Marina Herlihy, who built a global business after inventing a lotion to treat her bad skin, is celebrating a decade of annual profits of 20 per cent, year on year. The dynamic Perth businesswoman created a name for herself with Marina’s Ambrosia, a range of affordable, organic, personal care items she launched in 2002.
Each year for the past 10 years, sales have shot up, the bulk from online marketing of more than 100 products dispatched worldwide from her nerve centre in the northern suburbs.
“I am taking advantage in the trend towards organic and natural products,” Ms Herlihy says. Animals are not used in product tests. She wants to capitalise on sales by moving her goods into naturopathic health clinics and pharmacies. Ultimately, she wants products sold in biodegradable packaging.
“My business goes on feel,” she declares. “I feel what customers want.” Her story began after her skin erupted at the self-conscious age of 18. She baulked when doctors suggested medication. Instead, she turned to her training in naturopathy. “Desperation would lead me on a journey of innovation and discovery,” Ms Herlihy says.
She developed a cream formula made of natural ingredients and said it eliminated her skin condition. It is now her bestselling product, Organic All Over.
When friends asked for her skin care secrets, she responded in 2002 with Marina’s Ambrosia, her online business of organic personal care products. Ambrosia is the food of Greek and Roman gods. She is the best poster girl for Marina’s Ambrosia – a slim, feisty, fresh-faced, married mother of four.
At first, she found it hard to order small quantities of ingredients. She capitalised by specialising in low volumes, as little as one litre, that she made for customers, some of whom might also be rivals. That strategy, she reasoned, allowed her to gain research information when blending the substances – knowledge that might one day be useful. “Every product is a journey,” Ms Herlihy said.
Success came from listening to what people wanted – affordability and consistency. “Our brand personality could be described as genuine and competent,” she says.
Beauty and cosmetics also mean business. One range of products targets prematurely aging skin and contains 24 carat gold. Another invention, XtravaLASH mascara, extends her eyelashes.
Ms Herlihy has Lebanese heritage and grew up in the iron ore town of Newman in the North West. She wants to remain local. “We’re a quiet, achieving brand that’s easy to deal with.” Her success may have been pre-ordained. She recently discovered that great aunts in Lebanon were skilled in apothecary and known for homemade lotions.
For more information go to: www.marinasambrosia.com
This article is one of many which have featured in 'Adapters', a series exclusively for Perth Media clients, profiling news of innovative small businesses, start-ups and not for profits in WABN.