Please tell us about your business.
At Miller's Moisturiser, I create bespoke hand cream based on the 50 year old recipe of my grandfather, Barrie Miller. Barrie was a highly regarded hospital pharmacist who practiced around Australia (becoming head of pharmacy at the Austin Hospital at one point), USA and Asia. He made the original hand cream recipe whilst practicing at the Austin Hospital for his staff, who had developed dry, raw skin from constant hand washing and sanitising. Barrie looked at commercialising his formula to make it available to more people, but this venture did not get very far, so the recipe lived on within the family, made for relatives and friends.
Miller's Moisturiser uses the same recipe that Barrie developed decades ago, with the only change in the fragrances available. Barrie utilised tea tree in his original formula, known for its natural healing and antiseptic properties. Whilst this fragrance is available, it can be very overpowering and not everyone is a fan.
So to provide broader appeal, additional fragrances have been developed, lavender (which was Barrie's favourite for trying to mask the tea tree), and rose. Feedback from the hand cream has been overwhelmingly positive and has been constructive in growing interest.
Since launching in September 2020, I have added a smaller jar (50ml) for travel and gifting and have consolidated the three fragrances on offer to use natural oils. Lavender has been a favourite, with many customers commenting how much they love using the moisturiser in the evening as the scent is calming and helps them get ready for sleep. I've even received feedback from a recipient of a jar who works in the mining industry and how good their skin feels when they put on hand cream at the end of their day.
Overall, it is a pleasure to bring Barrie's dream to life, sharing his formula during a time when our skin needs it most. Learning about his legacy and creating the brand has been a fulfilling venture and I am so excited to share it with the Craft Market Australia community.
How did you begin your business, and why?
During the height of Victoria's lockdown in 2020, I was trying to figure out what to do with excessive time at home and noticed how dry my hands had become from using sanitiser and washing several times a day. Remembering the hand cream I used to make with my mum when I was younger, I asked her if she recalled the recipe.
Luckily she had written it down before Barrie's passing, and I got in touch with my grandmother to ask her about the history of its development. As well as being a wonderful discovery of my grandfather's life, I learnt more about his aspirations for his recipe.
With my grandmother's blessing, I went about creating the brand and resurrecting the family hand cream, making it available for delivery so that Victorian's could have access wherever they might be.
At the core of the business is a homage to Barrie's legacy; his creation of the formula, and what he stood for: helping those within his community. That is why Barrie's image is used in the brand, a constant reminder of how the business was formed.
During my research I learnt more about my grandfather's entrepreneurial spirit. He had a lot of forward thinking ideas, many he tried to establish, but were unachievable at the time. This was another driver for building the business, I wanted to celebrate Barrie's achievements and help him deliver the dream of manufacturing the cream for people beyond the hospital.
Armed with a recipe, a dream, and a trusty mix master, I produced my first batch of moisturiser and started selling online in September 2020. Over the past year, I have been able to continue manufacturing and selling through an online store, but I am excited to get out in the community at upcoming events through Craft Markets Australia to share my story and allow them to try the fantastic formula created decades ago.
Where does the inspiration for each piece come from?
As mentioned, the formula for the hand cream has been passed down from my grandfather. However, the brand and presentation are of my making. I wanted to create a product that felt like it belongs in your home, something comfortable and homely, but also recyclable. That's why I landed on glass jars, able to be recycled or reused within the home. I'm also looking into ways people can return the jars to me to be sanitised and refilled.
Making the hand cream is a therapeutic process for me, it is a zen experience where I can lose myself as I focus on the quantities and bottling. It's a wonderful mental reset, so when I say every jar is made with love, it truly is, the whole process is a joy!
What sets your designs apart from other stalls?
The jars and labelling are designed to give that homely touch, as though you've come from your local artisan store. I add messages to the labels for jars sold online to make the experience a little more personal when you can't be talking with the purchaser face-to-face.
Little touches that give that extra handmade touch and show that someone made this, not a machine (well except for the mixing).
What do you love most about being a stallholder at CMA?
Being able to connect with local communities, to interact with people at the markets. After periods of isolation, it's such a joy to be able to be amongst the buzz of the markets.
What I particularly like about CMA is the organisation and communication. I can rest assured that all markets I attend are safe for stallholders and shoppers and that I stay up to date with any changes well in advance.
Describe your experience of being a small business owner in Australia.
I started my business as a hobby, and it is quickly turning into a passion that I want to sink more time into. There was quite a lot of work involved in establishing the business (building out a website for ecommerce, insurance, testing products and suppliers etc) but now that these have been established, I can focus on what I love - making the hand cream and connecting with people to help them discover it.
What are the challenges and rewards of being your own boss?
The biggest challenge I've found with being my own boss is that everything stops with me.
Researching, testing, sourcing, producing and selling to potential buyers is all with me, so if I'm not motivated, nothing moves. It's a change in mindset from working within a corporate team, but it definitely has its advantages. I get to make creative decisions and take risks, and do it in a way that suits me.
My biggest achievement so far was breaking even in my first year of business, allowing me to continue producing and selling, which was in turn thanks to local business owners taking a chance and stocking Miller's Moisturiser. A very big thank you to Round Bird Can't Fly Lilydale and The Stonehouse Warrandyte for taking on the hand cream in their artisan stores, your trust in the product has been incredible.
Describe your perfect weekend!
Waking up and going for a run before going for a browse at market or country town. Returning in the afternoon to have drinks and a meal with friends. Throw in a good book and you've got my escapist weekend.
What do you see for the future for you, and your business?
Miller's Moisturiser definitely belongs in a market setting where visitors can sample and return, knowing that a stall will be there when they wish to purchase for themselves or for others. Online will always be available, but I love the idea of building awareness in local communities. I'd absolutely love to get Miller's into select stores in regional settings, something to work towards.
What do you love about Melbourne and Victoria?
The variety of scenery and culture. I love being able to drive into the Dandenong Ranges for a green escape, then travel down to the Peninsula for the beach. We are so lucky to have amazing multicultural events, stores and restaurants, able to experience different parts of the world within our state. It really is the greatest city in the world.
What other stalls are you looking forward to checking out at our next CMA market day?
Woodwork, cheese and vinyl records are always my go to when at any market. I love discovering local fromage makers as well as well designed wooden goods for around the house, or new boards for the cheese!
What advice would you give to someone interested in setting up their own small business or stall?
You need to be really passionate about what you are bringing to market. It takes a lot of time and energy to get it off the ground and to sustain. That being said, it's really rewarding to watch your business grow and flourish, but be mindful that this takes time.
How did you adapt and overcome the challenges of the past year?
Online stores and websites have become a lot more accessible and easy to establish, which was a great way to launch and connect people to when physical markets couldn't take place. Continuing to talk to suppliers and other makers about their challenges was also really helpful in deciding how to market online, as well as providing some social connection.
Visit us here - https://www.millersmoisturiser.com/