When Kate Samson had her first child in 2004, she was desperate to find natural skincare for her new baby. “I was so sick of going into health food stores and seeing products that were labeled as natural but still contained chemicals,” she says. “I started to make skincare and bath products for my family, using ingredients such as castille soap, jojoba oil, coconut oil, honey, vitamin E and essential oils.”
Ten years later, in 2014, when Samson’s third baby was just two weeks old, she was making up a body wash for him in her Thermomix. “My sister Anna said, ‘we should bottle up all of your potions and sell them', recalls Samson. “The next day we’d decided on a business name, and were registered at our local markets on the Gold Coast.”
The sisters set to work in Samson’s kitchen, making a range of nine products, including the bath salts, body scrub and a Lemon Myrtle and Rose Face Oil, that they still sell today. “The face oil has been with us from the start and has always been a solid bestseller,” says Samson. “I use it every day.”
Cedar + Stone's first skincare range included all natural bath salts, body scrubs and face serums, all made in Samson's kitchen!
Taking skincare from the kitchen to the world
Their products proved extremely popular in their local markets. “They were received really well,” says Samson. “Four years ago there wasn’t that much natural skincare around so people really took to it.” In fact, the sisters gained such a reputation that after just three months of trading, they were approached by US retail store Urban Outfitters who wanted to stock their products. “That quickly turned us from a hobby to a business,” she says.
Although they now offer a range of 90 products that are available worldwide, Samson has made sure the company stays true to its roots. “To this day we make everything by hand, in our Thermomix. We have upgraded to some larger machinery for some products, and have moved out of my kitchen to a small factory, but everything is still hand-made and hand-poured by our little team. We have purchased a small labelling machine and a couple of mixing machines, but apart from that, it's all done by our staff. We don't have conveyor belts or anything fancy like that - just good old-fashioned elbow grease!”
Even though the brand has gone global, Cedar + Stone continue to hand-make and hand-pour everything to maintain their firm ethos of organic and natural skincare products.
Cedar + Stone's keeping skincare natural
Samson attributes the brand’s success to this boutique philosophy. “It’s so important for us to stick by the ideals we started with,” she says. “We've toyed with the idea of having our products made elsewhere and although it would be a lot easier - and less messy - we haven't found the right person yet that will continue to make our products as natural as we like them. We have a solid team and we hold our integrity high.”
Samson's authentic attitude extends to the way she treats her employees. “The best bit for me about running my own business is being able to supply jobs for our staff,” she says. “We have a tight little team and we love that they enjoy coming to work. We try to make it as fun as possible; good music and lots of laughs. We have a flexible roster and everyone gets to choose their hours based on kids’ schooling and sporting, which just creates a really chilled and no-stress environment. My best mate came on board a couple of years ago as a shareholder, so we get to work with each other every day - which is pretty cool.”
The mum of three admits that sometimes working long hours can be hard. “There are times when we are super busy and the whole ‘mother guilt’ kicks in when we have to do long days or nights,” she says. “But we’re pretty good at balancing it all out when we start getting that feeling.”
Samson would like natural products to become the norm for households. “Hopefully, this little baby keeps growing and we can get natural products into as many hands as possible,” she says. “It would be amazing to become a household name like some of the big chemical laden guys out there.”
Kate and her sister have built a tight-knit team at Cedar + Stone. Together, they hold up brand's high integrity towards all natural skincare products.
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