Far from the realm of the nerdy inventor’s lab coat and frizzy hair, everyday Australians are creating, reimagining and revolutionising items we live with in our daily lives. We are, after all, the birthplace of game-changing inventions including the Bionic Ear, Black Box recorder, Hills Hoist and the ever-popular Wi-Fi.
We tracked down the people behind two very different Australian products having their time in the sun.
Vincent Corneille and Rubin Utama are the founders of Son Valise, makers of portable speaker systems called JukeCases, crafted out of high-quality, upcycled vintage suitcases.
The idea for the company stemmed from their first working concept – after taking it out for a test run, they were amazed by the atmosphere it created. “There were a few portable speakers out on the market, however they lacked sound quality and depth so we saw an opportunity to get in the game,” Vincent explains.
As invention is all about what’s different, we asked the boys what sets their product apart. “The fundamental difference would be uncompromising sound quality. We create bespoke units that are capable of delivering the full range of audio, exactly as the artists intended their music to be heard. Secondly, we hand make all of our products, which are all one of a kind.”
The Son Valise range is inspired by portable ‘50s turntable designs.“They are designed to look like original vintage units. The best compliment is when people think they are actually from the 1950s!”
But what about cracking the tough Australian market?
“Melbourne is a very nurturing environment for up and coming businesses. There are a lot of markets dedicated to bringing out new ideas and lots of outlets wanting to cover the story behind the scenes. However, retail (especially bricks and mortar retail) is a hard game and as we are growing to new stages, we are also realising the limitations of our large island home.”
Frank Body Scrubs
Frank Body Scrubs is the brainchild of a team of five Melburnians – Bree Johnson, Jess Hatzis, and Erika Geraerts from communications agency Willow & Blake, who put their collective knowledge and experience into their own product, and Steve Rowley and Alex Boffa, who round off the team by handling all the dirty business: product development, cash flow, distribution, and making sure Frank reaches showers all over the world in a timely manner.
In very Melbourne fashion, Frank Body Scrub was born in a café. Steve Rowley’s mind started ticking after a woman asked him for his leftover coffee grounds for her skin at his café.
From there, the research and product development began, as did the brand and communications strategy. Frank Body Scrubs is all about coffee. All of the products do and will contain coffee in some form or another. While people usually associate coffee with drinking, Frank Body Scrub loves that it’s as good for your skin as it is for your morning brain fog. The trademark caffeine content stimulates the skin, increasing blood flow, which helps with skin conditions like cellulite, stretch marks, acne, and psoriasis.
The combination of sugar and salt creates a really powerful exfoliate, buffing away dead dry skin, and the coconut and sweet almond oil nourish the skin. Frank is a lot tougher than most scrubs.
“We found it’s not too hard to get an idea going, especially in Melbourne,” the Frank team told us. “So gather a great support team and get those creative juices flowing!
“It’s tough to sell and succeed but you need to be able to share the load and motivate each other to get things done. From the outside it can look easy and fun but in reality there’s a lot of day to day work that’s unglamorous and frankly boring –accounting, researching the ethical treatment of bees, stock management, managing suppliers, etc. But the entrepreneurial/inventing community in Melbourne is incredibly supportive. All five directors have mentors who started businesses at a young age and their support has always been unwavering.”