Ochre Sun: Business with Impact

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Penny Brand meets the savvy and spirited entrepreneur using specially-formulated sunscreen to solve several social issues – one spray at a time.  

A serendipitous discussion with ladies as part of the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation program in a Townsville park made Buderim mother Alana Kennedy realise she wanted to make a positive impact.

Alana, a proud Waanyi Kalkatungu woman of North Queensland, was working as a cosmetic sales representative and raising two young children as a single mother, when she felt drawn to sit down with the women.  

“I met these ladies and I started yarning with them,” Alana says. “Ninety per cent of them had been abused since a young age or been through some form of personal trauma that they were trying to recover from.” 

Alana could relate to the women on a personal level, because she too had been a victim of physical, emotional and psychological abuse. 

“I was in a DV situation for 12 months, but it felt like 10 years,” she said. “I think it was because over the years I had given over my power in other areas of my life, so in this relationship I felt like I had nothing else to give and I didn’t think I had the strength to get out.”

Having the right people in her life when she was at an all-time low, meant gave her the courage to set herself free from the toxic environment she was in. 

She worries about those who don’t have the same support system or as Alana says “a community of reliable others”.

“I had amazing people in my life that said, ‘this is not the life for you, the best is yet to come’.”

Alana says Indigenous women find it harder to get help. 

“We need to create alternate pathways for healing and to activate community support,” she said. “Women find it hard to leave without purpose in their life as the abuse has left them with the narrative that this is all they are worth.”

She left her career in 2017 to be part of Creel Price’s Investible Accelerator in Sydney, as she believed that she could build something that would have a real and sustainable impact. The support of her closest friends Shawnee Bell and Sammy-Jo Kupfer allowed her to spend time in Sydney to develop the business that is now Ochre Sun, which she launched in 2018. 

The business with a sustainable model features ethically sourced Indigenous botanicals, and aims to help women such as the ones Alana encountered on that fateful day – and to give back to those who had helped her.

Alana moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2020 to offer opportunities for Indigenous and vulnerable women to work and develop skills. 

Ochre Sun’s brilliance lies in the security and authenticity of the supply chain.

The most prominent Bush Foods and Botanical matriarchs in the First Nations Culture are a part of what makes Ochre Sun so powerful as raw materials are sourced directly from the Elders. 

As demand is created for Ochre Sun’s products, more botanicals are needed and the Elders are remunerated accordingly with a view to offer new revenue streams as the business grows.

A large portion of the profits made by Ochre Sun will also be re-invested to provide social modular housing, employment and programs for victims
of domestic violence in the Indigenous community.

“This will ensure Indigenous and vulnerable members of our communities are able to engage in employment within our business, our botanical harvests and plant extract management, while they heal on country,” Alana said. “We can deliver a model that allows women a safe place to live while being supported by a bigger vision.

“It is imperative that women understand that their identity isn’t defined by their circumstances, we just have to support them to see it.

“This is where I want my business to grow.” 

Queensland Business Monthly named Alana as one of the state’s ‘most exciting young entrepreneurs and business leaders’ in the annual Top 20 Under 40 list. Being a part of an eclectic bunch that share a common drive to succeed in a year marked by challenges of the pandemic, Alana focused on supporting the outdoor workforce in mining, construction and local councils with her sunscreen sold by Australia’s biggest PPE wholesaler.

The Queensland Government recognised Ochre Sun’s contribution to a stronger and better state through demonstrated support for social outcomes in 2021 with the Diversity through Supply Chains award. This award is given to a business that has through their organisation’s supply chains and other sourcing activities, enhanced the lives of Queenslanders by supporting small and medium sized business; social enterprises; Aboriginal businesses and/or Torres Strait Islander businesses; disability enterprises; or actions to target and end domestic and family violence. 

It’s the sunscreen, now available in select stores in New South Wales, Harris Farm Markets Australia-wide and most IGAs in South-East Queensland, which is the true hero of the story, driving the sales required to make Alana’s dream a reality.

“Our principal objective is to protect the integrity of our native botanicals and create opportunities on country for those who need it most,” she said. “Through a sustainable sourcing commitment, we aim to create a ‘world best’ environmental approach to sun protection, meeting ethical and social responsibilities across the entire supply chain.”

But why sunscreen? 

Alana understands all too well the effects of the harsh Queensland sun and her work in the cosmetics industry allowed her to identify a gap in the market when it came to men using (and not using) skincare and sun protection.

“My market research showed men weren’t enjoying using sunscreen and that they were often using their wife’s beauty products,” she said. “Ochre Sun is highly absorbent and is between a cream and a milk with native botanicals that also help to heal the skin. We’ve had great results for those with sensory challenges and skin sensitivity.”

Ochre Sun is now expanding to include a wider range of skin care making it more accessible and providing customers with the opportunity to help make
a positive difference as the brand grows and increases its capacity for change.

“When people choose to buy something necessary and meaningful that is ethically sourced and creates a positive social impact, everyone wins,” Alana said. “This is a legacy project that will see people supported with healing on many levels for years to come – and anyone can be part of it just by supporting our products.”

For more information and to purchase products visit www.ochresun.com.au


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