When a baby is born, it often births a new mother, new father and countless grandparents, aunties and uncles. But in the case of Byron Baby, it also birthed a new business.
When a close friend of Australian entrepreneurial couple Andrew Townsend and Lucy Field had her first baby, she struggled to find natural products suitable to moisturise and massage her baby’s highly sensitive skin without causing irritation. After much searching and experimentation, she finally discovered the one product that worked.
“Macadamia oil was the only thing ultra-gentle enough for her baby’s skin,” explains Lucy. She had such a hard time whenever she tried anything else, as many baby products contained synthetic ingredients that her baby just couldn’t tolerate.”
Witnessing this experience first-hand soon had Andrew and Lucy pondering whether it represented a bigger opportunity.
“Andrew’s family has had a macadamia farm near Byron Bay for 25 years, so we knew a lot about the product. But seeing our friend go through this experience sparked the idea to use it in a different way.”
Innovation through simplification
The Byron Baby brand was founded on the premise of “going back to beautiful basics.”
“One of the first things we learned was that our target market – new mums – don’t have time for anything complicated,” reveals Andrew. “They just want the best for their baby, which in this case means very natural and simple formulations.”
The couple, along with two other business partners, launched Byron Baby in September 2018, with three products; BABY Macadamia Oil, BODY Macadamia Oil and FACE Macadamia Oil.
Collectively, the range contains just four ingredients, all native to Australia, with macadamia oil the hero in every product, accompanied by a touch of Kangaroo Paw Flower for its regenerative properties. The BODY oil also has delicate and uplifting Honey Myrtle, while the FACE oil features calming Fragonia.
The range is manufactured in the Australian macadamia growing region of Byron Bay. The oils are all naturally pressed and steamed, with suppliers carefully selected based on their ability to align with the vision and standards of the Byron Baby brand.
Lucy says their approach to innovation centres on deeply understanding their customer and giving them something they can’t yet access. “Consumers are looking for simple and trustworthy skin care, with very few ingredients, for themselves and their babies. We see ourselves as disrupting that space, producing something that we’re not used to seeing in that section of a supermarket or pharmacy,” she says. “We’re innovating by simplifying.”
For Andrew, it’s about looking at something he has known for a long time in a different light. “Macadamia oil started as a by-product of macadamia kernel processing. The oil was then discovered for culinary uses, and now more recently, is being recognised for its great cosmetic properties. I think it’s so exciting that we’re now harnessing everything that comes out of the nut.”
Simple luxury at its best
Research shows that consumers consider macadamias to be a luxury food, and the Byron Baby team firmly believes the same is true for macadamia oil.
“It has a rich, luxurious feel, and a beautiful golden colour so naturally it feels like a luxury product,” says Lucy.
As anyone who has been a new mum will attest, while it’s an exciting time, it’s also exhausting and finding a quiet moment, let alone anything resembling luxury, can be a challenge. Andrew and Lucy are hoping Byron Baby macadamia oil can change this.
“We want our products to bring luxury to everyone, especially new mums,” says Andrew. “When you’ve had a baby, you don’t get a lot of time, so our product and baby massage is a way to add a little bit of simple luxury to the day.”
Meeting the skin care needs of today’s consumer
The Byron Baby team conducted extensive research and product trials in the lead up to launch, with customer feedback shaping the formulation of the final three products they took to market.
“We chose macadamia oil because of Andrew’s connection to the industry, but also because once people try it, they love using it on their skin. The first thing they say is it’s far less greasy than other oils they’ve tried,” Lucy shares.
“Macadamia oil has so many powerful properties that make it ideal for human skin, and we hypothesised that women in particular are sick of being marketed to with overly complex ingredient lists, and told they need to pay exorbitant prices with no proven benefits. We believe our products can alleviate both of those frustrations.”
When it comes to new mothers, Andrew and Lucy quickly learned that not only do they want ultra-gentle products to massage and moisturise their baby’s skin, they also want to be sure they’re using natural and gentle products on themselves, given the amount of skin to skin contact that occurs, particularly in those first few months.
“These consumers are hyper conscious of what goes on and in their children’s bodies, and becoming a mum often initiates a deeper interest in what is listed on the label,” explains Lucy. “They are primarily seeking simple and natural alternatives.”
This sentiment echoes the findings of global data analytics company Nielsen, that says today’s mindful consumers want ‘beauty with heart.’ They are carefully analysing ingredient lists and ‘choose brands that share their values and community’ and they actively seek out ‘clean’ products free from undesirable ingredients.
Another much-loved feature of the range is the scent– or more specifically, the lack of, with mums loving the fact the BABY product is fragrance free.
While Honey Myrtle and Fragonia add a touch of scent to the BODY and FACE products, the quantities are intentionally modest to ensure a subtle result. “You can smell the fresh aroma when you apply it, but very quickly you’re no longer aware of it. It’s lovely and subtle and not at all overpowering.”
Lucy finds it gratifying that Byron Baby is becoming a much-loved part of their customers’ lifestyle, and an excellent multi-tasker.
“I love hearing that it’s become a big part of their baby’s bath and bed routine. A lot of our marketing has focused on baby massage education and it has really struck a chord. Lots of mums are also saying they carry it around in their baby bag and apply it throughout the day on lips, skin and cuticles.”
Bringing up baby
The first birthday of Byron Baby is coming up later this year and is set to coincide with another milestone – the arrival of Andrew and Lucy’s first child.
While they’re currently preparing to bring up an actual baby, their attention is also keenly focused on the future of the Byron Baby brand, with a number of exciting ideas in the pipeline, one of which would ensure dads don’t feel left out.
“We’ve had feedback that men have been sneaking the oil for themselves, which goes to prove it has unisex appeal,” reveals Andrew. “Macadamia oil is great on all skin, but it also works really well on hair, so we would like to investigate producing a product around that for men.”
While e-commerce is the sole distribution strategy at this stage, Lucy says they are keen to explore other distribution opportunities, especially if they’re aligned with the Byron Baby ethos.
They also have an eye on the export market, with Andrew believing this is a logical next step for the brand as it grows. “We are confident people in other countries would love the range for all the same reasons Australian consumers are loving it. As a producing origin, Australia has really strong “clean and green” credentials, and with our products containing minimal and simple ingredients, we think consumers offshore would really value knowing exactly where the product has come from and how it is made.”
Ultimately though, the long-term vision for the brand is closely tied to its roots.
“We want to ensure we stay true to our brand – local, native, simple and beautiful. We would like to extend the range, but without losing the boutique feel we have intentionally created,” says Lucy.
We look forward to watching the growth of Byron Baby. For more information on the range or to purchase, head to ByronBaby.com.au