Here Comes the Sun with Ochre Sun

Image source: Photographer Markus Ravik

Indigenous-owned sunscreen brand Ochre Sun is expanding into creating skincare infused with native botanicals – and they’re inviting you to be part of their exciting growth, discovers Rebecca Jamieson Dwyer.

For Buderim-based Alana Kennedy, taking care of her skin is something she’s been conscious of from a young age. Growing up in Mount Isa, she remembers experiencing a drying and burning sensation due to the intense heat, and was thankful to have a mum who worked in beauty and a nanna who was passionate about skincare, with both passing their knowledge down to her.

It’s perhaps no surprise then, that Alana went on to found Ochre Sun – a brand of Australian-made, lightweight SPF50+, cruelty-free sunscreen that harnesses the power of ethically and sustainably harvested native ingredients such as Kakadu Plum and Sneezeweed to nourish and heal the skin while protecting it from the sun’s harsh rays.

Made in a cosmetic manufacturing laboratory on the Sunshine Coast and distributed throughout Australia, Ochre Sun has gone from strength to strength since its conception in 2018, growing its revenue by over 127% and partnering with a number of different stockists and community organisations.

Making hay while the sun shines, Alana plans to expand its range to include botanical-infused moisturisers, serums and more – offering customers the chance to incorporate more plant-powered goodness into their daily beauty routine while providing a reliable source of income for the team of Indigenous growers who harvest the ingredients.

But she can’t do this alone. The innovative brand is about to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign through Microwd – a platform dedicated to raising capital for woman-owned companies – that will enable investors to contribute to the next stage of growth and development, and help make the Ochre Sun skincare dream a reality.

“To unlock our vision, we’re inviting locals to join us on this investment journey,” Alana said. “Investment will help support the strategic growth of our current business through increased sales and distribution channels, marketing and promotion, as well as a brand refresh to broaden market appeal nationally and beyond.

“Additionally, it will go towards strengthening our authentic Indigenous supply chain, developing an extraction facility to harness additional revenue streams, and a protection strategy to preserve our IP as a botanical supplier.

“Together we can take Ochre Sun to the world and create a real, lasting and tangible impact for Indigenous people and communities.”

Incorporating ancient wisdom into modern skincare is important to Alana, both because of the medicinal properties found within native flora that First Nations peoples have always understood and her commitment to helping preserve this knowledge.

“Native Australian plants carry immense potential and wisdom that has long been overlooked in mainstream skincare,” she said. “The significance of our vision goes beyond skincare.

“There is rhythm in Country – ancient rhythm and remedy gifted to us in the cultural way, and our purpose is to harness bush medicine and gift it to the world; to harness raw plant potential to benefit our bodies. Everything we need, we already have.”

Alana acknowledges the First Nations peoples who’ve come before her, as well as the many industry experts that help guide the brand and ensure it adheres to strict clinical guidelines.

“We don’t do this work alone – not only do we have the knowledge and wisdom of 60,000 years of culture guiding us, we also lean on a diverse advisory network that includes leading Australian and international skincare experts, academics, scientists and industry professionals,” she said.

Ochre Sun plans to launch a non-profit called Watharra – meaning “come this way and grow” in Alana’s Kalkatungu language. Watharra will provide respite, education and employment opportunities for Aboriginal women who’ve experienced domestic violence, homelessness or any other kind of adversity, along with cultural immersion and healing on Country for non-Indigenous women.

“Watharra will be a place for women to reconnect with Country and elders in a safe place for as long as they need,” Alana explained. “None of this will be possible without the generous support of people who believe in our vision and understand that investment in the Ochre Sun brand will help change lives for the better.”

Alana is conscious of the fact that, as a proud Waanyi Kalkatungu woman, she’s helping to forge a path forward for others and encouraging young people to be what they can see.

“It’s a true privilege and a deep honour to represent black women in business – we have a voice that needs to be amplified,” she said. “There are strong women that have come before us, and I feel I’m just riding the wave of their successes. Now I’m trying to continue that responsibility – to widen the pathways for more of our women, and most importantly, our young people, to discover business and entrepreneurship for themselves and their families.”

As someone who lives and breathes skincare, Alana’s personal beauty philosophy is to appreciate each of the precious days you spend under the sun and nourish the skin you’ve been given.

“Cherish the skin you are in, because as you do so, you will inspire other women,” she said. “Beauty is more than skin deep, but it starts with the skin.”

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