In an interview with Beauty Directory, company founder Marie Kapetanakis explains how she discovered the amazing skin healing properties of rosehip oil and started Kosmea Australia.
Beauty Directory: Hi Marie, thank you so much for coming in today, we just love the Kosmea story. It is such a fabulous history and product and we just thought we might come in and find out a bit about where you started and everything. So can you tell me a bit about the story of Kosmea?
Marie: Absolutely, when I was very, very young, even at a teenage age group, I was actually mixing up my own concoctions. So I loved putting together masks made out of Avocado, yoghurt and honey and I used to experiment on my girlfriends and on myself. As always growing up in my early 30's I was mixing a facial mask and a recipe called for rosehips, but I never had any growing in my garden, so I decided to go to the local rose farm and ask them is I could pick their rosehips, so I can actually put them in my mask. They gladly said yes and handed me an editorial which was out of a rose magazine that talked about rosehip oil in South America and that they were using it in burns clinics and scar management clinics and for after-sun care. So I instantly forgot about picking my rosehips, and I just got so engrossed in this article, and I call it my lightbulb moment, because I got to get home and find out where I could get hold of some of this oil from, because I have to get that out into the marketplace. So I drove home and back in 1993, we never had mobile phones or the internet, so I found out that I could go to the yellow pages in the city and that would actually there is a office that would give you of every country every yellow pages, so I found the Chilean yellow page, found the supplier of rosehip oil, drove back home, photocopied the page and bought myself a fax machine and a little typewriter. You know the old ones are a little round, key strokes. Then I typed out the fax in Spanish and sent it to them and asked if I could buy some rosehip oil, and they wrote back and said ''look your Spanish is pretty bad, our English is better than your Spanish so you can please communicate in English." So I asked him if I could buy a drum of rosehip oil, and they gladly said yes, but it was a lot of money back then and I convinced my husband to sell the family car, and swap it for a drum of rosehip oil.
Beauty Directory: All from an article you read?
Marie: From an article out of a Rose farm.
Beauty Directory: That's a good lightbulb moment.
Marie: It is and I guess for myself being a mum of 3 and my younger sister was a year and half old, I didn't really have marketing experience but what I had was passion and belief that this rosehip oil will work, and I have to get it out in the hands of every consumer, so that was the exciting part,
Beauty Directory: So when you got the drum, had you even tried the product itself?
Marie: No I just believed it was going to be good.
Beauty Directory: That's amazing
Marie: Because I have read so much, you know all the good articles about it and I remember as a child been brought up on rosehip syrup.
Beauty Directory: Yes
Marie: So my mum gave us for the vitamin c content, not realizing that it was full of sugar but still you have a good affiliation with rosehip oil.
Beauty Directory: So you got the drum home, what next. How did you get it out there?
Marie: Good question, we actually...after we bottled it and designed the label, when it had all the packaging done, basically I bought myself an old bomb and got myself a beautiful suit and went out cold selling to the health food stores. They were my first tester marker and when I walked into the health store, I gave the owner a free bottle of rosehip oil because I knew if he or she used it that it would get fantastic result instantly and then they will be my first spokesmen of selling the product in the store, which was what actually happened. SO health food stores where the first port of call and the followed by pharmacies.
Beauty Directory: So where you the first rosehip oil in Australia?
Marie: Yes we are, we are the first rosehip oil in 1993 and then we had obviously other brands bring out rosehip oil.
Beauty Directory: Was it an overnight success, you got it out there and then what happened next?
Marie: It was an overnight success because it was a product that instantly worked within a week of using rosehip oil they got results and they were getting comments on their skin, how beautiful their skin looked. What they were doing, had they being on holidays? The word spread quite quickly and as we actually grew with a little bit of advertising in the Sunday mail and then we got the word out the more and we developed the markets in other states, you know Victoria, Sydney and Queensland. Yeah.
Beauty Directory: So I am presuming you moved from doing it ...pardon me ...in the backyard with the labels and stuff. Do you start getting manufacturing her in Australia or how did that kind of work? That process.
Marie: Absolutely, we grew too big out of making it out of our kitchen and dining table and we finally found a manufacturer that could bottle the product for us because we grew very, very quickly.
Beauty Directory: Great, are you still getting the drums sent from the original manufacturer overseas or..?
Marie: No, in 2001, 2002 we found a supplier of Rose oil Hips in Africa, so red rosehips now grow wild in Africa in Lesotho and they handpick by communities, so it grows naturally in a natural rainfall, its handpicked and it is sold to us as a company and then we super critically extract the rosehip which actually gives us up to ten times more vitamin A than any rosehip oil in the market.
Beauty Directory: Amazing, so is that kind of how you position yourself differently from your competitors?
Marie: Yes we are miles ahead of any of the competitors because like I said we independently test their rosehip oil and our rosehip oil with an independent laboratory and we come back with results of up to ten times more vitamin A content.
Beauty Directory: Beautiful, and how closely do you work with the formulas on producing this products?
Marie: Very closely, I am part of the R&D team because that is my passion, putting together formulas but not university trained, trained by the universe I guess so ..
Beauty Directory: Yes, like when you were young and doing your portions in the kitchen.
Marie: Exactly, it's a bit like cooking. You know when you make a recipe and the first time you will do it to the recipe and the second time and third time you will start to experiment and that's what I do with the Kosmea formulas and I challenge the chemists because they say to me, you know we might as well rip off our degree because you defy all of chemistry with all you want us to put in the formula.
Beauty Directory: Yes, but then you come out with these amazing products. So it is working…
Marie: Exactly right. Absolutely.
Beauty Directory: And how long would it take you for an idea to a finished product?
Marie: It is usually about 12 months in the process of coming out with the idea and then working through R&D side of it and end up getting product type up to about 23-24 before we actually get it right..
Beauty Directory: Wow
Marie: This is a lot of testing involved as well
Beauty Directory: Yes, and lastly where do you Kosmea heading in the future?
Marie: Well, we are actually an international company now, and our export has grown very much. SO we are developing our export markets very strongly at the moment particularly the Asian market because at the moment, Australian natural skin care is the flavor of the month, for Chinese. Yes.
Beauty Directory: Yes brilliant, so thank you so much for coming in it was so lovely to hear the story from you and such an amazing brand and product. So thank you.
Marie: My Pleasure