Sensitive skin specialist: Australian beauty brand Mary Grace gears up for overseas expansion
A labour of love by the brand’s founder Mary Gouganovski, who suffered from severe eczema and allergic reactions since birth, Mary Grace’s products recognises the challenges of purchasing suitable products among sensitive skin users.
The brand aims to be a one-stop shop that offers reliability and consistency in quality across its product lines. From the selection of ingredients to formulation and testing, every product is developed and manufactured in-house, with a key focus on affordability and versatility.
“I wanted to create an affordable range so that people like me don’t have to miss out on quality products because of their sensitivity. As a manufacturer, we do away with ‘middleman markup’ and pass that cost savings to consumers.
“It's easy for skincare brands to claim that ‘their products suit everyone’, but our mission is to genuinely help people. We test our products on diverse age groups, backgrounds and skin types, and we put our ingredients list on the website to maintain transparency. We have had customers with extremely sensitive skin tell us that they struggled their whole life to find a product that works until they found us. It is as life-changing for them as it has been for me,” said Gouganovski.
Acne affects as many as 85% of Australians aged between 15 and 24 years old.
To address this major skin concern, Mary Grace’s Natural Blemish Spot Remover uses bromelain as a core ingredient. It is a proteolytic enzyme extracted from pineapple, which has been proven to inhibit bacterial growth responsible for acne.
Other than its effects on reducing swelling and redness, bromelain is also a bioactive healing agent that promotes tissue repair, collagen production and cell turnover. Furthermore, it improves the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by skin-picking and recovering acne lesions, and helps counteract oxidative stress from environmental aggressors.
“We place great emphasis on tried-and-true natural ingredients, especially those that I grew up with and trust that they work for sensitive skin. I work closely with a chemist to look at ingredients that are complementary to boost their benefits, instead of ‘hype’ ingredients that are trending but may cancel each other out.
“Our focus is on making sure the ingredients deliver the benefits they contain. We usually go through a dozen or more formulations, then pick one for extensive testing to evaluate its efficacy before taking the product to market,” Gouganovski explained.
In the past year, Mary Grace has seen a steady increase in brand awareness among consumers. It now takes significantly lesser page visits for a new customer to place an order on its website — from between 17 and 20 visits to within one to three visits.
Currently, Mary Grace’s products are available at nearly 200 retail stores across Australia and on local television shopping channel TVSN. Although the brand ships internationally, it only started getting more overseas orders, namely from Singapore, New Zealand and Canada, in recent months.
Gouganovski attributed that to the brand’s enhanced marketing strategies on social media platforms. “We are trying to create as many touchpoints as possible, especially when customers can't see, feel or smell our products. The more they are exposed to our brand story, the more they will look into what we offer.”
Despite having its expansion plans hindered by COVID-19 disruptions, the brand pivoted its efforts to product development and packaging revamp.
“We made our products lighter and more compact so that they are easier to ship. The packaging has also been given a fresh, new look using a broader colour palette, as we are getting more male customers whom we want to cater to as well.
“Most exciting of all, we have a new product – a vitamin C and peptides serum that we’ve been working on for 13 months – which has shown mind-blowing effects and will be launching as soon as I can come up with an amazing name for it,” said Gouganovski.
As the pandemic eases, Mary Grace is all set to venture abroad.
“Once we find the right distributor or platform, I’m so ready to take our products overseas. I’m definitely look at New Zealand because they are right next door, as well as the UK, US and Canada. I would love to explore the Asia-Pacific markets too,” Gouganovski revealed.