Nad’s founder still innovating after 28 years in business
Although Sue Ismiel has been in business for 28 years, her enthusiasm for launching innovative products hasn’t waned.
The founder and creator of Australian hair removal brand Nad’s has just recently launched Nad’s Natural Sugar Wax in Australian pharmacies and grocery outlets and is joining her daughter Natalie as a global ambassador for the brand.
What stemmed from a determination to solve her teenage daughter’s unwanted hair problem many years back, has since evolved into a multimillion dollar family business, with each of her daughters playing a pivotal role.
“I don’t know where that drive came from. When I couldn’t find the solution anywhere in the world, I decided to create it,” Sue told Inside FMCG.
At the time, the only thing that Sue could find on shelves was hot wax, clean bleach and other chemical products that irritated her daughter’s skin.
She started with a small pot in the kitchen combining everything that was gooey and sticky in her kitchen cupboard to create the perfect formula for her first product.
“Sugar, molasses, honey, lemon juice you name it! I think the key for me was to get that consistency to make sure that it was always ready, without having to heat it or melt it. Getting to that endpoint was critical.”
“I wanted to create something safe, effective, something that wouldn’t burn you wouldn’t damage your skin and every item that we put on shelf stems from that mindset. The product is water soluble so if you made a mistake you can just wipe it off and start all over again. The reputation we have in the marketplace is about being natural,” Sue said.
The most difficult part for Sue was starting off with no business experience.
“I wasn’t raised in a family business, I didn’t learn it from anyone I didn’t know how to start… I thought if I knocked on the manufacturers’ doors and presented it to them they’d jump on board, produce it in big batches and put it on the market. I was so wrong.”
Today Nad’s is on shelves in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and South Korea and globally through the e-commerce platform. Nad’s entered the South Korean market two years ago and within a year the product became number one in that market.
“World markets look up to the products that come out of Australia. They think of them as high quality and they welcome them in their markets.”
“We’re entering the rest of the European market. We’re knocking on the doors of Germany and France right now. The vision is to enter as many markets as we can. What I have found is that people all over the world really connect with our story. That is our real point of difference. People connect with real people. ”
Sue’s daughters have been involved since day one and today they have very active roles in the business.
“To this day they still talk about how when they would come home from school, they would walk into our garage and pack the products, so they have grown up with the business. When I got the courage to advertise on TV they were my models, so they know how hard it is to build a business from the ground up.”
“My eldest daughter is the head of research and development; I no longer have to be that mad scientist with no scientific qualifications. She has the degrees that we need. My middle daughter Natalie is in marketing, and she and I travel the world and showcase our brands in all the markets that we want to crack. My youngest daughter Mandy is the head of design. She’s responsible for packaging, websites, PowerPoint presentations… everything that has to do with the look and feel of our business.”
Product innovation has been at the heart of the business for 28 years and Sue and her daughters continue to launch innovative products to market.
“We are an entrepreneurial organisation and we’re always looking around for the next problem that we can solve. We don’t just put it up on the shelf just for the sake of selling shelf space. To be honest the retailers are running out of shelf space, so we have to be very creative, very innovative.”
“There’s probably at least 40 or 50 ideas [in the business right now] but I always say well look at what are the top three or four that we need to focus on fill the gap in the category and there are there are a number of them that we’re looking at at the moment that we will be launching in the very near future.”