SANNY: How to make hand sanitiser and start a company during a pandemic


SANNY, a sustainable hand sanitiser brand, was founded in Sydney in March by Sarah Forrai, who believes hand hygiene should be convenient, effective and stylish.

The original idea to develop SANNY emerged from a gap in the market for compact and reusable hand sanitiser.

In this Q&A, Forrai shares how social media and sustainability played key roles in SANNY’s launch and subsequent growth.

What inspired you to found SANNY?

“The majority of hand sanitisers available were in gel form, packaged in single-use plastic bottles, with a strong chemical smell. And in many cases, were confusing, as we didn’t know if these were medical grade.

“At the same time, we saw many local distilleries pivoting their businesses to manufacture sanitiser.

“This was the lightbulb moment for us. We realised there was a gap in the market for a compact, stylish, medical-grade, sustainable hand sanitiser that supported local businesses within Australia.

“We developed our quick-drying, odourless formula with a local distillery … and with more and more Australians referring to hand sanitiser as ‘sanny’, our SANNY was born.”


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How has business been since the pandemic started?

“Starting a business, in general, isn’t easy — let alone in a pandemic, which came with a few more challenges.

“Firstly, sourcing the packaging … was difficult, with delays in international shipping, which slowed the prototyping process.

“Secondly, it was difficult to advertise and list the product on other e-commerce platforms due to restrictions on essential items.

“Lastly, building a brand under normal circumstances is tough, so during this unforeseen period, we had to grow the brand more organically by highlighting our point of difference on social media.”

How has social media helped to grow your customer base?

“Social media has been a core part of our marketing mix — especially new platforms like TikTok.

“Our first video went viral, with 400K views worldwide and over 80K likes. We were inundated with comments and questions.

“We were able to grow our following, engage directly with customers, and saw a huge spike in traffic and sales on our website, which really validated the demand for the product.”


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♬ Renee – Sales


Do you think hand sanitisation will become the new normal?

“It already is! Many public places have implemented hand sanitising stations to maintain hand hygiene within the community but … it is essential for people to have a portable solution as well.

“Once restrictions relax and social events begin … [hand sanitiser] will be the perfect companion at the races, music festivals, in the office and on the commute.”

How have you been keeping your customers engaged?

“Social media has allowed us to … show our customers who we are and give them a glimpse into behind the scenes of our business.

“As a result, we’ve been able to speak with our customers directly and in real-time.

“As an example of this personal approach, we created video content on how we started the business all the way through to packaging our product, unique selling points and even small business tips. Doing this in a creative way has helped the younger generation connect to our brand and inspire them to start their own businesses.

“We’ve also managed to build a community of followers who have subscribed to our growing email list to keep up to date with our SANNY journey.”

What has been your biggest milestone this year?

“Launching! Under normal circumstances, it’s difficult to go from concept to launching a brand.

Due to the nature of our product, there were many strict rules around advertising alongside restrictions in selling essential items online. So, our biggest milestone was realising that the idea and concept were resonating with the market through constant engagement with our customers.”

What advice would you give to other small businesses?

“Talk to your audience openly and directly through social media to build trust and get feedback.

“If you come across obstacles, try to think of creative ways to overcome them.

“If you have an idea and you want to bring it to life, go for it and have fun while you do it.

“Don’t give up and don’t let anything stop you, not even a global pandemic.”

NOW READ: Ten small businesses selling reusable face masks

NOW READ: How making face masks became a full-time job for Bitter Sports founder Kate Bolzonello


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