The Base Collective is a new player in the skincare market and it’s origins are based right here in Melbourne. The brand has two great products in its range, The Hand Wash and The Milk, made with organic and natural ingredients to give the best care for your skin. We sat down with one of the co-founders of The Base Collective, Carly, to talk about the brand, the products and find out just a bit more about what they’re all about.
Tell us about how The Base Collective came about. What were your inspiration/s and how did you come up with the name?
The Base Collective has really been a long road of baby steps for both of us. Cassie is a Pharmacist and has had a strong interest in natural and organic alternatives for a long time. She’s so aware of what is in her home and actually understands what’s on the label! I’m a Banker who likes to have a creative side project and we’d both been talking about starting something for a while. The timing was right (well as right as it ever is for these things!) so we jumped on in. Well we tried to jump. Turns out things don’t always happen that quickly so we had to re-adjust expectations and pivot a couple of times to land with our starting point – The Hand Wash and The Hand Milk.
The name came from the idea that we want to build a lifestyle brand that forms the basics for your home. We want to be your go-to for good quality staples. Kind of like a little bit of luxury in everyday things I guess is a good way to describe it. We’re clearly getting too old and sensible but it kind of seems backwards to not enjoy the things you use everyday and splurge on things you get to wear once or only use on special occasions.
Our key theme was that we want to build a range that is as good as possible – by that we mean in terms of quality, impact, customer service…transparency, everything really. Our products are based on natural and organic ingredients, and where we can we will have them certified. We were actually going to start with a capsule clothing range (like the perfect tee) but had real trouble sourcing organic cotton that had the qualities we were after so decided to take that as a sign and work with the amazing skin care manufacturer we had found instead.
Even though we only launched a couple of months ago, it really has been 12 months of learning to get to this point. But we’ve been so amazed at the response we’ve had so far though. It’s really exciting for us to see it all coming to life.
What is special about The Base Collective products?
The first thing is the ingredients. Cassie is all over this and you should see the questions that go back and forth with the manufacturer! For us it really is about using the most natural ingredients available – but they still have to work. There is sometimes a perception that if a product is natural or organic it won’t do the job – we definitely want to prove that theory wrong! When you start being aware of what some brand use it is actually quite eye opening. I’d been buying one in particular that I’d always assumed was natural until Cassie pointed out it contained sulfates and parabens. As Cassie always reminds me your skin is your biggest organ and what goes on, definitely goes in so make it good. Actually I think I should have said having a Pharmacist as a co-founder is one of the differentiators!
And I think also the little details that have gone into it that aren’t immediately obvious, but hopefully make for a good customer experience. We deliberately went searching for a manufacturer in Melbourne for our packaging and specifically wanted something with a low environmental impact and that was BPA free. Even the shape of the bottle – we chose these because we found it fits more easily than the round shape on most benches and bathroom sinks. And as silly as it sounds – our labels. We wanted them to feel nice and they had to withstand the rigours of life behind a tap and not fade or get water damaged. They should still be looking good two months down the track! And those are the things our customers shouldn’t have to think about or worry about – we just want our products to fit seamlessly into your life an for you to enjoy them.
What has gone into developing your products?
Let’s just say that friends and family got very used to seeing us carrying around little white sample bottles and offering them to everyone and anyone!!
We worked really closely with our manufacturer who specialise in organic skin care so that was great. They really worked with us to develop a product we were happy to release.
The Hand Milk took a bit of work because we didn’t want anything to heavy on the skin. It had to absorb straight away and not leave a residue. So I guess the key thing that has gone into the development has been time. Lots and lots of time.
In terms of knowing what customers want – a lot of research and reading really. There has been such a change in the way we as consumer are purchasing and what we are starting to demand from our products. A lot more people are aware of what goes into what they are buying – or at least they are like me and trying to be aware!
Do you have any tips for budding female entrepreneurs?
Two things – don’t lose your sense of humour and just start. It was probably the Banker in me but I was hesitant to officially launch because I wasn’t sure we had everything in place and perfect – but we never would! We’ve been ironing out small kinks and learning as we go since the day we went live but if we hadn’t we’d still be waiting and from what I can tell that is pretty much the way businesses evolve.
And I mean it about the sense of humour – you have to laugh because otherwise you’d just give up sometimes. We’ve made so many mistake – we have a saying now “it’s part of our story”. And they (the mistakes) really are.
One of our best was ordering our bottle and label design and then finding out that there is not a single machine in Australia that could be used to automatically label our bottles. Didn’t think to check that one before we ordered 2000 labels! So our first batch was ‘hand labelled’. We’ve got a work around going forward but lets just say that screen printing looks like the way forward for us!
Actually one more – don’t be too stuck on what you think should happen. From what we’ve seen some of the best opportunities and conversations have come from saying to yes to something we never thought would be on our radar.
What’s next for the brand?
So much! We have a new range that will be launching in a few weeks. It’s a Magnesium range and we are so excited by it. We also have a new Hand Wash and Hand Milk fragrance to come out shortly (and more bottles to label!). And further down the track we have a baby and kids range and cleaning range waiting in the wings.
We’ve had some interest from overseas which has just blown our mind – but I guess that is the power of social media these days. You never know who is clicking and where they are.
I think one of the biggest surprises for us too has been the interest from retailers. When we started we’d thought we’d stick to online and only sell via our website, but we’re getting more and more enquiries from potential stockists which in turn has given us the confidence to go out and approach businesses we’ve long admired to see if they’d be interested in selling our products too.