This New Australian E-Commerce Destination Wants To Be The Net-a-Porter Of Clean Beauty
Clare McGrowdie, a red carpet, film and television hairdresser and makeup artist for 20 years, has pretty discerning tastes when it comes to where she shops for makeup, haircare and skincare. So, after switching from conventional to natural beauty products two years ago, she was sorely disappointed by the pharmacies predominantly carrying them in her hometown Sydney.
“The stores didn’t appeal to me, and nothing in them appealed to me,” she says. “In the U.S., you have stores like Detox Market and CAP Beauty, but, in Sydney, we don’t have stores like that. And the stores online stock anything from pharmacy to luxury brands. As a consumer, you are unsure of where the cosmetics are sitting in the market and their quality.”
To rectify the gap she sensed in the Australian retailing landscape, McGrowdie has introduced Bond Clean Beauty with 11 clean beauty brands, including MV Organic Skincare, Pursoma, The Beauty Chef, In Fiore, Gressa, Agent Nateur, Golda and Yarok. The brands’ products don’t contain ingredients she dubs Bond’s Baddies, a label given to 1,4-dioxane, petrolatum, phthalates, polyethylene glycols and more than 30 additional ingredients, are cruelty-free and have packaging adhering to McGrowdie’s discriminating aesthetic standards. Bond Clean Beauty gets its name from its products’ links to nature.
“I want people to come to the online store and feel like they’re walking into a luxury cosmetics store,” she says. “If you go onto Net-a-porter, you’ll understand the level of luxury that I want for my website, but I also want it to be a place of education. We want people to understand where we’re coming from and educate them on why we don’t stock products with certain ingredients.”
Befitting a luxury e-tailer, McGrowdie paid a pretty penny – she divulges a few hundred thousand dollars – to get Bond Clean Beauty off the ground. Smack Bang Designs, a firm with high-end beauty clients the likes of Coast Beauty Co, Whyld and Flora Remedia, developed its website. McGrowdie tries to keep product prices at Bond Clean Beauty on par with product prices in the U.S., which, due to shipping costs bringing many of them from the U.S. to Australia, eats into margins.
“I want people to come to the online store and feel like they’re walking into a luxury cosmetics store. If you go onto Net-a-porter, you’ll understand the level of luxury that I want for my website, but I also want it to be a place of education. We want people to understand where we’re coming from and educate them on why we don’t stock products with certain ingredients.”
“We are certainly not making grandiose markups and the percentages that most companies would make if they were purchasing from the origin country,” says McGrowdie, who notes products available at Bond Clean Beauty range largely from $18 to $260. “We have to compete with the companies that sell products here in Australia, so that factors into it.” At the moment, Bond Clean Beauty delivers products only to shoppers in Australia, but New Zealand is a possibility for expansion along with other adjacent countries.
In assembling Bond Clean Beauty’s selection, McGrowdie sought products to fill consumers’ entire beauty regimens. The assortment spans skincare, makeup, wellness, haircare, fragrance, and bath and body. In the two months since the site went live, Yarok, MV Organic Skincare and In Fiore have been strong sellers. McGrowdie purchased minimum order quantities to start, typically six units per product, and has already reordered two to three times from select brands.
McGrowdie is looking to plug holes in Bond Clean Beauty’s merchandise lineup. It doesn’t sell spray perfumes, setting powders or natural mascara, for example, and she’s on the hunt for those products. Merchandise growth could come as well from upscale beauty brands that passed on Bond Clean Beauty prior to its debut joining its collection. McGrowdie reports, “Their general response was that we are the type of company they would like to be stocked with, but they would see how the launch went.”
A brick-and-mortar offshoot of Bond Clean Beauty is in the e-tailer’s future. “It’s an absolute must for me,” says McGrowdie. “It’s about finding the right space in the right area.” She’s zeroing in on the stylish Paddington neighborhood in Sydney. Before the store opens, McGrowdie’s goal in the first year of Bond Clean Beauty’s business is to break even.
“The biggest challenge for me is wanting to do more than I can. I have a great group of family, friends and team members around me reminding me to take a breath. I have to remember this is a startup, it’s only been two months, and to take a step back and be grateful for where we are today.”
Bond Clean Beauty wasn’t an overnight impulse. McGrowdie’s natural beauty conversion took place four years after she was diagnosed with a number of autoimmune disorders. “My doctors told me I would have to leave working in the industry because of the chemical exposure. I’m a high school dropout and only qualified as a hairdresser and makeup artist, so that wasn’t an option for me,” she says. “But my illnesses grew worse, and I had to find solutions.” McGrowdie was hesitant to turn to natural beauty solutions initially because of their reputation for ineffectiveness. “To my surprise, they outperformed conventional products,” she says.
To build Bond Clean Beauty, McGrowdie is connecting with media contacts, and fellow makeup artists and hairdressers to show them natural beauty products can meet their elevated expectations. She’s interested in widening the e-tailer’s circle beyond them to yoga, meditation and mindfulness professionals to deepen its reach in the healthy lifestyle arena.
“The biggest challenge for me is wanting to do more than I can,” admits McGrowdie. “I have a great group of family, friends and team members around me reminding me to take a breath. I have to remember this is a startup, it’s only been two months, and to take a step back and be grateful for where we are today.”