Skin Juice

Getting behind the beauty bar at Skin Juice, we spoke with owner Joanne Dampney

My philosophy is that if I can empower a customer to find a healthier way to treat their skin, they can walk past misleading messages for the rest of their life.

If you’re a lover of all things beauty and skin is your thing, then you will have more than likely heard of the brand Skin Juice, or at least be familiar with its beautiful, brightly coloured packaging.

What you may not be aware of is the incredible story that sits behind this homegrown beauty brand.

This modest and little, but big, business not only looks beautiful on the outside but is all about educating their buyers on how to feed your skin in only the most natural and organic of ways, a philosophy that owner Joanne Dampney has lived by her entire life.

Sitting at the product bar within the Skin Juice headquarters, what I discovered was not only a hub of tranquility but an incredible business and businesswoman, who has built a beauty empire in the most natural of ways.

The Green Juice Skin Balm is where it all began for you Jo, how did this product come about?

Skin Juice was born in 1996, and what really drove me was to create a product that would benefit my clients. Prior to this I had my own beauty salon on Darby St, called Revel in Beauty, I was mostly doing facials at the time and was using a different product, however, I wasn’t really connecting with it.

I had studied aromatherapy and herbal therapy, so I understood the value of those ingredients so I applied my knowledge to create some beautiful oil cleansers and face oils, which was quite new at the time and a lot of people didn’t really understand what I was doing. Every time I would recommend an oil cleanser to one of my clients they would look at me like I had three heads.

I was also doing a lot of remedial massage and what I found when using massage oils was that they tended to sink into the skin quickly so I created Massage Butter to get around this, which was the original name for Green Juice. We then started getting feedback that scars were being healed and that it was helping to treat eczema, so we started to retail it as a product and about six years ago we rebranded Massage Butter to Green Juice.

Natural, Organic and Superfoods weren’t words that were commonly used back in 1996, was the Skin Juice concept a tough sell in the beginning?

Natural back in the early 90’s certainly wasn’t something that people were understanding or looking for, but we didn’t create a product for a market need, we created a product because we knew it worked naturally with the skin. I would say the hardest push was the aromas, and educating people that the aromatherapy was actually there to benefit the skin rather than just an aroma as a masking ingredient.

The concept of Skin Juice was quite rebellious at the time, I certainly wasn’t riding that natural or organic opportunity, and back in the 90's it was very much about the French or overseas products and the glam and luxe, which didn’t necessarily give the results.

My philosophy has always been that if I can empower a customer to find a healthier way to treat their skin they can walk past misleading messages for the rest of their life.

In the 22 years that have passed there have obviously been some significant changes within the business, but in terms of the product/s themselves how much have they evolved since those early days?

They have evolved a lot, and are constantly evolving.

When creating the formulas, we make sure they don’t contain any nasties like parabens, silicones or PEGS etc which is always a challenge - to achieve a product that feels and smells good as well as having that consistency for the market is difficult. That’s why there is always a constant need to evolve.

How many products are in the Skin Juice range currently?

In the Skin Juice range itself there are about 35 retail products, and we have some trade only products that salons use, but we have just released a new range so there is a lot more.

How long is the process to create a new product?

From idea to formulation it can take up to three years, and when using natural products there does have to be an expectation that one batch may vary slightly from the other.

There’s a lot of education with the Skin Juice brand, people pick up the product because it looks beautiful but doesn’t necessarily understand what goes into them. We create all the Skin Juice products so as to contain certain nutrients that are beneficial for the skin, it’s how we feed the body, that’s why they’re quite complex, we need to create the right amount of nutrients that the skin needs.

I am a perpetual creator, I love to create, and a lot of love goes into each of the products. They’re very complex and highly concentrated formulations, for example, the Superfood Face Oil has 21 ingredients, all for their function and because they can change the skin, not because it’s a trend.

People may be familiar with the brightly coloured Skin Juice packaging but they may not be aware just how localised the product is, has the business always been based here in Newcastle.

I started the business from my salon, in Darby St, it then grew into a small scale manufacturing space with warehousing. Since then we've moved four times but have always been based in Newcastle. We manufacture the skin care products here, develop the formulations and source all the raw materials, we distribute, we market and brand the products. We’re involved in every touch point of each products journey. There’s a lot of management [laughs].

So just how many team members are a part of Skin Juice these days?

We have quite a small team, about ten at the moment. We’ve got a few more people coming into the business soon and we do work with quite a few contractors; graphic designers, printers etc that are a part of the family but essentially, we are quite a small team. 

You have a huge following these days, have you ever considered opening a retail space?

Um, maybe [laughs]….

It is something that is on the cards, we’re just throwing a few things out there at the moment seeing what works and finding the right location.

At the moment we have more than 400 salons that stock Skin Juice, which is fantastic, but to have a retail space would be awesome and have the opportunity to directly connect to our customers, sometimes I feel we miss that opportunity as not everyone goes to a beauty salon. So, you never know what might happen in the future.

Not being based in a major city, have you ever felt as though this has hindered the business in any way?

I don’t think so, there was a moment in a past life when I almost moved to Melbourne, but the Newy pull kept me here. I don’t think it’s ever hindered us, there are definitely some logistics with freight, there’s always an extra day with wholesale because people think we’re in Sydney, but I am really proud of our Newcastle roots and we’re here to say, definitely.

It’s nice to have a slower pace, loyal customers and I think we have great salons around Newcastle that work really well for us.

How do you see Skin Juice evolving?

Skin Juice will continue in a similar direction, the bigger picture is that we’ve recently launched the Raw Earth Co., which is our value setting company. It’s a blank canvas where new brands will grow from.

As a bit of a crazy creator, it allows me to create products for more niche areas in the market that Skin Juice may not necessarily be targeting and rather than adding more products to Skin Juice it enables us to be a little bit more specific and create a brand like Man Brew for the guys. We also have a lifestyle brand called Green Habit which comes at a slightly lower price point, which is great for family bathrooms.

We’ve also got a couple of new brands coming out at the end of the year, a serum range and a bath and body range, so we’ll become a one-stop shop for all areas of your life. There's lots on the boil at the moment.

Skin Juice