We take a peek into the world of Susie and Elliot Waldron, creators of natural skincare label, Hunter Lab. Wedded last year and about to welcome a baby to their new family, their obvious love for each other is evident to everyone around them. Together they invite us into their beautiful Penibsula homestead.
Photography by Alexandrena Parker
How did you come to meet each other?
"Our story started years before we started dating, all thanks to our two best friends, the cupid couple, Anna and Justin. We both believe in fate and timing, and early on our friendship and respect for each other grew as we remained friends living independent lives. Fast forward to 2012 to what would become a staple in our early years together, a music festival in Byron Bay, when we were both single. We hit it off surrounded by close mates and the romance began. 5 years later and here we are, married with a baby on the way. Elliot proposed in front of my family on Christmas Day 2016 and we were married a year later at our favourite spot, Jackalope. And just last year we made the sea-change from Melbourne down the Peninsula to Boneo where we live as wanna-be farmers, as Elliot would say ‘with all the gear and no idea’."
Susie, you hail from MECCA while you Elliot have an advertising background – it seems the perfect match for creating a skincare label! How have you found it working together?
"It’s certainly not for everyone, but we have thoroughly enjoyed working together from the get-go. The beauty about being business partners with your husband is that you have each other’s back but can also be completely honest and to-the-point on all ideas and thoughts, something which saves time!"
"Because we live down the Coast, we spend an hour each morning and night driving together which allows us to think and talk strategically about the brand, and about our lives. It’s our quality time, and gives us a head start on the day. Aside from that, we have respect for each other’s areas and strengths and passions, which is the reason it works so well. We’re a team in everything we do which is great; we feel really lucky that we get to do something we both love each day, together."
What else do you have in common? Any shared interests or passions?
"We’ve been bitten by the sustainable living bug since our sea-change, so one of our shared passions is setting up our home to try and live off the land as much as we can. DIY renovations, gardening and growing a patch of veggies has become our latest team enterprise. It’s lovely because after spending the week in front of the computer it’s refreshing to be able to slow down and share some quieter moments outside, challenging ourselves to see if we can keep our plants alive!"
"Tying into this, we both love to cook together, and with our small flock of chickens, and our expanding veggie patch, it’s fun to see what we can whip up with produce fresh from the garden. Our own little paddock to plate, and soon to be pond to plate (Elliot wants to grow Murray Cod..!)"
Hunter Lab was born of the idea that there wasn’t a natural skincare brand available in Australia which inspired use, why was the idea so important to you?
"Natural skincare seemed like such an obvious choice to us, but there weren’t many options available at the time which we believed were of a high enough quality, which inspired our daily use. After spending a year working with our fabulous green chemist, we were thrilled by the effectiveness of formulations we could create using natural ingredients. And so, Hunter Lab was born."
"Our bodies are like a sponge, absorbing so much of what comes in contact with our skin. And with more and more evidence to suggest man-made compounds are making their way into our blood stream, it is hugely important to know what we’re putting on our skin, and in our bodies, every day is only having a positive effect. Things like eating sugar, smoking, drinking excessively, and using synthetic ingredients on our skin are all being found to drastically effect our bodies composition and health. Up until now there hasn’t been a non-synthetic option available which feels and smells great, works brilliantly and looks good enough to leave on the bathroom bench. We hope Hunter Lab fills that void."
How does the sustainability element weave into your products?
"We are creating products which draw on Mother Nature’s incredible armoury of power, so it’s only appropriate that we treat our planet in a way which causes minimal harm. We are passionate about being responsible and ethical in our business practices, and have a plan in place to be as sustainable as we can be as we grow. Things like sustainable ingredient selection and recyclable plastics are an obvious example, and we’ve just upgraded the way we send out our tools to reduce our footprint. It’s at the forefront of everything we do moving forward."
How did you go about crafting the brand? Did you have a preconceived idea of what you wanted it to look like?
"Absolutely, we wanted to create a brand we would use ourselves, which embodied our passion for modern design and healthy, sustainable living. We were both extremely passionate about using the highest quality natural ingredients to create the most effective, enjoyable natural products on the market. We wanted to inspire men, and women, to use skincare daily, and do to so we knew we needed to create a brand people were proud to put in their bathroom, advocate amongst their tribes, and gift their loved ones."
"Skin care should be a luxury, enjoyable experience. And for us that came down to the smell, the feel, the result, and importantly the texture and finish and design of the products and the brand."
You have partnered with both Virgin Australia and Jackalope, both big clients, where do you see the future for Hunter Lab?
"We knew we had wonderful products which Australian’s would love using, so it came down to partnering with like-minded, respected and aspirational brands which would help us get our products in our audience's hands. The two partnerships have been hugely successful for us, allowing us to sample our super natural skin health tools in a wonderful environment."
"Our mission hasn’t changed; we want to inspire men and women to use natural skincare to improve the health of their skin, and the evolution of their appearance. And as we build an incredibly loyal and engaged audience in Australia, our plans now look to the global market and getting our super natural skin health tools in the hands of people the world over. "
HIS AND HERS
Favourite thing about each other:
Susie: "I love Elliot’s kind nature, he is a team player and will always put you or others before himself. When people around him are happy and succeeding, he is happy, it is a beautiful quality."
Elliot: "Susie is the most positive, infectious person I’ve ever come across. She is a born leader. Nothing’s a problem, and no challenge is too daunting. Which is incredibly inspiring."
Favourite meal eaten together:
Susie: "We are extremely spoilt for choice living on the Peninsula, favourite meal would have to be at our favourite spot, Jackalope and a Sunday cook up at home would certainly be a close second."
Elliot: "You cannot go past a home cooked meal, so dinner on our balcony with a glass of red wine takes the cake."
Your ideal date:
Susie: "Picnic on the lawn at home with Sonny our dog and our chickens (Thelma, Patsy, Molly & Joan) not too far away either."
Elliot: "A long lunch somewhere on the Peninsula, usually Jackalope or our closest winery Polpero."
What have you learnt from the other:
Susie: "Oh so much, Elliot has taught me to be fearless, there is no such thing as failure it is about giving everything a go whether that’s risking everything to start a business or moving to a farm and learning a completely new way of live. You are not living unless you are doing."
Elliot: "To not stop trying to improve ourselves, both individually and as a couple. As we’re now responsible for a team at work, and with a baby on the way, we need to be always improving so we can in turn inspire others to do the same. That didn’t come naturally to me, until I met Susie."
What you love to do with the other:
Susie: "We love to have friends and family over at our house and enjoy long lunches. We also love a project, so renovating and gardening are our favourite things to do with each other at the moment."
Elliot: "As always, Susie has nailed it."
What you love to do with the other:
Susie: "I admire Elliot’s determination and hard work, nothing is ever too hard. He will always find a way and not stop until it is done."
Elliot: "Susie’s unwavering support of me, be that at work, personally, or with my many, many grandiose ideas/schemes/plans."