Ultra Violette is building a female-led global beauty brand

Co-founders of beauty start-up Ultra Violette Skincare, Ava Matthews and Rebecca Jefferd, are on their way to building a global skincare and sun protection brand.

Beauty aficionados and co-founders, Ava Matthews and Rebecca Jefferd, are on their way to building a global skinscreen brand.

The duo first identified a gap in the global skin protection market while heading up product development for the private label of a local prestige beauty retailer.

“Australians are subject to some of the harshest environmental conditions and have received the ‘slip, slop, slap’ message for more than three decades,” said Rebecca. “Australians understand the need to wear SPF but customers often find products make their skin greasy, cause the skin to break out or make their eyes water.”

Ava and Rebecca left their positions to begin developing and testing a product that would provide sun protection and also act and feel like active skin care.

Two years later, in 2019, Ultra Violette was born. The brand launched into the domestic Australian market with three facial SPF products and two lip balms sold directly to the consumer.

Ava Matthews and Rebecca Jefferd smiling in front of their sun protection product lineThe brand was a resounding success and soon after launching, Ultra Violette expanded onto the Australian shelves of global beauty retailer, Sephora.

The founders then began looking towards overseas expansion and testing whether international markets and consumer behaviour would respond as the Australian market had.

Just as the brand began to scale, the pandemic hit and the founders were faced with the challenge of expanding into international markets without being able to jump on a plane to learn more about these markets, make vital connections and visit retailers and warehouses.

An introduction to Global Victoria, the state’s trade facilitation and promotion agency, helped Ava and Rebecca to bridge the gap.

The Global Victoria team worked closely with the Ultra Violette founders and assisted with market insights, making connections and integral introductions to retailers and investors through virtual trade missions and the support of in-market teams in Victorian Government Trade and Investment offices in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Now, the range has expanded to 21 products and can be found in leading retailers like SpaceNK, Cult Beauty, Net-a-porter, Harrods and Liberty across 12 European markets and has recently launched into five markets in Southeast Asia through its retail partner, Sephora.

The brand now employs 17 staff, all female, and was recently awarded the Governor of Victoria Export Awards 2022 Global Victoria Women's Award.

Ultra Violette has achieved a great deal in four years but Rebecca acknowledges much work lies ahead to continue building a sustainable business.

“The job is not over by just getting into these retailers, you really have to make it work by building the right infrastructure around the brand and people in-market by supporting retail operations, inventory, supply chain and local marketing,” said Rebecca.

Victoria accounts for half of Australia’s cosmetic and beauty sector exports, the industry is a fast-growing and diverse part of the state’s economy.

Australian products are highly regarded internationally due to the focus on quality, sustainability, ethical sourcing and testing practices, providing many opportunities to businesses looking to expand into new markets.

Find out more how Global Victoria can help your business expand to new international markets.

Top tips for exporters

  1. Leverage your networks – in addition, Global Victoria should be in every toolkit for support.
  2. Don’t underestimate cultural differences – the Global Victoria team can provide market insights and connections to help reach your export goals.
  3. Just go for it – whilst it may seem daunting it’s better to learn along the way than not give it a go!