Otto Mitter: The Brow and Lash Entrepreneur on Building Elleebana

Anita Quade catches up with the man behind leading Australian brow and lash brand, Elleebana – Otto Mitter – to learn what it takes to be one of the professional beauty industry’s most powerful players.

Anita Quade: Tell us how you got into the beauty industry.

Otto Mitter: “There’s a joke around the office that I was born under a massage table, and it’s not too far from the truth. My mother was one of the original pioneers in the Australian beauty industry, she owned a very successful beauty college and wrote the first government accredited diploma of beauty therapy in Australia. All my life I was surrounded by beauty educators and very inspiring people in the beauty industry and it was a natural progression for me to become a 2nd generation beauty educator myself.

As soon as I left high school I went and studied make up and beauty at my mother’s college and then went on to study personal care formulation and cosmetic chemistry. Over the years I developed a real passion for creating products and studying the art of eyelash extensions, lash lift, brow shaping and colouration.

We created the brand Elleebana which was originally a skincare line, but changed our focus onto lashes and brows, I expanded our offerings in this field and travelled intensely for many years speaking at conferences and performing classes at exhibitions to grow the brand internationally.

Elleebana now has head distributors in 60 countries around the world.”

Otto Mitter, founder of Elleebana

AQ: What has been your biggest challenge throughout your career?

OM: “Growing a brand that reaches great levels of success comes with so many challenges. It’s hard to put it down to one challenge that’s been the biggest because everyday it gets harder and requires pivoting, smart choices and a lot of consistent hard work to grow and be a front runner in the industry.

Throughout my career I’ve had some huge ups and downs, the picture you see on social media is success because everyone likes to see positivity and inspiration. You don’t see all the behind the scenes of struggles with logistics, management and the reality of how eye opening it is when competitors or certain people want to take you down because you’ve had some success.

When you first start out in business, it’s easier to have a mindset that you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, as you grow you need to keep that mindset and master it better than ever before. This will help you rise above the challenges that come your way because there’s not a single successful business out there that doesn’t have them. The more you grow, the more you’ll have, but the more rewarding it will be when you overcome those challenges.”

AQ: Tell us your strongest stand out strength as an entrepreneur.

OM: “Many people that work with me will tell you that I inspire others and that I have a knack for bringing people together to make magic happen. If I think about what drives the inspiration though, the word “resilience” comes to mind. I’ve always been a visionary and a big believer in putting yourself out there to make big things happen, but to have great success requires great sacrifice, I’ve had to give up precious time and miss many special occasions with my family over the years in order to take our brand to new heights due to my travel and work schedule. This kind of pressure see’s many families split apart, I’m lucky I have such a supporting wife who is now our CEO and she understands there’s a work life balance that we need to maintain so that our brand can continue to be leaders in the field.

To be an inspirational leader you have to be mentally strong to be able to push through the noise and remain hyper focused and lift your team up so you can keep running the race together.”

Read Otto Mitter’s tips to building a successful business here.

AQ: What mantra do you live by in business?

OM: “One that I have been channelling a lot lately is “Consistency in Immersion”. Industry immersion is something I talk to my team and students about often, this is an essential ingredient to keep yourself in the game and to boost your confidence levels. This ultimately helps you strategize your planning and direction and gives insights into what’s new, trending and how you can utilise this in your value ladder. I know the more I immerse myself and the more I keep learning and studying, the more advantages come to me when I’m planning projects.

The hardest thing is keeping the energy levels up because immersion requires energy, focus and time. The world of business is moving faster than ever before with rapid changes in technology, education and the way we deliver information to our clients and customers. To have a successful brand with longevity you have to be able to keep up and how do you know if you are keeping up if you’re not immersed in what is going on around you? As the old saying goes, blink and you can miss it.”

AQ: Most powerful piece of advice you can offer other leaders?

OM: “Lead with integrity, lead by example, treat your team with respect and importantly, get a good night’s sleep.

We all understand that the reason we go to work each day is because we need to survive and put food on the table, but we have to find the passion in what we do and share that with our team, clients and customers. The passion is what is infectious and gives your life purpose. Money and success are a bi product of the hard work and the passion is what helps to reach new heights of success.

Over the last year or two I’ve been saying to my team “I’m not investing in marketing anymore, I’m investing in inspiration!” If it doesn’t inspire me then I say, why are we even doing it? Investing in inspiration can be hard to see the return on investment some days, but overall in my experience, inspiration is a key ingredient for the success of your brand, business and work life balance.

The final piece of advice is get out of your office and be visible! Be part of the team and get involved, feel the struggles together, feel the wins together, an important role as a leader is to relate with your team and to support and understand everybody from the ground level up. Always remember, being a leader is not a title, it needs to be earned.”

This story was originally published in Professional Beauty’s March-April 2023 print issue.

Read the current issue of our digital magazine here:

Have an idea for a story or want to see a topic covered on our site and in our pages? Get in touch at

Back to top