What started as a quest to create an all-natural remedy to return her hair to its glossy state after the stresses of Type 1 diabetes has taken SOZO Australia founder and CEO Isabella Charanduk from the Gold Coast to the international market and pages of British Vogue.
Charanduk is among a wave of young entrepreneurs in Queensland who have stared down the challenges of COVID-19 and are riding the ever-rising swell of the digital economy.
Charanduk said she took the plunge in March to launch SOZO Australia’s first three hair care products — a shampoo, conditioner and hair mask — to the Australian and international markets.
With national and global sales escalating and her products earning features in international style magazines, Charanduk said success hadn’t come overnight.
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“A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it was a big shock, I wasn’t expecting it,” she said.
“I became quite ill because I didn’t know the warning signs for the disease and, for months after my diagnosis, I experienced hair loss from the stress my body had gone through.
“I had fine, thin hair to start with and it was quite concerning. I sought medical advice for products or solutions that could help me, but I found a lot of hair care products or solutions were full of harsh chemicals, or all-natural products weren’t effective as I wanted them to be.
“So that started my journey to create all-natural products that actually were effective, that actually worked and performed as well as or even better than chemical-based hair care products.”
Charanduk said while consumers have turned to online shopping during the pandemic, demand has also increased for all-natural products from small businesses.
“I don’t have a lot to compare it to, I’ve only started during COVID-19,” she said.
“But during COVID-19, I’ve seen that consumer spending has been impacted, but also so many people have moved to spend more time online and buy more frequently online.
“There’s pros and cons to launching a business during this time.”
Charanduk said she sourced exclusively natural ingredients, from finger lime to Australian manuka honey, with all steps of the process from formulations to manufacturing completed on the Gold Coast.
“I am passionate about Australian-made products and all-natural ingredients. When I say natural, I mean natural, you won’t find any nasty chemicals in the products,” she said.
“I trialled these myself and I saw fantastic results with new hair growth for me. I got my natural curl back in my hair that I haven’t had since I was a young girl.”
Charanduk said she had seen consumers increasingly become more confident shopping online, and more informed about products and ingredients.
“A lot of people are educating themselves and becoming more aware of natural products and the negative impacts chemicals can have on us. They also expect to know what is in the product and why it works.”
She said SOZO was not designed exclusively for hair growth, even though that was her creative motivation after she began rapidly losing her hair following her 2019 diagnosis.
“These products are designed to treat and help improve both your scalp and your hair health to give you overall strong, shiny hair that’s easy to style,” she said.
“When you focus on your overall scalp and hair health the other benefits follow like hair growth and hydration.
“It has been an amazing journey so far. It’s great when people become more aware and see that they can make the switch to all natural and feel confident about it.”
This article was first published by NewsLeads.