Meet Susie Cox, co-founder of gender-inclusive skincare brand, Hunter Lab
Launched in 2015, Australian skincare brand Hunter Lab has disrupted and redefined the skincare industry with a range of gender-inclusive skincare formulated with high-performance, natural ingredients designed to deliver optimal skin health.
Husband-and-wife team Elliott Waldron and Susie Cox first had the idea for this game-changing beauty brand back in 2013 when they discovered a shared entrepreneurial drive to disrupt the natural, clean beauty space. With Susie’s experience working for powerhouse beauty companies Mecca and Swisse along with a team of green chemists, they set about creating a gender-inclusive beauty brand anchored in the natural world.
Read on as Susie shares the story behind Hunter Lab, the brand’s commitment to Mother Nature and her personal beauty routine for healthy, glowing skin. Take note!
Tell us about when you started Hunter Lab and how the idea came to be what it is today?
“Hunter Lab was born in 2013. I discovered I shared an unfulfilled entrepreneurial urge with my then-partner, now-husband, and we both rued a lack of inspiration when it came to natural and clean beauty. We saw a fortuitous opportunity to lead from the front in the natural space by creating a brand focused on modern appeal; a gender-inclusive approach combined with the commitment to craft the highest quality formulas.
“So, armed with access to the best green chemistry gurus in Australia and our combined experience in beauty and wellness, we sold our home and leapt headfirst into creating a skin health brand we hoped would inspire the daily ritual, first of our friends and family, and then of the world! Fortunately, our friends were kind, and after launching in 2015 we find ourselves in 2022 having sold over 1 million products, with incredible formulas that stand up against the best in the world, and a wonderfully loyal following that keeps us at the forefront of natural beauty.”
As a high-performance, gender neutral, natural skincare range, how does this ethos guide your brand and product development?
“At Hunter Lab we want to rewrite the rules for skincare. And that means focusing on natural and clean ingredients over synthetic fillers, gender-inclusive formulas that deliver what the skin needs in sync with the natural world, to improve the daily skin health ritual.
“Our commitment to natural came from the inspiration we took from the sheer power of Mother Nature, combined with our quest to live healthy, conscious and active lifestyles. Before we launched, we kept crossing paths with natural ingredients without seeing them utilised effectively, and that lead to two years deep diving into the natural ingredient world. We soon discovered that green science was about to explode, and we wanted to be leading the innovation charge.
“Because we share an incredible interrelatedness with Mother Nature, this biocompatibility allows us to draw on the effective regenerative and anti-ageing qualities of the plant world to effectively improve skin condition. Extracts such as herbs, roots, flowers, water and oils contain the same vitamins and minerals our body craves. Hunter Lab chooses to harness the most effective natural ingredients specific to the skin needs within the framework of green chemistry, which preserves integrity and purity, allowing them to be effective therapies on all skin types
“Working in harmony with a holistic, health-focused lifestyle, Hunter Lab products are forged to improve the skin, and be seen, shared, and enjoyed. Inside and out, the range seeks to inspire across daily life, delivering transparency, function and simplicity for those looking for the very best in face, body, and hair care.”
Husband-and-wife team Elliott Waldron and Susie Cox, founders of Hunter Lab
Can you talk to the ingredients you use and where you source them from?
“Across the range [we utilise] a curated selection of powerful ingredients sourced from Australia and all over the globe, including native Kakadu plum seed and desert lime, wakame seaweed, snap-8 peptides, antarcticine, and activated charcoal, to name a few. [Ingredients] are individually chosen for each formula based on their unique abilities to soothe, hydrate, protect and preserve healthy skin.”
How are sustainable and ethical practices incorporated into your business?
“Our footprint on the world, especially as a brand who draws from Mother Nature, is of critical importance to our business and our decision making. There are non-negotiables, like making sure all ingredients are sourced ethically and sustainably. And then there are improvements to make, such as supply chain and packaging. This is a longer journey because right now there is no perfect solution. Plastic is a nasty word at the moment, but there isn’t a viable replacement when you factor in price, formula protection, fossil fuel use, etc.
“We’ve replaced all our product and shipping cartons with 100 per cent recycled and recyclable cardboard, and have just launched refill packaging on our best-sellers, which reduces the equivalent plastic production by upwards to 70 per cent. There is more to do, and with every day comes new opportunities to improve, which is really exciting.”
What is the importance to you of being made in Australia? And why is it so unique in the beauty industry?
“We absolutely love Australia and everything about our way of life—we have incredible landscapes, water and ingredients, a laid-back lifestyle and wonderful people, and that translates into business too. And we make really beautiful and high-quality things, and in the beauty industry, that serves us well because quality and reputation is so important.”
What changes have you seen in the Australian beauty industry and the ‘A-Beauty’ category in recent times?
“There are certainly a lot more brands out there now, which is a great thing for the industry and for the customer. Competition pushes people and brands to be better and do better, and that’s where the growth in A-Beauty has come from. Australian beauty has always been sought-after across the globe, because of our ingredients, our laid-back approach, and because of the visions of really cool, creative people. Driven by entrepreneurs and customers who demand more from their brands of choice, A-Beauty has more recently created its own unique standing in the global beauty landscape and it’s really cool to see.”
What excites you about the potential and future of Australian-made beauty and skincare products?
“Innovation is what really excites me. We’re continually working to improve our existing formulas and create new formulas and product ideas. Our green chemist partners are at the forefront of natural and clean skincare innovation, so it’s incredibly enjoyable to work closely with them to bring a product idea to life, and to then see that become a staple in our clients’ daily rituals.”
What is the one product you always recommend from your range?
“Our Hand & Body Wash is a favourite. With a young family, I am constantly washing my hands and the wash leaves my skin nourished and silky smooth. It doesn’t strip the skin at all. Plus, I love how it looks on the bathroom and kitchen sink, it is the perfect accessory and my favourite hostess gift.
“The Lipid Vitamin Face Oil is a personal favourite and one I recommend to both women and men. It is a serious wonder oil jam packed with 19 of the very best oils and extracts so it packs a serious skin-benefitting punch. It leaves the skin glowing and feeling completely renewed, hydrated, bright and soft. And the matte dry down is incredible. Great for everything from an evening face oil to a cuticle and hair tip treatment, and for guys it’s a heavenly face and beard oil.”
What is your personal beauty regimen? Including face, body, hair, beauty treatments and anything else.
“As you can imagine I am a skincare junkie at heart, so I’m constantly trying new formulations from the Lab. But, I also have a pretty simple routine that focuses on a few key steps and my must-have products.
My skincare regimen includes cleansing with the new Lipid Vitamin Cleansing Oil, which is divine! An oil cleanser does a brilliant job of removing make-up. I follow that with the Marine Healing Essence, then the natural Facial Sunscreen. At night I can’t get enough of the Lipid Vitamin Face Oil, and I follow that with the Peptide Eye Renewal Cream and Daily Face Fuel. My skin is left glowing and hydrated.
With two little ones I struggle to get out to enjoy a facial. So once a week (if I’m lucky!) I will treat myself to an at-home treatment. I love a bath with the Pinot Grape Skin Bath Soak, wearing the Charcoal Mud Mask and using the Pinot Grape Skin Body Scrub. That’s heaven for me, and a beautiful way to unwind and recharge.”
What has been the most rewarding part of being a business owner?
“Bringing a vision to life, and the hard work that goes into that, and watching it grow on the global stage is a really cool thing. Reward for the effort of a passion is what keeps entrepreneurs going, and when you get positive feedback from happy customers it’s a pretty special feeling.”
And what has been the most challenging?
“The last two years have been incredibly challenging. To see people in our community suffer, from our team who have done large amounts of time working for home, to retailers with closed shops, be that short term or permanent, it’s been a difficult time to be a business owner. Whilst it has been challenging, we are grateful to have learnt resilience and to dig deep when times are tough. There is a new energy in the air this year and we are energised about what the future holds.”