Aussie hemp-based skincare brand Hey Bud has raised $2 million in funding as its trio of founders gear up for their next phase of growth, with one eye on overseas markets.
Hey Bud was founded in 2018 by high-school pals turned entrepreneurs Ollie Watts, Alex Roslaniec and Fedele D’Amico, who joined together to invest an initial $30,000 in the business.
Both Roslaniec and D’Amico struggled with acne as teens and tried all kinds of creams and treatments without seeing much change, Roslaniec tells SmartCompany.
Years later, they became aware of hemp-based skincare from D’Amico’s mother, a beauty therapist. Together with D’Amico, they started researching the benefits of hemp, which Roslaniec says has “multifaceted benefits for a whole range of different skin types and concerns”.
They also found there was not much in the way of hemp skincare products available in the local market at the time, which led them to launch a cannabis-infused hemp clay mask product.
The initial 500-unit trial run quickly sold out and the brand now sells a face oil and moisturiser, as well as a Hey Bud applicator brush.
Over the past 12 months, the business has seen steady 21% sales growth, month-on-month, and sales are forecast to hit $4 million over the next year.
The founders aren’t able to name their new investor, but they do reveal it’s a private investor with a significant presence in the skincare space.
This funding will be used to ramp up growth. Already, it has fuelled a partnership with sales activation agency Rocket, led by Matt Holmes, an executive with extensive experience in skincare.
The founders are working on a strategy to get into bricks-and-mortar retailers both nationally and internationally, while also building out the Hey Bud team and gearing up to launch a range of new products.
According to the founders, much of Hey Bud’s growth so far can be attributed to a focus on community, particularly on Instagram.
The business has 138,000 followers, and regularly uses the platform to run competitions, encouraging people to tag their friends.
It’s about building “that tribe around our brand”, D’Amico explains.
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Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 lockowns, the founders took this to the next level, creating a Hey Bud VIP group on Facebook. It’s a space for about 2,500 “die hard” fans to share tips, tricks and stories.
Leveraging that community has been “pivotal” to the brand’s success, he adds.
The team also recognises their role in education around hemp products, which continue to attract a stigma.
“When people think of cannabis they think of getting high,” says Roslaniec.
This stigma can get in the way of growth. Some Aussie businesses in this space have had issues advertising on Facebook, for example.
That was a challenge for Hey Bud in the early days, Watts explains, but he says there are ways around this, including through education. Needless to say, there is nothing in these products that will have mind-altering effects.
The business has also used micro-influencers to spread the word and educate consumers.
“We’ve had about 5,000 product trainers out there,” Watts says.
“It’s just about educating.”