Podiatrist and business owner Rachael Ferguson has persevered through the pandemic, landing another retail deal for her new pain relief product.
Manufacturers in Western Australia could learn a thing or two from Rachael Ferguson, whose orthotics business will add yet another line into Chemist Warehouse this month.
When Business News spoke to the podiatrist and 40under40 award winner in September last year, SynxBody was getting ready to launch a fifth range, Synxeaze, which includes a natural pain relief cream being manufactured in Malaga.
It’s the first product the company has developed locally and, after two years and numerous reformulations, Synxeaze is finally landing on shelves.
“I’ve had so many setbacks because of the ingredients,” Ms Ferguson said, noting most pain relief creams developed in Australia used dry herbs that were often imported into the country.
SynxBody has instead formulated its product using Australian-grown fresh herbs, including from Victoria and Queensland.
“I’ve been really strict with what we’ve put into the product, because we want it to be really safe and natural,” Ms Ferguson said.
She noted chronic pain affected many Australians, and many of them were looking for natural remedies to relieve soreness.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in five Australians aged 45 and over live with chronic pain as a direct result of injuries or surgeries, musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis, or other medical conditions such as cancer, endometriosis and migraines.
The AIHW estimated in a recent report that chronic pain cost the Australian economy nearly $140 billion in 2018.
“The chronic pain industry is huge … and a lot of pain relief medications have changed,” Ms Ferguson said, referencing the removal of codeine from over-the-counter pain relief products in February 2018.
The Synxeaze range also includes pain relief capsules, which contain a natural endocannabinoid called PEA, also known as palmidrol.
“Although it’s been around for a long time, it’s really making its mark in Australia,” Ms Ferguson said.
“[There are] a lot more pain specialists and rheumatologists recommending it.”
She said both Synxeaze products, which were registered with the Therapeutics Goods Administration, were also designed to improve muscle recovery time associated with exercise and fitness.
Ms Ferguson expects the pain relief capsules will be stocked on shelves later this year.
She had co-founded the business as Synxsole in 2011, alongside fellow podiatrist Marie Ann Lewis.
After a major rebranding last year, the business became SynxBody to encapsulate five ranges – Synxsole, Synxeaze, Synxgeli, Synxplus and Synxlace.
Together, they include more than 25 products such as insoles, toe shields, heel cushions, shoe cleaner and protectant spray, and ‘no tie’ shoelaces.
At least one product from every range is stocked in Chemist Warehouse, with the most recent the shoecare and pain relief lines.
However, challenges associated with COVID-19 are looming.
“We are in a huge global shipping crisis,” Ms Ferguson said, detailing the backlog of containers at ports and escalated shipping costs.
“We can’t book space on containers, so things are taking a lot longer to get here.
“What we’ve seen – and this hasn’t just been our brand – is that we’re out of stock of a lot of items and that’s only going to get worse in the next few months.”
Some experts have predicted the shipping crisis could last until 2023, with the delays affecting a variety of products.
“We’re fortunate we saw this coming; we actually tripled our stock levels a little while ago,” she said.
Another challenge for the business is its US launch, which has been delayed several times due to COVID-19.
She said major shareholder Andrew Banks, who invested $100,000 into the business in exchange for 45 per cent ownership in 2015, when Ms Ferguson appeared on reality TV show Shark Tank, would soon move back to the US and help SynxBody assess opportunities.
In Australia, the company is working on developing TV advertisements for the Synxeaze range, in partnership with Subiaco-based Trilogy Advertising and Marketing.
That follows on from a strong marketing focus in 2020, which also included a TV ad on Channel 10.
Ms Ferguson has been mentoring fellow entrepreneurs, as part of her work with Women’s Entrepreneurship & Development Organisation (for which she is the WA ambassador) and through a recently launched podcast with Melbourne-based business coach Caroline Kennedy.
“It’s about promoting and educating people in business and helping businesses succeed,” Ms Ferguson said.
“I’m really passionate about that, too.”
Ms Ferguson was the recipient of the AusMumpreneur of the Year award for both WA and South Australia, with the national event held online last month.