How one Aussie dad is helping to save the reef and your skin
The day that Christopher Mathews’ daughter came home from day care caked in thick, chemical-rich sunscreen, was a wake-up call.
As a young dad, he wanted his daughter to be protected from the sun’s harmful rays, but he also wasn’t comfortable with the amount of chemicals used in traditional sunscreen. He knew there must be a better way.
“One day I was out surfing and was talking to a friend about sunscreen, and we decided to make a solution ourselves,” he says.
They spent six months experimenting with different formulas, with no background in chemistry but a passion for the cause.
“We took the development as far as we could, and we got sunburned along the way testing it!” he laughs. “Then we got one of Australia’s leading formulators in to perfect it.”
The result was a natural sunscreen which uses essential oils and nature's most potent skin-nourishing ingredients. He named the company Little Urchin, after the sea urchin that creates its own sunscreen to protect its young.
Officially launched in November 2016, the business went on to see phenomenal growth. “I started approaching every store I thought would be a good fit and five months later it was in 150 locations.”
Christopher says Little Urchin came about at a time when most people didn’t know about the environmental and health impacts of some of the chemicals used in sunscreen. But now, families and the younger generation are a lot more conscious about the products they use.
Not long after its launch, in 2017 Little Urchin decided to sell on Amazon Australia.
“Amazon Australia provides us a terrific opportunity, and it was an essential part of our business strategy,” he says. “It provided us with access to a large customer base, paired with incredible customer service and great delivery options for our shoppers.”
Working with Amazon Australia and using Fulfilment by Amazon, which takes care of inventory, storage, delivery to customers, customer service and returns, Little Urchin was able to scale beyond what it could have achieved alone. It is also part of Amazon’s Launchpad program, which Christopher says provides incredible support.
“Amazon.com.au is more than just a sales channel, it provides market insights, too,” he explains. “We can see which products work well, and that helps us to develop more products.”
Little Urchin recently had its product range registered for sale in Europe and is in the process of doing the same in the US. The company plans to sell on Amazon in both locations.
With summer around the corner and after an unpredictable year, Christopher is positive about this season being the brand’s biggest yet. And the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are looking promising, too. “We always get a big uptake from Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it’s great. We love to be a part of these big shopping moments,” he says.
But sales aside, the most important hallmark of success for Christopher is that he’s making a difference.
“What makes me really proud is that by putting out a great product I’ve also been able to make a difference to people’s health and the environment.”
Disclaimer: Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Sunscreens are only one part of sun protection. Prolonged high-risk sun exposure should be avoided. Frequent reapplication required