Supply and demand
Essential Beauty Supplies director Tracey Smith has had a 25-year career in the industry. Suzanne Braithwaite catches up with her about the challenges of supply and demand
How did you get into the industry?
My dad was the accountant for a wax company so I got interested in the beauty industry from an early age. I helped out at exhibitions as a model for leg waxes then went on to work as a sales representative for some pharmaceutical companies. In 1988 I trained as a beauty therapist, but when my father retired I set up my own salon supplies company with his guidance. I went around local salons in the area with a handful of products such as tweezers, and got orders on the first day. I soon built up the business, supplying salons with brands including Sterex, Mavala and Revlon.
How have you seen the market change in 25 years?
I used to deliver everything personally to salons and there wasn’t much competition. But the business grew and so did the number of wholesale suppliers.
When did you set up Essential Beauty Supplies?
In 1997, after I’d developed a franchise for Australian Bodycare in the South West in 1995. We continued to franchise the skincare and waxing brand for ten years before we went our separate ways. We still supply brands such as IBD and Orly for Graftons, but we decided to manufacture our own waxing range, Outback Organics, eight years ago. The idea stemmed from my husband’s time living in Australia. We wanted to create a waxing brand with no parabens or artificial colours that offered more of a treatment for clients.
How did you develop the business?
Salon owner and waxing expert Andy Rouillard had been one of our clients for six years before we created Outback Organics and his knowledge helped us develop the range. We wanted to steer away from the usual tea tree oil ingredients and help treat ingrowing hairs. Andy trialled a number of products on his clients and tested out innovative ingredients such as lemon myrtle, which is a strong antiseptic, but smells like lemon sherbet, and desert lime. We created packaging that would appeal to both men and women to make it easier to retail.
One of our bestselling products is the Outback Gold Peelable Wax, which dries in 10 seconds and doesn’t snap when peeling off. Two years ago we became importers of Depiléve Waxing products, Spanish brand Anesi Beauté Skincare and Belfeet Pedicure products, which added to our portfolio.
What products are you launching this year?
We introduced several products to the UK market at Professional Beauty’s London Excel show. Anési skincare brought out an eye cream, serum, CC cream, and a new skin scanner. With Outback Organics we’ve introduced an emergency waxing retail kit called Little Wonders Down Under, which includes a 50ml scrub, skin wash, bush balm and ingrown hair serum.
What’s next for Outback Organics?
In the UK, we have over 1,000 spa and salon accounts, including the likes of Urban Retreat, Champneys and Bannatyne. Ellisons has also just begun stocking the range. We now have distributors all over the world including the US, Ireland, Denmark and Estonia. We’re currently launching Outback Organics in Australia and we hope to expand more internationally this year, setting our sights on Qatar and Russia.