Airyday Founder Frances van der Velden Reflects on SPF Success as Cult Brand Celebrates First Year with 400 Stockists

Frances van der Velden is walking on air. The founder of cult Australian SPF brand Airyday celebrates her brand’s first birthday this month, with around 400 professional stockists joining the party. Hannah Gay caught up with the entrepreneur to learn just how she’s done it.

Frances, what gap in the Australian SPF market are you seeking to fill with Airyday?

First and foremost, we wanted to create sun protection that people wanted to do daily and make them change their sunscreen habits. After collecting a mountain of sunscreens, [conducting] pain-staking research into ingredients and formulations, I realised what I didn’t love was ultimately their textures. I was determined to create something I wanted to wear, enjoyed applying and never stopped recommending; that all started and stopped with textures.

Our Dreamscreens are lightweight, luxurious, smell great and infused with skin-loving actives like hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen and niacinamide (to name a few). Each SPF can be used as the final step in your skincare routine or as primer as the first step in your make-up routine, with a different finish (from satin, to dewy or luminous) for every skin need, reason, season or lifestyle.” 

How many total salons and shop fronts currently use/stock Airyday?

“We’ve had such an overwhelming response from skin clinics around Australia who are as passionate as us about sun protection and are some of the best advocates for skin protection and health.

Right now, we have nearly 400 incredible clinic stockists, across Australia and it continues to grow every day, ranging from beauty salons, medi and dermal skin clinics to some of Australia’s top dermatologists and plastic surgeons.”

“I was determined to create something I wanted to wear, enjoyed applying and never stopped recommending; that all started and stopped with textures.”

Why do you believe beauty therapists have selected Airyday as their preferred SPF brand?”

We’ve tried to stand out with our unique formulas and textures by creating Dreamscreens that feel and act like skincare. The sunscreen category is still heavily saturated with thicker, greasy formulas, and whilst they have their place, most people won’t use them daily and they don’t always compliment in-clinic treatments and post-treatment routines.

With four [product] options on the table, we have aimed to push the message of creating an SPF Wardrobe – a curated collection of sun protection for the face that suits users skin needs and types – with two chemical and two physical sunscreen options. With these unique formulas (and something designed for everyone) we believe it gives skin therapists the ability to personalise their SPF recommendations based on their skin care journey. Plus, with more options on the shelf, a therapist is more likely to ensure each client leaves with an SPF designed with them in mind.” 

You caught the attention of Sephora very early in the piece. What has that partnership meant for you and your business in the last 12 months?

I recently recalculated the timeline, and they contacted us six weeks after we launched. It’s wild – I initially thought it was a hoax! 

We officially launched into Sephora in September of this year, so it’s still very fresh. But we know together with our skin clinic stockists and our own channel, the collective long-term effect is going to be an incredibly positive one. 

With more reach, we can drive a greater impact together, really changing people’s skin health habits and ingraining sunscreen as their most important daily skin product.”

Airyday Founder, Frances van der Velden

What have some of the major hurdles been that you’ve had to navigate in developing and releasing SPF products?

“Gosh where do I start; there have been so many. The journey so far has been incredible and beyond anything I could ever have imagined, but it has not been easy. The odds have at many times felt stacked against us and we’ve almost failed (multiple times) before we even had the chance to sell our first product.

One major hurdle is that Australia is the toughest and most difficult place on earth to [launch] sunscreen. This is, of course, a good thing, being that we have the highest skin cancer rates in the world and users should be guaranteed the confidence that the products they are using protect their skin for our climate.

Sunscreens are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which have layers upon layers of rules and regulations: from ingredients you can and cannot use, SPF efficacy requirements, through the supply chain and manufacturing process of raw and finished products, to ascertain that what you are using on your skin is the same as what has been tested for efficacy. It’s a HUGE investment in both time and finances to bring a sunscreen formula to the Aussie market.

Airyday partnered with TAFE NSW on a course designed to help beauty therapists spot signs of skin cancer in clients. Read the full story here.

From a start-up perspective, it was extremely difficult to get formulators, manufacturers and even PR companies to speak to you, let alone consider taking you on as a client. People weren’t interested in working with a new, unlaunched brand and told us to come back when we’ve proved ourselves. I do understand it’s high-risk for them too as we were simply just an idea, but I am extremely grateful for those who did take the punt on us and believed in our vision just as much as we did.”

“The odds have at many times felt stacked against us and we’ve almost failed (multiple times) before we even had the chance to sell our first product.”

What are your short and long-term goals for Airyday?

Our goal was always to create a range of sunscreens that people love to wear daily and since launching late in 2022, we’ve been so overwhelmed and humbled by the love people already have for our products, with a few more releases to come.

We’re also working on ways we can expand internationally as the influx of messages received from customers overseas is endless. If we can encourage more people to change their sunscreen habits and fall in love with sun protection so they want to wear it daily, then we’re going to keep working at.”

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