Indigenous Entrepreneur Alana Kennedy is paving the way for a more inclusive and sustainable future through her skin care brand, Ochre Sun – a company committed to locally producing a PPE sunscreen containing sustainable and ethically sourced Indigenous botanicals. Ochre Sun has recently secured two of the largest wholesalers and is now preparing to export globally in the coming months.
Growing up surrounded by native Australian botanicals was what inspired the mother of two to found her own business.
“When I was young, my neighbour would take us out and show us a lot of bush medicine,” says Alana.
“We would create soap from the soap trees and explore various different plants, and it is something that has always stayed with me as I’ve grown older.”
After spending eight years in a business development and sales role within the cosmetic industry, Alana was offered the opportunity to take part in an Accelerator program thanks to Indigenous Business Australia (IBA). Alana used this opportunity to launch a product with Indigenous healing remedies to assist the mostly male outdoor labour force tackle the grim cancer statistics.
“Through the accelerator I launched Ochre Bloke – a range of men’s skincare I developed using Indigenous botanicals,” she explains.
“However, I took it off the market and decided to focus on a product which really spelt out what I wanted to do – sun protection combined with skin health. From this, Ochre Sun was born.”
After two years of research and development, Ochre Sun was launched in June 2019. The sunscreen utilises potent Indigenous botanicals to rejuvenate, restore and protect the skin, and is designed for those working outside in harsh conditions that require healing and strong protection.
The sun care range is targeting large organisations who need sunscreen for their employees, like local councils, mining and construction firms, and the Australian Defence Force.
“The plan for Ochre Sun is to ensure every job site in Australia has this product that focuses on skin health, sun protection at its best and a formulation that people actually enjoy using,” she says.
Ochre Sun is among 60 Indigenous Townsville businesses who have been added to Townsville City Council’s Register of Pre-qualified Indigenous Suppliers. The business also has a SEDEX listing number, a global listing that certifies their supply chain and ingredients are sourced ethically and responsibly.
By leveraging her business in this manner, Alana hopes she can shift consumer thinking in relation to natural skin care cosmetics.
“Consumers are becoming more educated on quality, value for money and sustainability, they also want to be able to make an impact along the way,” she says.
“We are very cautious as to where our botanicals are selected and want to ensure they come from Indigenous communities that are being remunerated appropriately because Ochre Sun ensures transparency in all facets of our supply chain.”
By having an all Indigenous workforce, Alana aims to amplify regional dialogues of Indigenous Entrepreneurship, and better support other Indigenous professionals in their journey to achieve sustainable economic success.
“As our production increases, so does our capacity to support other Indigenous organisations with business advice and support, but also a strategy to scale alongside us,” she explains.
“We have a high percentage of Indigenous population in North Queensland and we can utilise both the people and the land. Townsville is a great place to start as the basis for this.”
While Alana agrees there are opportunities available for Indigenous Australians, it is the environment to nurture the development in these areas that she notes is missing. Alana intends to change this through Ochre Sun and plans to fund programs that support a space in between rehab and reality for both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous members of our community.
“We are continuing to build the business and ensure it is solid in terms of viability and financial revenue so we can fund more land and equipment,” she says.
“From here we want to develop bridging programs where we can utilise people that are still in recovery and rehab and help to build their faith, capacity and confidence while they learn about agriculture and a circular economy in amongst our supply chain and business model.
“We are trying to give people an environment which will help them to succeed and provide that safe space for them to grow and learn while dealing with some of those social and cultural barriers.”
Since its launch, Ochre Sun has been a frontrunner in the reconciliation space, and now thanks to the support of Townsville City Council, they are working on growing and extracting their own plants in the Townsville region.
“We have been working in collaboration with some forestry projects and will be extracting our own plants in Townsville next year, which means we will own the supply chain and it further allows me to provide employment opportunities,” she explains.
“These are skills that many Indigenous Australians in particular already have, they just don’t have a platform to put them into practice.”
“The elders in particular will be able to work around products with plants they used when they were young, and I want to provide a space for elders to educate the younger generation.”
“Ultimately, I want them to find hope and purpose through Ochre Sun’s purpose.”
Not only has Ochre Sun recently secured two of the largest wholesaler distributors, but this month they will be launching their own retail website.
“We have partnered with a company to do a joint venture that utilises the UK free trade agreement, and we are going to start exporting and going into the wholesaler and retailer game in Australia, the US, and the UK,” she continues.
“We are also currently working on our online retail strategy this month and will soon have an E-commerce store open to the public.”
With so many exciting projects in the works, one has to wonder; what is Alana’s secret to success?
“Honestly, I am burdened by the gaps in the community, so I am just stepping out in faith, and I love that some people are inspired by that, but in life you have to get in and give these things a go!”
By Georgie Desailly for BDmag