust in Australia being a clean and pristine country,” Everingham says.

Europe is the next market on Everingham’s radar –  “we are researching import regulations now” – but in the meantime she is focused on expanding the range of Bondi Wash products and launching another entirely new brand.

“I am working on a brand of Australian natural botanical perfumes,” says Everingham. “That was part of the original vision I had while reading the Patrick Suskind book Perfume: why don’t we have our own Australian fragrances? So I’m working with essential oils to create an Australian perfume brand. It’s certainly fun picturing it and planning it. We have a name now and it’s all coming together.”

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