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Passion & Polish: The Kester Black Story | #018

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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

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Anna Ross, the CEO and founder of Kester Black, has her own way of doing things and she is one of the best examples when it comes to individuals who established a business/brand that is totally aligned with their values.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Anna Ross, founder and CEO of beauty brand Kester Black. The business started as a fashion label, then sold jewellery, but it wasn’t until Anna noticed a lack of cruelty-free nail polish colours, that ethical cosmetics became the focus. Tripling business revenue in just three months, Kester Black expanded and went on to become the world’s first make-up company to achieve B Corp certification. From finding a chemist on Gumtree to international shipping to facebook ads done right, self confessed corporate rebel, Anna shares everything she’s learned on her journey from eComm novice to Telstra Australian Young Businesswoman of the Year and beyond.

As people are becoming more aware of how their consumption of certain goods is negatively affecting the environment, many consumers have started seeking brands that offer more eco-friendly products. Hence, marketing affordable, high-quality vegan beauty products can be tough, especially when you are catering to customers who are keen on checking the ingredients of certain products before using them.

Kester Black is one of the brands that managed to achieve this. Kester Black is the leading ethical beauty brand in Australia. The company is known for creating premium cosmetics using cruelty-free ingredients. They are the first beauty brand that received a B Corp status.

It’s hard to run a brand if you don’t really align with it…so we always come back to whatever it is that I stand for

Anna Ross
Questions answered in this episode include
  • How did Kester Black triple revenue in three months?
  • Why did you decide to go all-in on sustainability and ethical production?
  • How do you continually meet such a high design standards on your website and socials?
  • How important are reviews to your business?

How did Kester Black come to be?

Founder and CEO Anna Ross wanted to create a polish-free from animal-derived or tested ingredients. She published an advertisement on Gumtree, looking for a chemist who can help her create the product which she originally intended to offer as an add-on to her jewelry line.

At first, the nail polish was only sold through the six colours which previously stocked Ross’ jeweler. Kester Black’s stockist list quickly grew until she was able to reach the international market.

On its secret to running successful Facebook ads

During the conversation, Ross expressed that when it comes to launching a successful Facebook ad, you need to know what you really want to highlight your products. Once you determine your USP, you can set up a theme for each ad set to see which resonates best with the customers and run the ones that work well.

On continually meeting such a high design standard on your website and social media

Ross admits that she is passionate about business and very passionate about colours and designs, and she happened to find a product that people are willing to pay for and at the same time allow her to express her passion.

One of the things that make it easier to connect with the audience is by putting yourself into your brand. While it is always exciting to try something new, doing something that is not aligned with the image of the brand may lead to disaster. Sometimes the message and identity of the brand are lost when you try too hard to make something unique. It’s hard to run a brand if you don’t really align with it, says Ross.

Aside from being awarded a B Corp status, Kester Black is also getting a lot of positive reviews from happy customers who are pleased with the brand’s products and its effort to protect the planet.

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