Inika CEO and founder Miranda Bond said business-aid groups Heads over Heels and the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation helped her build the company. Picture: Stephen Cooper Source: The Australian
AUSTRALIAN vegan, certified halal and certified cruelty-free cosmetics company Inika has closed its first capital raising, which was led by Singapore-headquartered investment firm Cardinia Partners.
Though the amount raised via convertible bonds has not been disclosed, Cardinia’s target investment size is between $US2 million and $US8m. Funds will be used to invest in product expansion as well as global growth.
Inika’s founder and chief executive, Miranda Bond, spoke to Deal Journal Australia about her plans for the company, which she founded in 2006 after overcoming endometriosis, a condition that can cause infertility. One of her treatments was to eliminate the use of products such as cosmetics and nail polish, which contained chemicals that may lead to hormonal imbalance.
WSJ: How was Inika born?
Ms Bond: During the course of my pregnancy, my health improved so much that I became passionate about the subject of living toxin-free. I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to educating other women about making more natural choices so I started a not-for-profit organisation, Thriving Health Women. Women all over the world were asking me to recommend skin-care, body-care and makeup brands and in the process, I found no companies were making genuinely natural, high-quality makeup. It got to the point where I decided it was not only a business opportunity but something that could change lives. I know we’re a tiny little David taking on the Goliaths of the cosmetics industry, but our innovation to date has been key to our success.
WSJ: How much has Inika grown since inception?
MB: Six years on, we’re now stocked by more than 1000 retailers in 16 countries. Our biggest footprint is in Australia, followed by New Zealand and the UK, where we recently secured distribution through department store John Lewis and television shopping network QVC. It’s a combination that worked well for Liz Earle Beauty, which was taken over by Avon Products.
We hope to link up with QVC US, too. I think our North American expansion will be more of a focus over the next two years where we’ll target a multi-channel distribution method including department stores, beauty salons and organic retailers. We’re one of Whole Foods Market UK’s biggest-selling make-up brands so we hope that partnership leads us to Whole Foods in the US, too.
WSJ: Obviously the link to Cardinia means you’re keen to grow in Asia too?
MB: It made sense for us to raise capital from Asia-based investors with influence in the region. We see a huge opportunity across Asia, given the cultural acceptance of natural and organic products, so we are looking to develop strategic relationships with existing market participants.
WSJ: How did Inika get its name?
MB: It’s a Hindu word that means “small earth”, which has two connotations for me. The first: The earth’s resources are limited and we have to take care of it. The second: Inika was born from a global network of women supporting other women – it’s really not such a big world.
WSJ: Which networks helped you as a new entrepreneur?
MB: There are two organisations which have helped me to where I am, Heads over Heels and the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation.
My background was in television so I hadn’t had business or cosmetics experience before. Heads over Heels was fabulous as a network of women helping women by sharing knowledge and information. They help with contacts, skills and training and on an emotional level. It’s great to be able to speak to other female founders going through exactly the same challenges as you. EO was also a massive support in helping me with branding, marketing and developing pitching and negotiating skills in the investment process.
WSJ: Where are Inika products made?
MB: Most is produced in Australia where our ingredients and minerals are certified organic, though our eyeliner is made in Italy. Once we roll out in North America, the United States Department of Agriculture will require us to produce some products there to obtain organic certification.
WSJ: Are there any financial metrics you can share?
MB: We are looking to grow revenue by between 3 and 4 times over the next three years.
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