As Australia's fastest growing lip balm, the brand sells an average of one lip balm per minute and uses ethically sourced Queensland and Victorian Manuka honey beeswax and extra virgin olive oil – that is, the oil obtained from the first press of the olive – to create their range of 'clean' lip treatments. Containing 6 ingredients or less, Clean & Pure offers an extensive range of flavours, including Manuka Honey, Cocoa Butter, Pawpaw, Vanilla, Coconut, Peppermint, and the brand's best seller, Tinted Rose; a floral-scented balm infused with a naturally occurring mica pigment to add a healthy red hue to the lip.
Question: Can you tell us more about Clean & Pure and its vision?
Mark Chapman: In 2004 my wife and I were living in the Greek Islands running a property company, while there our consumer experience vastly changed. Although with access to many international brands we chose to buy and use locally made foods and products, including many olive oil based skin care products. Returning to Australia and getting back into our Aussie lifestyle, we found my wife's eczema had returned. With no access to purchase the products we had got used to in Greece, we started to formulate and produce our own. By 2014 our little kitchen table formulations had grown and we were receiving 1,000s of orders at a time from various online clients. Trying to live a our lives using as few man-made chemicals as we can has become our vision, and as it turns out this is the same for many other peoples as well. We really get a buzz out of seeing how far we have grown; people who buy our products often say how they also have the same vision for their lives.
Question: What originally inspired you to leave mining and start Clean & Pure?
Mark Chapman: Clean & Pure kind of started itself, first we made and sold products in a small scale with our website and eBay store. Once people found out about our products and we started to stock retail outlets it took on a life of its own. To keep up with supply I had to work nights and weekends pretty much non-stop. After a while you have to make a decision to be in one camp or the other, and that was easy. I loved working in Clean & Pure, our whole family gets involved in the business either in manufacturing, packing and of cause as valued testers of formulations. We have our fair share of family disagreements and there have been some real stresses, but Clean & Pure has only made our lives better.
Question: How long did it take to go to market with a product you were happy with?
Mark Chapman: Melanie started developing Olive Oil lip balms since 2010, we pretty much started selling straight away. Our recipes have since then with minor tweaks here and there; it also requires a lot of research finding suppliers that provide products that fit with our products. We are always reviewing our products; I think the next thing we formulate is always the best.
Question: Why is it important to you to use ethically sourced ingredients?
Mark Chapman: For us there's no compromising on ethically sourced ingredients. Our Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sourced through family-owned farms in Queensland and Victoria. It's important for us to support other family-owned and small businesses. Of course there are some ingredients that are not grown in Australia. For instance, our Skin Nutrition, which is our latest natural body balm contains Shea Butter. Our Shea Butter is extracted and purified in Ghana by women in cooperative groups and is Certified Organic and Free Trade. For anything that is purchased internationally, we aim to purchase these ingredients with the knowledge that the companies we support are supporting their local communities, just like we do here at Clean & Pure.
Question: What's a typical day like for you at Clean & Pure?
Mark Chapman: Having a background in mining, I spent over 20 years in Project Controls, which is all about budgeting, forecasting and preparing for major projects. This experience has become invaluable as we navigate costs across several different currencies. So most of my day is going over the numbers and speaking with our suppliers and distributors.
Question: What's it like to work alongside your wife?
Mark Chapman: My wife Melanie is not only the co-founder of Clean & Pure, but she's also my best friend and the person I admire the most in this world. She juggles running Clean & Pure, looking after all the day-to-day operations of the manufacturing and the accounting, to looking after four children under 12 and juggling all their after-school activities. She's my inspiration and my voice of reason. I couldn't think of anyone better to work with than her.
Question: Do you face any roadblocks running your own business? If so, how do you overcome them?
Mark Chapman: There are always roadblock when running your own business. But to be successful, you need to focus on the opportunities rather than be focused on what can stop you. Our biggest roadblocks are regulation issues and international trade restrictions. But if you give up, you are defeated.
Question: You're selling one lip balm per minute – what an achievement! What do you credit for these results?
Mark Chapman: Clearly - the credit goes to the consumers who buy our lip balms! Without customers wanting high quality, Australian made lip balms and sharing the same vision of using chemical-free products we wouldn't even be in business.
Question: What's next for Clean & Pure?
Mark Chapman: We have several new products coming into production in the coming months - so keep an eye out with your local retailer. We're now gearing up for entering the US market, and we're continuing to grow across Asia.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Mark Chapman: Know your product. And believe in your product. Without the belief that your product is the best, you'll never be the best.
Interview by Brooke Hunter