This week we chat to Mark Chapman, co-founder – alongside wife Melanie – of skincare range Clean & Pure. Having suffered eczema all her life, a period spent living in Greece and using natural products and foods saw Melanie’s symptoms vanish. On returning to Australia, however, her eczema quickly reappeared…
ISB: What was the inspiration behind you setting up your own skincare venture?
MC: My wife, Melanie, has had eczema all her life and has struggled to find simple and chemical free skincare. Through frustration and lack of items on the market in 2004 we began experimenting and making our own products whilst we were living in the Mediterranean. When we moved back to Australia, we sourced natural and unprocessed ingredients to continue making our own products, which saw the birth of our Clean & Pure range.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge in getting the venture off the ground, and how did you overcome it?
MC: It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I have learnt a lot from building production facilities to locating packaging, design, sourcing ingredients, learning regulation, marketing, getting distribution and of course trying to fund it all. When we entered the China market we came up against a lot of challenges, however it has given us lots of learnings and contacts to start exporting into other countries.
ISB: In what way did being on eBay help you grow your business?
MC: eBay gave us the confidence to turn a home hobby into a commercial venture. When we first loaded our soaps and lip balms onto eBay, one – two sales quickly turned into thousands. This was the catalyst for us to take it seriously and turn it into the brand it is today.
ISB: What are both the benefits and challenges of running your business as a husband and wife team?
MC: The biggest benefit is we can get a lot done between us, but this can lead to crazy hours and as a result we miss each other along the way. We are lucky that we both have opposing skill sets; I can’t do what Mel does and vice versa!
ISB: How has Clean & Pure achieved the feat of exporting to eight countries so far?
MC: It has taken a lot of hard work to get to where we are today and I put this down to getting ourselves out there, attending expos, meeting people, building a profile and of course some good luck.
Being an extrovert helps me immensely as you need to make contacts and build relationships. You may turn over 100 contacts before you finally get someone who needs your products as much as you want to sell it to them. Exporting will straighten you up as your home hobby has to pass regulatory approvals, but it gives you the opportunity to take on established brands.
ISB: And, finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on your journey you’d share with others looking to start their own business?
MC: You’re going to need twice as much money and time than you budgeted for, don’t let the negatives sink in and celebrate your wins. The best bit of advice I’ve been given is, “The quickest way to make a million dollars is to work very hard at something and never give up. The quickest way to lose a million dollars is to work very hard at something and give up.”