In Print: How Kimberley Verschuur Founded Ellus & Krue

After multiple skin cancer diagnoses from within her family, Kimberley sought a topical treatment containing simple, natural ingredients. Without luck, she then went about creating her own: Ellus & Krue.

How did you come up with the concept for Ellus and Krue?
“We were inspired by our dad’s journey with skin issues and skin cancer. As our dad was looking for alternatives to harsh skin treatments, we wanted our products to not only create true change in the skin using the scientific knowledge of Professor Derek Richard and his work in cancer and ageing, but to develop products that balanced science with nature. We’ve incorporated lots of plant actives into the products to harness the power of nature. We also wanted to hero Australia, so we made sure our packaging was distinctive and unique, and honoured the natural landscape of Australia.”

You were also inspired to create the products given your own journey with skin cancer – tell us about that.
“As siblings, we were so inspired by our Dad’s skin cancer journey that we decided to create Ellus & Krue. Our dad spent a lot of time outdoors as a carpenter and was also a keen fisherman. There was not a weekend that I can remember where Dad was not fishing, but every time he went outside, he never took proper care of his skin. Over the years he’s had eight basal cell carcinomas, and more recently a squamous cell carcinoma, removed from his face. After so many surgeries and years of sun damage our dad was looking for a more natural alternative to the harsh topical creams he was using to help repair his skin. So that’s why we created the EPI-gN Serum in partnership with Professor Derek Richard from Queensland’s Cancer & Ageing Research Laboratories. Our dad had such success with the serum that we wanted others to be able to experience it as well.” 

You launched the brand in 2020 what did the skincare landscape look like at the time and how have you seen it change?
“If we could have only predicted what was going to happen in 2020! The skincare landscape changed so quickly, we went from entering into the online-only skincare market and competing with other e-commerce only brands, to competing with the likes of Sephora, David Jones and Mecca as they all closed their stores. Also, as times were so unprecedented, a lot of people were skeptical about discretionary spending. But as the pandemic continued a lot of people saw spending more time at home as a chance to take care of themselves and wanted to invest in their skin and skincare products.”

Ellus & Krue product packaging

The products are all Australian made – how do you source the ingredients?
“We source our ingredients through our Queensland-based compound manufacturer and try to purchase as many ingredients as possible from Australia. We have quite simple formulations: there are only 18 ingredients in the EPI-gN Serum, but we use the highest quality ingredients. We have a distinct focus on producing the best quality product with the best ingredients available so the customer can experience the best results from our range.”

Your hero product the EPI-gN Serum has been described by a professor as ‘the product that will change your life’ – how did you develop the serum?
“It took us over two years to develop the serum with Professor Richard. He wanted to make sure that we only included ingredients that created real change in the skin and at the correct percentage. There is no point in having an ingredient in the product if it’s not included at the right percentage, it needs to be in the product at an amount that penetrates the skin’s layers and works to enhance your skin. Professor Richard used his knowledge of cancer and ageing research to include ingredients that he knew would improve skin texture and tone and was very passionate about what ingredients to include. He didn’t want to create a product like any other on the market, he wanted to use unique science backed ingredients to create a truly innovative product, that’s why you’ll find ingredients like Naringenin, Curcumin, French Lilac and Wakame in our EPI-gN Serum, all unique ingredients that science has proven will create true change in your skin.”

What makes it so popular?
“I think what makes it so popular is the significant results our customers are getting after a few weeks of use, especially for those that have skin conditions, damaged and sensitive skin. They are loving how the EPI-gN Serum has really calmed their skin and how smooth and even their skin tone is.”

I have read five-star rave reviews about your range – what has the feedback been like from customers?
“The feedback from our customers has been fantastic. We’ve always known that we had a great range and once our customers have experienced it, to hear their overwhelming positive feedback has been so great for us. We’ve had a lot of feedback about our packaging and how it’s so unique in its colours that it also appeals to all sexes. They also love that the colours are inspired by the Australian landscape, the green for far north Queensland, sand for the Gold Coast beaches, charcoal for the dark night sky in the desert and copper for the rich earthy tones in the outback.

We’ve also had a lot of feedback about our airless packaging as it keeps oxygen out, so the products don’t degrade as quickly. The airless packaging also keeps the active ingredients active for longer, so our customers get full use of the product.”

Ellus & Krue product packaging

Will you look at stocking in beauty salons in the future?
“We would love to be stocked in beauty salons and in retailers in the future. We are still fairly new to the market and are looking to expand from online only.”

You also give back part of the money from every sale to the cancer cause – how important is it to give back as part of your company ethos?
“We are very passionate about giving back and supporting cancer and ageing research. Cancer touches too many of our lives, ours included. We want to help Professor Richard and his team’s vital research into cancer and ageing, as they want to stop cancer before it starts so we can all live healthier and happier lives for longer. That’s why 20 percent of every purchase is donated to cancer and ageing research.”

What is the biggest business lesson you have learnt since launching the brand?
“You need to surround yourself with people that you can trust and that are just as committed to the brand as you. When you are so passionate as a family about what you are doing, you need to have the right team on the same path as you. You also need to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities as we don’t have time to manage people as an early start up, we just need to work together for the common goal and to get the job done”

Any advice for any other skincare formulators?
“My advice to other skincare formulators would be to look ahead of the market and see where the trends are going regarding active ingredients. There is no point in having the same ingredients as every other product on the market, be innovative and include unique active ingredients that are really going to benefit the consumer’s skin.”

An extended version of this interview appears in the January-February 2022 issue of Professional Beauty.

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