Generation One31 Oct 2019

Global dream for Indigenous sunscreen entrepreneur

Indigenous entrepreneur Alana Kennedy. Photo Credit: Wayne Quilliam.

Indigenous entrepreneur Alana Kennedy took a bold approach at the inaugural Generation One Dream Summit in Sydney.

During her final pitch, the 36-year-old Waanyi Kalkadoon woman told the judging panel she didn’t want her sunscreen business, Ochre Sun, to be considered for a share in the $45,000 of seed funding on offer.

Instead, she requested introductions to strategically identified customers within the Minderoo network and a purchase order for an equivalent value, for her product which uses native botanicals.

“Some of the other entrepreneurs who were pitching needed the seed funding more, to reach the high growth stage I am at now,” Alana said.

“I am ready for scaling for large commercial contracts, and ready to look at how we do research and development for global markets.

“Getting a big purchase order will mean I can get some serious product in the warehouse and just go.”

Alana was inspired to build her own business after working in the cosmetics industry for seven years in a business development and sales role.

“When I was very little, my mum used to sell beauty products and she taught me from a young age about skin care,” Alana said. “I became obsessed about ingredients.

“In my previous job I was selling beautiful products but felt it was a little inauthentic given we (Indigenous Australians) have got our own bush medicine.”

Alana decided to try and help a population she saw in great need; the mostly male outdoor labour workforce, a worrying percentage of whom are statistically likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer.

She took part in an accelerator program and, after an extensive research and development process, developed the Ochre Bloke skin care range but discovered demand for the solution she was trying to offer was low.

“I took it off the market and decided to focus on a product which really spelt out what I wanted to do – sun protection combined with skin health,” she said.

Four months ago she launched the Ochre Sun range of SPF 50+ sunscreen products and is targeting large organisations who need sunscreen for their employees, like local councils, mining and construction firms, and the Australian Defence Force.

“Ochre Sun took two years to formulate because I wanted to focus on producing a different sunscreen experience, so it feels like a moisturiser but still has the SPF 50+ protection.”

Alana has set herself an “audacious” goal, to be the Australian market leader in household sunscreen as well as providing the best sun protection and skin health product globally.

While discussions regarding purchase orders are ongoing, her experience at Dream Summit has given her the opportunity to put her business under a microscope.

As one of the Dream Summit EY Growth Accelerator Program winners, Alana will be able to have her growth plans assessed and utilise the global EY network.

“Being involved in Dream Summit put me in front of key people who have real customers of mine,” she said.

“It was not just a pat on the head and telling me what a great job I am doing.

“Dream Summit is one of the few events where I achieved had the chance to do deals and propel my business forward.”

As her business grows, Alana hopes to be able to increase demand and supply for Australian native botanicals.

“We want to create jobs by teaching people how to grow the plants we need and develop an all-Indigenous supply chain,” she said.

Her dream might be audacious, but Alana has confidence.

“I will get there, it just takes time.”