Brands We Love : SunButter

by Maddie Vlismas

It's time for another feature of our Brands We Love Series, yay! This one, was an absolute no-brainer for us. As you might already know, we began stocking this awesome brand at the end of last year, and it's been an absolute game-changer for us. You might already know their product, but we wanted to introduce you to the humans behind it too.

We're excited to announce our newest Brand We Love feature is *drum roll please* SunButter Sunscreens. Keep reading for our interview with the incredibly talented founders, Tom and Sacha. 

Hey Tom + Sash! As you know, we love SunButter here at Kappi, and think that it’s such an important creation. Can you tell us a little bit about the inciting incident or spark the inspired the idea for a Reef Safe Sunscreen?

Sacha and I met 4 years ago on the Ningaloo Reef in WA working as Whale shark guides and photographers. We were both pretty concerned by the rising scientific evidence about cosmetic chemicals and their impact on corals reefs and humans, especially sunscreen chemicals.

I guess we were so lucky to be in such a pristine environment and went through our lifestyle to see what we could change (always carrying keep cups, reusable bags, bamboo straws and cutlery and our own food boxes!) and plastic packaged chemical sunscreens was one. It's an easy one for everyone, as you have to wear sunscreen (especially here, in Australia ) so why not choose plastic free and planet safe! So, just like that we started making our own. We loved it, our friends loved it, strangers loved and then a few stores started stocking it.

In Australia sunscreen is classed as a medicine so has to be made in a TGA approved facility to claim a SPF. Ours was hand made by us, but we paid the (extortionate) fee to do the tests to ensure our hand made stuff was working.

Eventually demand got so big we started working with a pharmaceutical partner to bring Australia its first fully approved SPF 50 Sunscreen.

Tom and Sash

What were you guys up to before SunButter came along? Why is sustainability and conservation so important to you?

We both work as wildlife guides and lecturers on small ships specialising in marine biology (that's Sacha) and conservation ecology/birds (that's Tom). 
Tom ditched his place at London's School of Economics to become a dive master and travel the world. He managed a conservation island in the Seychelles before becoming a naturalist guide, with a particular speciality in coral reef restoration. 

Sacha jumped from engineering to marine biology, whilst always carrying a special spot in her heart for living a natural, healthy, organic lifestyle. Growing up, Sacha's Swiss mother instilled in her the powerful benefits of natural-healing by treating ailments from colds, to cuts, to skin allergies with herbal remedies 
Wildlife and conservation has always been really important to us, whatever we're doing. Sacha also founded the Rye Seaside Scavenge, which is a huge beach clean up festival each year on the Mornington Peninsula.

What were some of the challenges you faced when you were designing the products?

So so many challenges! First was to get taken seriously by pharmaceutical companies. Because no one had packaged in tins before, none of the companies were interested in doing it. Even though it was our money at stake. Eventually we found one awesome company who would take our money to do all necessary compatibility and stability testing and it worked!

Second was ensuring tin quality. We order tins from China (because no one in Australia will print or produce them) and the first batch about 60% were awesome quality and 40% rubbish. Luckily we've found a new supplier, and so far have been super pleased with round two which we released January 1st!

The tins + the #Upcycling project are both incredible ways to encourage sustainability on an everyday level. What are some of the best ways you’ve seen the tins reused as?

Some of our fave tin Upcycles have been - 
  • Storing dog treats (ideal for walks and getting dog attention)
  • Pot plants
  • Pots for camping supplier
  • Reuse with homemade goodies, like lip balms or skin moisturisers
  • Soap containers for when travelling

What’s next for you guys + SunButter?

So, now we're not doing many contracts as wildlife guides (except Tom who just came back from Sub-Antarctic islands and will be off to the Russian Far East in June) and really focusing on SunButter. We've got nearly 150 retailers and 3 distributors and trying to grow this with several more in the pipeline. We also have 2-3 new products lined up to try and release this year! 


You can shop SunButter at Kappi here

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