On a quest to bring natural and organic beauty products to the world from Australia and New Zealand, three sisters launched Organic Index.
Full of life and ideas, three sisters Emma Dowling, Melissa Krueger, and Rebecca Medcalf joined their forces and talents towards a common goal and launched their ethical beauty business, Organic Index in 2015.
Based in Brisbane, Organic Index brings artisan-crafted products to the world sourced exclusively from Australia and New Zealand, acting as a little black book. The sisters always source new organic, ethical and sustainable brands and strongly believe that “beauty and wellness are inseparable”.
Emma, Melissa, and Rebecca talked to INKLINE about the founding Organic Index and its future.
INKLINE: How did you come up with the idea to start Organic Index and to do it together?
Rebecca Medcalf: It all began when we were quite young and we were looking for better products for ourselves. Australia has a particularly strong tendency towards Australia made and we have really high standards of production and a really great environment for being able to source ingredients.
The more we learned, the more we found that there were actually so many products out there that were local, transparent, toxic-free and really ethically and sustainably produced. So we decided that this was the opportunity to bring them together and put them in a space accessible and enjoyable for customers to find.
Melissa Krueger: The reason why we three sisters came together always seemed just so natural. I guess all being young mothers as well, we naturally started looking at what we’re putting on our children and we all have those similar values and similar interests.
Rebecca then asked Emma if she would like to work with her and I was like ‘hang on a second, this isn’t a bicycle! It’s a tripod! It’s always gonna be the three of us.’
Emma Dowling: I think it’s just been a natural progression. We worked together on and off throughout our whole lives and this is something that really embodies what we value. It’s a common purpose and we all liked to see it coming to life.
Also, our business represents what we value and who we are so it’s a little about our integrity, our transparency and the fact that we want to bring better products to more people.
I: Tell us more about Organic Index.
R: Organic Index gave us the ability to grow, it doesn’t box us in one particular product. It allows us to become a source of reference, a trusted place, so it worked on many different levels.
M: I like Organic Index personally because of the indexing side of things. At the end of the day, there is some much information out there that it’s about being able to provide a platform that provides the information in a way that is easy to understand and navigate and find what is right for your particular values.
E: It’s all about providing the information so you can make the right choice for your values and your family.
I: How do you combine your different skills to work together on this project?
E: I’m very good at the visual side of things, at product procurement and at keeping up with trends in the market. That’s just one side of it and then you’ve got the other two sides and when we put it all together it really does create quite a powerful team!
R: I do all the business management side of things so that’s the financial management and the strategic planning. Melissa handles all our staff training. She is really good at connecting with people and she also is a makeup artist. We all have different talents but at the same time, we can work together to make the whole picture.
I: How is it to work together as a family? No heated debates?
R: We are very non-confrontational as people so we tend to step back and have a bit of space from each other rather than all that conflict. We don’t argue very much, we get a really good sense being sisters. When each of us is on fire and in the right zone then we know we need to give people space. It’s the beauty of being sisters and friends.
E: When we do need to take space there is always somebody who is going to be here in the store or online and who puts the business first. It’s as important to them as it is to you so you feel like you have the opportunity when you need to, to take a breather, deal with what you need to deal with, regenerate, and then come back.
I: What were the biggest challenges you face when creating Organic Index?
M: Learning! We think we can do everything, the three of us! So when one of us has a great idea, the other two are like ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, we can do this’ and then we’ve had to go ‘Of course we can do it but wow, we’ve got to learn how to retail online and make sure that our message is clear!’ We learnt so much about the back-end of the business. We just had a great idea and had to figure out the rest of it!
We learnt so much about the back-end of the business. We just had a great idea and had to figure out the rest of it!
E: And everybody makes mistakes. We’ve made some of ours! The time aspect is also a challenge. We put a lot of hours in our business and we’re still continuing to put lots of hours in this year and so finding that balance as we all have families can be challenging.
And finding the people to work with, people who share your values and your principles and are willing to work with you as well.
R: I think working in the business and working on the business and having that distinction and being able to do that together was a challenge. But we put energy towards this every single day of our lives so it has no choice than to grow!
I: What has been your best memory so far working on Organic Index?
E: We’ve had some really big highlights from the moment that we opened. Finding our actual store was probably a huge highlight for us! We’d been looking for a very long time so finding a location that worked for us was huge and actually seeing that location come together because it looked nothing like it does now then we started it!
M: We went down to the Wellness expo! We had our ten products and a website that just went live, like THAT day, so that was us going ‘Hey! We’ve got quite an idea, that’s the ten products we’ve got on board so far!’
R: When we went out looking for our suppliers and tracing brands, we went to so much effort to impress them cause we had nothing to show them except us. So when we got our first brand on board and they believed in what we were doing, that was a huge day.
I: What’s your favourite product?
M: For skincare, my favourite at the moment is an incredible new balm that came out by Wildcrafted. It’s a 24 k gold beauty balm concentrate all made from vegetable butter and it smells so good!
R: I’m always a fan of a good coffee scrub! Atom does some great ones and it’s one with some orange zestiness that makes you feel really soft. You step out of the shower feeling amazing!
E: For today, I would say I’m fully in love with tmf. (The Makeup Factory)! At the moment I’m wearing a vegan lipstick with the Bo shade, while Melissa is wearing Sienna.
I: What’s coming next for you?
R: We really want to be mobile so we’re going around to reach communities and to wellness shows to meet people and talk about what they are looking for so we make sure we’re doing what our customers want.
We want to open our second shop this year so we are looking into different options there and we would like to expand our index to be more inclusive so we’re working with external consultants on different brands.
We also hold monthly events in store so we might be doing makeup master classes or Do-It-Yourself facials, or mother-daughter day. We really want to create a space where people feel safe and comfortable to come in and connect with us.
M: We have such a big vision for Organic Index, it’s more than us. These amazing makers that really do a good job from Australia and New-Zealand, we feel that it’s part of our responsibility to set a space and a platform to help them reach a new level and a bigger audience.
I: Which advice would you give to our readers?
R: The magic is always, always, always in the doing! It is the little steps: work out who is out there, what type of products you want to produce, where you can do that… Earn it, really earn it and get other people to believe in it and then take the next step!
M: One thing that has been a great inspiration for me is finding mentors and inspiration. When you gather around the campfire and you listen to these people that have gone through the process, it gives you courage and confidence that you can do it too!
E: You can have all the ideas in the world but until you start implementing those ideas… That’s where it comes in! And you have to be willing to make mistakes.
Julia Migné is a multimedia journalist and wildlife photographer specialising in environmental issues and odd hobbies. She has written for Africa Geographic and BBC Wildlife among others. An endless traveller, she swears that she would visit one country for each letter of the alphabet.