THE HUNTER LAB STORY: In 2013 a conversation about the lack of inspiring natural skincare brands kicked started the entrepreneurial spirit in Susie and Elliot Waldron into action, evolving into 12 months of research and development, the sale of their home and the beginnings of Hunter Lab.
With a shared passion for healthy, sustainable living, and turning to nature wherever possible, this powerful duo is on a mission to educate and inspire the health-conscious to utilise natural skincare to improve their wellness.
Inspired by Mother Nature, and influenced by the notion of the time of hunting and gathering, when humans relied on the incredible powers of Nature to provide and nurture, Susie and Elliot dedicated a year to meet with the best green-chemists in Australia to craft skin and hair care tools focused on natural efficacy, ease and pleasure of use. Hunter Lab was born.
Susie experienced eight years at Mecca Cosmetica, where she developed her passion for the cosmetic industry and creating world-leading products. She then joined the Swisse Wellness family and went on to lead world-class marketing campaigns. Susie’s skills, experience and devotion lie in Hunter Lab’s brand strategy, product development, marketing and sales.
We asked Susie the bellamumma q’s to find out more about her – read and we guarantee, you’ll be inspired…
Is this your first business? Yes, this is my first business. I am grateful for the incredible experience I had in the lead up to launching Hunter Lab at leading Australian owned businesses; Mecca and Swisse Wellness. Having worked with industry-leading companies with inspiring leaders gave me the confidence, drive and determination to run my own business one day. I got to see first-hand other founders riding the highs and lows of business, and importantly watch the passion and the joy it brought out in them. This kicked started my itch to have my own one day.
How long have you had the business? We celebrated Hunter Lab’s 4th birthday in February, but the journey started almost two years before that. Even in that period it’s amazing to see what hard work, growth and opportunity can bring.
How has business changed since you first started? When Hunter Lab first launched it was just my husband and I managing the business upstairs at my 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 will officially launch Hunter Lab into China and beyond.
How have you adapted? Every day poses a new challenge and a new opportunity to learn and adapt my skillset, which is why I love having my own business. As an entrepreneur you need to be skilled at wearing many hats, because there’s no one else to do the work. As the business grows you need to take a step back and try to work on the business rather than in it. This is harder than it sounds! My natural passion was always marketing and sales, which was ideal as we started Hunter Lab.
But since then I have become far more commercially minded, understanding which levers to pull and when, which is often at odds with my grandiose marketing ideas. Hunter Lab has certainly rounded out my skill set, and made me much more resilient. You can’t avoid the tough conversations, and quickly learn to face challenges head on. The growth of my team is incredibly important to me; it is no longer just Elliot and I, we are reasonable for others. To me, this is the most rewarding part of the business; watching everyone grow, both professionally and personally, and bringing the same level of passion that Elliot and I have for Hunter Lab.
One piece of advice every new businesswoman needs to know? Before launching any new business, it’s a given you thoroughly understand the market you’re launching into, but it’s as important to be confident you are launching into a category which is in growth. I have seen a few friends launch businesses into declining categories; it is certainly not an impossibility for success, but without a key innovative point of difference makes for a tough journey.
My second piece of advice is to understand the importance of managing your cash flow. You can have the best ideas in the world, however, if you don’t have your cash flow in order it will be over before your business has the chance to get ahead. Especially in a business which needs to hold stock or make significant ongoing investments in machinery or technology.
Also, if you choose to start a business with a partner, make sure your relationship with that person is rock solid and is underpinned by trust and an aligned vision. I launched Hunter Lab with my husband and it has been so fulfilling doing this with someone I have complete trust in, complementary skills, clearly defined areas to manage, and alignment on exactly where we are heading.
“It can be daunting to take the leap, and tough to get started, but once you get going the rewards are life-changing. Be resilient and dig deep every day; it will be the greatest learning curve of your life.” – Susie
Any training you would recommend? I have always believed in surrounding myself with strong, diverse mentors. It is so important to have multiple contacts who have lived it before to call on for advice; different points of views for different scenarios will arm you with the best information to make an informed decision. Financial training is a must in small business. Having a sound understanding of your P&L, cash flow and CapEx is critical.
If you could advise your younger self something about what you know business wise, what would you say? Keep investing in yourself – your reputation and relationships are what will get you ahead in business. And don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable; this is when you learn and grow.
Would you do it all again? Absolutely, 10 times over! I wake up every morning energised about what I do each day. Finding your passion and acting on it allows you to live a rewarding, fulfilling life. There have been many sleepless nights and lots of hard work, but life is meant to be full of ups and downs. When you’re mentally stretched and manage to overcome the situation you are so much more satisfied when the positive outcome arrives.